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February 13, 2018

With all due respect to Lane Johnson, the Eagles were so much more than just the fun bunch

Opinion Al Morganti
021318_morganti_usat Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports

Lane Johnson and Chris long speak to the crowd attending Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII celebration at the Philadelphia Art Museum.

In the world of sports, the difference between winning and losing, the difference between being perceived as a champion or a failure, the difference between glory and agony can be as thin as a cornflake.

And it can be just as fragile.

The Philadelphia Eagles are well deserving their status as Super Bowl champions, but for those believe future success are is simply matter of connecting-the-dots, that is a sure way to end up one-and-done.

Just take a glance back at this past season.

Let's say Jake Elliott doesn't make that kick against the New York Giants, there a chance all of that karma does not fall into place. Or maybe Julio Jones puts his hands a bit closer together and the Falcons end the playoff run in Philadelphia.

True enough, you can play that game forever for any team.

Even the supposedly powerful Patriots are in that game. Just imagine that Seattle coach Pete Carroll doesn't call a stupid passing play at the end of one Super Bowl. And the Falcons don't get scared of their own shadow in another.

All of the sudden the great Tom Brady and his guys have lost five Super Bowls in a row. Still a champion? Still the GOAT.

But sports is a bottom-line business, and those little things tend to go right for teams that always do the little things the right way. The breaks usually end up in the favor of the team and the coaching staffs that take the time to go over the details.

And that is why it was just a little bit perplexing to hear Eagles star Lane Johnson make even the slightest suggestion that having fun is measured in the same cup as effort.

It certainly is a great flavoring, but the fact of the matter is that having fun isn't usually in the formula. Instead, it is a natural result of a formula for winning.

So, we ask:

For the love of Tom Brookshier, will somebody please try to make sense out of Lane Johnson deciding that he would rather have fun than play with a perennial champion?

For those very few that missed it, a few days after the Super Bowl, the very good-natured Johnson stated that the New England Patriots were an organization devoid of fun.

Johnson very carefully chose he words when he started out saying "Not to be reckless, " and then got very reckless when he said that he would "much rather have fun and win a (one) Super Bowl than be miserable and win five Super Bowls. But hey, it is what it is"

But, hey – a parade every year or two for the next decade would sure be a lot more fun than just one parade. Just look back at the Philadelphia Phillies, although 2008 was terrific there is still a hollow feeling that the organization left at least one more parade on the table.

The thought from this space was that the Eagles were putting together a team that was going to replace that Evil Empire up north – not just have a ball beating them once. The thinking here is that the Eagles are in a great spot to win two, three, four, whatever number - and having fun is just a byproduct of the winning.

To be very fair here, Johnson and the attitude of all the Eagles was wonderful this season. And seeing Jason Kelce in a Mummer's outfit delivering what might be the most unifying speech in the history of Philadelphia sports was wonderful.

No doubt this group of Philadelphia Eagles under coach Doug Pederson had a blast.

It was one of those teams that will remain legendary, from the weekly injury roll call, right up to and including the dog masks.

But putting such a priority on a lighter attitude is to dismiss what really got the Eagles their first Super Bowl. In simple terms, the Eagles did their jobs better than the Patriots, and that is the best way to roast Bill Belichick's organization.

From the day the Eagles made their draft picks, you could tell there was a giant premium placed on a players willingness to work on the practice field and in the classroom. Quarterback Carson Wentz was at the practice facility before the sun rose, and draft picks Sidney Jones and Derek Barnett were admired by their college coaching staffs as much for their ability to study and master a playbook as their play on the field.

Unlike Eagles teams in the past, this was a team that made third downs because attention to detail put the receiver just over the first down marker, rather than just behind the marker.

This was an Eagles team that was so prepared to play, so serious in its preparation that going for it on fourth down was no big deal – the offense had always done its homework. Thus, when the big moments came up in games, it was approached with a shrug of the shoulders because assignments were known cold.

The result was that sideline meeting between Doug Pederson and Nick Foles in the Super Bowl where the "Philly Special" was called, and there was just a calm "okay" from either side of the conversation.

Like the saying goes – "Champions are made when nobody is watching," and the Eagles made sure that play could work when nobody was watching at practice.

It was wonderful to see Kelce turn the entire nation into Eagles fans with that masterful parade performance, but you can never out the fun of a parade before the work it takes to get there.

Yes, you guys had a lot of fun Lane Johnson, but you're not fooling anybody by thinking you would rather have fun and done than win again.

Don't worry, nobody can every be as miserable as Bill Belichick, but you could always make him more miserable by having Doug Pederson win more rings.

Now, that would really be fun.