Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and…

The City of Brotherly Love.  This week, the Philadelphia Eagles organization announced that they’d extended head coach Andy Reid’s contract three more years (which would take him through the 2013 seasons).  If Big Red makes it through that, he will have coached the Eagles for 15 straight seasons.  A remarkable achievement really – only 12 coaches have coached one team for 15 seasons in the NFL.  A lot of them are in the Hall of Fame.
And then there’s Andy Reid.
The Reid-McNabb Era with the Eagles (they began together) to me is one of the great water cooler discussions of the last decade, because they make you address the question: Is it more important to be consistently good or to win a Championship?  (The obvious answer is that you want both, but we’re not talking about the Steelers or Patriots here…)

Since 1999, the Eagles have been one of the winningest teams in the NFL — amassing a record of 105-66-1, which is essentially 10 wins a season every season for more than a decade.  After Reid’s first year, in which the Eagles went from 3 wins to 5, the Birdz have been under 0.500  only once.  The Eagles have won the NFC East 5 times (and could win their 6th this season), have made the playoffs 7 times, playing in 5 NFC championship games.
Of course, the blemish on the current (and I suppose now future) regime picks up there.  They are 1-4 in NFC Championship games (which is pretty bad considering they were favored in 3 of them) and they lost the only Super Bowl they reached to the Patriots.  So, in the end, a lot of success, but no championships.
Let’s contrast that to a different team, baseball’s Florida Marlins.  Since 1999, the Marlins have gone a decidedly meh 875-905 (0.491 winning percentage) and have not won the National League East.  They have come in 2nd only twice.  In those 11 years, they have had one (count ‘em… one) playoff appearance when they were the NL wild-card in 2005.  And yet, that year, they went on to win the World Series.

And so, which would you rather root for:
A team that wins a lot of games, that is relevant year-in-and-year-out, that consistently makes the playoffs and contends for, but never wins a championship – rightfully said to underachieve on the biggest stages.
or
A team that has been generally irrelevant except for one season in which enough things came together for them to squeak into the playoffs and pull off (an over-achieving) Championship, only to return to irrelevance?
And thinking about it, despite all the frustrations and disappointments, I have to say that I was glad to hear that we’ll have a few more years of the Reid-McNabb Eagles trying to get to the summit.
What about you?

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7 thoughts on “Close Only Counts in Horseshoes and…

  1. I come from Chicago. We don't care if the Cubs win or lose, as long as the sun is shining bright and the beer is cold. Cause it's one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ball game… Man I miss Harry Caray

  2. Kzinti — I lived in Chicago too for several years and really enjoyed going to games at Wrigley. What fun. We were actually back in Chicago in the fall of 2009 right before the playoffs and there were a lot of articles about how THIS was the team. And then they went and got swept by the Dodgers.

  3. Interestingly, Zak — Reid, by every metric, has been more successful as an Eagles' coach than Vermeil was. But Dick Vermeil is still loved in Philly, while Reid seems tolerated. Vermeil was a lot better with the media than Big Red.

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