I remember where I was on January 11, 1981. I was around the corner of my family home, sitting with my PopPop and MiMi, watching the NFC championship game.
The Phillies had won the World Series the previous October, but I was too little to be allowed to stay up to partake in that revelry 1. So the Eagles NFC title was my first real sports memory. After the game I marched around the corner in joy. I was still awakening as a fan, but I knew this was a big deal. Alas, that journey ended in defeat down in New Orleans.
I remember where I was was on January 19, 2003. I was in the car with my family, driving from Massachusetts to my family’s home outside in Philly — on my way down to interview at a little church in Palmyra, NJ. Misery poured through our radio speakers. Everything was in the Eagles favor — a warm weather team playing in the cold, a potent offense, and a great defense. But we still lost. When I walked into my childhood home my mother’s greeting was, “ Welcome to Philadelphia, where we never win anything.”
I also remember where I was on February 6, 2005. I was sitting in the parsonage of Central Baptist Church, surrounded by a few of the church’s members, watching my first NFL game in High Definition. And, again, we lost.
Eagles fans have any number of times where we have been trained to point up to the sky and say, “The universe hates us.” The Fog Bowl, Randall Cunningham breaking his leg during the first game of the regular season in 1991. Players strikes derailing two teams stacked with talent. It seemed we were never meant to win.
And then came this year. We lost potential Hall of Fame kick returner 2 Darren Sproles, certain Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters, special teams captain Chris Maragos, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, and MVP calibre quarterback Carson Wentz. In any other year, and on just about any other team, any one of these losses could lead to a folding of the tents in order to get a jump on the next season. These Eagles went 13-3, clinching a playoff bye and home field advantage throughout the post-season 3.
We were underdogs, at home, in two playoff games. We won them both. We were underdogs to the GOAT Tom Brady and the cheating hoodie 4 in the Superbowl. Tom Brady passed for 505 yards and three touchdowns. Once Gronkowski got rolling there wasn’t anything the Eagles defense could do to stop him. Our defensive backs were out of the camera frame after Brady’s passes all night long. And it didn’t matter.
Doug Pederson showed no fear 5. Nick Foles, who almost retired a season ago, played the second game of his life in a row. Local kid, and undrafted running back, Cory Clement had 100 receiving yards 6. Brandon Graham, who had to shrug off the whispers of being a first round bust, got to Brady in a key moment — the resulting fumble from his sack was recovered by rookie Derek Barnett 7. Our offense couldn’t be stopped, putting up forty-one points on the biggest stage in sports.
And then the narrative changed. “We never win anything” was a thing of the past. The Hail Mary was thrown, bodies converged, and the ball fell to the ground with all zeros on the game clock. We won. I may not have a voice for a month.
- My parents were at the game, grrr. ↩
- And offensive swiss-army knife. ↩
- And beat the team which boasts the NFL coach of the year, Sean McVay, in their home stadium in the very game where they lost their MVP quarterback — by coming from behind. Doug Pederson got one vote for coach of the year. ↩
- Also a great coach, but he’ll never live down the cheating here. ↩
- The “Philly Special” will go down in Super Bowl history as one of the greatest plays ever dared. ↩
- His receiving numbers in college are so low as to be almost non-existent. ↩
- And I have to say thank you to the Minnesota Vikings for that pick. ↩