Phinally!! For decades, every NFL season had ended in disappointment for Philadelphia Eagles fans. We got used to making the playoffs and losing, making the Super Bowl and losing (twice), or god forbid, missing the playoffs altogether. The collective disappointment, sadness, and depression of Eagles fans was palpable. We could feel it in the city every Winter. No matter how good (or bad) the Birds were playing, we felt the sting every time opposing fans uttered, “Call me when you win a Super Bowl”. Every other team in the NFC East not only had won a Super Bowl, they had won multiple Super Bowls (don’t get carried away Redskins and Cowboys fans, you haven’t won anything in decades). The Eagles were losers, and we, the fans, projected that feeling onto ourselves and our city. An eternal rain cloud settled over Philly each NFL season when the Eagles fell short. Philly fans were called uncouth losers. “Next Year” became our mantra. On Sunday, February 4th, 2018, “Next Year” was replaced with “Tonight”. After a crazy game that set the record for the most offensive yards in history (in any NFL game, not just the Super Bowl), and saw opposing QB Tom Brady break the Super Bowl record by passing for over 500 yards, the Philadelphia Eagles did what no other Eagles team in history has been able to accomplish: they won the fucking Super Bowl.
The 2017-18 season saw the Eagles lose key players on special teams (Chris Maragos), defense (Jordan Hicks), and offense (Darren Sproles, Jason Peters, and MVP candidate, QB Carson Wentz). Following the injuries, the team embraced the attitude of “We all we got, we all we need”. After losing Wentz, backup QB Nick Foles, on his second stint in Philadelphia, was first tasked with locking up the #1 seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs. Foles and the Eagles met that goal, although Foles looked very shaky at times. The Eagles found themselves as the first #1 seed in NFL history to be an underdog in the division round of the playoffs (to the 6th seed Falcons). The Eagles players, and the fans, quickly adopted the underdog role. Philly loves an underdog. We are the city of Rocky. When you count us out, is when we are at our strongest. Gang green held strong and won a nail-biter. Up next, the Eagles once again found themselves as underdogs to the Vikings who most pundits were already crowning the NFC champs. The Vikings scored first to go up 7-0. The Eagles response? 38 unanswered points and Nick Foles coming out party. As we watched the confetti rain down at Lincoln Financial Field, we rejoiced. These underdogs were for real. We were one game away from our first title, but we had to go through the Patriots who have won five Super Bowls since 2001 (including beating the Eagles in 2005).
On the night of the Super Bowl, Philly was ready. The Eagles were ready. The fans were ready. You could sense the destiny in the air. This was our night. This was our time. Once again, Nick Foles was the hero, winning Super Bowl MVP. Coach Doug Peterson made gutsy call after gutsy call. The 4th and Goal trick play perfectly labeled the “Philly Special”, will go down in history as one of the best play calls, and executions, in Super Bowl history. In a game dominated by offense, Brandon Graham’s late-game strip sack of Tom Brady (and recovery by Derek Barnett) helped ice the game for Philadelphia. It was the first (and only) sack in the game by either defense. When the clock finally hit zero, Eagles fans flooded into the streets, rejoicing on Broad Street (and around the city). In the storied history of Philadelphia, it was a historic first. The Eagles were Super Bowl champs. Eagles fans were no longer losers. We were Champions. We ARE champions. Cue the parade.
On Thursday, February 8th, 2018, the parade of parades left Lincoln Financial field, and traveled down Broad Street to the Ben Franklin Parkway, ending at the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art. It was a day of pure joy. Fans lined the streets to cheer on the Eagles. On this day, Philly truly felt like the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection). The parade culminated with speeches by the Eagles’ owner, front office, coaches, and players. The highlight was a fiery speech by center Jason Kelce. Adorned in a green Mummers costume, Kelce laid down a NSFW declaration that will go down in the annals of Philadelphia history. Chase Utley became a legend when he called Philly the “World Fucking Champions” in 2008. Jason Kelce became a Philly God with his remarks. We have listened to his remarks over and over again and each time, we still get chills. He perfectly sums up the collective feeling of the City of Philadelphia and Eagles fans. Watch for yourself Philly; we’ve earned this with our blood, sweat, tears, and endless devotion!
Maybe the best part of the entire thing is knowing that the Eagles are just getting started. We return almost this entire roster next season; we get back some key players (including Carson Wentz) next year and are poised to make another run. Philly has our first Super Bowl title and we have the team to defend it in 2018-19. Welcome to the new norm Philadelphia: we are Super Bowl Champions, and it looks good on us. Fly Eagles Fly.
[Photos by Rick Pettine, Brockswell Photography, Michael Green, and D. Jacob Miller Photography]
[Article by David Miller]
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