It's Aussie Fan Spotlight time! This week we talk to a hardcore Eagles fan, but please, don't hold that against him. Enjoy!
Firstly, who are you, what do you do, where do you live and who do you support?
My name is Scott Langford, originally from Melbourne now living and working in Geelong as part of the Stadium Management Group at Simonds Stadium.
I have been an avid Philadelphia Eagles fan since I started following the NFL in 1998.
How did you come to support that team?
My dad got me into NFL originally and I had a small interest. Then eventually I decided I needed to choose a team.
Being that Philly are on the east coast, and the time zone difference generally meant east coast games are broadcast here, a lot of the games I saw were Eagles games, so I took a little bit of interest in them, despite their poor form at the time.
I also had an interest in NCAA football and loved this young QB who played for Syarcuse at the time, Donovan McNabb. When he got drafted to the Birds, that was yet another reason to follow them. From then on I was an Eagles fan, and my passion continued to grow throughout the early 2000's when the team was going through that very successful period.
Who is your favorite player currently on the roster?
I love all the boys, but Shady McCoy is my main man. I'm a follower of the Big East conference (I went to college just outside Syracuse) so I'm partial to guys who come through that conference, regardless of where they played. The year we drafted him, we were predicted to take an RB and I was hopeful it would be him. His skill set and talent works perfectly with the style of football Andy Reid promotes, and he is a weapon I really enjoy watching.
Who is your all time favourite player?
Without doubt Brian Dawkins. What he meant to that team for the 12 years he was with us, being the heart of soul of that squad, he was a joy to watch. His passion and intensity was unmatched and was something I really admired. It's a rare intangible thing to be that good at being a vocal and physical leader, and he bought it 100% every time he played for us. I'll never forget the day he left the Eagles after the 2008 season, it cut me pretty deep that we let him go. First ballot Hall of Famer, and I fully intend on being in Canton to see him inducted. A true role model.
One quick story that validated that, I was at an Eagles game at FedEx Field against the Redskins, late 2008. We were down 10-3 with a few minutes remaining, had the ball inside the 5 yard line, needed to go the length to tie the game. TV timeout just before we start that series. The offence is on the field waiting. Defence is obviously off the field. Except Dawk. I remember him being on the sideline , then all of a sudden sprinting 60 odd yards to where the boys where on the field, and pumping up all 11 guys, smacking them on the helmet and giving what I can only imagine was his trademark passionate words of support. Then sprinting all the way back off before the timeout is over, and starts screaming and inspiring from the sideline. Nobody does that. He is non stop.
That Brian Dawkins moment in 2008 I recall because I was at that game too! I remember unfortunately for Dawk the Skins won. Is there anybody on the team now who you think provides that leadership role?
Was a heartbreaking loss that one, remember it like it was yesterday. The D-Jax drop in the endzone and Reggie Brown being tackled midair a yard short as time expired.
In terms of that sort of leadership, there is nobody who will ever match what Dawk delivered (at least not on our team). But in terms of leadership and being “that guy” who we need, DeMeco Ryans stands out for sure. I think the biggest part of being able to get him from the Texans goes far beyond the hole he fills on our D, but what he can bring to that group as a leader. We have a very young LB group, and a young D in general, and whilst he’s not seasoned vet, what he brings to the table will be huge for us. To hear the reaction of his Texans teammates when he left, how vital they considered him as an on-field general, speaks volumes. It has stuck out like dogs balls just how much we lack a vocal leader ever since Dawk left. I think Ryans will do a great job of filling that void.
I think Vick brings a certain leadership quality we’ve not really seen from him. I wouldn’t put him in the same level as Ryans, but he’s been able to develop a mentality as the leader of our team and franchise since taking the starting role. Obviously his circumstance is well known and different to any other player in the league, and if you look at how he was as a Falcon to how he is now, his maturity as a player, not to mention the fact he’s extremely grateful to even be relevant anymore, it has bought out a quality in him I don’t think people automatically see.
What was your best moment as a fan?
2004 NFC Championship Game victory stands out. Any time your team makes the Super Bowl would be special. But that win was massive. The 3 straight losses the previous 3 seasons in the title game, we finally got over that hump and we were bound for Jacksonville. Aside from the Bills in the early 90's, I'm not sure there would ever be a tougher, more emotionally draining losing period for a fan base than those 3 straight title game losses, so to finally win the NFC was such a great moment. I was up that morning, 3am before school, cheering them on. I think the excitement from that win was what kept me from falling asleep in class later than day. I was buzzing! For McNabb to finally lead us to the Super Bowl, to see the Philly fans finally see their Eagles make it, was a great feeling.
Special mention to the Miracle in the Meadowlands #2. I made sure to remind every Giants fan I met in college of that game.
Best moment in person was seeing Asante Samuel's first Pick 6 as an Eagle, happened right in front of me. Monday Night Football vs Cleveland.
The Eagles appeared to let the pressure of the 'Dream Team' label get to them last season, do you think they'll have toughened up mentally for 2012?
I tend to think the team tried to distance themselves from that label and the comments the VY made. It’s important to note, aside from the comment from Young, nobody else within the organisation ever uttered the words “dream team”, and VY was pulled aside and pretty much told to shut up, so it’s not as if we walked around all pre season running our mouths.
Certainly it put a significant amount of unneeded pressure from the outside on the team, and that may very well do down in history as one of the bigger follies we’ve seen. Last season was a disaster, but I really don’t think trying to live up to expectations was the cause of our downfall. There were a lot of factors that went into our lack of success. That said, I think the team now knows the modesty is the best approach. I’m hopeful the lessons from last year and well and truly learnt and we can atone for the simple things we did wrong last season.
You certainly got that feeling late in the season last year that once we’d pretty much been written off, we finally had things rolling and just went and played football the way we should have. Our last 4 weeks we had that form I think everyone knew we had in us, and we blew teams off the field. Things started to click, and it should hopefully roll over into the new season. Most importantly I think we've had a year to develop into what was actually a pretty drastic change going into last year. Not only all the new players we bought in, but new coaches and systems.
Philadelphia is the kind of city where you have to be pretty tough to survive the spotlight. If you’re not mentally strong after playing in Philly, then I’m not sure what’s going on with you. So mentally I think the team will be very well prepared.
Michael Vick just recently claimed he thought the Eagles could be a 'dynasty'. Didn't he just put the same amount of pressure on his players as the 'Dream Team' label did last season?
I cringed a little but honestly I’m not fussed. The context of the comments needs to be considered. It was really just a way of saying the sky is the limit for this team, which I think most people know to be true. The difference between saying “will” and “could” is pretty big, so I don’t think he was coming out and putting a jinx on us, nor do I feel these comments will blow up in his face. At least not like last years comments did. Saying that, had the “dream team” comments not been made, I’m not sure a big deal would have been made about what Vick said.
I think it’s good he knows the potential in this team, and hope he can use that vision to make it happen this season. The way our team is built, there are a fair chunk of guys who will be shipped off or cut to clear cap space very soon, so I think his remarks reflect the urgency to do something truly great whilst we have the chance.
How do you follow the sport as an Aussie?
My dad used to work for a company based in Seattle, so growing up, me and my brothers were very well clued in to all things American sports. Originally it was all about NBA and the MJ era, but slowly I started to get into NFL more, especially since Darren Bennett was playing and it gave the Australian media a small window with which to care about following the sport. Once we got pay TV at our place and NFL games were being shown, that was when i started watching it most, and I was hooked. I pretty much live on ESPN and ESPN2, and NFL Network when I was based in the states.
As mentioned I studied in upstate New York also, and had travelled there in 2008, so I'm pretty well immersed in the sports culture and follow all 4 major sports, and NCAA.
Is there anything about the NFL you wish was in Australian sport?
The atmosphere and all round excitement of being at an NFL game is something that I would love to see over here. I think that comes down to our culture though and how we consume sport. I've been to several massive sporting events here in Australia, and none of them even come close to NFL. Even their regular season games trump what we can do.
Is there anything about Australian sport you wish was in the NFL?
Me ha ha!
Which of your friends/family members have suffered the most due to your fandom?
My mum probably. Having to lose a lot of sleep on Monday mornings if me and/or my dad are awake cheering every loudly, and then listening to us talk about NFL all week. I'm guessing her favourite thing about the Super Bowl is that it means we'll shut up for 6 months. She's wrong though. We never do.
I don't think any of my friends suffer from it too much, because either they're fans too, or they just think i'm strange for liking NFL so much so they don't care.
I noticed you are friends with Lee, our recent fan under the spotlight and a Giants supporter, is there a friendly rivalry going on there? Unfriendly?
Yeah it’s reasonably good. Lee also works here in Geelong, and myself being at Kardinia Park he’s someone I deal with frequently. I’m not sure there has ever really been any bad blood between us. It’s always good to have someone who you work with who shares that love of football. We've had some great chats about NFL and always make sure to make time before/after or during a meeting to discuss recent events. Emotions tend to get in the way on occasion (I may have tried to avoid a meeting with him on a Monday after an Eagles loss against the Giants last season) but for the most part it’s respectful. If he was a Dallas fan? Well then, might be a different story.
We’re pretty passionate about our teams and of course refuse to take a backward step, but in saying that, it’s what makes being an NFL so great. He can bust my chops about NY having Super Bowl rings, I can remind him about the Miracle at the Meadowlands. He’ll tell me all about Victor Cruz making Asante and Nnamdi miss tackles and go for 90 yard TD’s, and then I’ll kindly point out they've only beaten us twice since 2008. Without things like this, being a fan is far less rewarding and exciting.
Totally agree, what fun is there being a fan of an NFC East team if you cannot be apart of the rivalries? Thanks for sharing your fandom with us Scott. Best of luck for the season!
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