Are the 2017 Eagles the most talented team in Philadelphia sports history? Impossible to say. Are they even the most talented Eagles team of all-time? Maybe, maybe not — I seriously doubt anybody much cares about that debate now.
There very well could be teams with more or superior All-Star and Hall of Fame players in the city’s professional sports past. Teams that won world championships, even some teams that did not. Phillies teams. Sixers teams. Flyers teams. Perhaps Eagles teams.
But has there ever been a more satisfying team in Philly sports than this Eagles squad? A group that will go down as more beloved? A greater team, if you will?
Right off the bat, the Eagles check off two of the most important boxes. First of all, They Won — there’s a lot of love and appreciation for teams that didn’t quite get over the hump, but nothing beats a winner. Second is The Wait — this is the Eagles’ first championship in 57 years, since 1960, and the first-ever victory in a Super Bowl, the latter tidbit something rivals used to needle the fan base.
It doesn’t hurt that This Is A Football Town, either. That’s not necessarily a fair criterion, but the reality is a larger number of people care or care more the Eagles won.
Again, the greatness we’re attempting to measure is in the intangibles — and this Eagles team seems to cover just about all of them.
This season was Completely Unexpected. Sure, some of us thought the Eagles could win, maybe, 11 games if everything broke right. Those people were not the majority, and nobody outside of the NovaCare Complex and most optimistic fans who shout it every year were predicting this team to win the Super Bowl back in August.
Remarkably, the Sheer Improbability only grew as the season went on. Once we knew the Eagles were good, the injuries began to mount. Losing Darren Sproles was a huge blow. Doubt really crept in when Jason Peters went down. Jordan Hicks went on IR, and it was how much can this team take? Once Carson Wentz limped up the tunnel, nobody could be blamed for feeling a sense of dread.
Of course, what Philly fan doesn’t love an Underdog Story? Despite being the top playoff seed in the conference, few handicappers in Vegas or so-called experts in the national media thought a team led by Nick Foles could go on a serious playoff run, let alone knock off the Patriots. The Eagles took those slights and ran with them, all the way to the Rocky statue at the end of the parade route.
And they were The Good Guys! OK, maybe not in Minnesota, certainly not in Boston, but a lot of the nation was pulling for the Eagles. Not only that, the locker room, coaching staff and front office are all full of genuinely good people who are easy to root for, which sadly is not always the case in sports. If a team’s morality is important to you, you have not been disappointed by this group.
The Eagles were Fun To Watch. They finished third in the NFL in scoring offense and fourth in scoring defense. They were aggressive but also calculated. They came up big in the clutch. They were good, and they had an exciting style that was aesthetically pleasing.
I’ve lived long enough to witness only two world championships and remember maybe 20 legitimate contenders, so I’m hardly a historian. I alone do not have the perspective to say this Eagles team was the greatest pro sports team the city has ever seen.
But given all of those factors, you will be hard-pressed to come up with a team that felt more magical, that even speaking objectively was more special than this.