The Sports & Fitness Industry Association maintains seven years ago kids six-to-seventeen had a team sports participation rate of 54 percent.
They claim this year that rate resides somewhere south of 50 percent. Football allegedly has taken the biggest hit – down 10.5 percent.
The participation rate of Philadelphia Eagles during their game in Cincinnati Sunday afternoon was considerably lower.
In an age where controversial “Participation Awards” are given for just showing up…few Eagles did.
A caller into a Philadelphia sports talk show reported that on Sunday he was sitting in a bar, raising a toast to a friend he had just said a sad, tearful farewell to that morning.
After watching the first quarter of the Eagles-Bengals game he wished he was still at the funeral.
Since I haven’t written anything about the Eagles this season let me begin by saying I wasn’t a fan of the Carson Wentz acquisition. The team had (has) many issues to be addressed and sending away picks for a project wasn’t my way to fill all the holes the organization had (has). (If there had been a QB in the draft I felt was ready for prime-time from Day One I may have had a different opinion but that’s a pretty big “may.”)
Flash forward to days before the opener when the Eagles sent away incumbent QB Sam Bradford to Minnesota. The “Wentz Wagon” started to bulge at the seams as the team got off to a 3-0 start among hysterically high expectations. People conveniently forgot the team around him wasn’t any good to begin with…and with a rookie Head Coach at that. (Criticism after results…but in my defense I can document – elsewhere – I predicted a Bradford-led Eagles squad would not even win seven games)
After Sunday’s gruesome 32-14 loss to a Bengals team without A.J. Green, Gio Bernard…and with the added advantage of having Marvin Lewis as the opposing team’s sideline “guru”…the Eagles at 5-7 appear to be as unorganized, undisciplined and uninterested a group as we’ve seen in these parts in quite a while.
Head Coach Doug Pederson, after initially saying after the game he felt the Eagles played hard, admitted during yet another bizarre press conference the next day yeah, “not everybody” played hard. This is but the latest in a series of amazing admissions from Pederson who has been defending most all of his play-calling and decision-making processes in such a way even competing reporters compare notes to make sure they actually heard what they heard.
Most all of us gave Doug a pass at his hiring – most all of us would like to give him a pass straight out of town now. His honeymoon is the shortest given to an Eagles HC ever…and that’s saying an awful lot for a fan base who has endured a litany of lousy leaders. He is overwhelmed and was not ready for this gig.
When the “Q” word enters your locker room things have hit rock-bottom. Quitting is a word athletes don’t like associated with them. In Philadelphia when enough fans believe a player has quit on them they not only quit on that player but “brand” them for eternity. That’s where we’re at now – analysts trying to break down every milli-second of game film like it’s a Zapruder flick to determine whether each guy is balling out…or curling up in a ball.
Eagles TE Zach Ertz in particular has been cited for declining the opportunity to block the Bengals’ bad-boy linebacker Vontaze Burfict in the first – the first – quarter while Wentz was scrambling for a first down. Ertz maintains he could see Carson headed out of bounds to safety and there was no need to take down Burfict. Maybe the optics wouldn’t look so bad if Zach hadn’t spoken prior to the game about knowing of Vontaze’s chippy reputation first-hand from playing against each other in college. (Ertz was already working at the high end of the local criticism meter for a continuing habit of prematurely ending his catches)
There were many instances Sunday where the Eagles collectively looked like they wanted to be anywhere – ANYWHERE – but in the dark Cincinnati cold. Down 29-0 at one point to a team with a worse record supposedly reeling out of control faster than yours?
The passionless play is infinitely more troubling when you consider a week ago Pederson declared after the loss to Green Bay he was now looking to see who wants to be around next year.
Doug…not a lot of takers on that offer.