It's hard to believe that Bryce Harper made his MLB debut this week eight years ago. If we had a time machine and could go back to that time in 2012, it'd be even harder to project that Harper would become a Philly fan favorite. So that got us thinking about five of the top Philly sports perception turnarounds, good and bad, in recent times.
5. Chip Kelly
Say the name Chip Kelly now and Eagles fans will rant about Pro Bowl players released and draft picks wasted. But there was a time when Chip Kelly was the most popular figure in Philly sports. Sports science, smoothies and no-huddle excitement highlighted a first season that resulted in a division title. Unfortunately, Kelly burned too many bridges, along with his boats, and was gone two years later ... to the delight of most Eagles fans.
4. Scott Rolen
From face of the franchise to public enemy No, 1, that's the journey Scott Rolen lived in Philadelphia. After winning the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year, Rolen served as a beacon of hope for Phillies fans in a time with few glimmers of light. But five years later, Rolen eyed a better situation. It's also worth noting that his mild-mannered approach did not mesh well with his fiery manager, Larry Bowa. After his trade to the Cardinals in 2002, Rolen called St. Louis "baseball heaven" and Phillies fans have never stopped informing Rolen that he can go to the opposite place.
3. Doug Pederson
As an Eagles player, Pederson was best known as the guy in Donovan McNabb's way. Eventually, Pederson would resurface as Kelly's replacement as head coach. He had never called plays and had never been a head coach beyond the high school level, so skepticism engulfed Pederson. But the first Super Bowl in franchise history and three straight playoff appearances has a way of changing perspectives. We love ya, Doug.
2. Bryce Harper
Harper burst onto the scene as MLB's answer to LeBron James. A teenager with the promise of Mantle and unprecedented hype. He also represented the greatest threat to the demise of the Phillies' NL East supremacy. Harper hasn't been LeBron but he's been a great player that is on the path to Cooperstown. His ascendence with the Nationals did coincide with the demise of the Utley/Rollins/Howard era. Put all of that together and Harper could count on boos in Philadelphia. That's so 2018. One 13-year contract and $330 million later, Harper is arguably Philly's favorite athlete.
1. Terrell Owens
It's not an understatement to say that Owens was hailed as a savior upon his 2004 arrival in Philadelphia, the much-needed top receiver that would finally push the Eagles to a Super Bowl title. He nearly delivered in Year 1, starring in a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots on a not-fully-healed broken leg and injured ankle. Eagles fans could not have been more smitten.
Then came the driveway workout, the locker room fight with Hugh Douglas and the constant verbal jabs at McNabb. The Eagles had seen enough and released Owens after the 2005 season.
T.O. signed with the Cowboys in 2006, the ultimate sin for Eagles fans. From hero to villain in 24 months.