Philadelphia is my city. I live about fifteen minutes from the center, I work in the city (northeast), and I follow the teams (no matter how good or awful they are — awful mostly directed at Sixers).
We tailgate the Super Bowl two days in advance even if our team isn’t in it with Wing Bowl.
We’re a city who are absolutely in love with their sports. You hear the older fans talk about the Phillies and Eagles games in the 700 level at the Vet and how crazy those times were.
As a younger Philadelphia sports fan, I’ve witnessed a lot of disappointment. The earliest I can remember is the Sixers losing in the Finals against the Lakers in the ‘00-‘01 season. That clip of Iverson stomping over Lue will be a Philly classic forever. My earliest championship loss would technically be the Flyers losing to Red Wings in the Finals during the ‘96-‘97 season, but I wasn’t even three when that happened.
Super Bowl XXXIX I remember better. I was eleven and I was this fat and stubby kid. It was around this time a lot of people thought I’d be great at football because I was big. Because of that, I watched a lot of football at the time. Football never sparked an interest for me to play though.
The first taste of victory I had was when the Phillies won the World Series back in 2008. I was fourteen and I was so excited. The parade was on Halloween but didn’t get to go because my parents didn’t trust a young kid in the city. I was a freshman in high school and I remember watching the parade on TV in the Science wing of the school. I knew it would be a while before I would see anything like that again.
Fast forward nine years. We have this really good football team in Philadelphia. We’ve got this great quarterback named Carson Wentz. At one point I heard sports networks saying he was the next Tom Brady. Everyone in the city is optimistic about this team because of how good Carson is and how well the team works together. The optimism fades in Los Angeles during the Eagles/Rams game when Carson gets absolutely destroyed. From that point, everyone doubts the Eagles make it past the first round of the playoffs. Doubts grew when the Eagles lost 6-0 to the Cowboys at the end of the season.
Playoffs come and the sports commentators doubt the Eagles and call them underdogs. Eagles have their former starter Nick Foles as their backup and he looks shaky at times.
Eagles beat Falcons 15-10.
Eagles are still called underdogs
Eagles blow out Vikings 38-7.
Eagles are STILL called underdogs.
The two week lull before the Super Bowl became an interesting time. All the major networks were constant showing statistics of the team and the excitement of the city. It was very legitimate. Every day when I rode the trains and walked to work, I could feel the excitement. Philly embraced being underdogs and make it something funny and good.
The Super Bowl came. You could still feel the excitement. You also had a lot of doubters because the Eagles were playing the best football dynasty of the modern era that is the Patriots.
Early on, the Eagles had the lead. I watched the game from home because my plans bailed. I ended up watching it with my folks. My mom got super excited they had a 22-12 lead at half time. I told her not to get too excited because the Patriots trailed 28-3 against the Falcons and came back to win. The Patriots came out of half time hungry. They scored quickly.. and briefly had the lead not long after. My mom was getting nervous to the point she walked out of the room. Not to worry though. The Eagles took the lead back and piled on to win 41-33.
THE CITY ERUPTED AND WENT CRAZY.
Major traffic arteries were quickly filled with people in the streets celebrating and at one point a car got flipped outside a hotel.
Light poles were greased in advance so people wouldn’t climb them (a few people still managed).
Philadelphia is lucky if they get a championship parade once a decade. We’re going down Broad this week to celebrate the first Super Bowl win of a formerly ringless franchise. It will be unlike any parade you’ve ever seen before. There will be public drunkenness, there will be people who end up going to the hospital or going to jail for being too rowdy, and there will be a lot of places closed that day to bask in the glory for a day.
As a Philadelphian, you damn well know I’m participating in this day that will become like a national holiday in this city.
[side note: our local college team, Villanova, won the NCAA finals in basketball two years ago but it was celebrated small on a Philadelphia scale and not included for that reason.]