Open Letter to Philly Sports Fans

It has come to the attention of Kotite's Corner that you have been thoroughly disrespected, and in some cases overtly slandered, over the past week in the aftermath of the Dawkins fiasco. No surprise there, you may think, since you're certainly no strangers to uninformed put-downs by know-nothing outsiders. This is distinctly different, however, as the recent verbal smackdowns have been primarily home grown. Your well-founded distress and outrage over the sickening mishandling of the Dawkins affair have been derided in several quarters of the Philly sports media, and have been the subject of "tut-tut" chiding by quite a few Philly sports blogs. One would expect these reactions from the likes of Eskin and Spadaro, the robotic chief commode carriers for Team Gold Standard. But when drinking the Lurie Kool-Aid spreads to major Philly sports writers and bloggers, it's time for the alarm bells to go off, and Kotite's Corner is here to ring them on behalf of the best damn sports fans in the country!

The main target of this derision has been your emotional reaction to losing one of the most talented, inspirational leaders in all of sports. Your emotion, it is claimed, has clouded your judgment. After all, Dawkins' skills had deteriorated. He was on the downside of his career. He had nothing left in the tank. Johnson had to make defensive adjustments to hide his many liabilities, which opponents would soon learn to exploit. And anyway, it was his decision to take the Bronco's overpayment and walk out.? He didn't give the Eagles a fair shot to match.? One columnist -- who will go unnamed but whose initials are FF -- went so far in a particularly nasty piece in the Inky to portray Dawk as a self-centered, over-the-hill showboat whose act should have been put out to pasture seasons ago. This same genius sarcastically dismissed Philly fans as too stupid, too drunk, and too childish to appreciate the Eagles' sensible and mature decision to let Dawkins shuffle off to Denver.

Enough of this crap, Philly fans! Most of you have more sports knowledge in your little fingers than these self-appointed media and blogger experts have in their overly ample bodies. You know perfectly well that Dawk was no longer the player he was 2, 3, or 4 years ago. You know perfectly well there were increasing limitations to his skill-set. But you also know that there was no greater leader on any team in any sport. And you also know this is a man who could still inspire teammates to be the best they could possibly be. And you know this was a player who gave everything he had to an organization that benefited both professionally and financially from his contributions.

But most of all you know that there's a right way for employers to treat valued employees and a wrong way. You know that sometimes cold rationality and calculated logic by themselves are wrong. You know there's a place for heart and guts and determination and dedication in measuring performance that goes well beyond statistics, and which deserves to be valued and rewarded every bit as much as this or that "objective" achievement. You know all this because in addition to your knowledge, you are by far the most passionate fans in the country! And your passion is a gift that allows your vision to extend beyond the narrow range of those who would reduce sports to dull statistics and dollars & cents.

So to all the true Philly sports fans, Kotite's Corner salutes your courageous and heart-felt opposition to the Dawkins travesty, a travesty that is being shamefully "explained away" by all too many gutless media minions in this very town.


Josh B. said...

Holy Hyperbole, Batman!!

Look, I'm not going to disagree with you on your basic premise - the way the Eagles' FO handled this situation flat-out stunk. If Banner/Reid et al felt that Dawkins was no longer worth a large payday due to diminishing skills, they should have told him up front and let him find employment elsewhere, instead of playing the whole "we'd love for him to come back" nonsense. And if they really wanted an opportunity to match any offer he got on the FA market, then they should have made that absolutely clear to both his agent, and Dawkins himself.

HOWEVER...can we please stop with all of the chest-beating, garment-rending nonsense? Let's take a look at some of your points:

"But you also know that there was no greater leader on any team in any sport." - Really? NONE? Derek Jeter? Tom Brady? Seems to me that those guys have a couple of things that Dawkins doesn't - CHAMPIONSHIPS. Why is it that the lack of Superbowls in this town only reflects on the leadership skills of one player on this team? If Dawkins was the greatest leader of all time, then why haven't we won anything?

"Most of you have more sports knowledge in your little fingers than these self-appointed media and blogger experts have in their overly ample bodies." - Uh, yeah. OK. So this population of super-knowledgable fans was right when they declared that the sky was falling after the Eagles made the unforgivable sin of letting Bobby Taylor (out of football in 12 months) and Troy Vincent (moved from CB to FS after one season) go? Were we right when the fan base bought into the ridiculous hype surrounding Ricky Williams? Were we right when we called for Koy Detmer/AJ Feeley/Kevin Kolb/the guy that sells pretzels outside of the Linc to start over the 5-time Pro-bowl QB we've currently got on the roster? Philly fans are definitely well-informed, they know their stuff. BUT...

"...your passion is a gift that allows your vision to extend beyond the narrow range of those who would reduce sports to dull statistics and dollars & cents." - This is where I seriously disagree with you, man. Passion is great, but passion can cloud your thinking.

Passion from a fan base is a double-edged sword - it's the reason there's a gigantic waiting list for Eagles season tickets, but it's also the reason that SOME of us taunted Joe Jurevicius about the death of his infant son in 2003 - the reason that SOME of us thought it was perfectly OK to boo a 22-year-old kid on draft day because he wasn't the player we'd decided was our new savior - the reason that SOME of us continue to take our frustrations about not winning a championship and turn it into personal slurs at players whose greatest fault might just be that they're just not quite good enough to win a championship single-handedly (See: McNabb, Donovan, Schmidt, Mike, or Cunningham, Randall, for futher reference).

Please, man - the writers who are using this situation as an opportunity to poke fun at the fans, stir up controversy and make a name for themselves are jerks. But don't ever forget for a second that guys like Cataldi and Missanelli who tell you that you're "LIKE, TOTALLY THE SMARTEST, MOST PASSIONATEST FANS EVAH!!!1!!1!" are selling something, too.

Your passion does not make you special - it makes you a fan. It does not entitle you to a championship - and to take for granted the excitement (even the bittersweet excitement of too many near misses) that the Eagles have provided over the last 10 years because we haven't gotten all the way to the top of the mountain is pretty pathetic. Try telling a Detroit Lion fan about all of the injustices you've suffered at the hands of Lurie & Company. I'm sure they'll be very sympathetic.

Dawkins is gone, and it sucks. I'm mad as hell about it. But the honest truth of the matter is that this is the way the NFL works - and always has. Namath, Unitas, Montana, Lott, Rice, Emmitt Smith - not one of those guys finished their playing careers with the teams that they won championships with. So it goes. Move on already.

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