Eagles fans are happy
Bob Ford/TIMES NEWS Long-time Eagles fans Russ and Geri King pose behind bar in the "Eagles room" of their Coaldale home.
At the beginning of the NFL season many pro football analysts picked the Philadelphia Eagles to finish last in the NFC East.
Once again, that shows you football fans out there that we really don't know what we're talking about or at the very least it doesn't matter what we think.
However, the job done by Chip Kelly and the Eagles players cannot go unnoticed. Kelly's innovative offense combined with an improved defense has been good enough to get the Birds into the postseason.
Now, anytime you see the Eagles have any type of success the fair weather fans come out in bunches; the type of fans that support the Eagles when they're flying high, but not when they seem to be grounded. They are the same fans that hid their hat or jersey after the Eagles dismal loss to the Minnesota Vikings a few weeks ago.
But, really who wants to talk about those fans? It's the die-hard Eagles fans that deserve the recognition; the fans that have stuck with the Eagles through all the heartache and disappointments.
There isn't a better time to honor those who bleed green than this season, when not a soul except for those die-hard fans gave the Eagles a chance to do much of anything.
Coaldale resident Russell King was an Eagles season ticket holder for 36 years, first getting his tickets when Veterans Stadium opened. He had five tickets up until two years ago when he finally sold his license, but still watches the Eagles with the same passion and love for the team as if he was still in the seats.
"I put an addition onto my house, put a big screen TV in there and turned that room into a little Eagles den," said King. "We have people over all the time and sometimes there could be up to 25 people in my den. We have a great time and it gets pretty loud in there sometimes, but, hey, it's all for the Eagles."
King's favorite Eagles memory came in 1980 when running back Wilbert Montgomery broke off right tackle and ran 42 yards for a touchdown. That score helped defeat the Cowboys in the NFC Championship game.
"I remember that play like it was yesterday. It was a great moment," said King. "On the flip side of that, one of the worst moments is when my wife and I were at the Super Bowl in 1980 when the Eagles played the Raiders. The Eagles scored a very important touchdown, but Harold Carmichael went in motion and turned up field a little early, negating the score. That was a killer and obviously we ended up losing that game."
Recollections like King's are what make Eagles fans one of the best groups out there. They care about their team whether they're high atop the division or sitting way down in the basement.
That really hasn't been the Eagles problem in recent years. They've actually been a perennial playoff team and at one time went to four straight NFC Championship games in the 2000's. The problem has been their inability to bring home a Super Bowl victory, which is something they've never been able to do.
So the real question is, why stick with a team that always seems to crush the hopes of their fanbase?
Palmerton resident Tony Choy says that answer to that question is pretty simple.
"It's just part of being a Philadelphia Eagles fan," said Choy. "We've come to expect disappointment, but seasons like these are why we continue to have hope. Nobody gave the Eagles a chance this season and they prevailed. A lot of people didn't support the Chip Kelly hire, but now he's revolutionizing the game on offense. We have hope because we believe and this season is a testament to why we do."
Choy watches an Eagles games a little differently than King. He instead chooses to watch the games by himself in his chair with a certain jersey, which happens to be a No. 92 Reggie White jersey at the moment.
"I like to watch the game in my chair by myself, so I can be totally focused on the game," said Choy. "I also need to wear a certain jersey for the game. If they're doing well when I'm a wearing a specific jersey then I continue to wear that jersey. Right now, that happens to be a Reggie White jersey. If they lose then I switch the jerseys up. It's just a little superstition I have."
Choy and King are part of a special group of Eagles fans that will never give up on their team. Their dedication to their team pays off in seasons like this year when the Eagles, whom were expected to fail surprised everybody by getting to the postseason.
King, who has seen more Eagles games than most offered up his prediction for the Birds match-up with the Saints at 8:15 on Saturday night.
"I think the Eagles have the advantage," said King. "The Saints are not a good road team and I think they will be bothered by the cold weather. I think you could see a repeat of the Bears game a few weeks ago when we just took it to them."
I think that's a prediction that all true Eagles fans can agree with.
Bill White of Lehighton has been an Eagles fan for a long time. "In 1950 I was a 10-year-old Eagles fan. Even at that young age I was aware of the impact World War II had on the NFL."
He said, "Because so many players were in the military, the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers merged into one team called the "Steagles". That was in 1943, the year of my birth!"
He left Philly more than 30 years ago and never waivered in his loyalty to the birds.
"I told my wife I can't die until the Eagles play the Steelers in the Super Bowl. So, I should live for many more years," White said.
His prediction for tonight: "The Saints are a better team who should be able to beat the Eagles on Saturday. I hope I'm wrong!"
Richard W. Szoke predicted the Eagles will win.
"The Saints never win playoff games on the road. That combined with the weather means the Eagles will proabbly win, but you never know," Szoke said.
Tina Focht agreed that the Saints are going down. "Maybe if (Saints) were playing in the dome. Not in 20 degree Philly," she said.