If you’ve been a Philadelphia sports fan for any period of time, you’ve no doubt heard/had this conversation. The “Hey, there’s a lot of potential on these teams. Maybe this year is the one where Philly sports dominate across the board!” Well, looking at the city’s sports track record, every one of those conversations since the year 1980 has proven to be wrong. While there have been some great seasons for individual teams, the elusive “Golden Year” where most or all of our big 4 teams compete for deep playoff runs and championships. Well, just like the doomsday end of the world scenarios that pop up every couple of years, the potential of this ideal sports calendar year is back once again. I know we’ve all heard this story numerous times before, but indulge me for a minute; 2023 could be the one.
Take a look at the Philadelphia Eagles, and what they have done this offseason. By all accounts, they have built an absolute juggernaut of a roster, and could very well be a QB away from being a deep playoff contender for multiple seasons. This year, with the NFC seeming more open by the day, the birds’ additions of AJ Brown, Haason Reddick, Kyzir White, James Bradberry, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and a talented rookie class have created the potential of an exciting year in Philly. The Eagles made the playoffs last year with a much lower talent level on the 2021-22 roster, so the next logical step is a deeper playoff run. With all of the similarities between this team and the 2017 Super Bowl winning team, the 2023 playoffs look to be an exciting time for Nick Sirianni’s squad. If Jalen Hurts puts it all together, a Lombardi Trophy is not an outlandish ceiling for this team in February 2023. Golden year?
It takes more than just one team to have success to create a Golden Year. I mean, the 2018 Super Bowl was great for the Eagles, but the Sixers got gentleman swept by the Boston Celtics in the 2nd round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. This year, though, the expectations for the Sixers are totally different than they were in that season. The Eastern Conference is wide open, and with turmoil in Brooklyn, a Heat team with deficiencies, a Celtics team that has no answer for Joel Embiid, and a significantly improved Philadelphia roster, there is a real chance that this is the Sixers’ best title chance since 2019. James Harden is reportedly in incredible shape, Embiid seems destined to continue to play at an MVP level, Tyrese Maxey is a budding star, and the supporting cast is deeper than it’s been since The Process. Is a Larry O’Brien trophy the goal for the Sixers? You bet, and they just might have enough firepower to get there. Golden Year…
Ok, so those are wrap-around seasons that start this year. What about the Phillies, who have a talented team this season? I’m not giving up on the Fightins’ potential in 2022, but this isn’t really the all-in year. Dave Dombrowski showed us that at the trade deadline. What he also showed, though, is that the offseason will see a bold push to sign more high-profile players like Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber to push this team over the top. If the Phils make the playoffs this year, John Middleton should feel even more inclined to shell out the money to put his team back in championship contention. 2023 looks to be the peak for this current core of Hoskins-Nola-Wheeler-Realmuto-Harper-Castellanos-Schwarber, and with an addition or two, they shouldn’t be counted out. Golden. Year.
Oh, right! I forgot a team. The Philadelphia Union are a monster in the MLS this year, and could be looking at their 2nd Supporter’s Shield in 3 years. They should’ve gotten a fair look at the MLS Cup last season, but a COVID breakout that was mishandled by the league cost them an equal opportunity. This year, they’re out for blood on the pitch, and while the championship will take place in November of 2022, next year’s Union squad will undoubtedly be talented enough to win it all as well. A soccer dynasty? That sounds like a good ingredient for a Golden Year.
Yes, I know what I’m doing. I’m not mad about it. Maybe the ice hockey team will tank bad enough this season that Connor Bedard ends up in Philadelphia. That’s about the best contribution the Flyers could make to the next calendar year, but no worry. Despite the shortcomings of that one team, though, it does truly look like there’s a bright immediate future for sports in Philadelphia.