Deodand: an inanimate object blamed for Death
Yesterday when I woke up and prepared myself for The Commute and the Day Job once again, for the first time since before the holidays (and yes, that's why the posting schedule has been erratic, and thank you for asking, not that you possibly would have)...
I noticed this faint little scar between my eyes. It's the residue of some horseplay, and as it probably happened a month ago, one suspects that my age and family history of diabetes is combining for the slow and no-go healing that tells me it might be there for good.
It doesn't really bother me. But if it did bother me, maybe I'd be so over the top as to think of it as my deodand, the first of many signs that all tie together into the slow slide down that is the second half of my life. (Yes, I am that old. And stay the hell off my lawn.)
When you learn about deodands, as is true with just about anything else that's a nifty and/or esoteric concept, things start to attach to the concept, like Velcro. (This is also why I write about sports; it's Velcro-like in its ability to have bigger concepts attached to it.)
So as I've been thinking about this past Eagles season, in which the team managed to be the best last-place team in NFC East history, and the fan base spent its time in constant Will They Or Won't They puling over the fate of Mssr. McNabb... well, here.
Maybe McNabb is a deodand for Eagles Nation, since the quarterback that he is most similar to, in the franchise's history... is Randall Cunningham.
Both men were, of course, black, mobile, highly successful and injury-prone. No one really remembers this now, given how his legacy was couched in flakiness and playoff failures, but Cunningham was a multiple MVP. Had the '98 Vikings, a forgotten 16-3 team thanks to a missed field goal at home in a championship game to the Chris Chandler Falcons...
Well, as FTT's Tracer Bullet would note, if you give your aunt a testicle, she'd be John Kruk.
From such moments, borderline Hall of Fame candidates are, well, borderline, and it's not like Cunningham didn't have other chances to prove his playoff mettle.
Of course, McNabb is *not* Cunningham, any more than he's Rodney Peete or Ron Jaworski. He's always managed the game better through his low interception percentages and historic red zone efficiency, always ran less even in his most tuck it and go years, never committed anywhere near the same level of media foolishness, and has won more playoff games than any QB in the team's history. He's also never lost the locker room, even in the teeth of the TO Drama. By the end of the Cunningham Era, you had the feeling that Seth Joyner and Company were ready to take him out themselves.
But still, both men succeeded more from great physical gifts than accuracy. Both constructed remarkable plays from extending the opposing secondary to the breaking limit. Both took more sacks than they had to, from a belief that they could always get something out of a play. McNabb has more in common with Cunningham than he does with any other QB in Eagles history.
Similarity, of course, does not equal sameness; if it did, Kevin Kolb would excite no one, seeing how he came from the school of Andre Ware and David Klingler. But I do have to wonder if the deep-seated animosity of the bigger chuckleheads in Eagles Nation is based around the idea of having seen this movie before, and knowing (as all losers always now) how it will end. Donovan the Deodand.
To those folks, I'd point out the following:
1) Peyton Manning was never going to win the big one, and teams that can't stop the run get killed in the playoffs.
2) Brett Favre should have retired before this year started, because he was clearly far too old and interception-prone to be part of a contending team.
3) John Elway was never going to subvert his ego enough to a running back to win a Super Bowl.
4) No pass-first dome team like the St. Louis Rams of Warner and Faulk could ever win when it mattered.
5) No team with a coach who had lost multiple championship games at home, and was a 5 seed to boot, could possible muster the wins necessary that Bill Cowher's Steelers did.
The point, of course, is that the past ten years has shown us that there is no single way to win a Super Bowl, and that people who think there is generally get made to look foolish in short order.
Now, do I really think the 8-8 Eagles are a Super Bowl contender next year? As much as they were this year, when they were coming off a division championship and a Final Four appearance. They'll benefit from a last-place schedule. The NFC East won't be as good as it was this year. They have the best RB, coach, and QB in their history. They need to make at least a half-dozen strong personnel moves, get some big years from shaky sources (I'm looking at you, Lito Sheppard) and stay healthy, but that's true of just about every team in football.
Maybe this is just the three-game winning streak at the end of the year talking, but I like their chances a lot better than many teams in this year's playoffs. You'd have to think their ceiling is higher than, say, Tampa Bay, the Giants, and Seattle.
And if I'm wrong, and the odds are strong that I am, given that it's always better to bet the AFC champion and the field in these matters? You'll still have McNabb to blame, and Kolb to turn on later, and there really isn't any problem in waiting the extra year. Hell, maybe you'll get lucky and have McNabb get hurt again.
And then, you'll have the fun of seeing Kolb play, and in the very strong probability that the Eagles don't win then, either, realize he's just the same as Ron Jaworski, Jim McMahon, or (shudder) Bobby Hoying...
Thursday, January 3, 2008
Deodand: an inanimate object blamed for Death