PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – FEBRUARY 11
By Leo Haggerty
SOMETIMES YOU JUST GET LUCKY
Got a text from my son, Shaun Haggerty who covers the NFC South as well as college football for us, after the Buccaneers dispatched the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 to procure their second Lombardi Trophy. Below is his perspective on what that event meant to him.
Shaun stated, “Being a Tampa sports fan from 1987 to 2019. One Stanley Cup Championship, one Super Bowl victory and one World Series appearance. 2019 to now. One Stanley Cup Championship, one Super Bowl victory and one World Series appearance.”
That got me thinking about my history as a sports fan. To that point, I’ve been extremely lucky over the past 60 years. Why do I say I’m lucky, you ask? Well, let me explain the why, ok?
In case you don’t know, I grew up a Philadelphia sports fan. How big a fan you ask? You can take the fan out of Philly but you can’t take the Philly out of the fan. If you cut me, I bleed cheesesteak. Get the picture?
During my first 14 years, cheering for a Philly team was a lesson in futility but that all changed in 1967. That’s when the 76ers were the first to change the fortunes for sports fans in The City of Brotherly Love. Led by, in my opinion, the greatest player in NBA history (sorry Michael and LeBron but it isn’t even close in my mind) in Wilt Chamberlain, the Sixers won a then league record 68 games on their way to winning the championship in 1967.
It would be another seven years before a championship came back to the Delaware Valley. That’s when the Flyers won back to back Stanley Cups when with The Broad Street Bullies, behind Hall of Famers G Bernie Parent and F Bobby Clarke, fought their way to the title beating the Boston Bruins in 1974 and the Buffalo Sabres the following season.
The Phillies made it a trifecta six years later. The Phightin’ Phils won the first World Series title in franchise history in 1980 beating the Kansas City Royals.
Now, beam me up, Scotty, to 1983. That’s when the Sixers, with future Hall of Fame stars F Julius Erving and C Moses Malone at the forefront, swept Los Angeles 4 games to none. Yeah, that’s the Showtime Lakers of Coach Pat Riley and a Hall of Fame lineup featuring C Kareem Abdul Jabbar and G Magic Johnson. Big accomplishment here, right?
I would have to wait a quarter of a century for another championship to come back to Southeastern Pennsylvania. That’s when the Phillies defeated my adopted hometown Tampa Bay Rays in 2008.
The Sports Grand Slam for Philadelphia finally occurred when the Eagles, with backup QB Nick Foles throwing for three scores and catching a one yard toss on “Philly Special” to earn the MVP accolade, outscored the New England Patriots, led by GOAT QB Tom Brady, 41-33 to win Super Bowl LII.
I was fortunate enough to be with 600 plus Birds fans at an event hosted by the Tampadelphia Eagles Club. Trust me when I tell you that when the Brady Hail Mary attempt was knocked down in the end zone, there was more than one grown man in tears.
In closing, I just feel lucky to have seen the teams from the city of my youth win at least one championship in all four major professional sports. I also feel blessed that my current hometown, as Shaun so succinctly stated, has two Stanley Cups along with a couple of Lombardi Trophies along with a pair of World Series appearances.
Hey, I look at it this way. From just the NFL standpoint, I could be rooting for Detroit or Cleveland along with Jacksonville plus Houston who have never even made a Super Bowl. Or, to go a step farther, I could be a fan of the eight other franchises that have got to the NFL mountain but couldn’t finish the job with Minnesota and Buffalo both posting an 0-4 log.
So, just remember. When you think things are bad as a sports fan, you could be cheering for one of those NFL franchises or, even worse, the Seattle Mariners who have never made an appearance in The Fall Classic.
I rest my case. Stay safe.