Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Why not us?

By Steven Lienert

Two-thousand-six wasn't the best year the Lienert household has seen. And 2007 ain't shapin' up much better.

It would have made matters worse, however, if the Eagles hadn't literally risen from the dead.

Instead, there's something to root for in Philly on New Years' Eve -- and beyond.

Who woulda thunk Jeff Garcia was our savior?

Who woulda thunk Brian Westbrook could not only become a vocal leader, but an every-down back?

Who woulda thunk Brian Dawkins would have discovered Ponce DeLeon's map to the fountain of youth and drug his defense kicking-and-screaming into the postseason?

Who thought that, after the debacle against Tennessee, the Birds had a better chance at the No. 1 pick than to make the postseason? I did -- and I'm about as diehard as it gets.

As I told my family and friends after the Eagles disposed of T.O. and the Cowboys on Christmas night, now is the time to appreciate the possibilities.

The Eagles could have a home game, either against the Giants or Packers. No matter the opponent, both are winnable, especially at the Linc.

The next step would be a rematch in New Orleans. With the injuries to the Saints' defense and the sudden unpredictability of the Eagles' offense, the Birds can (and will) pull out the win. Besides, can the Saints realistically go to the Super Bowl? If they do, will the Earth spin on an opposite axis? Isn't that like saying the Cardinals will play the Browns for the NFL title?

If the Eagles win in New Orleans, they'll go to Chicago for the NFC Championship. Or host Seattle (or, if the gods' smile on us, Dallas), which, in all seriousness, is a realistic possibility.

The Seahawks would be lucky -- very, very lucky -- to upend the Bears, let alone beat Dallas. If they -- or the Boys -- come to Philly, the Eagles will host a lottery for tickets to SB XLI. If not, however, the Eagles will go to Chicago to play the Bears for the NFC crown.

And they'll win. Why? The Eagles are, by far, the most playoff battle-tested team in the NFC. And there ain't no way Rex Grossman can be a Super Bowl quarterback. That would be an embarrassment to Super Bowl quarterbacks everywhere.

The only way the Bears will beat the Eagles in the playoffs right now is if they pump in fog off the shores of Lake Michigan again. Let's face it, the Birds -- not the Bears -- are the team to beat right now in the NFC.

Five weeks ago, after the Titans kicked the Eagles' collective ass at the Linc, I was sure it was over.

Now we, as fans, are living on borrowed -- or resurrected -- time. That makes anything possible -- even for the most skeptical of Eagles' fans.

Late in 2004, former Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling, who was then pitching for the Red Sox, gave out 'Why Not Us?' T-shirts to each of his Boston teammates. They went on to win the World Series, which ended 86 years of suffering for New Englanders everywhere.

Perhaps it's a a mantra the 2006 Eagles should adopt. Because if the Birds advance beyond the NFC title game, they'll be facing a beat-up AFC team that went through at least two of the top five teams in the NFL to get where they are.

Maybe they'll be ripe for the picking. Maybe it's our turn. Maybe Garcia will be our sports' version of Moses. Even if it isn't meant to be, isn't now the time to dream?

Why not us?

Lienert can be reached at

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