An Eagles season and the five stages of grief


In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler published her seminal book on death and dying, titled…err…”On Death and Dying,” which first put forth the idea of the “Five Stages of Grief.” While working with terminally ill patients, Kubler observed that patients typically traveled through “five stages” after being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance have become the widely accepted stages of terminally ill patients and has been expanded to people going through traumatic or life changing events. While the stages may be different for each individual, the theory has proven to be a valuable tool in helping those coping with tremendous stress and anxiety in their lives.

Sounds like an Eagles fan to me.

After years of great wailing and gnashing of teeth watching the Eagles flounder through season after season, I’ve identified the classic five stages every fan experiences watching one of the most inept franchises in the NFL fuck its way through lost season after lost season.

Denial: Typically starts around June, when the Phillies are already 55 games under .500 and sports talk hosts at WIP and the Fanatic have already run through all their planned segments for the summer. We’re only going to improve over last year, baby! Reaches its peak when the season schedule is released and fans throw out 14-2 and 15-1 predictions willy nilly. Glaring team deficiencies are glossed over with the belief that “they’ll work on them in OTAs and training camp” or “we’ll just sign a veteran after the rosters are released.” Usually the most optimistic stage of the season.

Example: “This is the year, baby. Wentz (Foles, Vick, Kolb, McNabb, Kafka, Hoying, Brister) is going to make the leap and get us over that hump. Sure, we don’t have any viable corners (offensive linemen, punt returners, running backs) but we’ll just roll coverage and be fine. 13-3 at worst!”

Anger: Team is 1-3 after its first four games and the city does what it does best…completely collapses in on itself and devolves into frothing masses calling for the replacement of every member of the roster. Nobody is safe. John from the Main Line will call WIP every day and loudly demand Wentz and Alshon Jeffery be traded for Andrew Luck. Why wouldn’t the Colts accept that trade? Will be dumped several times during the call for horrendous profanity and racial slurs. Marcus Hayes will publish a column that claims he predicted the down year, despite having published a column prior to the season declaring the Eagles the team to beat in the NFC East. Will block 99% of people on Twitter who point this out to him.

Example: “Fucking Carson Wentz fucking sucks. I knew he didn’t have it in him, how many god damn mother fucking cunting times do we have to see that piece of shit sail a pass over the middle of the field for an interception. I FUCKING HATE THIS TEAM FUCK MY LIFE. WHERE’S THE DOG?! ::tries to kick said dog, slips, bashes head on granite counter top and slips into deep, deep coma::

Bargaining: Team finds itself at 5-8 with a 3% probability of a playoff spot if it wins out the rest of its games. Deals are struck with the deity of a fans choice.

Example: “Dear Satan, I pledge my soul to you if you just let the Eagles win their last three game and the Giants, Redskins, Cowboys, Saints, Panthers and Lions lose their remaining games and the Bears tie their last three games. Please. I don’t ask you much.”

Depression: Usually achieved prior to season’s end. More Alcoholics Anonymous sobriety anniversary chips are rendered meaningless during this period of the season than any other. Marriages are clinging by a thread throughout the Delaware Valley. Suicide Hotline employees advise callers to just give up. No hope. Nothing but blackness.

Example: “What does it matter…nothing matters. Fucking Doug Pederson.” ::chugs a bottle of varnish::

Acceptance: Season ends, no playoffs but “plenty of bright spots” for next year. Realizes that if “just a few things had turned out differently” than 3-13 season could easily have been 10-6, 11-5. Definitely the favorites for the NFC East next year if the team can draft a few key positions.

Example: “Wentz looked good the first four games of the year. Just has to get over that hump next year and he’ll be a top-five QB no problem. Defense really wasn’t that bad, they did lead the league in third quarter interceptions when up by two or more touchdowns….”


One comment

  1. I don’t subscribe to the “Five Stages”. I prefer to be a bandwagon fan despite the abuse that this can entail. Step One: Ignore the preseason, the trades, releases and signings, the OTAs, the long-shot free agents, and the predictions. Pay no attention to the coaches. Step Two: Enjoy the Fall in all its glory. Visit friends at the beach or mountains, hike, walk the dog, rake leaves, watch other sports [soccer, boxing, end of Phils or start of Sixers]. Just never watch the Birds. Step Three: At Thanksgiving assess the situation, overall record, standing within the Eastern Division. If they are out of it, often the case, prepare for Christmas. With a chance of the playoffs, jump on the bandwagon. Begin to watch games but still expect failure. Step Four: The Sunday before Christmas make the ultimate decision, get your hopes up and eagerly root until the end. Or go out and buy the tree. Thus your season is really at most six weeks. The earlier weeks were a CWT [colossal waste of time]. You have now either been rewarded for your boarding the bandwagon or can rest in the certitude that you have used your time and psychic energy wisely. Try it – we are still at Step One.


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