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The Day After, A Wonderful Reality

Posted Feb 5, 2018

Turns out, the first full day as a Super Bowl champion is pretty remarkable, too. The Eagles found that out on travel day as they left Minnesota and returned to the new home of the Lombardi Trophy, the City of Philadelphia ...

Turns out, the first full day as a Super Bowl champion is pretty remarkable, too. The Eagles found that out on travel day as they left Minnesota and returned to the new home of the Lombardi Trophy, the City of Philadelphia.

After spending the postgame hours on Sunday night at the team party in Minneapolis, the Eagles were up and at it early on Monday morning. Head coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Nick Foles, the Most Valuable Player in the 41-33 victory in Super Bowl LII, met the media for the day-after press conferences.

As Pederson walked from the team hotel to the impromptu press conference room in the Mall of America, we talked about the feeling.

“I guess it’s a little bit numbing,” Pederson said. “I guess because I’m so happy and so excited that we still won the game. Yet, I’m overwhelmed with emotion right now.”

At that point, so early after the final Tom Brady pass into the end zone fell incomplete, there was a sense of, “Did that really happen?” We saw it and we understood it and yet, for all the close misses since 1960, there was still some question.

Did that really happen?

Yes, it did. And it’s a glorious feeling.

“I remember quite a bit of what happened. My brain won’t let me forget the plays and the feelings I had last night,” Pederson said. “It was surreal. The confetti flying. Standing on that podium holding the Lombardi Trophy. That’s what you dream about wanting as a player and as a coach and I’m just so happy for our guys.”

One of those guys is Foles, who completed his incredible season’s story with three touchdown passes and a touchdown catch in the victory and then received the Pete Rozelle Award from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. As Foles left the press conference and walked to get into a car that would take him to the airport and then to Disney World in Florida where he would serve as the Grand Marshal of the Disney World Parade, we talked about his calm, cool demeanor throughout the entire two months since he replaced the injured Carson Wentz as the starter.

“It’s pretty simple. I’m really calm. A lot of gratitude, lot of gratitude,” Foles said. “I think everything is still settling in. I have a lot of emotions going on at once. My heart, my mind, and my body are all trying to see what’s really going on. Right now I feel calm, clear-minded, and enjoying the moment.

“My mindset going into this game was to not look at the clock, not look at the score. You’re aware of it a little bit because you have to be, but I just wanted to take the play that was called and execute it at the highest speed possible. At the end of the game, I didn’t feel the pressure because of that mindset. I just had a lot of fun.”

By 9 a.m., Foles was off to the airport. Pederson and the rest of the team packed up and boarded buses at 10 a.m. At 11:48 a.m., the Eagles were flying back to Philadelphia.

The back of the charter airplane, where the players sit, had a party atmosphere as the team boarded and stuffed the overhead compartments with bags swollen with Super Bowl memorabilia. Soon thereafter, as the flight reached its peak, things quieted down. An exhausted team grabbed an hour or so of sleep before touching down in Philadelphia.

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That’s when it really settled in, that the Eagles had won Super Bowl LII. A glance out the right windows showed Philadelphia’s skyline at its finest, lit up in the early afternoon sunshine, a glorious sight. To the left, we could see fans waiting amid television crews. There were hundreds of fans there, and as the players and coaches exited the airplane, they visited the fans and the cameras amid chants of E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!

That’s when the tears started flowing for me. That’s when it really hit me: Back in Philadelphia, seeing how the Super Bowl victory impacted the fan base and how much it meant to everyone here. Jeffrey Lurie, Doug Pederson, Howie Roseman, Zach Ertz, and LeGarrette Blount were among the men who cheered the fans and who raised the Lombardi Trophy high in the air to roaring appreciation.

It was a special moment.

So, too was the police-escorted drive to the NovaCare Complex. As the five-bus caravan made its way onto I-95 North, a long line of cars paused and fans emerged from their cars wearing Eagles jerseys, cheering and taking pictures. Incredible.

Off the ramp at the Sports Complex, home never looked so sweet. The grass was greener. The air clearer. The city looked magnificent after eight-plus days away. The vibrancy of South Philadelphia came through loud and clear.

And then, as the buses turned left onto Pattison Avenue, we saw it: Pattison Avenue was flooded with fans, who formed a human tunnel through which the buses slowly drove toward the NovaCare Complex gates. Loud, wild cheering. Pure love. Men, women, and children all together provided a welcome back moment unlike any ever experienced.

At the NovaCare Complex, the team gathered its luggage and found the cars parked so long ago. Driving out of the gates, cars slowly navigated the hundreds and hundreds of screaming, deliriously happy fans. Players and coaches drove through, windows down, exchanging high fives and signing autographs and saying, collectively, “Thank you” to the best fan base in sports.

Home, sweet home. Reality has set in, as has the flooding of emotions from a fan base that has waited a lifetime for this moment. I’ve been asked so many times if winning the Super Bowl is everything I thought it would be, and the answer is 100 percent, yes, it is. It is everything plus a whole lot more. An entire city and Eagles fans from all over the world are part of the family, sharing in the joy of being World Champions.

Next up: A championship parade on Thursday. Catch your breath between now and then. The moment of our lives to remember waits.

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