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Philadelphia Eagles aren't Miami Heat

So the Philadelphia Eagles are now, by self-proclamation, the Miami Heat of the NFL, apparently on the grounds that somebody's got to do it.

Beautiful. Perfect. And in other news, be careful what message you chest-beat.

It's only talk, of course. Talk is cheap, which is probably why it's so remarkably plentiful -- and doubly so in these first post-lockout days, when all that pent-up football chatter has to flow somewhere. There might not be enough sports-bar drainage pipes in the land to siphon off this amount of idle crud.

This particular slice of PR heaven began with a tweet from enthused new Eagles acquisition Jason Babin, who, driven by a strong desire not to be misunderstood, typed, "I feel like we are the Miami Heat of the NFL." (Way to keep it clear.)

That rallying cry eventually reached QB Michael Vick, who said, "We'll take it. It's always a challenge, man, and that's the great part about it." His new colleague Vince Young summed up his thoughts about the current Eagles thusly: "Dream Team."

Vick, though, also went on to acknowledge the larger reality that when a team begins collecting talent, it becomes the target of rival franchises. "Nothing's going to be given to us, and everybody is going to be gunning for us," Vick said. "But we're ready."

Ready for the derision. Ready for the wild, overarching, pointlessly exaggerated predictions of immediate greatness. Ready to be tossed off as choking disappointments if they don't win it all.

Or was that not the kind of ready Vick had in mind?

Football isn't basketball, seeing as how a GM can't lock up 60 percent of his starting team in three players, so the Eagles don't turn out to actually be the Heat. Still, it isn't difficult to see where a fired-up Babin would wander in that direction, especially given Philadelphia's wonderful success on the open market: Babin, Nnamdi Asomugha, Young, Cullen Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. (Vick wanted Plaxico Burress, too, but Plax got away.)

And maybe Babin's point was merely that good players like to congregate on winners, which ought not to shock the sporting world even as it thrills Philly fans who want to go dreaming some Super Bowl dreams. Good rosters beget better rosters. I'm sure Burress, and Chad Ochocinco for that matter, would readily agree.

But let's not forget the corollary to being the Heatles because there is a price to be paid for proclaiming yourself special on the notion that your front office gets after it and your owner agrees to sign a bunch of checks. It ain't easy being blessed.

Miami wound up with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, it's true. The Heat won a slew of games. In their very first season together, the Holy Trinity played all the way to the NBA Finals while guaranteeing sellout after sellout at home and on the road. In many of the significant ways, the season was a breakout success.

And yet …

And yet the Heat were essentially labeled chokers because Dallas was the better team in those Finals. Bosh was often derided as a throw-in on Miami's road to greatness, particularly in the regular season. The trio's public presentation upon agreeing to the players' new deals, the whole stage-show thing, was so awful they were mocked for it all season.

James? From the Decision debacle right on through, he went from being one of the NBA's most popular players to being one who, though certainly followed with a feverish intensity, essentially morphed into the guy wearing the black hat. He even embraced the role, said he had learned to enjoy it. You'd say that, too, if you couldn't find a decent alternative.

Because football and basketball really have only the slightest set of commonality as team sports, the Eagles probably don't need to worry too much about anyone taking Babin seriously. The NFL has a way of pounding the "Dream Team" right out of you. Vick already knows about the black-hat theory; he lived it. It's hard to imagine that he's eager to have a fresh batch of football fans rooting for him to fail.

And that's the thing about being the NFL's Miami Heat: When it comes right down to it, you're just the team that everybody outside of your market can't wait to see beaten. Good thing the Eagles aren't the Heat. You have to love Philly's chances this season, in fact – once the Eagles stop talking and get to work.

Mark Kreidler is a longtime contributor to ESPN.com. His work, "Six Good Innings," was named one of the Top 10 Sports Books of 2009 by Booklist. His next book, "The Voodoo Wave," will be released in August by W.W. Norton. Reach him at mark@markkreidler.com.

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