Put to rest what you thought of last season. We could come up with 100 reasons or excuses why the Eagles were 8-8 and out of the playoffs in 2011, but when foot meets pigskin shortly after 7:30 tonight, the past is in the past.
It's all about 2012 now.
This of course is part of the allure of the NFL. When the curtain finally rises on a new act, almost every one of the league's 32 teams have a legitimate shot at winning the Super Bowl. Obviously through 46 big games the law of averages has yet to lift the Birds to glory, while a franchise like the Steelers has been blessed with six titles. History doesn't tilt either side's chances at winning XLVII one way or another though.
It's in the hands of this group of players and coaches, another year older, bolstered by reinforcements, and hopeful the lessons of last season are learned. Time to walk out of the tunnel at Lincoln Financial Field to write the story that Philadelphia is wishing will end with a Lombardi Trophy presentation.
And then we are transported back to August, mindful this is only a preseason encounter where the final score is of no consequence, and the only thing that truly matters is nobody gets hurt. We always say these games don't count, that they don't offer a window into how good or bad the squad is, but make no mistake, these players are working toward a goal.
The starters will only play one quarter, some perhaps less, but there are plenty of jobs up for grabs, guys who are fighting to make this roster. Over the past two days, we talked about some players on offense and defense who we will keep a close eye on tonight, but there literally are competitions taking place all over the field.
As an aside, the Eagles and Steelers aren't the only groups who need the practice, either. The NFL is currently working with replacement officials from varying levels of college and semi-pro leagues while they work through a lockout with the regular crew. You wouldn't think it would make a difference, but the officials in Sunday's HOF Game were so bad, players reportedly were laughing at them. Mike Pereira, former Vice President of Officiating, suggested some of these people may have come from the Lingerie Football League.
Finally, as fans set aside their feelings for Andy Reid the head coach and embrace Andy Reid the person during this difficult period, we are counting on a tremendous gesture of support for the head coach and his family from those in attendance. That is all.