When you reach a certain age, thoughts begin to creep into your mind in a way that doesn’t happen when you’re young. Will the Eagles ever win a Super Bowl? Well, they did baby, and I still feel the glow.
At some critical juncture in childhood, every boy must pledge his allegiance to a team. You don’t know it at the time, but it’s a life-effecting choice because once pledged, you can never change teams. It’s fine to “like” another team, but no other team can be “your team.” You’re stuck with that youthfully uninformed decision, so like the last knight of the Holy Grail told Indiana Jones, you have to, “Choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”
My father was military, so I spent my childhood moving from one southern military base to another every three years. It was the fourth grade at Fort Bragg, NC when my moment came. Back then, there were no professional sports teams in the South. Lot’s of kids followed Bart Starr’s Green Bay Packers who never seemed to lose. Others stayed regional and pulled for the Washington Redskins or the Dallas Cowboys. Some idolized the Cleveland Browns and Jim Brown, who is still the greatest football player ever.
I wasn’t drawn to any of these teams. In fact, I was totally unaffiliated, and without guidance. My older sister was an actress, my older brother played piano and my father was in Korea. All I knew was that I’d been born in Valley Forge, Pa just outside of Philadelphia, and I’d spent the formative first 9 months of my life there. My choice was made. I was going to be a Philadelphia fan the rest of my life. I made that decision just in time for the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies to panic and blow an eight game National League lead with only ten games to play. Even as a child, I must have questioned my choice even then. Nope, once in, all in.
To be fair, I must admit that being a Philadelphia sports fan has, at times, been more than a life-long anger management course. In the early seventies the Broad Street Bullies ruled hockey. It wasn’t hard for a piss-ant kid to get behind a team with players like Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, “Moose” DuPont, “Hound” Kelly and Bobby “The Rat” Clarke. We all understood that “only God saved more than Bernie Parent.” In the eighties, the sublime Dr. J and the magnificent Moses Malone came to town and brought the 76ers a championship. A sports writer once wrote that he went to the ballet in New York City and watched Baryshnikov make an incredible leap. He then whispered under his breath to his neighbor, “Erving.” Even the Phillies managed to win a few championships although we were made to suffer successive playoff losses to the hated Big Red machine from Cincinnati, the “Wild Thing” walk-off home run to Joe Carter and the Toronto Blue Jays and when we did win, we had to celebrate it while stomaching the even more hated Pete Rose.
But as a boy, and as a man, its football. That’s why its called the Super Bowl and the commercial cost a billion dollars per minute. When would it be the Eagles turn? Perennial underdogs. In Super Bowl XV in 1981, Ron Jaworski, Wilbert Montgomery and Harold Carmichael would lose 27-10 to John Madden, a washed up Jim Plunkett and the Pride and Poise Boys from Oakland. In 2004, Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens lost their nerve in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXXIX and lost 24-21 to the New England Patriots. When would it be the Eagles turn?
Maybe this would be the year as Carson Wentz lead the Eagles to the league’s best record and probably the Most Valuable Player award. The the false Grail took another small bite out of Philly’s sporting life when God struck Wentz down with a torn ACL with only 4 games left in the regular season. That injury forced journeyman quarterback Nick Foles into the starting job. A second string quarterback who had failed in multiple cities and had considered quitting football just a year earlier. No one gave the Eagles a chance, maybe even in Philly itself, if the truth be told.
Despite entering the play-offs as the top seeded team, the Eagles were the underdogs in every game including the first round game against the Atlanta Falcons who had sneaked into the play-offs. A win against Altanta, a blow-out against Minnesota and then an epic Super Bowl LII the living legends and unbeatable Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Bill Belichick. There is no need to summarize the game except to say that it might be the greatest Super Bowl ever. It was back and forth the entire way with dozens of opportunities for an underdog Eagles to give up and say, “We did the best we could.”
But they didn’t. They stuck together. Believed in themselves. Made the big plays. Introduced the world to the Philly Special and won the classic 41-33 with the gutsiest play call in Super Bowl history. They stood up to the New England Patriots, took their best shot and ascended. Fly Eagles Fly.
It was affirming of a childhood choice. It brought unimaginable joy to a city and fan base that have waited all their lives for this moment. It was a true underdog story and the sweetest of wins. Philadelphia- home of the Lombardi Trophy.
With apologies to Bruce Springsteen who I attach to all my blogs, I have another artist to tell you about. I am not a country music fan, but Dan Patrick on ESPN introduced me to a scruffy singer-songwriter named Travis Meadows. Travis has a great song that is appropriate for this blog. It’s called “We Are Underdogs.” I have attached a clip Of Travis Meadows performing it which is really good and another clip from somebody else who’d already figured out That “We Are Underdogs” might be a great theme song for the Philadelphia Eagles season . I promise to get back to my medical blogs soon, but I had to Fly with my Eagles.