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Years since last time Capitals reached Stanley Cup Finals

Title isn’t due to destiny

Posted by Eric Fisher On February 6

If the Eagles are a team of destiny, as they have been called, then they fulfilled their destiny Sunday night.

But being a team of destiny implies there was some sort of divine intervention or, at the very least, a supernatural influence that guided the Eagles to the championship.

The return of Nick Foles seems to fit the team-of-destiny narrative, but the term is usually used in reference to all of the adversity the Eagles have overcome. No matter how many injuries to key players, or how many yards Tom Brady threw for during Super Bowl LII, nothing could stand in the way of the Eagles’ destiny.

But maybe the resilience the Birds displayed this season has nothing to do with destiny. Maybe overcoming so many obstacles to capture the franchise’s first Super Bowl was merely a matter of learning from experience.

So many members of the Eagles family have gone through trials and tribulations that they weren’t fazed by this season’s steep obstacles. Adversity didn’t sink them because they’ve been through it before.

The story of Foles contemplating retirement has been told and retold numerous times during the postseason. Traded away by the Eagles and benched by the Rams, Foles asked for his release and considered retiring. Compared to that drama, being thrust into the starting role when Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending knee injury was child’s play.

Defensive end Chris Long, the second overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft, won three games in his first two seasons with the Rams, who never reached .500 in the eight seasons Long played for them. He’s won the last two Super Bowls with the Patriots and Eagles, respectively.

Let’s examine the resilience of the offensive line, which, despite the loss of All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters, performed like one of the top units in the NFL. Each member of the starting offensive line has endured tough times.

Right guard Barrett Brooks overcame crippling anxiety that prevented him from playing in regular-season games during the 2016 season, let alone playing in the postseason pressure-cooker.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai endured an avalanche of criticism when he first replaced Peters, whose season was ended by a knee injury. Most of the criticism was deserved. But Vaitai transformed himself into a pretty good left tackle by the end of the postseason.

Right tackle Lane Johnson needed to redeem himself after a 10-game suspension last season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. Starting left guard Stefen Wisniewski started this season behind Isaac Seumalo and Chance Warmack on the depth chart. Center Jason Kelce spent a portion of the offseason hoping the Eagles wouldn’t release him. Johnson and Kelce were selected to the All-Pro first team; Wisniewski has been terrific.

Rookie running back Corey Clement, who caught four passes for 100 yards and a touchdown during Super Bowl LII, was undrafted last year. He battled his way into the running back rotation and because a productive player.

We can look off the field as well. A decade ago, Doug Pederson was coaching high school football in Louisiana. When he was hired as Eagles head coach two years ago, the common perception was that the Eagles settled for Pederson because all of their other preferred candidates were hired by other teams. As was widely pointed out, no other team interviewed Pederson.

Even as Pederson entered this season, he was the target of criticism. He had to answer questions about former NFL executive Mike Lombard’s contention that Pederson “might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I’ve seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL.” Yet Pederson persevered and hoisted the Lombardi Trophy – named for Vince, not Mike – after Super Bowl LII.

Last, but certainly not least, is executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman. He’s been ridiculed for not being a “football guy.” Roseman also found himself banished to the “business side” of the Novacare Complex, a public humiliation after losing a power struggle over personnel with then-head coach Chip Kelly.

But Roseman regained power over personnel two years ago when Kelly was jettisoned from the organization. All he’s done is trade up to select Wentz at No. 2, sign veteran receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith bring in veterans from the Super Bowl-winning Patriots teams, such as Long and LeGarrette Blount, and trade for Ronald Darby and Jay Ajayi. By the way, Roseman also re-signed Nick Foles.

So you can look at second acts, such as Foles, Roseman and Pederson, who was booed while he was the Eagles’ starting quarterback in 1999, and all of this season’s injuries as reasons to view the Eagles as a team of destiny.

But destiny might have nothing to do with it. The explanation may be much simpler.

The past struggles so many of those responsible for the Eagles’ success endured may be precisely why they were able to overcome so much adversity this season.

That narrative isn’t as dramatic as their success being due to supernatural influences or the hand of God, but the simple truth may be that the Eagles’ success is derived from the shared experience of getting back up after you’ve been knocked down.

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