source– The Philadelphia Eagles watch tape and look at statistics. They check for tendencies, scout the advanced numbers, see how things change when the fourth quarter comes around. And they do it all in order to prepare for … near-daily locker-room arguments about LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
“Heated. Heated, every single time,” said wide receiver Torrey Smith. “We come with stats. This is not just barbershop talk—I have looked up statistics plenty of times. The numbers favor my argument—he’s better in every single category except points per game. LeBron makes his teammates better, he plays on worse teams, and obviously he’s made it to a lot of Finals, even if he doesn’t win them all.”
When I visited the Eagles locker room during the regular season, I saw the arguments in action. I asked if the Eagles argued about hoops often, and I was told no—they just argue about Jordan vs. LeBron, nearly every day. As James continues to contend for MVPs and NBA titles well into his 30s, the debate has developed into an international hot topic. Prince Harry discussed it with Barack Obama—who is on Jordan’s side, though that may have something to do with his Chicago sports fandom. Pretty much every player in the NBA, past or present, has weighed in by now. NFL locker rooms are fairly boring places, but I have not seen a non-football argument as intense and involved as this one.
Alright, I keep saying it, but the buildup to this Super Bowl has been capital b Boring. I’m searching high and low for anything at all to talk about. I’m leaving no stone unturned and working my fingers to the bone trying to find an NFL storyline. Yeah, I could talk Alex Smith, but who cares? (On the surface it’s a fine, intermediary move for a solid QB, but signing him to 4 years $71 million guaranteed is a startlingly bad decision) All I want to do is discuss the greatness of the Patriots, but there’s just nothing new. I was about to just write “Why Tom Brady Should Win MVP, part 2.” But then this story came to my attention, and I might as well just start typing up the celebratory “Pats Win the Super Bowl Yet Again,” because there’s NO CHANCE the Patriots are going to lose to a team so concerned with debating MJ-LeBron.
Here’s where all the football purists and old school talking heads are nodding in agreement. “Yes, no one can win if you aren’t taking football 100% seriously 100% of the time. No distractions allowed.” That’s not what I’m saying. It’s good for players to have outside interests; conversations like this can build camaraderie and don’t affect practicing at all (although it’s not a coincidence you never hear about Pats’ players getting into these debates, hmmmmm). The real reason I’d be shaking in my boots if I was an Eagles’ fan is the fact that they’re still debating Mj vs. LeBron! That’s a 2016-17 argument. No one cares anymore, or, more specifically, no one cares in the months outside of May-July. The Patriots are at the forefront of the NFL. Every cutting edge scheme, every revolutionary strategy, the Pats not only have it mastered but they’ve mastered how to counteract it. And they’re playing a team who’s main concern is a debate from 8 months ago? Yikes. The Pats are all about the future and going forward. The Eagles are stuck in the past. Progress stops for no man, folks, and it would seem the Patriots are clearly going to be on the right side of history. I wonder when the Eagles will start asking how many holes a straw has. Next training camp? Maybe not until preseason. By then the Pats will have set their sights on number 7. It really just sums up the difference between the two franchises. What else can you expect out of a team from Philadelphia, though? Always five steps behind.