The Agony of Philadelphia Eagles Twitter in the Carson Wentz Era
How did we get here? To answer that, I suppose we need to define where ‘here’ is.
‘Here’ is one of the most toxic corners of one of the most toxic platforms online, Eagles Twitter. It wasn’t always like this. There was a time when this little spot of the Twitterverse was more an example of what the website could be instead of a microcosm of its worst traits. There was a time where it was a place for Eagles fans to gather, celebrate wins, commiserate over losses, and, of course, talk trash with Dallas Cowboys fans.
Then, it all changed. Ironically, the impetus of the change was the very thing that the people of Eagles Twitter had always dreamed of, a Super Bowl championship.
Before the confetti was cleared from Broad Street, there were already whispers: “Nick Foles should be this team’s quarterback.”
At the time the statement seemed innocent enough. Foles had just led the Eagles on a Super Bowl run, winning the first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history by taking down the hated New England Patriots. He was forever a Philadelphia legend, and some were sure to take their gratitude a little too far. They failed to value Carson Wentz, who before getting injured, was having an MVP-caliber season. The Eagles wouldn’t have been in a position to claim the No. 1 seed in the NFC if not for Wentz’s efforts. He was young, progressing, and seemingly well on his way to becoming a franchise quarterback.
But instead of fading away, the calls for Foles got louder. Eventually, they became shouts, and before anyone realized what happened, the Eagles’ fan base was at war with itself. And one of the main fronts of this war was Twitter.
As the war raged, something disturbing happened. People started caring less about the success of the team and more about confirming their biases. Eagles fans on the Foles side started relishing in Wentz’s mistakes. Likewise, on the Wentz side, there were people more than ready to point out that Foles didn’t play well at the end of the 2017 regular season or the first playoff game of the Super Bowl run against the Falcons. Those same people were quick to say, “I told you so,” when Foles came up short in the team’s 2018 playoff run after again replacing an injured Wentz.
Ultimately, being ‘right’ became more important than the success of the team. Some outright rooted against the Eagles in order to have their point proven, while many more were quietly much less disappointed than they normally would be after an Eagles loss, provided that the outcome helped them further their agenda.
You might be thinking this is just a classic quarterback controversy being amplified by social media and the city in which it was happening. Yet two years removed from Foles moving on, the consequences of the social media war remain visible.
Yes, the Foles/Wentz drama kept keyboards simmering over the past two seasons, as Eagles fans obsessed over every game the two quarterbacks played, each group firing shots when the circumstances allowed. But now we see the mindset that was produced by the drama showing up in other debates about the team.
It was evident as Wentz struggled this season and was eventually replaced by Jalen Hurts. During what ended up being the last few football weeks of Wentz’s tenure with the Eagles, there were people on social media openly celebrating his poor play, knowing the team would soon be forced to make a change. Similarly, when Hurts finally replaced Wentz, there were people waiting to pounce on every mistake, eager to refresh old narratives again to be proven right.
And it’s not all about Carson Wentz. The Eagles recently hired a new coach, Nick Sirianni, and it didn’t take long for Eagles Twitter to rear its ugly head. Before he even stepped away from the podium at his introductory press conference, he was being blasted online for not being articulate enough. Already, before Sirianni coaches a single snap, sides are forming and battle lines are being drawn for the next Eagles Twitter showdown.
Of course, a relatively small sample of Twitter isn’t representative of an entire fanbase, but this goes beyond a few trolls. This syndrome has inflicted real folks who are willing to represent their opinions with their names and images; it’s not just Tommy934275329470 with the egg avi partaking in these battles.
Regardless of how representative the sample is, it’s clear that a sizeable portion of the Eagles’ fan base has forgotten what being a fan is actually about. Sure, debates are fun and can be an important part of sports fandom, but when the desire to be right overtakes the desire to see your team succeed, something is wrong.
After the Eagles traded Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts, we’re almost assuredly in for another season with the same noxious narrative-building and point-proving that has afflicted the fan base for the past three years. Some will be waiting to share far and wide everything Wentz does well while being quick to point out every mistake Hurts (or whoever ends up under center) makes for the Eagles in 2021. Those on the other side will do the opposite. The real losers in this situation will be the true fans that just want to see their team return to their former glory.
The Eagles have become a dysfunctional organization since Super Bowl LII, and that dysfunction has spread to the fan base. Eagles fans need to re-center and get back to aiming their vitriol where it belongs—team management and their rivals in the NFC East—rather than at each other.
Until then, cheering a team that hasn’t been particularly fun to root for the past few seasons will continue to get less fun.