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April 28, 2015

Don’t give a Duck? Then you’re lying to yourself about Marcus Mariota

Welcome to the waiting game, that period of time that seems to last forever between your application and your answer. Welcome to that period of time between your interview and your potential employer’s decision.

Welcome to waiting for Mariota.

The days have dwindled down to a precious few, and as hey have, the anxiety has gotten greater and greater. You can pretend all you want that you have placed the possibilities of getting Marcus Mariota on the back burner.

But we all know better.

We hear you talk to your friends and workplace associates as if you are a sane fan of the National Football League and a person who watches their share of college football. We hear you discuss this Thursday’s draft in logical terms -- noting all the hoops the Philadelphia Eagles would have to jump through to get Mariota -- and suggest it’s NOT going to happen.

And then we watch you while you’re eating that hoagie during lunch, checking into every football site you know of the Internet. You aren’t checking out available wide receivers, or even offensive linemen …

Nope, while you are licking the last of the quick lunch off your fingers you are doing a final Google search for “Mariota” and following the latest link on how the Oregon quarterback can be landed by the Eagles.

Sure, you pretend that Mariota is out of reach, but in your football heart of hearts … in that Kelly Green soul you don’t want to show in public, you know that Chip Kelly is pulling every possible string to get Mariota to Philadelphia.

You can’t wait until Thursday night … and you picture NFL commissioner Roger Goodell getting up at the podium and announcing a trade.

You try not to think of it, but you can’t help yourself. No matter how many of the so-called experts will try to steer you away from such hope, you will find that one story that connects all the dots and – voila, the lead Duck lands in Philly.

It is an odd place to be, this Mariota waiting room. Truly, no Philadelphia fan base has been held hostage in this way this since back in the day when an arbitrator had to decide if Eric Lindros was going to be awarded to the Flyers or the New York Rangers.

This is a rare situation for the sports fan. In this case, there is no play call to second-guess … no suggestion on who should get the ball … and no calling for the scalp of a coach or manager who makes the wrong move.

This is a case of hoping that Kelly can make a seemingly impossible series of maneuvers on a chessboard and throw several other teams into checkmate. It is not likely to happen, but in a matter of only two years we have all come to view Kelly as some sort of wizard who can make crazy things happen.

He has already made the NFL change some rules about pace of play, traded away star players and turned the Eagles into the most interesting franchise in the land. It doesn’t matter if seemed impossible that he could give exit papers to the teams best receiver, best running back and starting quarterback … he did it, and everybody is waiting for the next shoe to drop.

The only trouble is that it would take a closetful of shoes to get Mariota.

Thus, we are all left feeling like the high school student waiting for the letter from his or her reach college that they’ve been accepted for the fall semester.

In the case of Mariota, he is the Ivy League choice. This is a B student waiting to hear from Stanford, Penn or Yale, hoping that somehow there was something special in the application.

In the meantime, the safety schools have all been accounted for and the letters of acceptance stashed away in a drawer. Those schools are Sam Bradford, and Mark Sanchez, and even the Christian school named Tim Tebow.

Those were all nice, and they might be a comfortable fit, but they were not the home run. They were not Mariota.

So, you can pretend all you want that you are happy with the safety schools in the bank. Pretend that the job you have is just fine. And pretend that you are looking at this Mariota case as just a bonus.

But the reality is different.

The reality is that for the next two days, for the next however many hours until the NFL draft finally unfolds in Chicago on Thursday night, you will be hoping that the acceptance letter is in the mail, that you got into that reach school, that you landed that dream job that is just past your current qualifications.

There is no harm in holding those high hopes. In fact, it’s what makes the world of sports go round and round.

And even if Thursday night rolls around and the Eagles don’t get Marcus Mariota, remember that the Flyers DID once get their man in 1992 when they beat the Rangers and were awarded Lindros. Two years later the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. And the Flyers are still waiting.

You just never know.