This wasn’t supposed to be the team that did it.
This team, with a second-year coach and a second-year quarterback, was expected to still be ascending, a year or two away, perhaps. People began to believe after the hot start continued through the middle of the season. Carson Wentz was the MVP front-runner. They could do it.
After waiting 57 years for a championship, a period of time so vast that it occurred before there was even a thing called the Super Bowl, it looked like this may be the year.
Then Wentz went down.
Along with left tackle Jason Peters and running back Darren Sproles and so many other key players. A pall fell over the city. I don’t live there anymore, but I could feel it. A team beset by bad luck and bad breaks time and time again suffered another one.
We’d have to wait again.
Only this team didn’t want to wait. Throw out any football cliche and it applies to this team: they built a bond; they trusted each other; next man up. All of it. It’s meaningless and contrived and yet so accurate.
2004 was painful. That was supposed to the year the drought ended. That team, with Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens and Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins looked like the best team in football all season. They, too, were hit by a horrible injury late in the season to Owens and while he returned and played great in the Super Bowl, it wasn’t enough.
And it was the Patriots that beat them.
The Patriots are great. Belichick is a mastermind and Brady is the GOAT. But they’re also arrogant and condescending. While America loves dynasties, much of the country has soured on this one because of the way they carry themselves. And that’s what makes photos like this so satisfying:
Time after time, year after year, a team goes up on New England and then tries to protect the lead. It never works. It didn’t work for Jacksonville in the AFC Championship. It didn’t work for the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. It just doesn’t work.
Doug Pederson knew that. Or he just decided to keep being aggressive as he has all year. This team was so fun because their run was so unexpected, but also because they don’t play scared. They kept going for two. They kept going for it on fourth down, including at the goal line, a trick play so crazy that the coach who called it can only be described as having “big ones.”
And it paid off.
If you’re perplexed by the reaction of the city, I can’t explain it to you. If you’re not from the area or haven’t spent much time there, it’s impossible to articulate. There’s a collective chip on our shoulders from feeling like the little brother between New York City and Washington D.C. We’re simultaneously ignored and ridiculed. Philadelphia is three times the size of Boston, but those numbers feel reversed because when you win championships regularly, you get more than your fair share of media coverage. It’s a historically important and culturally rich city that is still smeared by ridiculous tropes like throwing snowballs at Santa. And there will always be the sneers from rival fan bases. Plenty of teams, including the hated Cowboys and Giants, can point to their multiple Super Bowl wins.
That’s fine. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter today.
Before yesterday, if you searched for “Eagles Super Bowl Celebration” in Google Images, the only things that came up were shots from Madden.
No longer. The drought is finally over.
Fly, Eagles Fly.
Christopher Pierznik’s nine books, including his short story collection, Philadelphia, are available in paperback and Kindle. Check out more of his writing at Medium. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.