The Philadelphia Eagles haven't technically taken the field since the very start of 2012. That means Eagles fans like myself have spent the last eight months worth of Sundays with nothing to do. However, those boring Sundays are exactly one week away from being over, as the season opener against the Cleveland Browns nears on Sept. 9.
Sept. 2 marks the very last free Sunday of the offseason. After that, the next time that Philadelphia will have a free Sunday to itself is the bye week on Week 7. But Sept. 2 is the final Sunday without NFL football until late January 2013, which really makes it hit home that the season is finally here - for the Eagles and everyone else.
Of course, last season wasn't filled with that many meaningful Sundays in Philadelphia, since the Eagles were dead pretty quickly. By the start of December, many of us had tuned out, even though it took until the next-to-last week of the year for the Eagles to be eliminated. Despite a four-game winning streak to end the season, we stopped hoping and dreaming about the Birds by about mid-November, so we tuned in mostly out of habit.
Hopefully this will be a season where every Sunday - or Monday - captivates us and gets us excited to see Eagles football. Otherwise, we will mainly tune into the last few weeks out of habit, and perhaps to see the official end of the Andy Reid era. Even with that, watching meaningless football is no real fun - like with the preseason in spite of Philadelphia's perfect record.
Yet with the possibilities endless for the Eagles in 2012 - both good and bad - this Sunday is like Christmas Eve. We are so close to finally finding out if we will get real presents this year, or just another round of coal. Sept. 9 then begins a four-month long Christmas Day to unwrap the answers.
Even if the Eagles tank and are out of the running by January, there's still the playoffs and the Super Bowl to watch for the next few Sundays. We can live vicariously through other rivals who are far luckier than Philadelphia, like we do most every year - mainly through the New York Giants and New England Patriots these days. In any case, there is always something to watch for football fans up to Super Bowl Sunday, even if their teams are long gone by then.
Yet this is the final Sunday until the off week before Super Bowl Sunday where we have no football to watch. But on that week, mostly everything will be settled by then and the season will be in the rear view mirror. For this free Sunday, the Eagles and everyone else still have an unknown future ahead where anything is possible for the next 17 Sundays - and beyond, if they're lucky.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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