Cardinals’ Jonathan Gannon has become Eagles’ Super Bowl scapegoat

May 25, 2023, 5:47 PM

Jonathan Gannon...

New Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon answers a question from the media during a press conference at Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center on February 16, 2023 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

The Cardinals are more than longshots. They are no-shots.

Their defense looks unspeakably bad. Their franchise quarterback is recovering from knee surgery. Their rookie head coach is a brash 40-year-old with an invisible target on his back.

Valley sports fans howled with laughter when a reputable platform published the results of one million NFL simulations for the upcoming NFL season, and the Cardinals won the Super Bowl on the 3,184th try.

Alas, that’s seems beyond absurd. Virtually impossible. The Cardinals don’t stand a chance in 2023. Not among oddsmakers. Not in a parity-driven, worst-to-first enterprise like the NFL. Not in a league known for Cinderella stories.

Yet for all the disrespect shown to Kyler Murray and the Cardinals; for all the recent accusations leveled at owner Michael Bidwill and the heavy price paid for pinching around the margins; the most offended person in the room should be new head coach Jonathan Gannon.

Thanks to the perceived outrage in Philadelphia, Gannon is suddenly considered one of the more unscrupulous coaches in the NFL. Reports suggest Gannon shirked his Super Bowl duties to prep extra hard for an upcoming job interview with the Cardinals, an unspeakable betrayal if true.

Even worse, they imply he lied about it, somehow preventing the Eagles from hiring renowned defensive coordinator Vic Fangio before he took a job with the Dolphins.

Gannon has clearly become their Super Bowl scapegoat, where a defensive collapse against the dynastic Chiefs is somehow proof of his poor character.

If Gannon seemed a little too giddy at a Super Bowl afterparty, that could certainly rub people the wrong way. A chunk of the Seattle locker room once blamed a Super Bowl loss on another conspiracy theory, on an organization that didn’t want Marshawn Lynch to score a game-winning touchdown.

Gannon is also the one who benefitted most from the team’s fateful trip to Arizona, and that’s a hard swallow. Even for a city tough enough for scrapple.

Truth is, Gannon was disliked by a great majority of Eagles fans before the Super Bowl loss. And now, everything is his fault. One Philadelphia writer even referred to the ongoing conspiracy theories as “the Gan-anon crowd.”

But the Fangio timeline just doesn’t add up. Similarly, the Eagles had no issue with another coordinator seeking future employment opportunities after the NFC Championship game because then-offensive coordinator Shane Steichen was allowed to conduct a second interview. By league rules, Gannon was not.

So, in the end, the Eagles seem to be pouncing on a compliance error, taxing a wounded, wobbly opponent just because.

I can only imagine the embarrassment Bidwill might’ve endured if he were shaken down in the minutes preceding the 2023 NFL draft, with the clock ticking on his brand-new regime, by an opposing franchise acting far more aggrieved than necessary or appropriate.

It’s even worse for the new head coach in Arizona. The Eagles are effectively indicting the ethics and character of Gannon by underscoring how they perceive his loyalty, his commitment, and his Super Bowl performance.

That’s cold. But so is the room temperature of revenge.

Let’s hope Gannon and the Cardinals get their own shot at justice.

Reach Bickley at Listen to Bickley & Marotta mornings from 6–10 a.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7.

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