The Philadelphia Eagles are officially starting their latest Super Bowl campaign by opening training camp this week. As such, Eagles fans like myself are about ready to declare football season under way, although actual real games won't start for over another month. But with Philadelphia back on the football field, this is now a football city again - especially with little else to focus on.
The Eagles have already built up hype with both Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy declaring that this team can start a dynasty. That is the perfect jumping off point for the Birds to take over all sports buzz in Philadelphia again, particularly with the Phillies, Sixers and Flyers about to go quiet.
Opening training camp now is quite fitting, as it comes right as the Phillies finally resigned Cole Hamels and the Flyers lost their bid for Shea Weber. Now that those ordeals are done, there is little reason to focus on these teams anymore for some time. The Phillies are dead in the water for once and the Flyers can barely make any more moves - and might not even play until 2013 if there's a lockout. As for the Sixers, any free agency noise they might have made has come and gone already.
There's no October baseball to look forward to for the first time since 2006, and there may not be even be hockey on the way in November. Even if there is, there's no Weber to build up extra hype for the Flyers' return - and less chance for them to cut into the Eagles' spotlight in the fall. Meanwhile, even after nearly making the Eastern Conference finals last season, the Sixers can still barely make a dent in Philadelphia.
As such, the Eagles are all that this city has to focus on for the next several months. It makes sense since this is a football town - and any window of opportunity to change that may have come and gone, with the Phillies now starting over while the Flyers are stuck in traction. And although the Eagles are equally stuck, they will make even more noise trying to get out, especially after Vick and McCoy's recent statements.
It is once again all on the Eagles to deliver Philadelphia from sports purgatory. It should be them, since they started a horrific year of sports hell in this city by collapsing last season. Ever since, the Phillies have crumbled to pieces while the Flyers and Sixers had their hearts broken in the postseason, and the Penn State scandal happened right next door.
This leaves the Eagles as the next best sports hope for this town for the foreseeable future. But if they wind up disappointing us yet again, they won't have the Phillies or Flyers or anyone else to hide behind. All the attention is back on the Birds starting this week - so will they be better equipped to handle it?
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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