The biggest storyline to me from last night's 38-20 drubbing wasn't DeSean Jackson's multitude of selfish displays, Tom Brady carving up the Eagles' defense like a cooked bird, a RAW-style confrontation between members of the coaching staff, or even the loud "Fire Andy" chants that broke out (watch video) as the last drips of hope for this season circled the drain. John Smallwood caught it:
[The fans] actually delivered a message to Lurie more powerful than any "Andy Must Go!" chant.
Eagles fans got out of their high-priced seats and left.
In the 17 years that I've been in Philadelphia, I've seen Eagles fans leave a game early when the cause seemed to be lost, but I don't ever recall them starting a mass exodus with more than 6 minutes left in the third quarter.
The sea of humanity that flooded the exits much earlier than usual actually began before the Eagles' horrendous 4th and 1 call from the Patriots' two-yard line. Quite a few had already seen enough after New England's previous possession, a 69-yard touchdown drive that ended with a nine-yard pitch and catch to Wes Welker, not to mention a lengthy, unnecessary review. Some left their seats one play before the score during an injury timeout.
In fact, a steady trickle had begun by halftime. A handful never returned to their seats at all to watch the second act.
For years, select fans have pitched this idea of boycotting Eagles games and merchandise. It's largely been met with disinterest, even among those who agree with the message being sent to the organization:
But on Sunday, Eagles fans had themselves an old-fashioned walkout. The streams heading up or down the steps were noticeable throughout most of the third quarter and into the fourth, until there were about eight minutes remaining. Then it stopped.
By that time, huge spans of seats were empty.
And the streams moving up and down the steps weren't heading inside to purchase food or beer, nor running to the bathrooms to vomit following such a sickening display. They were going to their cars to get far, far away from the mess this football team has become. Spending an hour stuck inside a congested parking lot was a more worthwhile use of their evening than watching Garbage Time starring Vince Young and Brian Hoyer.
As I filed out myself, I noticed a merchandise tent with exactly one customer and about 10 employees. Any other night, they would have been busy at work, perhaps with a throng of people pushing their way up front to hand their hard-earned money over to the Philadelphia Eagles football club.
Yesterday, the clerks stared straight ahead, the looks on their faces glossed over -- all but one anyway. A young man behind the counter leaned over and let out a short, uncomfortable laugh, seemingly unsure of his own reaction. This was a highly unusual shift... but it probably won't be for the rest of this season, and maybe beyond.
The mob has spoken. From the chants, to the mass exodus from the stadium, to the entrepreneurs in the lots and on the Internet hawking "Fire Andy" T-shirts, to the callers on talk radio and the commenters in our forums, one thing is clear: bringing back Andy Reid is simply bad business.
Jeffrey Lurie finally had a taste of that on Sunday, and I don't think he liked it.