What if Eagles Sign Jadeveon Clowney?
Pete Rose got under my skin like no other.
The way he would look each pitch into the catcher’s glove, the way he would fly around first base, his batting helmet falling off, and that Prince Valiant haircut of his whipping in the wind. Then he would headfirst slide into second base and, more of than not, be called safe and coming up smirking.
Man, he bugged me. He played for the Cincinnati Reds, until December of 1978 when the Phillies made him the highest paid baseball player of his time, giving him a four-year, $3.24 million dollar contract.
It wasn’t long after that when I fell in love with the same Rose who used to annoy me. I did so because I was a young Phillies fan, and I was a Phillies fan because my dad was Phillies fan and the Phillies gave us something to talk about, and we sure did talk an awful lot about how much we loved Pete Rose, who helped the Phillies win the 1980 World Series.
I remember those days because I am beginning to wonder how Eagles fans would feel if their team signed Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman and public enemy number one in Philadelphia Jadeveon Clowney as a free agent this offseason.
Eagles fans who complain about over-officiated games, bad calls, and biased officiating celebrated each of the four flags that were thrown for his four penalties during Sunday’s Seahawks loss to the Green Bay Packers, images of Carson Wentz having his head driven into the grass and dirt on wildcard weekend still fresh in their minds.
Clowney didn’t have nice words to say y about Philly fans, either, after he virtually guaranteed Seattle victory by knocking Wentz from the game in the first quarter. Without Wentz, the Eagles basically had to play with one hand tied behind their back for three-and-a-half quarters, and that did not go so well in a what turned into a 17-9 season-ending loss.
“Worst fans in the world,” Clowney told some reporters after the wildcard win.
There’s no denying that Clowney would have to win over a fan base should the Eagles decide to pursue him in free agency.
There’s also no denying Clowney would immediately become the Eagles’ best defensive end, rotating in with Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Josh Sweat and probably Shareef Miller. The Eagles could have had him last year for a mid-round draft pick and pair of marginal players, which is what the Seahawks forked over to acquire him from the Houston Texans but chose not to do it then.
That means it would certainly come as a surprise if they went all in on Clowney this year. It would also be a surprise if Seattle lets him walk after investing a year of resources into him.
Surprises have been known to happen, though, so it cannot be ruled out.
Clowney is on record as saying he wants to go to a winning team. The Eagle have made the playoffs three straight years, so they would qualify.
“I just want to win,” Clowney told ESPN. “I’m trying to get to the Super Bowl. That’s what I’m looking for. Who’s going to get me there? I ain’t looking for no sorry team for no money. That ain’t going to fly. I ain’t going to put my body through all of that just to lose no 16 games, go home with my check. I’d hate that, so that ain’t what I’m doing. So if I can’t win no Super Bowl, I ain’t going to no team that can’t win.”
About that money, Clowney’s stats aren’t exactly the eye-popping sort that commands record-breaking deals. He had just three sacks and 16 quarterback hits in 13 games.
Still, Clowney can disrupt a game in a variety of ways, including as a run stopper.
He’s also capable of agitating an entire fan base.
He has burned torched many bridges in Philly, including the biggies, The Walt Whitman and The Ben Franklin.
If he were to come to Philly, he would have to make nice with not only his play on the field but how he comports himself off the field.
He would have to do what Phillies right-fielder Bryce Harper did. Play to the fans like Harper did with his Phillie Phanatic headband and cleats. Say all the right things like Harper did.
Whether or not Clowney is capable of that approach I don’t know.
That doesn’t mean he can’t win over fans’ hearts just by being that same disruptive defensive playmaker who is taking questionable shots at other teams’ quarterbacks and penalties wearing Eagles green.