I was raised in Philadelphia. Sports fans in Philly are hardcore and my parents were no exception. The early 70’s brought the Broad Street Bullies, aka the Flyers, the Stanley Cup. 1980 was the year of “you gotta believe!” for the Phillies. The Sixers had back to back championships in the early 80’s. Philly had Tastykakes, cheese steaks, hoagies, and ride or die sports fans.
None were more ride or die than the perpetually disappointed fans of the Philadelphia Eagles. I remember the first time the Eagles reached the Super Bowl. It was such a momentous occasion that even I watched with anticipation. I can’t remember who they played. I just remember that they lost.
My mom was more of a baseball fan than anything else, but she would watch and cheer on the Eagles. My dad was the diehard Eagles fan, though. In fact, it was really an unhealthy relationship he had with the team.
I could always tell when the Eagles were losing. Dad would be in a really foul mood, yelling and swearing at the tv. If it was really a bad game, he’d be yelling and swearing at Mom and me. A real debacle would cause him to beat our dog Max. Eventually, all of us figured out that we should keep our distance on game day. It wasn’t worth chancing a win.
In all the years since the annual football ritual known as the Super Bowl was born, the Eagles had never won. Not once. My childhood became my adolescence and then became my college years — still, no Super Bowl trophy for Philly. Our other teams waxed and waned, but the Eagles were consistently “better luck next year.” Unfortunately, next year never came.
Time passed and I got married and moved away. I had kids. Life went on. The Eagles never won.
Dad died in 2013. Mom died in 2017. Neither of them saw a Super Bowl victory for their beloved Eagles.
Last night, against the New England Patriots, the drought ended. The Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII. Despite the fact that I don’t care at all for the game, I watched it some, hoping that this would be the big night for my hometown. I was watching as the seconds ticked down thinking all the while of how my dad would sit absolutely still and hopeful for one last turnover. I watched the clock run down on the Patriots. I watched the clock tick down the seconds to the Eagles’ victory. I watched the confetti fly and the Gatorade get poured over the coach’s head. They had finally done it.
The Eagles had soared to the top of the NFL mountain and summited. The Lombardi Trophy was coming to Philly.
Broad Street, as anticipated, was a fucking zoo. Years of pent up anger, frustration, and anticipation spilled out onto the streets of the City of Brotherly Love and folks celebrated like the world was about to end. Who can blame them? Eagles fans waited over 50 years for this and it was their moment as much as the team’s. It was earned lunacy and hard-won chaos. They can be forgiven for going ape-shit for a few days.
For me there is a lingering sadness as I think of how happy Mom and Dad would have been. This was the win of a lifetime — just not their lifetime. For a brief moment I was tempted to go adorn their cremated remains with green and white and commune with them in spirit. No, I thought. That would be awkward and weird. I let the moment pass.
Perhaps all that’s left is for me to thank the players and coaches of the Philadelphia Eagles. Thank you for finally winning and bringing unbridled joy to the people of Philly. On behalf of my parents and their love for the game, thank you for pulling this one out and going all the way. Even though they weren’t here and alive to see it with their earthly eyes, I have no doubt they had the best seats and saw it all. Just knowing that is enough for me.