From time to time, we post an item starting with the phrase “last word.”
Often, we honor that commitment.
The Vikings and Eagles finally played last night, with the Vikings scoring an unlikely 24-14 win over the flat and uninspired Eagles, who did nothing miraculous in their first game after the Miracle in the New Meadowlands. The game, as anyone who hasn’t been stuck in a snow drift for the last three days would know, was postponed from Sunday due to a winter storm that was bearing down on the City of Brotherly Love.
The move sparked considerable debate, buoyed by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s invocation of Lombardi and injection of “wusses” and “wussies” and “wussification” into the dinner-table dialogue of a nation that previously had been at times unsure about the mixed-company propriety of the root word. And while my own battle with the “‘On Blitzen’ Blizzard” caused me to believe that it probably was smart to not put a stadium full of Eagles fans in the position of having to find their way to their cars and then direct those cars to their homes in a pounding snowstorm, we’ve become intrigued by the P.R. posturings that have unfolded in the wake of Rendell’s rant.
On Tuesday, Eagles president Joe Banner said that the decision to move the game was one of the most popular that the franchise has made. In response to criticism of Philly Mayor Michael Nutter’s perceived role in the process, Banner said, “That decision was ultimately made by the NFL. Any criticism of the Mayor, who was not involved in this decision, is completely unfair.”
And, of course, there would have been no reason to give Nutter political cover if the decision had indeed been as popular as Banner separately insisted.
But we’re told that the decision ultimately shouldn’t be pinned on the NFL. A league source (but not necessarily a “league office” source) tells us that the Eagles instigated and pushed aggressively the postponement. The league, acting in a compressed time frame, eventually relented to the previously unthinkable notion of scuttling a game because of the threat of snow. (Except when, you know, a dome has collapsed under the weight of it.)
Apart from the obvious on-field advantage that the Eagles would have realized by allowing their highly-skilled skill-position players to avoid a potentially slow track (which, in the end, didn’t matter), we’re told that the Eagles wanted to avoid the rash of demands for refunds that inevitably would have come if the game had proceeded with only a small fraction of the home crowd in attendance.
Again, the decision probably was the right one. And, technically, it was the NFL’s call. But it was the Eagles who pushed hard for the change, and that change likely would not have happened if the Eagles hadn’t pushed for it.
In our view, the Eagles should embrace it, accept it, defend it on the merits and not with spin, and move on.