This inevitable crawl towards Andy Reid’s firing is hard for many long-time Eagles fans for reasons other than the team’s win-loss record and status as the league-wide Dynasty Dream Team embarrassment. For most fans, the end of this year will mark the first time in a decade and a half that they’ve had to deal with a coaching regime change, and the feeling is very much foreign and uncomfortable to them. Sure it’s been easy to express anger at the team after being duped into believing they were a Super Bowl-caliber club only to have it ripped to shreds by injuries, horrific play calling, and other poor front office/sideline decisions — but expressing gratitude hasn’t come quite as easy. Gratitude? Yes, gratitude.

Fans tend to have short-term memories and are quick to tell how they feel zero sympathy for a coach they deem responsible for keeping their team from ever reaching its full potential, but Andy Reid is a man who lead one of the winningist periods in Eagles football history. Who for a considerable period gave Birds fans the assurance the team would make the playoffs that year and delivered. Who if not for a diva wide receiver and self-important soup-brained quarterback’s inability to coexist would have probably brought the Lombardi to Philadelphia. Most of the fans recognize and appreciate these facts and the dozens of other positive things the man has done for this organization — they just have no way express it. There’s no such thing as a respectful way of booing someone.

Many fans somewhere deep down feel bad that Andy Reid’s tenure in Philadelphia has to end like this with the unnatural turnover numbers and o-line injuries and training camp heroin deaths. Surely fans wish there was some way each side could just split without it being a messy cornucopia of “FIRE ANDY” chants and internet lynch mobs. But it can’t be that simple. This is sports. And like most long-term relationships, messy is the only way it can end.

See you in San Diego, Big Guy.