MINNEAPOLIS — It was hard to tell what happened.
The Eagles led by eight with just seconds to go. Tom Brady’s Hail Mary attempt looked like it was headed right for Rob Gronkowski, and then it was batted up in the air, and then it sort of just hung there, suspended in midair, for what must’ve been the longest moment of my life.
And then it fell, and the Eagles were Super Bowl champions.
I had to take a second to breathe. The Eagles fans around me in the stands did, too. People in front of me just went into a slow group hug like they were mourning a tragedy. The guy on the other side of me fell into his chair, exhausted. I may even have cried a little. (A little.) But really I just had one question: What am I going to do now?
Look, if the Eagles had never won the Super Bowl a lifetime of football fandom would’ve been worth it. My dad covered the Eagles for UPI when I was a kid, and I got into it immediately. I spent my Sundays watching the Eagles with my mom. Sometimes my uncle would take me to the Vet. And that grew into a weekly Sunday ritual that is basically my church in the fall.
It’s not about whether the Eagles win or lose. It’s about getting together with friends, in bars and on couches, and on email chains and text message groups. I remember my uncle maneuvering me into position to get an autograph from Seth Joyner. I remember celebrating with my mom as the Eagles stopped the Cowboys on fourth-and-1 again. I remember screaming alongside friends at TVs in basements and hotel bars and airports and anywhere else there are screens. I remember lining up with a plush Wawa football to show the non-football fans what a “flea flicker” was during the NFC title game.
It’s nice when the Eagles win. But my Eagles fandom has always been about the people I’ve watched games with, the excitement we got to share when the team was in a big game. The run to the Super Bowl was the fun part: Everyone decked out in green, the city using “Go Birds” to end every sentence, the stores all with “GO EAGLES” signs in their windows. Philadelphia was electric the last few weeks.
It would’ve been enough. Growing up an Eagles fan, you feel like they’re never going to win one. It’s just not how things are done in Philadelphia sports. What now, that the Eagles have won the Super Bowl? We are in a brave new world of Eagles fandom, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.