I’d seen this story before — my favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles, in the National Football Conference Championship. During my lifetime as a Philadelphia native and sports fan, the Eagles had made it to this stage five times. And on one of those occasions, in 2005, they made it through to the Super Bowl, only to be defeated by the notorious New England Patriots.
This year was my sixth time watching the Eagles make it to the NFC Championship. I was worried, as Quarterback Carson Wentz, who had instilled so much hope in Eagles fans, tore his ACL. Nick Foles would now have to step up and help us overcome the Minnesota Vikings.
The game started with a quick 7-0 lead for the Vikings.
“No surprises here,” I thought.
But I watched something remarkable happen that night on my TV. The Eagles were able to turn the game around, ending the game with a score of 38-7 in their favor.
I went outside as the game ended to find myself in a stampede of Temple proud students, like myself, rushing toward City Hall in jubilation. Football in hand, I joined in as cars honked — not in anger, but in celebration — all around us. The two miles to South Broad Street felt effortless, even on the way back. We were all too happy to complain or feel tired.
I watched as people hanged themselves out of cars and pedestrians cheered and paraded down the sidewalk. I high-fived strangers like they were my teammates, and I even played catch with some.
I joined in with a group of students clanging pans together and singing Queen’s “We are the Champions.” In that moment, nobody cared how ridiculous they looked or whether they knew the person they were standing beside.
We were a melting pot of different opinions and backgrounds, but suddenly, we were all united by our underdog football team.
But even in the midst of the celebration, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy about what was still to come: a Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, led by Quarterback Tom Brady and his five Championship rings.
For my own sake, I virtually ignored the idea of professional football for the next two weeks. The Super Bowl hype missed me, as did the plethora of interviews, commentary and predictions. The only thing that mattered now was the final game and the ultimate victory.
February 4th finally arrived. I woke up late and bummed time. I felt restless just thinking about the fate of my favorite team. I even went to the track and ran a few miles to get my mind off the big game. I couldn’t imagine how the players must have been feeling.
Then, as 6:30 p.m. rolled around, it was time for kickoff.
“Could this finally be our year?” I wondered.
By the time Justin Timberlake’s halftime performance was ready to start, we were in the lead with a score of 22-12.
But these were the Patriots of New England — famous for coming back to life and stealing all the glory at the end of a close game. I knew that five championship wins don’t come by luck.
So, when the Patriots took a 33-32 lead, I left my lounge on the tenth floor of The Edge Student Village in disgust. My soul had been crushed by Philadelphia sports too many times, and I had gotten my hopes up once again.
Once again, I needed to stop thinking about football. I went to my resident hall’s workout room, which was empty, and turned my phone off. I was disconnected from the outside world and the Super Bowl.
I lifted some weights, did some lunges, jogged a bit and for more than 15 minutes, pretended a Super Bowl wasn’t happening. But I couldn’t pretend for much longer; I picked up my phone, turned it on and checked the score. At this point, it was still 33-32 Patriots.
As I walked out of the gym, I heard a roar from a nearby dorm room. I knew we just scored.
Hurriedly, I darted up two flights of stairs to find the referees reviewing an Eagles touchdown. Did Zach Ertz have control of the ball?
“Of course he did. He was already a runner,” I thought to myself.
The wait lasted forever before they made the call: touchdown, Eagles. We were now winning with a score of 38-33. But after a failed two-point conversion, there was a chance for Tom Brady to work his magic.
My heart dropped when I realized we were entering what had to be the final play of regulation. Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski leaps. The ball touches his hand, but bounces off someone on our team and gently kisses the ground.
I look at the clock; there was no time left, not even a second.
I look at the score: 41-33, Eagles. For a split second, time stood still. And then I got to say something that I was never able to say before, “The Eagles just won the Superbowl!”
From my ten-story view, I watch Broad Street become swarmed by a legion of enthusiastic Temple students. My sister and I would join them soon. But for now, I savored the moment.
I thought about the people watching who waited half a century for this. I thought about the little kids not understanding the full extent but indulging in the excitement. I thought back to the sound of the students clanging their pans together, singing “We are the Champions.”
It was finally true.