Historic. That’s what it was going to be, or at least that’s what I kept telling myself the morning of Super Bowl LII. It was an emotional day at my house, full of pacing and rhetorical questions from my dad. “Can Nickey Foles really pull this off?” We found out later that night that he could indeed. In one of the most emotionally exhausting experiences of my life, the Eagles triumphed over the Patriots to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
I was in King of Prussia, where I watched from my Nana’s living room. This was the house my father had grown up in and the living room my grandfather had watched virtually every televised Eagles game since the 1960s. For as long as I can remember, Sundays meant a trip to Nana’s house and Eagles football. This week was no different, only there was an overwhelming anxiety in the air. Every snap, every catch, every first down, and every score was met with its corresponding reaction from my father, aunt, and grandparents. Watching the game, though, I couldn’t help but keep glancing over at my grandfather, the 85 year-old man for whom I was named. He had become an Eagles fan during his childhood in the 1930s and had stuck with them ever since. He was the reason I was so nervous that day. I wanted this victory for him more than anything. I could stomach losing to the Patriots and seeing Tom Brady hold up another Lombardi trophy, but I couldn’t image the look on my grandfather’s face if the Eagles lost once again. He wasn’t the nervous wreck I was, however. He kept his cool and above all remained hopeful. He was the whimsical type of football fan, calling things off gut feeling and pure instinct, a sharp contrast to my dad, the analytical type. At halftime he said to me, “Y’know, I think they really have a chance.” I looked into his eyes as he continued, “I just have a feeling.” He offered no statistics, no analysis, just his gut feeling, and something about this was comforting. I wondered if he somehow knew they would win. To me, my grandfather embodies what makes this Eagles victory so special. As a 16 year-old, this championship title means much less to me than it does to Eagles fans like my grandfather, who had been waiting for the majority of their life to see this happen.
Pure joy upon the Eagles’ victory was universally felt throughout the city of Philadelphia. This was evident at the parade on Thursday where a myriad of Eagles fans gathered to celebrate something truly special. I attended the parade with my father, and I can safely say it was one of the greatest experiences of my life and something I will always treasure. As we walked to the art museum from 30th street station, I suddenly began to grasp the magnitude of the situation. Before my eyes was a seemingly endless ocean of white and green: people of all ages who had gathered in one place under one cause. Of course, I was expecting massive numbers of people to be there, but hearing the numbers or seeing the photos of parades like this are just nothing at all compared to actually being there. It was just simply unbelievable what I was seeing and more importantly, what I was feeling. Present at the parade throughout the day was a sheer exuberance, an excitement unrivaled by anything I’ve ever felt. I made it a point to talk to as many people as I could on that day and hear their story and why the Eagles meant so much to them. Many people, like me, saw the Eagles as a family tradition and a way to preserve heritage. Others said they identified with the underdog role played by the Eagles throughout the season. Everyone had a reason for being there, and I felt so lucky to be a part of such a special congregation of people, most of whom I had never met.
Eagles fans from all walks of life had come together to proclaim one thing: “We did it.” Against all odds, after decades of suffering and loss, when faced with adversity and scrutiny from the entire nation, we persisted. Philadelphia persisted. That is why this was not merely a celebration of one football team’s victory over another, no. It was bigger than that. It was a commemoration of a city’s fighting spirit and the people that embody it. When we sing the Eagles Fight Song, we don’t sing for the millionaire athletes on the field. We sing instead for the everyday people, for the blue collar workers of Philadelphia, for our families and everything the Eagles means to them, for this great city and everything it represents.
And so when I look back on Super Bowl LII, sure, I might not remember the specifics of the game like the the strip-sack or the 4th down “Philly Special.” What I will remember, though, is this historic week and the pure joy it brought to my grandfather as well as the entire city of Philadelphia.