THIS MAY SEEM like an odd way to begin a celebration of Eagles football, but I'd like to pause, briefly, to remember the franchise's darkest hour.� No, it wasn't that Monday Night Football game in 1991 in which offensive lineman Antone Davis did his best impression of a turnstile against the Redskins. Nor was it Terrell Owens's turning training camp into his personal circus a couple of years ago. And it did not come in those sloppy, pre-Vermeil years when Roman Gabriel was behind center either.
The darkest moment came in 1984, when it appeared that the Eagles might actually leave Philadelphia.
Leonard Tose, then the owner of the Eagles, said he might move the team to Phoenix. My vivid, albeit slightly random, memory of that episode from my teenage years is seeing a report on Channel 6—Action News!—in which angry fans had gathered outside a barbershop where Tose was getting a haircut. "Tell him to come outside," an older man said. "I'll give him a haircut."
For a couple of seconds that guy was my hero.
Thankfully, no special haircuts were needed. Tose sold the team to Norman Braman, the St. Louis Cardinals eventually took the bait and moved to Arizona, and the Eagles stayed where they belong.
Remembering that the Eagles could have left Philadelphia is important because it helps us appreciate, in the manner of It's a Wonderful Life, all that Eagles fans are so lucky to have.
Without the team, think of all the great moments fans would have missed over the last 23 years.
We would never have seen the wizardry of Randall Cunningham. Remember that game against Buffalo in 1990 when Cunningham, seemingly trapped in his own end zone, eluded the grasp of Bruce Smith, scrambled across the field and connected with Fred Barnett for a 95-yard touchdown?
We never would have seen the "body bag" game against the Redskins in '90, in which Buddy Ryan's savage defense knocked out nine players, including two quarterbacks, and scored three defensive touchdowns.
Or the '92 game in which Bud Carson's defense made a mess of John Elway, holding him to 59 yards passing at the Vet.