It’s about 72 hours until Super Bowl LII. If you’re not an Eagles fan, I’m going to have to ask you to stop reading here. It’s nothing personal. I love you all to death. Passionate fans make this league great, but this isn’t the time for a dialogue. I’m not here to debate or defend. I’m writing tonight, in all honesty, because I’m so flooded with emotion, with energy, and frenetic tension, I don’t quite know how to handle it other than to document it. I’m here to share my thoughts, feeling and emotions on this Philadelphia Eagles team. Don’t tell my editor, but I occasionally use this platform as a chance to document my journey as a sports fan, a brother, a father, and a son. If you don’t believe those things can be bound together by unbreakable bonds, you’re very, very wrong.
In 2004, I vividly remember reading “Now I Can Die in Peace,” Bill Simmons’ chronicling of the World Series run by the Boston Redsox after an 86-year championship drought. After Sunday night, much to the chagrin of Mr. Simmons, now I can die in peace can apply to thousands of football fans all over the Delaware Valley, but we won’t say it. We may feel it days or weeks later, but Sunday night will be for cherishing.
Philadelphia is a football town. The Phillies, Flyers and Sixers borrow it occasionally, but nothing gets the city’s attention like the Eagles. Some of my fondest memories growing up were watching the birds with my father on an old tube TV in the living room, always hoping the game was sold out so it could be aired. Those were the teams led by Buddy Ryan, Randall, and Reggie. My favorite Eagle was Eric Allen. In my memory, the teams were always great, we always seemed in contention. They were tough, the stadium was tough, the turf was tough, and the fans were tough. We brought that intensity into our living room, and infused it into the hot-wings we’d make. This was how I fell in love with the Eagles, and the time I spent with my dad more than made up for the disappointments of the Fog Bowl and Randall’s injury in the first game of the ’91-’92 season. After all, we had a lifetime of championships to win.
The next era of Eagles football for me were the teams led by Reid, McNabb and Dawkins. The games were still filled with intensity both in the living room and in my dad’s wing recipe that followed me to college. We graduated in 2001 and were out of school by the time the Eagles reached their first of four consecutive NFC Championship games. So strong was our bond, and our desire to see the thing that eluded us for so long we drove hundreds of miles to watch that championship game in the same living room we watched so many games before. One more chance to sit in that room with Yuenglings, screaming “MOVE THEM CHAINS” with our shirts off, and to run through the neighbors’ houses doing Eagle chants, was something none of us wanted to pass up. But more than that, the chance to celebrate and share that chance with those guys, my brothers, would have been unimaginable to miss. This era too was marred with missed opportunities culminating in our quarterback puking in the huddle while trying to mount a comeback against the greatest coach and quarterback of all time who stole our game plan while our head coach was actively trying to run out the clock. How did we only lose by 3?
Now I’m a father with kids of my own, introducing them to this wonderful crazy brotherhood. They may not be ready for Pop-Pops wing recipe yet, but they do enjoy my buddy Radar’s “MOVE THEM CHAINS” first down celebrations. I’m fairly certain “Eagles” is the first word they’ve learned how to spell, and it’s awesome watching them find their own favorite players. I’m certain they think this type of run happens all the time, just like I did. I’m certain, if the Eagles lose on Sunday, they’ll think there will be plenty of opportunities ahead.
I hope my kids are right, but we know better. We know this opportunity doesn’t often present itself. So while the Eagles have exceeded preseason expectations, while they’ve lost an excellent running back, an all pro left tackle, their starting middle linebacker and the league’s MVP quarterback, they’d have every excuse to lose. While they’ve overcome two playoff games being underdogs only to be dogs once again in the Super Bowl. While they are up against the same coach and quarterback that dashed our dreams back in Super Bowl XXXIX….they might as well win the damn thing.
Win it for my dad who lives deep in the heart of Patriot country. My dad, who hates the Pats with a fire that could fuel a thousand suns. Win it for all the moms and dads of Eagle fans, who introduced my generation to this Eagle family. Give those hardened neg-adelphians a chance at a misty-eyed hug with their sons and daughters who want it more for their parents than for themselves. Win it for every mom, dad, grandparent, aunt and uncle Eagle fan who passed away too soon, not being able to see this moment so we can send a prayer up to them letting them know that Broad Street will be covered in green confetti.
Win it for those bands of brothers out there who gather every Sunday to share high fives, chest bumps and shirtless rampages through the neighbor’s houses. Give those wonderful assholes a memory to share with each other they will talk about over beers until they die.
Win it for our kids. Let them have a joy we never got at that age. Let no Dallas fan lord the “no Superbowl” debate-ender over them. Let no Giants fan claim to be only Brady slayers.
Win it for Mr. Garrison, my high school drama teacher who always had the important games on during rehearsals. Win it for all the teachers that have their kids sing “Fly Eagles Fly” in class, host pep rallies and phone into sports talk radio.
Win it for the girl at the Pretzel Factory who gave my son a high five after seeing his Eagles cap.
Win it for the whole damn city. A city whose residents would transfer every last drop of energy they had into Nick Foles’s arm or Jake Elliott’s leg if they could. Win it for a family of fans that will try to will Fletcher Cox into Brady’s chest or Chris Long to cause a key turn over. Win it for a bunch of maniacs that will overrun US Bank Stadium and be louder and more passionate than their Boston counterparts.
Win it for Randall, Reggie, and Dawkins. Win it for every Eagle that wore those wings on their helmet with pride. Damn it! Bring it home for Jerome.
Win it for Doug Pederson who was doubted from the moment he was hired. Win it for Nelson Agholor who was written off as a bust. Win it for Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks who helped get them this far. Win it for Carson Wentz. No way would they be where they are without his brilliance on the field and undying support off the field this season. Win it for Nick Foles, who contemplated retirement.
But don’t win it for me. I’ll be busy being happy for everyone else.
To my Dad, Mom, and Brother….
To Kara, David and Patrick…
To Radar, Chuck, Tim and Gene……
To Mr. Garrison….
To every fan I ever shared a beer, hug or high five with….
To everyone who ever sang a refrain of “Fly Eagles Fly”…..
Good luck and enjoy the game, you’ve earned it.