I was reading up on Bert Bell the other day, you know, the well-to-do gentleman from the Main Line who bought the rights to own the Philadelphia franchise in the NFL for $2500 back in 1933. Bell of course was soon drafted by his fellow owners to become the commissioner of the league. What I didn’t realize was, after two decades of overseeing the growth of the league well into the burgeoning TV stage of pro football’s growth and popularity, Bell was planning to step down from the commissioner’s office in order to resume ownership of his beloved Eagles. That plan ended abruptly when he got so excited watching a long game-winning TD pass caught by Tommy McDonald in 1959 that he suffered a fatal heart attack.
That’s probably the quintessential example of a die-hard Eagles fan. It’s also a real-life case of putting your money where your heart is.
If Bell were alive today I think he’d like what his Eagles were doing this offseason so far. They’ve been careful and selective in free agency. They brought players back like DE Brandon Graham, CB Ronald Darby and DE Vinny Curry on extremely team-friendly deals. Likewise a new and cheaper contract gives ancient LT Jason Peters another go-round. They got veteran depth additions like safety Andrew Sendejo and linebacker L.J. Fort at bargain value. They made prudent decisions to let QB Nick Foles and WR Golden Tate (and DE Michael Bennett by trading him) seek their fortunes elsewhere.
And as Chris McPherson of PE.com points out:
ESPN polled its team of writers on a number of free agency-related topics and one of them was to name the team, outside of the Cleveland Browns, that is the most improved. Kevin Seifert chose the Eagles.
“Let’s not forget what the Eagles have done, amid outsized concerns that they would be too tight against the salary cap to do much,” Seifert wrote. “They signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson to play alongside Fletcher Cox, as potent an interior pairing as there is in the NFL. And they brought back receiver DeSean Jackson, who is still one of the NFL’s top deep threats and is adept at the routes quarterback Carson Wentz throws best.”
What possible complaints could there be?