February 4, 2018 10:30 P.M. — I have been listening to the familiar pop of fireworks in the distance for at least ten minutes, and now the sirens have started blaring in the streets, complementing the cheers that reverberate miles outward from Center City and shake the foundation of nearly every home in the Philadelphia area.
Throughout the years, I have always been curious to see who would be the victors of the Super Bowl, but I never necessarily favored one team over the other. The excitement never lasted for more than the four to five hours between the singing of the national anthem and the winners’ rambunctious gathering on the field to claim their trophy. This Super Bowl Sunday is different.
This year, I feel the excitement long before the game started, and I’m sure I, along with nearly everyone else in the Philadelphia community, will be bathing in it long after.
Unlike prior to any other Super Bowl I can remember, the sense of collective community support for one of the final two teams isn’t just astounding; it is thrilling, like taking the LM vs. Radnor football rivalry and spreading it to a fandom of millions across the nation. All week dark green and white football jerseys scintillate in Radnor’s hallways on the backs of students and staff, bringing back memories of Spirit Week. Going into Acme Saturday morning, I pass lines of people carrying jerseys, underdog masks and Eagles balloons. This Sunday night is the first time I find myself sitting on the edge of my seat during the Super Bowl and glancing at the score practically every ten seconds.
When the Eagles take the lead early in the game, I can’t help anticipate an unfortunate reversal, an unexpected overtaking of the Eagles by the Patriots—the same way the Eagles had soared to the Super Bowl. The instant the numbers reach 33 to 32 in the Patriots’ favor, it seems like the celebration may end in Philly with the clock marking the end of fourth quarter—a third second-place finish for the Eagles in the 52 years of the Super Bowl. However, fortunately for the Eagles, the turbulence of the game continues; the Patriots stall out with their 33 points and the Eagles fly to 41, ultimately making Super Bowl history.
Throughout the evening, I feel the same invigorating anxiety flowing through me as I have felt over the course of every LM game. During the last minute of the Super Bowl, I am overcome with the same breathlessness that strikes you when you’re pushed against the fence in front of the bleachers, waiting to sprint onto the field with hundreds of other Radnor students to cheer on fellow football players as they take hold of the trophy. This time, though, it is the legendary Lombardi trophy that will soon be in the Eagles’ grasp and making the long-awaited journey to our home city. And once the outcome of the game becomes official, all that remains within me is satisfying pride.
The stark difference in the response of the crowd toward the teams–cheers for the Eagles, boos for the Patriots–prompts Chris Collinsworth to announce, “This is a Philadelphia crowd,” and it remains a Philadelphia crowd until the end. Right here, just outside the Eagles’ home city, we watch the game intently on the screen with our families, friends, and neighbors, sharing our erratic emotions with Eagles fans miles away in Minneapolis as our ecstatic cheers and frustrated yells come out in unison with every touchdown and every turnover.
Despite all the other divisions and debates that existed in our community over the past year, there is finally a celebratory night when our disunities don’t matter, when there is no longer a major clash between who’s right and who’s wrong about the controversy of the day. We are united by the players and the game that lets Philadelphia shine in glorious limelight under the Super Bowl spotlight.