Let me first admit this is not your typical political column except in the longshot possibility that it could instigate a recall vote for whomever really makes the player (i.e. $) decisions for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
Sure the plummeting economy has hit families in Philadelphia hard, but it hasn't been near as hard or as heartbreaking as losing future Hall of Famer, Brian Dawkins, a 13 year veteran and heart and soul of the Eagles.
99% of Eagles fans are suicidal. The other 1% have already consummated the act.
Philly is a blue collar town that bleeds Eagle green and if a working man couldn't afford to pay his mortgage, he'd figure out a way to keep his Eagles season ticket.
Undeniably professional teams have dropped veteran players who they feel have lost a step before, no matter how talented, no matter how beloved. But none of those was named NFL's (Defensive) Player of the Month the final month of their last season, the team's leader and was a power on and off the field through the playoff run.
Since the Eagles did make him a offer to play next season, it wasn't that they didn't want them, it was that they didn't want to pay him...enough. The Denver Broncos did. And at the same time, the Philly fan lost feeling in his left arm, grabbed their chest and called 911.
Yet there are writers and sports talk show hosts who think any fans who question the Eagles decision are idiots. (Time to get political) Think of Jonah Goldberg or Bill O'Reilly when anyone criticized George Bush's glorious war plan the four years following our invasion of Iraq. Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer implied those who thought the Eagles should have re-signed Dawkins were drunken, high school dropouts.Longtime WIP Sports Radio host, Howard Eskin, the Michael Savage of Philly sports talk, who regularly denigrates callers whenever he doesn't understand the caller's point (which many times seems to be quite understandable to most listeners) has had his lips permanently affixed to the Eagles management team's butt. Last night he had team President Joe Banner on his radio show. Unfortunately, much like when Sean Hannity interviewed Sarah Palin, Howard forgot that he was allowed to ask followup questions.
Banner said the Eagles never had a chance to counter Denver's offer. Maybe that's because they didn't pick up the phone when Dawkin's agent called to tell them of the offer (three unreturned calls made to Eagles, according to Dawkins). But let's take Banner at his word and he didn't call. I understand these phone machines today work both ways. Was Dawkins important enough for Banner to call Dawkins or his agent? Don't know. Eskin didn't ask.
Was Dawkins expensive? For his age, maybe. A bit. For his worth to the city, Dawk was a bargain. His animated and enthusiastic appearance onto the field electrified the crowd. Wonder if Fitzpatrick who called it "like a kangaroo on crack" ever watched Dawkins emerge from the stadium tunnel. I've never seen a kangaroo on crack, but I doubt it would crawl like a wolverine - a comic book character he fancied - which is how Dawkins usually emerged from the tunnel. On the field he could be counted on to make the most brutal hit of the game. On the sidelines he would lead the crowd in their cherished E-A-G-L-E-S cheer.
Was he affordable to the Eagles? For his career output, the Eagles have been underpaying him for years, but even so, in the world of pro-football, a couple million here and there won't kill the bottom line. Except on the field, especially at wide receiver (unless you're Eskin), this team is not in need of a Stimulus Package. As they were last year, the cash cow Eagles are far under the spending cap, so money was available. Banner has admitted, they are so far under the spending cap they'd have difficulty spending it all.
Sure, as most apologists like Fitzpatrick and Eskin will trumpet, football is a business. But there is good business and bad business. For Warren Buffet sakes, the stock market is an indicator of business. The 14,000 point market was, so is the present 6000 point market. Part of business is the goodwill a company holds for their customers. The Eagles and its defenders think goodwill is worth little. And that, Mr. Lurie (Eagles Owner) and Mr. Banner, is bad business.
Award-winning TV writer Steve Young is author of "Greaty Failures of the Extremely Successful" (www.greatfailure.com and blogs at the appropriately-named SteveYoungonPolitics.com