No one likes us and we don’t care, right?

It’s low-hanging fruit, the disrespect card.

“We’re gonna prove them wrong!” has been the rudimentary Philadelphia rallying cry for decades now, exemplified by the statue of the fake boxer sitting at the base of one of the city’s most iconic buildings. This was a fighter who didn’t even win but gave it a good try in the first Rocky movie.

The whole underdog thing spawned a dog mask meme that went viral and caused Jason Kelce to co-opt a song from the Sons of Ben that was co-opted from an English soccer team. The #1 seed in the NFC rode the external contempt all the way to the Super Bowl under the most extraordinary of circumstances.

I say extraordinary because the conditions surrounding last year’s title run really did result in a perfect storm. In what other instance is a team with home field advantage considered an underdog in two straight playoff games? There really are no other circumstances. The loss of Carson Wentz created a unique void that allowed an uber-talented and well-coached team to somehow earn the label of underdog despite carrying 52 other rostered players that were more than capable of getting the job done, Nick Foles included.

We can’t do that this year.

We can’t ride the disrespect card all the way to a repeat. Sure, people like Jason Whitlock and Colin Cowturd will continue to spew garbage on national airwaves, garbage that we will post on this website while pretending to be offended. You’ll say we shouldn’t give these guys attention but click on the story anyway, because you can’t help yourself, and neither can we.

That’s Philly in a nutshell. We’re a parochial and defensive town, always trying to explain to people that we’re not what you think we are. We’re not abrasive and uncouth. Our city is a thriving metropolis and we have most of our affairs in order, outside of the 30 million dollars in tax payer money that somehow disappeared.

We need some forward-thinking positivity around here. We do have a great football team. We do have great bars and restaurants and stadiums and a thriving arts and entertainment scene. Even the Wawa on Aramingo Avenue is alright if you patronize it during the daylight hours and avoid the midnight shit show, where the cashier just cannot find the right pack of cigarettes for the degenerate at the front of the line.

I want the Eagles and their fans to come out this year with the attitude of, “yeah, guess what? we’re the fucking best and we know it.” It’s easy to play the underdog role and feed off the disrespect. But the next level of greatness is to acknowledge that you’ve reached the pinnacle of performance and do whatever it takes to remain there. You take your opponents’ best shot week-in and week-out. You are Serena Williams or Tiger Woods, with the target on your back and the distance between the competition growing larger by the year.

That’s it, really. Can you handle the pressure and the expectations and channel your energy and narrow your focus in a way that is more profound than simply, “they don’t like us and we’re going to prove them wrong.“? The Eagles are Super Bowl champions. They don’t have to prove anything to anybody, because disrespect can only exist via outside influence. The ultimate competitors have an inner fire and self-determination that burns so hot that it makes Philadelphia public schools seem frosty by comparison.

So it’s time for us to evolve. Can we exhibit foresight and patience this season? Can we look ahead to the return of Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery, or will we revert to knee-jerk overreaction after the first loss? Will intrepid radio hosts go “Negadelphia” at the first sign of distress? Will we continue to trump the “blue collar” and “lunch-pail” caveman stereotypes, or will we ascend to a new level of fandom that values critical thinking and temperance?

I’m not sure, but it starts tonight with the first Super Bowl defense in franchise history.