I'm still in shock from the news that Philadelphia Eagles' defensive coordinator Jim Johnson passed away today from his battle with cancer. I knew he had the cancer, I knew he had step aside from his duties with the team, I knew that defensive assistant coach Sean McDermott had been promoted to D coordinator this past weekend, I just had no idea it was this bad.
So this post is not going to be coherent or grammatically correct and frankly, I don't even care. I feel like I'm walking around in a fog right now and I just can't shake it, so I'm not even going to try.
I know when most people think of the Eagles over the past 10 years (TEN YEARS!), they instantly think of head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb. But true Eagles fans have always known the truth. We would not have made the Super Bowl appearance, five NFC Championship game trips and won multiple NFC East division titles without Johnson and safety Brian Dawkins (who recently signed with the Denver Broncos). They were the brain and soul of the team and now they are both gone.
It's no wonder to me that Spags has done well with the Giants (and will do well with St. Louis) and Harbaugh did well in his first season in Baltimore. To say Johnson was a defensive genius would not be an overstatement. He saw that side of the ball in a way no one else could. He got it that he didn't have to leave to be a head coach (had multiple offers through the years), he knew what he was good at and was comfortable in it.
This upcoming season is going to be weird for me. No Johnson. No Dawkins. No watching every single game of the year with Dad at my parents house.
I know the times are a changing, but isn't this a bit much all at once?
At first I was wondering while I was so broken up about the passing of a defensive coach - a man I've never even met. But then I started thinking about it. I've watched almost EVERY Eagles game for the past decade. That's 16-18 games a year times ten. After that much time, something like that can't help but become a part of who you are and I lost part of that today. Maybe it was the culmination of Dawkins leaving and the fact that I won't be home for the games this year that Johnson's death just put it all over the top.
I was talking to my buddy Paul tonight about it and he totally understood my sadness. He noted that if it made me feel any better, his family had to put one of his dogs to sleep today. He went on to say that he had been recently thinking about getting another dog, but wondered what's the point when you KNOW you're going to outlive it.
I don't really know how it all relates, but to me it does tonight. I get why people don't invest in teams, or pets, or other people and don't really blame them. But I guess that's the glory of it all: you can't get the good moments in life without chancing the bad.
Hope you do get another dog someday Paulie. I will be right there with you, rooting on a new era of Philadelphia Eagles football.