On Sunday night, fans of the New York Giants anxiously watched the primetime matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Guys In Red Helmets. At stake for the mighty 6-10 Giants was a home playoff game if the Eagles prevailed.
For a while, it was looking good. Then, late in the game while trailing only 17-14, the Eagles took out starting quarterback Jalen Hurts and put in backup Nate Sudfeld. Why? In order to lose. And lose they did.
But by losing the Eagles won, moving from the ninth overall pick in the draft to the sixth. The Not Redskins also won by advancing to the playoffs. The only losers were the New York Giants, but they are used to that this year.
That didn’t stop them from being outraged. Coach Joe Judge called it “sickening.” Giants player Darius Slayton tweeted, “You play the game to win point black period.”
Veteran Philadelphia sports writer Mike Sielski was not convinced.
I remember a season when the #NYGiants were 5-4 and, in the name of improving themselves for the long term, replaced their Super Bowl-winning starting QB with a rookie and lost 6 straight games. So, you know, spare me. This stuff ain't great, but it's happened before. #Eagles
— Mike Sielski (@MikeSielski) January 4, 2021
He’s obviously right. Why try to win the game when losing helps your franchise more? The NFL is a business, not the Boy Scouts. Teams rest players all the time in meaningless games. So why didn’t Eagles Coach Doug Pederson just start Sudfeld and rest Hurts?
The Eagles are in a quarterback controversy. Hurts replaced the onetime franchise QB Carson Wentz midseason after the latter fumbled, sacked, and intercepted himself into a laughable season. An extra look at Hurts in a game against a team not even vaguely associated with Native Americans that needed the win was valuable.
Pederson claims he was “coaching to win.” That is a claim that would make moon-landing deniers say, “Really?” He was coaching to lose. And that’s okay. I’ve been an Iggles fan my whole life. My earliest memory is the Birds losing the 1980 Super Bowl to Tom Flores’s Oakland Raiders. I’d rather the better draft pick than lifting our record to 5-10-1 (yeah, we had a tie). Who cares about the record?
This wasn’t “On The Waterfront.” The Eagles couldn’t have been a contender if they didn’t throw the game. Pederson did the right thing, and who cares if the Giants or their fans don’t like it. Maybe the New York football Giants should have, I don’t know, come close to having a winning record? Maybe not start the season 0-5? Cry me a Hudson River. It’s not Pederson or the Eagles’ job to make sure a sad Giants team gets a playoff loss.
From an Eagles fan level, losing the game made total sense. For Philly fans, the level of hatred hierarchy of other teams in the NFC East is clear. Most hated are the stinking, awful Dallas Cowboys, a team that in a God-fearing world would not even exist. Next are the Giants, a thorn in their claws for most of this century. In last place are the sad Washington F Troops.
I mean, come on? Cavariccis were in fashion the last time that team mattered. Let them have a win.
There’s no crying in baseball, but there is tanking in football. NFL coaches and general managers live in the real world, not some bubble gum fairy tale where the best man wins.
I know Giants fans are disappointed. I don’t care. Actually, strike that. I do care, and I enjoy their suffering. If it makes New York football fans feel any better, the Eagles will probably use their richer draft pick on a franchise player who fizzles out like Wentz did.
The Philadelphia Eagles did exactly the right thing Sunday night, what was in their best interest and the best interest of their fan base. I support it wholeheartedly. It’s not the Eagles’ job to open the limo door for a drunk prom date who hates them anyway. It’s the Eagles’ job to win football games, which maybe a sixth overall pick in the draft can help make happen.
The secret to being a Philly sports fan, to enduring all the losing and embarrassment, is to take more joy from the suffering of your enemies’ losses than you do in your own success. That was on full beautiful display Sunday night.
Yes, we will revel in the inevitable defeat of the Washington Politically Correct and celebrate the sadness of their fans. This is the big leagues. As far as I am concerned, as a Eagles fan, Sunday night could not have gone better if Santa had been clocked by a D battery.