I got home from the JDRF Walk bushed beyond belief. Still, the Eagles were playing on TV, and as a good fan I wanted to watch.
When I say “on TV,” in this case I’m talking about on TV somewhere other than Connecticut. In order to see the game, I had to find a place where they were showing the game. I headed to “Eli’s on Whitney.”¹
Me in a bar is sort of laughable. I don’t have anything against alcohol – I just don’t drink.
I take that back. Two or three times a year I’ll have a Bailey’s, which is closer to chocolate milk than booze.
Eli’s is centered around a large rectangular bar with seating on three sides. On the walls above the bar, and the walls inside the bar, are TVs. On Sundays, every NFL game is shown. The more popular games have multiple sets. ‘Glamor’ games with Cleveland or Kansas City (or both) have just one.
I walked in around 1:15 PM. The bar wasn’t particularly crowded, so I found a spot near one of the TVs showing the Eagles – Oakland game.
There were groups of people watching together, but I stood off to the side, against a wall, by myself. The only person I knew, at the bar with a date, was watching a different game.
I ordered a Diet Pepsi and some fried mozzarella. I also told the waitress, though I’d be drinking soda, I’d be tipping like I was drinking alcohol. I didn’t want her to spend the afternoon thinking I as a low value customer (which, to her bosses, I was).
The day started very poorly for the Eagles. On the opening kickoff, kicker David Akers fell to the field, writhing in pain. There was a penalty, and amazingly, Akers tried again… only to fall down in pain again. Another penalty. A scrub came in to make a very short kickoff on the third attempt.
All day long that would be a major advantage for Oakland.
The Raiders scored first, then the Eagles. With Akers unavailable, Mark Simoneau came in and missed the point after. The score was 7-6.
Donovan McNabb, the favorite quarterback of nearly everyone but Rush Limbaugh, seemed out-of sorts. Passes went too far… or too short. There were lots of passes which could easily be labeled, “intended for the security guard.”
Oakland’s Warren Sapp dropped one sure interception of a McNabb pass and caught another.
Though the score remained close, the Eagles were going nowhere. Luckily, as bad a day as the Eagles were having, they were playing a team whose entire season will be worse!
Let me cut to the chase. The Eagles went ahead. Then, as time ran down, Oakland tied the score. The Eagles got the ball back with 2:15 to go, moved most of the length of the field, ending up on the 5 yard line with :12 remaining.
Unbelievably, David Akers limped out onto the field. His short field goal attempt was good!
As the ball left his foot, he fell to the ground, again in pain. Close-up shots showed he was crying.
Yes, it was great that the Eagles won, but even better was what David Akers showed. He’s a long standing pro with nothing to prove. But, when called upon, he showed he had heart.
I would guess it’s any sports player’s fantasy to make the big play that wins the game. To do that under the duress of acute physical pain only makes the final victory sweeter.
Actually, I’m just guessing. I was never on anything more athletic than the math team.
¹ If you’re reading this from somewhere other than Connecticut, you should know Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin and had the world’s first assembly line right in New Haven. Sure, “Eli’s on Whitney” is located in the next town north, but it’s the thought that counts.