Today my Team of Destiny, the Philadelphia Eagles, sit on the precipice of history — what better place to sit, other than on a comfy beanbag chair with a PBR-in-a-can in your right hand? — and this unlikely reality makes me, at once, the smartest man in America and the angriest man in America.
We’ll deal with the smart part first, so maybe by the time we get to the angry part, I won’t be as angry.
The Team of Destiny is the most successful prognostication program of its kind in U.S. history. It has been studied and analyzed by institutions as diverse as the Wharton School of Business, Caesars Palace Sports Book and the Vatican.
The Team of Destiny series began in 1996, when Couch Slouch emphatically stated that the expansion Carolina Panthers — in their second year as a franchise — would make the Super Bowl. The Panthers went 12-4 and tantalizingly lost in the NFC championship game.
In 1997, the next Team of Destiny, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — coming off 14 straight losing seasons — finished 10-6 and made the playoffs.
In 1999, the Indianapolis Colts stamped the Team of Destiny as “the surest thing in America” (TASS News Agency; Dec. 28, 1999) when they orchestrated the biggest one-year turnaround in NFL history — from 3-13 to 13-3 — before losing in the postseason.
And, in 2008, the Team of Destiny surged as never before when the Arizona Cardinals — who had one playoff victory in the previous 50 years — rode Couch Slouch gridiron muse Kurt Warner into the Super Bowl.
Yes, I have occasionally misfired — as recently as 2009, I touted the Detroit Lions, who finished 2-14 — but sometimes even genius takes a day off; everyone remembers Michelangelo for “David,” but a couple of years earlier, he did a sculpture called “Daryl” that nearly got him thrown out of online art school.
In 2010, most experts picked the Eagles to finish next-to-last or last in the NFC East after Coach Andy Reid dumped Donovan McNabb. But Couch Slouch — despite failed laser eye surgery several autumns ago — had vision. Vision, courage and intelligence far beyond my family’s expectations.
(Column Intermission I: By the way, somebody please tell me how acting stud Robert De Niro went from “Godfather: Part II” to “Meet the Fockers.” From “Taxi Driver” to “Little Fockers.” For starters, I guess, De Niro swapped quality for quantity — in the 1970s and ‘80s, he made 27 movies; in the 1990s and 2000s, he made 43. Heck, when I was in high school, he was the next Olivier; nowadays, he’s a step or two away from being the next Ochocinco.)
Okay, the Eagles made me look smart, but they’ve also made me angry. Very, very angry. Internet angry.
All of us, of course, remember the signature moment of the season, DeSean Jackson’s breathtaking 65-yard punt return that climaxed the Eagles’ fourth-quarter rally from a 31-10 deficit to a 38-31 victory over the New York Giants. Jackson’s game-ending thunderbolt induced Giants Coach Tom Coughlin to throw his notes disgustedly onto the field, then go home and sit in a dark room alone for 2½ hours. Meanwhile, New York City was in such a state of shock, you would’ve thought Soviet troops had invaded Times Square.
But overlooked was the audacity — check that, the stupidity — of Jackson. He started to celebrate the play at the 30-yard line — that’s 30 yards away from the end z one — by holding the ball skyward. He even switched hands with the ball twice. Then, when he got down to the goal line, did he simply run into the end zone? No. He turned his back on the end zone and, running parallel to it at the 2-yard line, pranced around like a Rockette on Red Bull for a couple of seconds.
It was the single dumbest, most mind-boggling, me-first maneuver possible. It was pathetic. It was inexcusable. And — heaven forbid he dropped the ball or tripped on his own hubris — it could’ve derailed the Team of Destiny.
Anyway, I don’t want to start the New Year angry, so I’ll be smart again: Everything in Sports Nation these days is apocalyptic, so I imagine for the Eagles to get to Super Bowl 45, Michael Vick will have to return to Atlanta and beat the Falcons. It’s even possible Vick will get hurt and Kevin Kolb improbably will save the day. How do I know this? Genius doesn’t take the NFL postseason off, my friends.
Q. The NFL fined Brett Favre $50,000 for his cellphone indiscretions. Isn’t that just chump change? (Paul Southers; Charleston, W.Va.)
A. Actually, it seems like a pretty stiff roaming charge.
Q. Why aren’t you on Facebook? (Brian Hargrove; Cayce, S.C.)
A. Have you seen my face?
Q. What fact would you like all of America to know that most of America doesn’t know? (Michael Cooke; Milwaukee)
A. In bowling, there are 39 boards on a lane, and each board is about an inch wide.
Q. Do you think Bravo would pick up the show “The Real Ex-Wives of Norman Chad? (David Han; Silver Spring)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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