The Philadelphia Eagles have waited over a decade to finally win the Super Bowl with Andy Reid. As such, Eagles fans like myself regard this year as his last chance, or at least one of his last chances. Basically, we want Philadelphia to finally put Reid over the hump this year, like the Pittsburgh Steelers did for Bill Cowher in 2005.
As the Eagles prepare to face the Steelers on Oct. 7, they are facing a cross state rival that has everything Philadelphia. It has multiple Super Bowl trophies, two in the last several years alone - and actually salvaged a long time head coach's legacy at the last minute.
Once upon a time, Cowher was the Reid of the NFL, having gone over a decade with a Super Bowl. Despite coming close many times, he lost several conference title games at home and blew his one shot on Super Sunday - much like another head coach in Pennsylvania would do. But in 2005, Cowher finally got his ring with his most surprising team of all.
The 2005-06 Steelers snuck in as the sixth seed in the AFC, but went through the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos on the road, before handling the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. This wasn't Cowher's best Pittsburgh team most of the way, as it took a rather unconventional road to get things done after forfeiting so many easier chances. And yet this was the Steelers squad that got Cowher off the hook in his last chance.
The 2012 Eagles are also using an unconventional way of winning - mainly by coming so close to losing every game. But even if this doesn't become Reid's best Philadelphia team, fans hope it can find an unlikely way to get over the hump anyway. However, it would be nice if the 2012 Eagles didn't have to be a sixth seed in the playoffs as well - although they almost reached the 2009 Super Bowl against the Steelers from that position.
If Reid was really like Cowher, then he would have won it all in his 13'th season like Cowher did. Instead, he is entering his 14'th year with no ring - and Cowher did eventually leave Pittsburgh after 14 years. But by then, his various missed opportunities for more Super Bowls were mostly forgiven, since he did manage to get one with barely any time to spare.
Now it is up to the 2012 Eagles to save their long time leader's legacy, like the 2005 Steelers did. Of course, Philadelphia has never been able to match Pittsburgh's accomplishments over the decades. And although Reid and Cowher's setbacks have been remarkably similar, only Pittsburgh's former long-time coach has something to show for it so far.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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