If the Philadelphia Eagles manage to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII Sunday — and I believe they will — Washington Commanders fans will lose a coveted place in bragging rights between the NFC East teams.
For many years — at least since the first Joe Gibbs glory era — Washington fans have been able to hold over their Philadelphia rivals a championship superiority. It was more pronounced before the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2017. It was always seen as somewhat of an equalizer when the Eagles, under Andy Reid, used the Redskins as door mats while winning six NFC East titles from 2001 to 2010, had zero Super Bowls to show for all their success during the poisonous era of Skipper Dan the Sailing Man in Washington.
Like the team has done when it had suited their needs, fans would trot out the three Super Bowl titles — 1982, 1987 and 1991 — to remind Philly fans about what really counted. Nothing wrong with that. It’s one of the long-term benefits of having a championship resume — to hold it over your enemies who don’t.
But if the Eagles manage to beat the Chiefs Sunday — a game where, like a championship fighter, the Eagles will win the physical battle in the later rounds — that gives them two Super Bowls and five NFL championships — the latter number the same as Washington.
The Eagles won the NFL championship in 1948 and 1949. Chuck Bednarik was on that 1949 NFL championship team. You want to visit Concrete Charlie’s grave at Holy Saviour Cemetery in Bethlehem and tell him that championship didn’t really count?
They won it in 1960 as well — Sonny Jurgensen’s only NFL championship ring.
I know most of you would like to believe the world began when you were born — or when ESPN started — but the fact is that perhaps the most important championship the Washington football franchise ever won was in 1937, led by rookie quarterback sensation and future Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh. It was the first year the franchise was in Washington after it failed following five years in Boston, and it helped put NFL football in this town on solid ground.
Believe me, after those early days of success, this franchise would need that foundation for what was to come — two winning seasons for 20 years — until the great Vince Lombardi arrived in 1969 and changed the direction of the organization in one season with a 7-5-2 record.
There is no telling if the team would have survived in Washington without those early championship seasons — the one in 1937 and a second in 1942. The Cardinals played in Chicago in those days. The Rams played in Cleveland. There was a football team called the Dodgers in Brooklyn.
I know it may be hard for some of you to believe, but those championships counted. They are a part of whatever sense of pride this franchise has, despite being something in the history books. Or do you think the sad Washington football fans that have come along since 1991 should discount those three Super Bowl championships because they didn’t witness them?
The “Super Bowl” era may be some sort of line of demarcation that historians and fans alike have adopted, but it should not diminish what came before. It was just as hard to win an NFL championship in 1937 as it is in 2023. They had different challenges then — like, for instance, no blue tent on the sideline where players could get checked for concussions. Heck, the American Football Coaches Association didn’t declare until 1937 that concussed players should be taken out of a game. From the concussion lawsuits just a few years ago, we know how well that edict worked.
If the Eagles fall short Sunday, the disturbing thing for Washington fans is that this Eagles organization is so strong that they will likely get another shot — and maybe another — before Washington ever gets the opportunity to add to its trophy case. A Philadelphia win, though, puts Washington closer to the bottom of the championship pile in the NFC East — the New York Giants lead with eight NFL championships (four Super Bowls), while the Dallas Cowboys have five NFL championships (five Super Bowls).
Of course, when Skipper Dan sells the Commanders, that will qualify as a Super Bowl championship of sorts for Washington football fans — perhaps with a trophy of a miniature yacht.
⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.
• Thom Loverro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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