February 4, 2018, is a date that will FOREVER be etched in my heart; it’s the day my beloved Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl for the first time. Fifty-Seven years had gone by and there was NO RING, NO Parade, NO SUPER BOWL BANNER, but at last, on what was one of the best Super Bowl games I have EVER witnessed, the EAGLES FINALLY got it done. I have joked for years that there are two things that I want and pray for; to see Jesus face to face and for the Eagles to win a Super Bowl in my lifetime (obviously not in that order).
If you have ever believed in a Cinderella story, a perfect ending, or a “next man up” scenario; the 2017-2018 Eagles Team gave you just that. I attend on average 3-4 games a year, in my quest to visit all 31 stadiums (The New York Jets and Giants share a stadium) of the 32 teams. I try as best I can to attend the home opener even with me living in Atlanta for the last 13 years, I make my way to the home opener, and then select stadiums I would like to visit for away games. The first home game was against our divisional foe; The New York Giants. If you know anything about the NFC East, you know there are no “cake walk games”, they are usually hard fought and very close, which was no exception on September 24, 2017. Jake Elliott, a kicker the Eagles signed less than 2 weeks before this game; who was waived by the Beagles, with just seconds left on the clock, nailed a 61-yard field goal, for the Eagles to pull out the win 27-24. What a game to remember, but the bad news was in that same game Darren Sproles, broke his arm and suffered an ACL tear; surely we were doomed.
As the weeks and the months passed, we continued to be decimated with season-ending injuries and in just about every position. Sproles, Cox, Sturgis, Peters (when I literally cried like a baby), Hicks, and our Franchise QB Carson Wentz in week 14; everyone including some Eagles Fan counted us out, but the next man up, got the job done. Many had said, well the Eagles have nothing to hang their heads over, although they won the Division, there was no way they would win one playoff game without their star QB, let alone make it to the Super Bowl. The biggest challenge in all three post-season games (in my opinion) was the very first game we played against the Atlanta Falcons. I am a realist and I tell anyone that wants to listen that if Atlanta’s QB Matt Ryan connects with Wide Receiver Julio Jones at the end of the 4th, their results may have been different, but the Eagles had the best record not just in the NFC but the tied (with the Patriots) for the BEST record in the NFL, yet the amount of disrespect to make us the underdog was daunting, but back to that game. A low scoring game, the Eagles won 10-15, and next was the up and treading Minnesota Vikings.
There is a saying or curse that has stood true since the start of the Super Bowl era, that no team that was the Super Bowl Host has ever made it to the Super Bowl, in comes the Host Team, the Vikings. Yup, you guessed it, the Eagles were once again the Underdog. I remember sitting at my favorite “Atlantadelphian” Sports Bar watching the game at a standing room only capacity and saying if we get this Pick (interception), it will change the complexity of the game, and boy was I right. Although the Vikings came out and scored on their first series, who knew that would be the last time they scored? The Eagles were on their way to the 52nd Super Bowl pulling an 8-37 shellacking on the Vikings. We now faced the G.O.A.T Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, and again the underdog.
On paper, we were far better than the Patriots this game, but there was so much doubt. Tom Brady is over 40 years old, and the Eagles had a backup QB, but that made no difference. The only reason we were the “fan-based” favorite was that outside of the New England States, everyone hates the Patriots…LOL, but the media was split. This game was a true chess match, and I promise you my stomach was upset the entire time. With food, drinks, and the Atlanta based faithful Eagles fan at Rocky Mountain Pizza, I made several trips to the bathroom, I know TMI, but the nervous energy and the thought that we came this far and was looking like a potential winner was too much for your girl to handle. The ball was in the hands of arguably one of the best QB ever (Brady), and he was strip-sacked by the Eagles DE Brandon Graham, for what some will say was the game changer and final nail in the coffin. I said, not too soon, Brady was connecting quick and often with the beastly and difficult to tackle 6’6″ TE Rob Gronkowski AKA “GRONK”, and we alllll know you never want the ball to be in the hands of Brady for the final seconds. A Hail Mary was thrown and for 99% of Eagles fans it was in the slow motion, here it was our season, fate and breath were in these last seconds and if the Patriots can catch it and send the Super Bowl to overtime (with a 2-pt conversion should the ball had been caught). INCOMPLETE…EAGLES WIN!!!!!
During this Super Bowl game, I was disappointed in having been recently laid off from a job I had worked on for 9 years. I was upset that for my very first Super Bowl, I had to be fiscally responsible and forgo attending at the tune of approximately $8,000 (yes for everything and at least 2nd level tickets), but when the final score popped up, when the confetti fell from the sky, when the camera panned in on the fans who like myself waited all their lives for this moment, I instantly forgot about all my disappointments. I was seen on television and social media in tears because at that very moment something steered up in me; never give up.
Like the Eagles, we to are often counted out. It could be because of your age, sex or race. You may have had a diagnosis, report, or pink slip, and everyone else started planning your demise. The Eagles inspired me and I know countless others, that it’s next man up, a team effort, and our new Eagles Chant… We all we got, we all we need. Although I didn’t make it to the game, I made it home to attend the first ever Eagles Parade. It was cold, but we didn’t feel it, it was crowded, but we were all family, the players hopped off the bus several times to interact with the fans, because like FAMILY, We’re all we GOT, and we’re all we NEED. What I’ve learned from the Eagles in 2017-2018 most of all is to surround yourself with people that hold up accountable and hold you up. Surround yourself with dream builders and not snatchers. What I know for sure (outside of finally being able to say we are Super Bowl Champions) is that winners always want to see winners win… Catch That One!!!!