In a year of stress and disappointment, Julia Siegal found no escape in her Birds.
“Honestly, the Eagles season was its own pandemic,” said Siegal, 28, an Eagles fan in Center City. “It was like an emotional roller coaster, a toxic relationship, and its own coronavirus.”
The now-answered question of whether Doug Pederson would continue as head coach felt like another election, said Siegal, a pharmaceutical consultant about to enter nursing school.
“You thought Jalen Hurts was gonna be your stimulus package and it didn’t work out,” she said. The season “made us want to drink, but we can’t even go to bars.”
In a year in which everyone was looking for bright spots, Eagles fans didn’t find many watching the Birds. Disappointment helped define not only 2020 as a whole but also fans’ assessment of the season. With only four wins going into the last game of the season and playoff hopes long gone, fans on Sunday were looking to just get through the end of the season.
“I’m actually very relieved,” said Ryan Quinones, 29. “I’m happy, because this season was abysmal.”
In a typical Eagles season, Quinones spends hours with friends tailgating before games. But the pandemic made that ritual impossible. Little did he know that was only the start of the disappointment he’d feel about the season.
“I just couldn’t get into the Eagles, the way they were playing,” said Quinones, a college student in Central Jersey who works at a lumber yard. “There was nothing to cheer about. It was just very hard to watch.”
Still, he’s looking forward to next season.
“Am I optimistic for next year? Of course I am, because I’m always positive,” he said. “If they hire good defensive and offensive coordinators and draft properly, the Eagles could be right back in it.” The team also would have to stay healthy, he added.
Eagles fan Vince Herrera, a marketing director, said all fans can do is look forward to next season. The Eagles’ position in last place in the NFC East, he said, is an appropriate end to a bad year.
“You want to support the Eagles, and I always will, but it’s just been a frustrating year,” said Herrera, 50. “It’s been a joke.”
When the Eagles won the Super Bowl three years ago, Herrera’s screams of euphoria echoed around the cul-de-sac of his suburban Chicago neighborhood, where he moved from Montgomery County for work more than a decade ago.
“I keep riding that,” he said. “I hope it’s not 2037 when we’re looking for another Super Bowl victory.”
Now, as his green-and-white Eagles lights sparkle on his house, he has to endure jeers and laughing from his neighbors.
“It’s bad when Bears fans are making fun of you,” he said.
John Burton, a 56-year-old fan in Center City, summed up his feelings simply: “They didn’t get it right this year.”
“The Eagles should have won the division. They beat themselves. They always do,” said Burton, a laborer. “I think they have the best team out there. Even now. They just didn’t play up to their standards.”
Darren Nowicki, manager of the fan gear store Shibe Vintage Sports in Center City, said this has been an “agonizing” season “because the division was so there to win.” But when it comes to the Eagles, no matter how the season goes, “there’s no apathy in this town,” he said.
“People will come in and go right to the Eagles section saying, ‘God, they’re bad,’ and ‘They stink,’ and then they buy a Birds shirt,” Nowicki said.
The question of whether Carson Wentz or Jalen Hurts should be the Eagles’ quarterback “added some interest to an otherwise pretty uninteresting season,” he said. Latest reports say Wentz plans to ask to be traded.
Because of pandemic restrictions on businesses, the store has missed the customers that usually stop in from bars and tailgating, but it’s doing all right.