Fly Eagles fly?

By Remi Goldstein, Lead Sports Editor

After the Philadelphia Eagles played the Washington Football Team on Jan. 3 the concept of playing to win has been questioned by sports fans, players and reporters nationwide. Many people would assume that regardless of the standings coaches still want to provide their team with a way to win. However, it appears that the head coach of the Eagles, Doug Pederson, defied both his team and the integrity of the NFL when he supposedly threw the game against the Washington Football Team. 

Although nobody can prove Pederson intentionally lost, the speculations appear indefensible. The reasoning behind Pederson’s agenda is quite clear: lose the game to get a better draft pick. Even though some may view this as strategic, coaching to lose sacrifices the integrity of the NFL. Pederson’s actions caused many to rethink the idea of playing every game to win.  

The Eagles’ players were frustrated with the situation, as they are playing for their livelihood. In addition to the score counting for them, these athletes need to always be proving that they belong in the league. When Pederson started the fourth quarter by benching Jalen Hurts, Eagles’ rookie quarterback, and replaced him with third-string quarterback, Nate Sudfeld, he made his teams’ job infinitely harder. Sudfeld hadn’t thrown a pass in a game since 2018, so why did Pederson feel the urge to suddenly put him in during a close 14-17 playoff deciding game? Pederson had plenty of opportunities throughout the season to play Sudfeld if he wanted to give him a chance. However, in a nail biting 14-17 game that would determine whether the New York Giants or Washington Football Team would represent the NFC East in the playoffs, and a game in which if the Eagles lost they would expect the sixth draft pick, it appeared to be a calculated losing plan. 

A damaged reputation: Philadelphia Eagles
Giants fans felt their hope slip away with every minute of the fourth quarter that passed.

“When I saw Hurts on the bench, I immediately thought they were throwing the game,” junior Jack Flusser said. “I lost all hope that the Eagles were going to win and the Giants were going to make the playoffs.”

“I think what the Eagles did by pulling Jalen Hurts was classless but at the end of the day, I don’t think that the Giants deserved to make the playoffs,” sophomore Zach Atlas said.

In addition to Flusser and Atlas’s disappointment, Giants fans also expressed feelings of confusion and disdain towards the Eagles.  

“I was very unhappy,” junior Nicole Connington said. “They should have played the game fair. I don’t understand why they took him out in the first place.”

Despite the league criticizing the Eagles for their unprofessional behavior, Eagles coaches and fans have argued that they were doing what was best for their team and organization. 

“I am not frustrated with the accusations because any team would’ve done the same thing if they were in the position,” Eagles fan and senior, Jack Ruane said. Jokingly, he adds, “Other teams just wouldn’t have made it as obvious.”

There are a handful of Giants fans who aren’t denying that what the Eagles did was smart, but they remain devastated that the Eagles played to lose because it made it impossible for the Giants to make the playoffs. Apart from a Giants perspective, sports fans of many teams have expressed concerns regarding the integrity of the game. Previous to this game, players didn’t have to question whether they were being set up to fail and teams didn’t have to worry about playing against a team that didn’t want to compete. After this game, critics are furious that the Eagles have put this concept in question.

“I won’t deny that what the Eagles did is strategic, but it definitely ruins the integrity of the sport and should not be done,” Flusser said.

There have been many people saying that Pederson should be fired and that the Eagles should get their draft pick taken away because they cheated to get it.

“I think the punishment they should receive is getting their high draft pick taken away because what they did was very unprofessional and very unsportsmanlike,” Connington said. 

As of now the Eagles still have the sixth overall pick, but they still suffered a tremendous loss of their reputation in the league. In order to try to denounce the situation, the owner of the Eagles, Jeffrey Lurie, fired Pederson. This decision broke the hearts of many Eagles fans because he was the first coach in the organization who brought the Eagles a Superbowl Championship. However, in the end it was more important for the Eagles organization to show they did not stand by Pederson’s decision to bench Hurts and throw the game. 

Despite maintaining their low draft pick, the Eagles’ reputation has certainly been damaged. The team’s name now attaches itself to the idea of unprofessionalism and an embarrassment to the integrity of the league. With a new face in charge for the 2021-2022 season, Eagles’ new head coach, Nick Sirianni will look to repair the damage Pederson has done.