How did you feel the first time you watched the Death Star explode in “Star Wars” or when Rudy finally played a snap for Notre Dame?
Well, you can combine those two feelings and multiply by the number of years the Philadelphia Eagles had to wait to lift the Lombardi Trophy (51 years), and youll still be well short of what it feels like to be a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fan celebrating this win – a fan who has watched some their greatest rosters fail to even make it to the post season (the 1991 squad), and saw some of the biggest stars in their pantheon of players shipped off unceremoniously when their usefulness had expired (Donovan McNabb and Randall Cunningham).
This offseason there will no longer be pangs of what if or fingerpointing to some instance of referees failing to follow procedure in favor of the other team. Indeed, calls that one would normally believe floated in the direction of Tom Brady and the Evil Empire of the New England Patriots, who have reigned supreme over the National Football League for 17 years starting when Brady led the Patriots to their Super Bowl XXXVI victory while subbing in for Drew Bledsoe, mostly went the Eagles way.
The scowling, gruff expressions of New England head coach Bill Belichick werent exactly as frightening as a Sith Lord bent on destruction, but pretty close. But the Eagles were unfazed by who was on the other sideline. This Eagles team was one of destiny. One, coincidence or not, that was pivotal in the player-led protest movement via safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Chris Long.
Remember when all the doubters and haters of player activism during the national anthem kept saying how big a distraction such actions would cause to a team seeking to win a Super Bowl? As was obvious when those words initially came oozing from the mouths of naysayers like so much baby spittle, the actions of those who kneeled during the anthem, and who sought to recruit the NFL to support efforts against social injustice, were the furthest from a distraction.
SUPER. BOWL. CHAMPIONS. #FlyEaglesFly
One could say that it actually steeled the team with a brotherhood and determination that helped Philly steamroll through the playoffs, winning as the underdog in each of its playoff matchups. After the loss of star quarterback Carson Wentz near the end of the regular season, prognosticators could not envision a way for the Eagles to win.
Their defense is good, they said But theyre not good enough to win a Super Bowl on their own.
Unlike the Baltimore Ravens or the New York Giants of Super Bowl’s past, these Eagles dont have any clear cut future Hall of Famers, just a bunch of really good players who play hard together.
They doubted that Nick Foles could make enough plays against Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback the NFL has ever seen, and it almost looked like they were right. While Foles got his Luke Skywalker on, finishing with 374 yards and 4 TDs, one receiving, Tom Brady was his usual, stellar self while slinging for an NFL record 505 passing yards.
The two teams set the Super Bowl record for most combined total yards (1,151) and most combined passing yards (874). The 1,151-yard total represents the most yards in any NFL game, including the regular season and playoffs.
I’ve officially accomplished the best thing in this sport with a group of guys that mean the world to me.” An emotional Jason Kelce reflects on his journey in becoming a @SuperBowl champion. #FlyEaglesFly #SBLII https://t.co/rJ3F075x9P
For his part, Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles utilized the pass run option to the pinnacle of its usefulness. With the running threats of LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement, Foles was able to place the ball in the gut of his runner and read the reactions of New England linebackers, who had no choice but to show their hand in response to the potential threat of the running attack.
Boom, clutch catch by Torrey Smith, first down Nelson Agholor, first down Zach Ertz, touchdown Alshon Jeffrey! Remember those days when the Eagles had no playmakers? Yeah, neither do I!
The Eagles playmakers were the real MVPs, catching difficult pass after difficult, critical third down pass. Blount, Ajayi and Clement broke off big plays throughout the game and were meticulous with the rock. The only turnover suffered by Philly was a toss up to Jeffrey that was well defended.
Even after all that, Tom Brady still had a chance to tie the game, down eight with nine seconds left on the clock. But even Tom Terrific cant overcome every obstacle. The Hail Mary to Rob Gronkowski would fall helplessly to the ground.
The Eagles defenders paused for a brief second, seemingly expecting a flag or some sort to douse their certain victory. But that flag never came, and the Philadelphia Eagles are Super Bowl Champions for the first time ever.
And how fitting it is, that in the year of NFL protest, the league’s most conscious team won it all.