Philadelphia is an interesting place. Like a really interesting place. A city with so much history, passion, love, intensity, art & culture. Iconic figures, great food (yes besides cheesesteaks) fantastic music, the birthplace of this country and so much more. Home of the most passionate and intense fans in the entire country, if not the world. A city with a hard-working, don’t take crap from nobody, put my head down and grind attitude. Caught in between Washington DC & New York City.. Philadelphia…the little brother for decades has been able to relate so much & look to one man for inspiration. A man who overcame adversity despite overwhelming odds over and over and over and over. A man so creative in his craft that I don’t know how you can’t admire him. A man who wore everything on his sleeve & would fight to his last breath for those he loved. An underdog. A man that isn’t real. Rocky Balboa.
On the greatest Sunday in the history of Philadelphia that all changed. The Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl in franchise history. A 58-year championship drought dating back to before the Super Bowl even existed. Now remember when I said Philadelphia was the most passionate & intense fans in the country? Well there was no greater love than the Eagles. This is without a doubt a football city & for once on that fateful night Eagles fans were able to cry tears of joy rather than tears of disappoint, sorrow, anger or angst. The best part was it was never supposed to even happen.
This is the story of Philadelphia’s new heroes. Their true heroes.
December 11th, 2017 was when the Philadelphia Eagles season by experts nationwide was declared over. As soon as the words, “It’s a torn ACL” were uttered by Head Coach Doug Pederson the whole city riding high at 11-2 let out a deflated sigh spiraling into a deep state of depression. The front-runner for League MVP, Carson Wentz was done for the year joining franchise Left Tackle Jason Peters, Middle Linebacker Jordan Hicks & Running Back Darren Sproles amongst others on IR.
So what were they to do just quit? Maybe a group of lesser men without the dignity, character, will & fighting spirit might have. This group, however, was different. Led by Pederson & the sidelined Carson Wentz, this team was the embodiment of the city it played in & it showed coming down the stretch.
The Philadelphia Eagles went on to finish the season at a 13-3 record with two lackluster performances from the offense to close out the season. As a result, the team with the best record in football became the first #1 seed not to be favored to win. Thus creating an alter ego that will not long be forgotten. The Underdogs.
Now leading up to their matchup with Atlanta the team for the most part brushed off this notion of being underdogs but following their Divisional win against the Atlanta Falcons sporting German Shepherd masks, Lane Johnson & Chris long fully embodied the underdog seemingly trolling all those who picked against them. Naturally Philadelphia loved it and bought every mask off of amazon within minutes.
I’m laughing now thinking back on it, only in Philadelphia would something like that happen. Of course the Underdogs were going to take it one step further after Lane Johnson on his website released limited edition shirts reading ‘HOME DOGS GONNA EAT.’ That in itself is something Eagles fans could get behind what made it better was the fact that proceeds went to funding Philadelphia schools. I’ve never seen a team show so much love for Philly & it just fires me the f**k up I’m afraid I might type holes through my keyboard.
So that in itself up to this point is a great story, but hold up wait a minute y’all thought they was finished? No no no this is far from over. The Sunday following their defeat of Atlanta the Eagles had a date in the NFC Championship with the Minnesota Vikings whom had just come off a miracle victory of their own. Naturally the favorites were not the home team & that was fine with them. It was honestly somewhat understandable seeing as Minnesota had a very stout defense and some talented skill players on offense.
Apparently none of that mattered as the Philadelphia wiped the floors with Minnesota winning 38-7 setting up a rematch of Super Bowl 39 with the Evil Empire in New England.
In the longest two weeks of my life leading up to Super Bowl 52 the conversation never really revolved around Philadelphia or whether they could win the game. After all this was the robotic Tom Brady’s 8th Super Bowl appearance so why would it be? For crying out loud the Patriots chose to wear their white jerseys where 12 of the last 13 teams to do so had won the Super Bowl. (ESPN could not drop that garbage stat fast enough) If that weren’t enough to make the Eagles just pack up and go home key players on the team such as DT Timmy Jernigan, LB Mychal Kendricks & CB Ronald Darby amongst others came down with Flu like symptoms the week leading up to the game. Clearly this just wasn’t going to be the year… again. The football world forgot that Philadelphia had a say in the outcome of the game & that they were here to win. Leading up to the game Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson, in one of the dozens of media sessions, said something that really stuck out to me. “If we make this all about them, were in trouble.” It showed during the game too. In years past it’s classic for teams to get an early lead against the Patriots and they take the foot off the pedal just to end up losing. Pederson was not going to let the fear of New England’s past accomplishments affect the way he did his job. Doug was aggressive all season & Super Bowl 52 was no different. Pederson refused to yield to the mighty Goliath wearing a goofy ass cut sleeve sweatshirt on the other sideline.
After 1,151 total yards & 74 combined points the final whistle blew. They did it. Super Bowl Champions. SUPER BOWL FREAKING CHAMPIONS. The Philly Special was called the game was won and the legend was etched in stone for all of Philadelphia lore to speak of for as long as the city stands.
It’s funny though even after doing what they did if you google image search ‘Super Bowl 52 celebration’ the first actual picture you’ll see is that of Tom Brady celebrating Super Bowl 51 but that’s fine because you can’t take February 4th, 2018 away from the city of Philadelphia. We won, we overcame the odds time and time again and we partied on Broad until the sun rose myself included greased poles and all.
Much like the citizens of the city they represent we later found out, thanks to future Mayor Jason Kelce, that the team said, “F**k ‘em” after hearing what these so-called experts thought about them as players & their chances to win in the Playoffs.
They knew that all they had been each-other and that was all they really needed at the end of the day. They needed a guy many considered to be washed, who donated his entire salary to charity. They needed a guy who was cast off by an ego maniac in Miami. They needed a guy who thought about walking away from football because one of the worst coaches in the NFL completely destroyed any confidence he had in his ability. They needed so much more but frankly I don’t have the ability to type that much. Point is this was a team that played for more than themselves. They played for us and those that came and went in this life without seeing a Super Bowl, but more importantly they played for each-other and their fallen comrades that could not lace ‘em up to go to battle. So while the Rocky movies motivated and inspired those for so long, Philadelphia’s children now have its true heroes to look up to in times of doubt and adversity. It’s time for me to say goodnight to Rocky, the Underdogs will take it from here.
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