Watching the Eagles from the Sideline

It’s Sunday, September 24. I’m visiting my mom for dinner and, of course, to watch the Eagles. It’s the fourth quarter, my mom’s in the kitchen cooking chicken parm, my boyfriend lies lazily on the couch tired from our morning at the shooting range, and I’m in front of the big screen thinking, “If we blow this game, we’re not going anywhere.”

Less than a minute on the clock and the doorbell rings. My eyes stay on the TV as I open the door, expressing my disappointment to our guests. My cousin yells, “Is it over? They tied it right before we got out of the truck.”

I glance back to the TV. 61-yard field goal. “Holy shit, they won!”

When I think about this Eagles season, this is the moment I think about. Something about that comeback, something about that field goal, something about having Sunday dinner with my family, made me believe in our season.

It felt different though. It wasn’t the standard, “This will be the year” song and dance. We knew this year would be our year.

Naturally, the haters came out to hate. As the Eagles dominated game after game non-Philadelphians told me, “You’ve had an easy season;” “There’s still a lot of football to play;” “Wentz has never been to the playoffs, he’ll fall apart;” “One injury and you could be done.”

I don’t need to tell you the rest of the story, it’s pretty evident by the title of Champions bestowed upon the Eagles this past Sunday. But it wasn’t a Sunday I expected; it wasn’t how I ever pictured I would celebrate an Eagles Super Bowl.

Back in November, I jokingly (but hopingly) asked my dad if he would fly me back to Philadelphia if the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl. No response. That would be a jinx anyway. Making plans for something that hasn’t officially happened, right? Talking about the Super Bowl at all would be a jinx; no matter how confident I am in my team, you just never know.

I admit, I did feel like a sidelined fan over the course of the season. I wasn’t able to watch every game live because of the time difference, and would spend the morning after games playing catch up. It’s not the same as sitting in a room with friends and family, cheering on the men in green together. The best I could do was hook up my laptop to the TV and send texts back and forth, maybe make a phone call at halftime.

But then came the NFL Divisional Game in Philadelphia during my visit home. This time I watched the game at my dad’s and celebrated the win that night at The Killers concert. It was incredible, to be at a concert and surrounded by a sea of green-wearing Eagles-chanting Philadelphians. Even Brandon Flowers admitted to being a fan! Part of me knew, but wouldn’t admit that whether we win or lose the big game, this would be the closest I would get to a parade, so I better enjoy it. The very next day, I boarded my plane back to Paris.

The NFC Championship game aired at 12:30am my time. Yes I stayed up for it. Yes I watched while doing a puzzle. The idea was the puzzle could help me keep calm so I wouldn’t wake my sleeping neighbors.

I cried later that morning watching videos of fans celebrate in the streets I grew up on. Then I checked the price of flights. My mom called, she asked what I wanted to do. “I don’t want to jinx it.” Plus, the flights were almost double what they are normally are, even though I knew being there would be sublime.

My dad sent a package with NFC Championship shirts, Eagles foam fingers, and pompoms. We’d make our own Eagles Super Bowl party in Paris. A party for three complete with decorations, stromboli, green Rice Krispie treats, and Tastykakes! I even purchased confetti after debating it for a week (didn’t want to jinx it).

Every day I watched new hype videos, read the latest sports articles, and saw my city get ready for the game of a lifetime–all from over 3000 miles away. I was going to be sidelined for one of the biggest games of my life (the Phillies 2008 World Series was pretty epic in my book). Despite the distance, I didn’t waiver as a fan. People were surprised I stayed awake for the NFC game and that I would do the same for the Super Bowl. To me, it would be outrageous to do anything else. How am I expected to sleep peacefully in bed while my men are putting everything on the field? Oh no, I’m a true fan. And a Philadelphia sports fan at that–I’m dedicated no matter where I’m at.

This time, I had no patience for the non-Philadelphians who were hating on our enthusiasm and excitement (and undoubtedly bitter their own teams didn’t make the cut).

Then came game day. We cooked. We decorated. We dressed. We waited. Let me tell you how agonizing it is to wait an extra six hours compared to everyone else back home. And to make it worse, I had a nightmare I slept through the game so when I awoke at 6am Sunday, there was no chance I was sleeping until the game ended 5am the next day–which is exactly what happened.

Espressos were served at midnight and the game began. I didn’t care about the neighbors. I yelled at the players, scoffed at the announcers (particularly Collinsworth), and unapologetically flipped off close-ups of Tom Brady. My heart raced the whole game, but nothing like those last few minutes.

My boyfriend became nervous, he said he wasn’t sure anymore. I kept thinking back to that September afternoon when I was already going to consider our season over, but we came back with a miracle in the end. I wasn’t giving up now.

The clock ran out and I jumped up and down on our couch. I high-fived my friend, I kissed my boyfriend, I called my mom, someone shot off our confetti cannon, I video called my sister and dad who were both in tears, and I watched in awe as our backup quarterback receive the Super Bowl MVP. There aren’t enough words to properly describe this feeling.

Eagles fans have wanted this for so long, but we never gave up. Every year we filled our home stadium no matter what our record was that season. We even completely took over the Rams stadium this year. You might even say Eagles fans were the loudest at the Super Bowl. But being a fan is more than going to a couple of games. It’s watching a team every Sunday, talking about them year round, and always having hope that one day we would come out on top.

When that clock ran out, I knew my dad would cry, I knew my mom would be jumping and squealing, and I knew my sister would make the dash to Broad Street before her own tears dried.

Finally I was able to sleep. I slept for five hours, watched videos of fans’ celebrations, cried again, and spent a solid hour unregrettably cleaning up confetti. Just to be sure, I checked the prices of flights for this week, still too much for a last minute trip home, but I expect lots of pictures and videos from all of you at the parade.

Oh, and yes, I spent my Monday afternoon rewatching the game in its entirety (save the terrible halftime show).

Congrats, Eagles!





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