Do you remember how you felt before the season started? Back in July before training camp kicked off? Most were predicting a 9-7 year, possibly 10-6, with a CHANCE to get into the playoffs, and that was with a healthy Darren Sproles, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks and Carson Wentz.
Seven months later, after 13 wins and 3 losses, 2 shocking wins in the playoffs, the Eagles are two days away from playing in the Super Bowl.
The mother fucking Super Bowl. Against the mother fucking New England Patriots, same as they were 14 years ago in 2004.
But there’s a difference between this year and 2004. Can you feel it? If you’ve been in the city over the past two weeks since their domination of the Minnesota Vikings, if you’ve watched the nightly news, if you’ve seen the 8 million highlight videos of the year’s best plays…you can sense the difference. You can sense the joy, the happiness, the ELECTRICITY of a team the city has come to love above all others.
In 2004 you had basically the same thing. Basically. The city had its usual outward bluster, the happiness, the joy, the E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES chants at every event in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. But if you remember, if you’re being honest with yourself, it also had a nagging fear that a loss meant it was the end of the road. You knew, on some level, that was the last possible championship for a group of players that had blown so many opportunities to bring a championship back to Philadelphia.
This year? There’s no fear. No doubt. Instead, we have videos of Doug Pederson offering his team ice cream. Fletcher Cox conducting press conferences in a luchador mask. We have stories about Malcolm Jenkins, Brent Celek and Lane Johnson preaching brotherhood and players saying this Eagles locker room is the best they’ve ever been a part of. A real family.
We have Jeff Lurie joyously dancing to Meek Mill after the Falcons playoff game. Nick Foles crying at a Super Bowl presser when he talked about his daughter watching him play….hell, today we have Sweet Dee, Mac and Chase Utley making Eagles videos.
In 2004, it was the culmination of gut-wrenching failures in three straight NFC championship games against inferior opponents until they finally broke through against the Falcons. It was more relief that they got to the Super Bowl than anything.
This year, well, too be honest it was two playoff victories in which nobody had much of a feeling either way. Sure, they got to the playoffs as the #1 seed, but without Carson Wentz what chance did they have?
Turns out the players in that locker room had each other. They had Nick Foles. They had Crusher Doug. They had the city and its fans. And they played like they knew it was fate to be in the Super Bowl against the Dark Empire, against Darth Brady and Emperor Belichick.
This team’s journey was a surprise. It was joy. It was fun.
There hasn’t been a better year to be an Eagles fan since 1960. A year in which so many of us didn’t have the highest hopes, can you remember another year that you had THIS much fun?
I can’t. Regardless of what happens on Sunday, this has been the best Eagles season of my life.
This year feels like just the beginning. 2004 felt like the door was beginning to swing closed on the roster and its chances….and boy did it ever. Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb made sure to slam it tight and deadbolt it against the hungry hordes of fans desperate to love them.
This roster? It’s young, it’s hungry, and it loves each other. That’s a huge difference from that 2004 team, which had splits and factions at every corner.
2004 had a star wide receiver who hated his passive aggressive quarterback, a passive aggressive quarterback who hated his diva, spotlight hogging wide receiver who cared more about money in the end…how we didn’t see it all crashing down around us in 2005 is a mystery. Maybe we didn’t want to see it? Who knows.
What do we see moving forward with this team? I see a 25-year-old franchise, MVP caliber quarterback coming back next year from injury, hungry to prove that he can do it again. One of the best defensive lines returning intact, all under contract for the next several years. A talented group of wide receivers with a true number one coming back for another year, another year to grow with a quarterback he’s only played 13 games with.
You have Jordan Hicks returning. A developing young-stud cornerback in Sidney Jones playing a full season. You could have Jason Peters and Darren Sproles tying up their cleats for one last run.
You have hope that this is just the beginning of something special.
With all that said? With all that talk about the future? I think we’re all going to be very, very happy come Sunday night.
Eagles 24, Patriots 20.