My dad would have loved this.
The last time the Eagles won the NFL championship, they hadn’t invented the Super Bowl. Dwight Eisenhower was president, though he already knew who his successor would be. The number one song in the nation was “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” by Elvis Presley, who was not an oldies act at the time. A new house cost $12,700 – a shade over double the average annual income. A new car would set you back $2600, gas cost 25 cents/gallon, and the minimum wage was $1.25/hour, which is higher than it is today when you adjust for inflation.
It was a long time ago.
But tonight they won. Those magnificent bastards, they won. After a lifetime of watching them put players out on the field who had their helmets on sideways, led by coaches who were quietly amazed to discover that the game had a clock, for the first time in my lifetime, they won the championship. They are Super Bowl Champions.
To get to this point they beat the Brady/Belicheck Machine that is the New England Patriots – the team everyone outside of New England hates because they are ridiculously talented, incredibly well run, and entertaining if you can get past the perpetual smell of suspicion that follows them around like a wet puppy. They’re the Dallas Cowboys of the 21st century.
My dad was a huge Eagles fan.
He took me to the only professional football game I have ever been to – a preseason game between the Eagles and the then-St.-Louis Cardinals, which I am sure that the Eagles lost because this was the early 1970s and they generally lost games then. They had a quarterback who had to be watered twice a week so his roots didn’t die, and a place kicker who had half a foot and was by far the best player on the team.
He instilled the Eagles fandom in me, and we cheered them through good seasons (the Super Bowl years of 1980 and 2005, the powerhouse years of the late 1980s and early 2000s, and so on) and more than a few bad ones. We’d always talk about the latest game during the seasons, comparing notes and observations. And even in recent years, as my interest in American football waned, we still talked about the games because that’s one of the things we talked about. That’s what sports does for you, it creates bonds.
The Eagles never won a Super Bowl. Not while he was alive.
They won tonight.
It was a good game. Both teams played like they belonged there. There were great plays by the Eagles and, much as it pains me to admit, great plays by the Patriots. Between them they set an NFL playoff record for total offensive yardage, and there was a grand total of one punt. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles became the only quarterback in Super Bowl history to both throw and catch a touchdown pass. Fittingly, it came down to the last play. When it ended, I had to check the clock to see that the game was over. And it was.
I have no idea what awaits us after we die, whether there is some kind of afterlife or whether this is the only one we get. I try to live my life so that it doesn’t matter which one is true.
But if there is a life after this one, I know my dad is happy that his beloved Birds have finally, finally, won it all.
And so am I.