Every NFL fan in the country has the dream of one day getting to watch their team play in the Super Bowl.I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Super Bowl 52 and watch my hometown Philadelphia Eagles try to break a 57-year title drought. December 26, 1960 was the last time the Eagles had won an NFL championship. My father wouldn’t be born for another three years and the Vietnam War still had another 15 years until its expiration. That’s how long it had been for a city and a fan base that rides and dies with its football franchise.
I made the trek to Minneapolis with my brother and dad, arriving there Saturday to meet 7 other people who I had not met, but my father knew. We all ended up renting out a house with them. The ten of us immediately hit the town that night taking in what the city had to offer along with the “Super Bowl Experience”. It’s where you take a picture with the Lombardi Trophy and get to pretend that you were getting drafted by your favorite team, amongst other things. Being outside in Minneapolis was an experience in itself. It was below 0 both days and it was brutal. I can also confirm that Midwestern hospitality is definitely a thing. The people there are genuinely the nicest people on the planet. This is incredible considering the weather there is just miserable.
Super Bowl Sunday arrived, and the ten of us were so anxious for the game that we headed out to the Mall of America to kill some time. The mall was mobbed with Eagles fans. I even got on NBC 10 Philadelphia doing an “E-A-G-L-E-S” chant with a crowd of other Eagles fans.
We entered the stadium with 4 hours until kickoff and I was in awe of U.S. Bank Stadium. The purple seats smack you in the face and the glass that encased the field was an architectural marvel to me. Even though kickoff was still far off, every five minutes you could hear “E-A-G-L-E-S “EAGLES” being chanted throughout the stadium. It felt like a home game. It ended up being about 75-80% Eagles fans there by game time.
One of the things I thought was really cool about the Super Bowl was that the PA system played the specific “traditions” that each team had for a home game. After every Eagles touchdown they played “Fly Eagles Fly” and they played the intro videos that each team plays before kickoff. For the entire first half every play was like 4th and goal in the fourth quarter. The crowd would get loud for every play on either side and the energy was fantastic in that building. Even though the Eagles had a 10 point lead at the half, I was getting nervous. Halftime of the Super Bowl is 30 minutes long, and about 5 minutes into Timberlake’s performance I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Come the fourth quarter I had gotten so used to seeing these two teams march up and down the field that I felt like I was watching Madden. Whichever team held the ball last was gonna win.
After Zach Ertz scored to put the Eagles up 5, I didn’t even sing the fight song. There was 2 minutes and change to play and Tom Brady had the ball. I turned to my brother and said “I’ve seen how this movie ends.” My dad went on Facebook Live (he was doing it periodically talking to his friends about the game) and a Patriots fan behind us starts yelling into the camera “The G.O.A.T is coming for that ass!” Three plays later, Brandon Graham made the biggest play in Philadelphia Eagles history.
I have never gone so wild for any play in any sport before. I was jumping around and hugging guys that I had just met 24 hours before. I also turned around to that Patriots fan, threw my arms in the air, and yelled “The G.O.A.T… The G.O.A.T! and he refused to look me in the eyes. On the final play of the game, the ball felt like it was in the air for an entire minute. I saw the ball hit the ground, saw the triple zeroes on the clock, and immediately hugged my dad. There wasn’t a dry eye between us.
It turned out I had seen this movie before. Except it was Rocky II, not Rocky I. The underdog that was never given a chance went shot for shot with the champion. After a hard-fought twelve rounds, the challenger finally put the champion away. It was a surreal moment to see. It was literally only something that I had seen when I would play franchise mode in Madden.Watching Nick Foles, Doug Pederson, and Jeffrey Lurie hoist the Lombardi Trophy is a moment I will never forget. For an entire city it was the end of the suffering. Forgotten was Ronde Barber in ’02. Forgotten was the Fog Bowl, Randall Cunningham getting injured in the season opener, Donovan McNabb throwing up on the field, and Andy Reid‘s clock management. In one moment, the entire outlook of a city can change. The way that it changed in 2004 for Boston and 2016 for Chicago. No curses and no heartbreak. Now it’s time to go back-to-back.