At some point today, Jeffrey Lurie will likely think back to that frigid January afternoon in 2003 when the future of his franchise seemed so promising.
You know the day I’m talking about. The crowd at the Vet was ready for one final party. After Brian Mitchell took the opening kickoff 70 yards and Duce Staley found the end zone from 20 yards out, it looked like that’s exactly what they’d get.
But that was before Joe Jurevicius and Ronde Barber and… well, we don’t need to rehash all the details.
I remember hearing an irate fan exiting the stadium that night and yelling to no one in particular, “This the most depressing city in America!” Everyone agreed. It had been 22 years since the Eagles hosted the NFC title game. For the second year in a row, they were one win away from the Super Bowl. And for the second year in a row, they came up short.
Today, the Bucs will honor that 2002 Super Bowl team. A lot has happened in the 10 years since Jon Gruden’s squad hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. Andy Reid and the Eagles would get back to the NFC championship game three more times, while Gruden and the Bucs would average just 7.5 wins over the next six seasons.
Several players, like Keyshawn Johnson, Donovan McNabb, Brian Dawkins, Hugh Douglas and Brian Westbrook, are now working in media. Staley is a coach. Jon Runyan a congressman. And Barber is still playing.
Gruden is enjoying the Monday Night Football booth while simultaneously finding himself in the middle of every coaching rumor – from Oakland to Tennessee and everywhere in between.
And then there’s Reid. As the Eagles experienced ups and downs – from the Super Bowl in 2004-2005 to the NFC East basement in 2012 – he has remained the constant. But that is likely to change soon.
Ten years is a long time. Six weeks is not. And the reality is, six weeks from now, Reid could very well be sitting in front of a new group of reporters in a new city, talking about the next chapter in his coaching career. Maybe even during the same week or on the same day, the Eagles will introduce their new coach.
Lurie probably envisioned things playing out differently 10 years ago. But now, he’s left to focus his energy on what comes next.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I do not believe [LeSean] McCoy can be a featured back in a run-first offense…” says Greg Cosell of NFL Films. More here from Tim.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Peter Schrager of FoxSports.com likes the Bucs, 30-20:
After ripping off four wins in five weeks, the Buccaneers have now lost two straight games and find themselves on the outside of the postseason picture in the NFC. Playing Philly, losers of eight straight games, should serve as the perfect cure to their ills. The only problem? They’ve got trips to New Orleans and Atlanta in Weeks 15 and 17. Good luck with that, Baby Bucs.
Elliot Harrison of NFL.com goes with Tampa, 31-20:
It’s on you, Nick Foles. Trailing 24-20, I see the Philadelphia Eagles engineering an end-of-the-game drive before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get a pick-six to seal the deal. The much-harassed Bucs secondary has allowed 52 pass plays of 20-plus yards — the most in the NFC. But don’t expect Bryce Brown to run wild, as Tampa’s run defense is the best in the NFL (82.3 yards per game). Don’t worry, he’ll still fumble. Bucs win.
We’ll be chatting live during today’s game. Join us for updates and analysis throughout the afternoon.