William Congreve didn't know any Eagles fans. He can be forgiven for that considering he was an English poet and playwright. Also because he died almost 300 years ago.
If he had known some Eagles fans, he might have reconsidered one of his most famous lines. It's become a popular idiom, though it's almost always misquoted or paraphrased. The original version, from The Mourning Bride, goes like this: "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor Hell a fury like a woman scorned." Reimagined for modern times and current events, Ol' Billy C. (as his boys back in Bardsey probably called him) might have described fury in terms of social media/mainstream media/comments sections when the local quarterback has a falling out with the local football team. Now that's some ire.
Sam Bradford is back. He issued a statement on Monday and said the recent unpleasantness with his employer was just business and he remains "committed to my teammates and the Eagles organization." So we're all good now. Or…not. People wanted him to show up for work. He showed up for work. And he's still catching heat from all sides. That probably won't stop anytime soon.
A lot of people have been awfully worked up about Bradford lately. The amusing part - for those of us who aren't as furious about it and like to remember that sports are ultimately entertainment - is that some members of the anti-Bradford mob were no doubt the same folks who, just a few months ago, rallied on his behalf and insisted the Eagles had to re-sign the man. Who else is going to play quarterback? What other options do they have? It's not my money. You remember the arguments. They were frequently augmented with dreamy revisionist history about the way Bradford played over those last seven games of the season. Not that anyone would admit it, but maybe that's where some of this Bradford-related animosity germinated. Some fans and media advocated for Bradford's return, and then they felt slighted that their affection was unrequited. Congreve really nailed the first half of that line.
Whatever defenders Bradford had receded into the shadows or joined the rebellion against him. Aside from his agent and a brave contrarian here and there, Bradford is very much alone even after going back to work. The condensed Bradford sentiment during his abbreviated holdout went something like this: He makes a lot of money, and he's never won anything, and he's not very good, so he should report and compete. That last word got thrown around with force and used like a weapon. How dare he not compete. Who is he not to compete?
If the anti-Bradford militia could separate the emotion from the situation, if true candor was possible here, there might be some acknowledgment that Bradford's agent had a point. As Tom Condon said in a recent interview, the fact that the Eagles drafted Carson Wentz with the second-overall pick necessarily makes Bradford a "short-term guy." Any battle over the starting gig is merely a short-lived formality. It might have been selfish for Bradford to want a trade (a demand he has reportedly rescinded), but from a business and career perspective, it was also understandable. Who wouldn't want the best/most favorable work environment? But even if some people stipulated that point, no quarter shall be given to Bradford. He has made certain Philadelphians angry, and there's no calming them down.
That's really what the whole compete business was about. If you loathe Bradford now, if you're among those who call him soft and overpaid and underproductive, you should have been happy that he wanted to play for another team. You should have applauded the idea and offered him a ride out of town. Maybe given him a good swift kick across the state line just to make sure he kept moving. Because saying he's soft and overpaid and underproductive, but then adding - even insisting - that he should report to the NovaCare Complex and compete is silly. What it actually means is the people who are angry with him wanted him to stick around so they can vent that anger at him. They want to torture him. They want to turn their backs on Bradford, not have it the other way around. It's such a Philly sports position to adopt.
Complete coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles and their NFL rivals from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
The Bradford bashers got their wish. Bradford is back. He's at the NovaCare Complex. You'll have him to kick around for at least a little while longer. Can you imagine how that will go, how Bradford will be received when he steps out on the field, in front of fans and media members, the first time? Can you imagine the reaction he'll get after all this? Actually, never mind. Of course you can. You might even look forward to it.