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Monday, March 2, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles & The Brian Dawkins Fallout

The world according to Philadelphia Eagles fan has been turned upside down since the departure of Brian Dawkins. Questions upon questions have been raised regarding the reasons he decided to sign with the Denver Broncos, few blaming Dawkins. It is widely believed that the Pro-Bowl safety never wanted to leave the Eagles, but was summarily told by the Eagles administration that the Eagles were leaving him. This picture started to become clear once free agency started. Historically, the Eagles have signed players they wanted to keep, locked them up early before they had a chance to hit the open market. So when the clock struck midnight last Friday and B.Dawk wasn’t under contract it became clear that the Eagles were willing to part with guy.

I remember hearing the news, driving home on Friday, a little after 5 p.m. The announcement made reference to the nearly infamous piece from SF Chronicle indicating that Brian had “agreed to terms” with the Broncos. Panic started to take shape, both within myself, and every other Eagles fan. Since then I clearly went through the five stages of grief. First I denied the fact that the Eagles would actually let him go and that Dawk would leave. I then felt hatred for the man I believed responsible (and still do) in Joe Banner. The stage of bargaining was a very small one in this episode of free agency, I told myself that the Eagles could sign no other free agent and they would be fine as long as they had #20 in the backfield. Depression, yeah, I was depressed, but I don’t want to talk about it. And now, nearly 72 hours after I first heard the news, I have accepted the entire situation. I don’t like it, but I have accepted it.

Team lackeys and media brown-nosing doo doo sellers became obvious as they took the side as the administration, allowing the administration itself to become heard without speaking. They knew it was going to be bad, bad for the fans, bad for them, but all they had to do was survive the initial brunt of criticism. Andy Reid didn’t even address the issue at the big party known as the Stacy Andrews unveiling. Joe Banner and Jeff Laurie have been completely silent, issuing bogus statements saying how much Dawkins has meant to the team. Fact of the matter is this: Banner and Laurie own the team and they run it like a business, they are not fans in the real sense of the word, they do not feel the passion that real fans do, especially in Philadelphia, and they know that Eagles football is a drug, a narcotic that the city needs to survive and that they can do anything they want, no matter how heinous and us junkie Eagles fans will keep coming back.

What could have been the disagreement between the two sides that would have driven the wedge between Brian Dawkins the man and the team he lived and died for sixteen Sundays a year for the past thirteen years? I haven’t heard the terms the Eagles offered their star but I’m guessing that they used a calculator, abacus, and a slide rule, to come up with a lowball number and offer that for a one year deal, not considering how much money they have under the cap. It was reminiscent of Hugh Douglas’s departure, and Jeremiah Trotter’s first exit, when they took an older player, “insulted” them with a bad contract offer, and then talked about how they pay based on how they will play at the end of the deal using verbiage like “diminishing returns.” Denver simply offered Dawkins a better commitment than Banner. Denver valued the player, man, leader, and his experience more that Banner, who would prefer to have a 2nd year Quintin Demps start instead of a Pro-Bowler.

Maybe the economy has hit the big wigs at the Eagles, and that their real financial investments have given nothing but diminishing returns. But Joe Banner has made clear that in the world of football, capology is more important than the fan, because the fan is a constant in his equations. He couldn’t be more wrong. The fallout has occurred and his silence will not be tolerated, cannot be tolerated. He has laughed in the face of children as he took what they loved and sent it away. I am an Eagles fan, and will be forever, but my dedication to the franchise has changed I think. I am not excited about who they may or may not bring in anymore, nor do I care who they draft next month. My guess is that I’m not the only one who feels that disconnect, that numbness that settles in after a dramatic change. How will I feel when camp opens? I don’t know. It will be different and it won’t be as electric as it would have been if Brian Dawkins’ energy was still radiating through the entire defense. My man crush has been crushed and that all I’m gonna say about that. I wish him well, and I wish Bronco fans the best, as they watch perhaps the greatest player in Eagles history.

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