I am late to the scene, as usual, but this past Monday night my Philadelphia Eagles lambasted the Washington football club with the racist team name to the tune of 59-28. (Although Washington’s 28 is slightly misleading because the Eagles were up 35-0 before Washington did anything at all.) They set a bunch of team records, and their 45 first-half points were the most by a visiting team in one half in the history of the NFL.
Moreover, this was an intra-divisional match-up, a rivalry game, and it followed Washington’s 17-12 win over the Eagles on their home turf (which caused me to stop blogging about the Eagles, after this overconfident blog post prior to the game).
So you’ll understand when I say that watching this game was very, very sweet. Nick Paumgarten of The New Yorker wrote on the website about missing the first quarter of play, but this summed it up: “As an Eagles fan—as a fan of anything—you don’t get many moments of unadulterated bliss.” That’s what this was, from that first, 88-yard touchdown strike to the last touchdown, an interception returned forty yards for a touchdown by the rising star Dimitri Patterson (who also helped shut down Reggie Wayne and the Indianapolis Colts).
Interestingly, a moral or at least an emotional dimension of the game has emerged since the final gun sounded. During the broadcast, there were a few shots of pre-game scuffling between the teams, in particular Washington safety LaRon Landry jawing with Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. It’s since come out that Landry and cornerback DeAngelo Hall taunted Jackson, who missed a game three weeks ago with a concussion, by making “go to sleep” gestures. (As in, you know, we’re going to knock you out.) And Eagles center Mike McGlynn has accused Landry of spitting in his face during point-after attempts.
The spitting thing may be bogus, though the NFL is investigating, but I haven’t heard anyone dispute the “go to sleep” taunts. Various Eagles have as much as said that the pre-game taunting fired them up. It’s just piling on at this point to say that Washington deserved the drubbing in some sense, but it is an interesting case of bad behavior being punished directly on the field.
And it ties in interestingly, if maybe tangentially, to the whole Michael Vick storyline. I tend to think that what I’ve heard of commentators drawing in his dog fighting crimes, and the difficult ethics of rooting for a convict, are a bit of a stretch. My feeling is that he did his time, and that to continue to say “Yes, but . . .” sort of undermines the idea that we can be rehabilitated. (Although I suppose that, if the narrative being spun by sports commentators is that Vick is on a road of redemption, calling back to his misdeeds is perhaps fair enough.) But I mention this just to acknowledge it; you’d have to be pretty dense to talk about justice, and bad guys getting theirs, when the avenger himself has a pretty spotty past.