The 2017 Eagles and My Life as an Eagles Fan

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As someone who was born and raised in Philadelphia, there are some things you come to expect in life. The Eagles season ending in disappointment was almost always one of those things. I was born during the 1998 Philadelphia Eagles football season. Legend Reggie White had recently won a Super Bowl title with the Green Bay Packers, the team was in its third season wearing midnight green after switching over from the Kelly green of previous years, and a second-round safety named Brian Dawkins was coming into his own. The following season would see the arrival of the franchise's most winningest coach in Andy Reid and the one of the most successful quarterbacks in team history with Donovan McNabb. The team would soon blossom into one of the best teams in the NFC, but would end the majority of their seasons with disappointment in the postseason. The Eagles lost three straight Conference Championship games from 2001 to 2003. Upon the acquisition of outspoken wide receiver Terrell Owens in 2004, the Birds managed to make the Super Bowl only to come up short against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots. I was only six years old when the Eagles played in Super Bowl 39, but I still hold very faint memories of watching the game at one of our family friend's house. My father, along with a plethora of my uncles and one of my oldest cousins, took a trip to Jacksonville to watch the game. Upon the loss, all I remember is a bunch of disappointment and sadness from the party attendees and the desire for vengeance in the future.

As a child growing up watching sports, you typically are not aware of the weight of what's happening on the television screen. In my opinion, you don't truly become a conscious fan of a team until you're about 9 or 10 years old. It was in January of 2009 when I experienced my first major moment of heartbreak as an Eagles fan that my parents and grandparents were all too familiar with. The Eagles lost to the Arizona Cardinals in yet another NFC Championship game due to a superhuman effort from Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. All I felt after watching the game was anger, sadness, disappointment, and frustration. A mixture of emotions that you become accustom to as a sports fan in the city of Philadelphia. Despite my young age, I was completely hooked on this team. It felt amazing that so many people are laying their bodies on the line to fight for you and your city. And that came with every sport. Players like Brian Dawkins, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Allen Iverson, and Danny Briere seemed almost like gods to me growing up. Despite an ongoing superstition that our teams were cursed and could never be successful, I managed to find love and passion in every team in my hometown. My father would tell stories of players like Reggie White, Julius Erving, or Mike Schmidt that seemed almost like fantasy folklore to my young impressionable mind. He would tell stories of how he and my uncles would routinely sneak into old Veterans Stadium and all the chaos that would ensue. Stories like this allowed me to make such a connection with both my love of sports and my love of the city of Philadelphia. Philadelphia is not a glitz and glamor town, and anybody who has set foot in the city knows this. It's rough and tough, but has a level of heart and soul underneath its rough exterior. And nowhere did I find that more passionate than in the fandom of each of our teams.

Philadelphia has a reputation as having some of the most passionate and most insane fans in the sporting world. The rest of the country hates Philly sports fans, and that's evident everywhere you look. Just look at the "NFL Teams With the Worst Fans" list and read all the mean things people have to say about our city. You could look at a "comedy" set from talentless hack Bill Burr where he insults the entire city just because they were booing his regularly awful comedic performance. You could even read the countless Internet memes that made fun of the Eagles for not winning a Super Bowl. In general, outsiders hate Philadelphia sports fans, and honestly, it's not too hard to see why. We're loud, we can be obnoxious, and we are a little to quick to complain about out teams. But you know what? Despite all the things we do, you will not find a more passionate sports town in America. The fact that this city is as loyal to its teams despite decades of failure and year upon year of disappointment is astounding. The Eagles have sold out every home game since 1999, and that includes seasons where the team finished below .500. The Phillies had a an enormous streak of home sell-outs in the late 2000s. The Flyers routinely sell out games, and the Sixers still packed the house despite finishing with an abysmal 10-72 record in 2016. You can call us stupid. You can call us trash. But it doesn't matter because we will show up louder, more passionate, and show more love to our teams than any other city in America regardless of records.

Going into the 2017 Eagles season, I was obviously excited, but I made sure not to get my hopes too high up. The team had made numerous free agent signings in the offseason that bettered them as a whole, and quarterback Carson Wentz was heading into his second season as a pro. At the start of the season, I predicted a record of 9-7 and hoped that the Eagles could sneak into a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. After watching rookie kicker Jake Elliott nail a franchise record 61-yard field goal to beat the rival New York Giants early in the year, I knew that something special was going to happen. And something special definitely did happen. The team seemed to forget how to lose. Carson Wentz bloomed into an MVP candidate, the defense sharpened into one of the NFL's best, and the Birds were routinely blowing teams out of Lincoln Financial Field. Due to my past pain watching the team, I made sure to keep low expectations, so I did not expect this at all. Watching this team either from my dorm room at Temple University or at my uncle's house, they managed to surprise me with something more spectacular every single game.

The optimism I had throughout the whole season was abruptly ended when Carson Wentz tore his ACL when diving for the end zone in a game against the LA Rams. At that moment, the air was left out of every Eagles fan's chest. Our MVP quarterback was done for the year, and every analyst in the country predicted the team to lose in the first round of the playoffs. It wasn't too hard to say that. Backup quarterback Nick Foles had a stellar 2013 season with the team, but had a rough stretch the following three seasons. A lot of people said that he did not have the talent to truly become a great NFL quarterback, and he had considered retirement before re-signing with the Eagles before the 2017 started. Going into the playoffs, everyone doubted Philadelphia. They were the first home underdog first seed in the postseason in decades, and each player on the team and every fan in the city took that close to heart. Philadelphia is a city of underdogs. We can picked on, ridiculed, and disrespected all the time, but we keep fighting until the very end. Just look at our biggest cultural icon in Rocky Balboa. So when the Eagles faced the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings in the NFC playoffs, they had the entire population of Philadelphia fighting on the field with them. After narrowly escaping Atlanta and humiliating Minnesota, the Eagles took hold for their third Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, and a match-up against a familiar foe.

Anybody who knows anything about the NFL knows that the New England Patriots have a very checkered past in terms of their "style" of winning football games. There have been accusations that referees have rigged games to let them win. Tom Brady was reprimanded for supposedly tampering with game footballs. But the scandal that impacted the Eagles and Eagles fans the most was an instance known as Spygate. Word spread in 2007 that the Patriots had been caught sending spies to videotape practices of opposing teams prior to their games during the week. Of those instances, the Patriots were accused of getting footage of the Eagles' practices prior to Super Bowl 39. Ever since then, a dark cloud of negativity has surrounded the Patriots franchise, and no one took that more personally than us Eagles fans. We had been salivating for revenge for 13 years, and we finally had the opportunity to make things right. After a hard fought game that featured phenomenal performances from each team, the Philadelphia Eagles managed to win their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Plays like the "Philly Special" pass to quarterback Nick Foles, Zach Ertz's go-ahead touchdown, and Brandon Graham's strip-sack on Tom Brady will forever be etched into Eagles fans' minds. A team of underdogs and a city of underdogs finally prevailed in one of the best NFL stories in recent history.

I had been watching Super Bowl 52 at a family friend's house, and I was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole game. I could barely breathe, and my stomach was tied in so many knots that it felt like I was going to throw up. I was thinking about my father and how he never was able to witness a Super Bowl championship during his 52 years of life, and how winning ONE Super Bowl would make up for all the disappointment this fan base has endured in the past. When the clock hit zero and the final score read "Eagles 41 - Patriots 33", I burst into tears and started sobbing uncontrollably. I hugged my younger brother, my father, my cousins, my uncles, and pretty much everybody in the room with me at that moment in time. My normal swear-free mouth kept on muttering, "We f---ing did it!" between cries. The party carried over to dancing in the streets and singing the Eagles fight song, and seeing the entire city burst into a flaming ball of joyous anarchy. None of us had ever experienced this before, and I was not sure if the city of Philadelphia could handle such an occasion. I always figured the city would collapse into an enormous sinkhole the day the Eagles won the Super Bowl. Thankfully, that did not occur and I was able to attend the first Eagles Super Bowl parade in history. I listened to every Eagles player remark how the team and the city managed to become champions against all odds and slay the dragon that was Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. I had never seen anything like this before in my life, and it's an experience that I will never forget.

I am so proud to be a citizen of Philadelphia right now. Everywhere I look, I see people carrying around championship banners, Lombardi Trophies, and Super Bowl champion gear. It's hard to properly explain what this championship means to this city. We have underwent so much hardship and so much pain, that it feels so great to say that we are the champions of the football universe. Nobody can ever take this away from us. All the jokes about how we've never won a Super Bowl can finally be put to rest, and that is truly an amazing feeling. The 2017 Eagles will be forever in my memory the same way the 2008 Phillies are. I'll be able to recall the most obscure players and biggest moments from this magical team and this magical season for decades into the future. Never has it been so great and so sweet to live in the fantastic city of Philadelphia and be a fan of the now world champion Philadelphia Eagles. Now to end this piece the only way any diehard Eagles fan knows how:

FLY EAGLES FLY!
ON THE ROAD TO VICTORY! (Fight! Fight! Fight!)
FIGHT EAGLES FIGHT!
SCORE A TOUCHDOWN 1 2 3! (1 2 3!)
HIT 'EM LOW
HIT 'EM HIGH
AND WATCH OUR EAGLES FLY!
FLY EAGLES FLY!
ON THE ROAD TO VICTORY!

E! A! G! L! E! S! EAGLES!

Comments

Congratulations on your team winning Super Bowl 52, phillysports. I never should have had my doubts about the Eagles winning it, but in the end, they managed to make great use of their opportunity to win against the Patriots. I may not be a big football guy, but I have to say that I'm happy for you that you're more than happy for your team's first Super Bowl victory. This YouTube video should best sum up that victory:

https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=DiCNunLWnhM

May the Eagles fly for you and your city. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

Lol - 2storm

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