Philadelphia Eagles fans have always had faith. We're used to heartbreak. But a tough end to one season has wiped the smiles off our faces. We collect ourselves. “There’s always next year,” we say. Each new coach or Quarterback raised our hopes. “This is the year,” we say every pre–season, only to be left empty–handed come February. Last year, the Birds ended the season with 7 wins and 9 losses, finishing last in their division. But as the 2017–18 season began, here we were once again, promising each other “This is our year.” And this time, we were right.
Looking back, this season felt different. After losing their second game of the year, the Eagles won 9 straight games. During that time, I went to my very first game at Lincoln Financial Field. I watched as the Eagles offense put up 51 points against the Denver Broncos. I knew this team had an energy I’ve never seen before. After the game I did what I always do after an Eagles game—I called my Nana. At 86 years old, she’s got more football spirit than most of the Penn student body combined. Almost every Sunday since she and my Pop–Pop moved to Florida four years ago, I’ve called her to talk about our Eagles. Sometimes I had to catch her up on the games that weren’t being broadcasted in Florida. Other days, she would recount her favorite plays to me. She spent most Sundays watching as many games as she could with my Pop–Pop. They were both excited about what the Eagles were accomplishing this year. All of Philadelphia was hopeful to see what they could accomplish.
As the Eagles continued to rise this season, my Pop–Pop’s health began to decline. On Friday, December 1, 2017 he passed away. I had talked to my Nana throughout that week, but calling her that Sunday was much more difficult. The Eagles were playing against the Seattle Seahawks. Since the game was going to end late, I called my Nana before kickoff. It was the first Eagles game in 65 years she was watching without my Pop–Pop. Before she hung up she told me, “I just hope they can win it, for him.” Without hesitation I told her, “Of course they’re going to win Nana, they’re going to win it all for him.”
In typical Philadelphia sports fashion, the Eagles lost that Sunday Night game against Seattle, 24–10. I was shocked. My Nana was disappointed. Eagles games on Sundays were the highlight of week for me, my Nana, and my Pop–pop. Before he passed, he too held onto the hope that this would be our year. As true Philadelphia sports fans, my Nana and I were hopeful that the team would get it together. The following Sunday, the Eagles’ starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, suffered a season–ending injury. Philadelphia was tinged with a palpable disappointment after the game. It was hard for even the most cheerful fan to put on a brave face. But soon enough the city was ready to “Believe in St. Nick,” as one billboard on I–95 proclaimed. We began to believe that Nick Foles, our second string quarterback, would finish what Carson started. We put on a brave face. We tolerated the trash talk, the naysayers, the ones who counted us out cause we believed this really was our time.
As a superstitious fan, I watched the Super Bowl in the same place I watched all the playoff games—Cavanaugh’s. I picked Cav’s because my uncle used to work there when he went to Drexel. I felt a connection to my roots there. When the Super Bowl was over, I called everyone, barely able to speak. I called them as I ran to Broad Street singing the fight song. My mom and I cried, my brother and I screamed. I called my Nana and could tell she was trying to hold back her tears. “It can’t believe they really did it, Pop–pop said they would!” We were both overjoyed, but this win was still bittersweet. In some ways, our celebrations would always be incomplete. I was reminded then that this win was bigger than all of us. I marched down Broad and tried to take in the crowd around me, truly appreciating this moment. As I did, I screamed and reached out to someone I recognized. In a crowd of thousands, I happened to find my cousin. We hugged, shook our heads in disbelief and yelled “GO BIRDS!” We were both ecstatic, but I also couldn’t help but think beyond the game, beyond Broad Street.
Throughout this season, the Eagles have frequently called their team a family. For them, this wasn’t just a game, it was a way of life. The same is true for all Philadelphia Eagles fans. This game was always more than a game. Winning the Super Bowl wasn’t just for the Philadelphia Eagles franchise. This win was for my Nana, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was for every person on Broad Street, Main Street, Frankford, and Cottman on Sunday night. It was for fans around the world. Fans who’ve waited over 60 years to see the Eagles win a title. It was for fans who are no longer with us. It was for my Pop–Pop, my cousin Gen, and my Uncle Jim. It was for every Philadelphia Eagles fan that was gone too soon. The Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl Champions. Right now in this city, that’s all we got. But right now, that’s all we need.