Bigger than football

Nick Mandarano
Written by Nick Mandarano

The Eagles’ Super Bowl victory is more than a game to Philadelphia

“Escapes the sack…launching one for the end zone…it’s a jump ball and it’s incomplete…and time runs out.”

Immediately, I jump out of my seat. My dad, brother and I embrace as I cry into my dad’s chest. The Philadelphia Eagles are forever Super Bowl LII champions.

But, it’s much more than that. It’s more than just a football game. It’s more than a Lombardi trophy. Sunday wasn’t just a win for the 53 active Eagles dressed in green, or the coaches on the sideline, or the suits in the front office. Sunday was a win for the entire city of Philadelphia – all 1.5 million of its inhabitants and the starving, devoted fans around the nation. Could you write a better story?

The Patriots entered the season as Super Bowl favorites at 13/4 odds with much of the media questioning if their squad was the best ever, if an undefeated season was in the works. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ odds stood at 40/1 and even local media questioned if the team, returning from a 7-9 season and led by an unproven quarterback and controversial coach, who would remain on the hot seat more than a fourth of the way through the season, would make the playoffs.

But, wait, it gets better. Pro Bowl defensive end Fletcher Cox missed two games due to injury. Newly acquired cornerback Ronald Darby missed five games. Rising young star Jordan Hicks and future Hall-of-Famer Jason Peters were placed on the Injured Reserve list after Week 7. One of the league’s top special teams players, Chris Maragos, after Week 6. Electrifying running back Darren Sproles after Week 3. Kicker Caleb Sturgis after Week 1. And worst of all, franchise quarterback Carson Wentz after Week 13.

There’s something magical about this Eagles team that outweighs everything against them. There’s something intangible that can’t be measured, can’t be seen, only felt.

When the Eagles were looking to avoid a 1-2 start against the rival New York Giants, and a rookie kicker signed off another team’s practice squad ensured it with a franchise-record 61-yard field goal as time expired, the magic revealed itself.

Even after an incredible 10-1 start to the season, there were doubters claiming the Eagles hadn’t faced any tough competition or had no impressive wins, yet the Birds played on to the best record in their conference.

Hosting Atlanta in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Eagles entered as 2.5-point underdogs with a backup quarterback in Nick Foles starting under center in place of the MVP-caliber Wentz, and exited with a 15-10 victory, celebrating with dog masks and Meek Mill songs.

Then came the NFC Championship against the Minnesota Vikings, another 13-3 team. Again, the Eagles were underdogs at home, but it didn’t stop them. Instead it fueled them, as well as the entire city. A 38-7 victory had finally shut up most of the doubters still claiming the Eagles just aren’t that good and for the first time since 2005, the Eagles were going to the Super Bowl.

It was the New England Patriots, the Goliath of the NFL and clear favorite from Week 1, against the Philadelphia Eagles, once again the underdog.

With 9:26 remaining in the 4th quarter, the Patriots took their first lead of the game, 33-32, but the Eagles responded with a seven-minute touchdown drive of their own to regain a 38-33 lead. A failed two-point conversion left Eagles fans with the one scenario everyone feared – Tom Brady and the Patriots down a score with two minutes to go and possession.

A quick completion to Rob Gronkowski had every Eagles fan nervously shaking, seemingly forgetful of this team’s destiny. Brandon Graham strip sacked Brady on the next play and the Eagles recovered, eventually nailing a field goal and essentially securing the game. The Patriots, with one last shot, moved down the field and tried a Hail Mary pass to no avail – and the Eagles became world champions.

Some call it magic. Some call it will. I call it fate.

Philadelphia fans have been berated, ridiculed and disrespected. It’s a fan base that hasn’t been able to live down the “throwing snowballs at Santa Claus” story from nearly half a century ago. The truth is, however, that Philadelphia fans are the best in the country.

It’s a fanbase that, despite having never won, has never given up on their team. Philadelphia bleeds green, even during 4-12 seasons. It’s a city that has been hungry for success, starving for a championship, and desperate for a parade, defined by nothing but pure passion. This city, these fans, deserve this more than anyone.

As an Eagles fan, I can’t begin to adequately describe the emotions I experienced on Sunday night. Witnessing the Eagles finally win their first Super Bowl, something this city has been waiting on for a long time, is a blessing. However, the true specialty in this win lies not on the field, but in the living room.

Immediately embracing my 53-year-old father, who has waited his whole life for this, is what made this special. Texting my 80-year-old grandfather, who finally got to see confetti pour over his team, is what made this special. Experiencing the greatest sports fans in the country and the greatest city in the world come together to celebrate is what made this special.

Yeah, football’s a game, but sometimes it’s more than that. Sometimes it’s family. For years, it’s brought together at least one father and son, but now it brings together a whole city.

Philadelphia…We all we got. We all we need.

About the author

Nick Mandarano

Nick Mandarano

Nick Mandarano, '18, Sports Editor

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