Cherishing Final Days As 'Defending Super Bowl Champions'

In these final days of being the NFL’s defending Super Bowl Champions, there are many feelings to discuss. One, of course, is the overwhelming sense of happiness since February 4, 2018 and the way life has changed since the Eagles won Super Bowl LII and then, as an encore, pulled their 2018 season together to reach the postseason before falling in the NFC Divisional Round in New Orleans.

The NovaCare Complex is a quiet place now as the Eagles put their plan together for the 2019 campaign. Of course, the signs of the Super Bowl victory remain – the Lombardi Trophy and World Championship ring in the trophy case in the lobby, the beautiful art on the wall where the players walk to enter the practice field that depicts moments from the season and the game, the Super Bowl LII Champions neon sign outside the team’s weight room – and those vignettes inspire incredible memories and the hunger to get back to the Super Bowl – and win it.

All week, I’ve thought back to last year at this time – Monday it was Opening Night, Tuesday the start of press conferences and the craziness of radio row, Wednesday the intensity of the media, Thursday the increase in fans arriving in Minneapolis, and so on – as if it happened just a few weeks ago. The memories are vivid. The experiences are treasured.

At the end of the day, we all want more. We want to win the Super Bowl again. We want to share the journey with Eagles fans around the world next year at this time.

More than anything, the feeling I’ve had is an appreciation for having been here to enjoy the Super Bowl triumph. How much did it change your world and those around you? How much did it mean to the City of Philadelphia and the region? What was it like for Eagles fans around the world who waited their entire lives for that moment?

On Thursday I attended the Mayoral Luncheon in a Philadelphia hotel, an annual State of the City address from Mayor Jim Kenney and there were, of course, references to the Super Bowl and the Parade of Champions and everybody clapped and laughed and fondly thought of the Super Bowl moments. As I walked out businessmen and women were talking about the impact of the Super Bowl victory through the last 12 months – the angst gone, however temporarily, from the collective world of the Eagles fans, the civic pride that endured, the bond that everybody felt and feels to this day from the victory.

It was amazing. It was special. It was everlasting.

A new Super Bowl Champion will be crowned on Sunday when the Rams and Patriots play and, well, the Eagles will no longer be the “defending Super Bowl Champions.” But they will always be champions. The fans will always be champions. The Lombardi Trophy will remain in the trophy case in the lobby of the NovaCare Complex.

Nobody can take Super Bowl LII away from the Eagles and the fans and the City of Philadelphia and everybody who loves the Birds.

In a sense, then, it’s OK to hold on to that win. For the fans, anyway, certainly. The team – well, you know how it is. You’re only as good as your next game. We’ve got an entire offseason to absorb a roster that is going to change, moves that are going to be made, a direction that is going to be taken. The Eagles are going to attack this offseason with intelligence, aggressiveness, and creativity. They are going to challenge the locker room. They’re going to get younger. Some popular players are going to leave. That’s just the nature of the NFL.

I don’t know how many of you are going to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday – I know several people who are going to play the Super Bowl LII win on one television in one room and air the live broadcast of Super Bowl LIII in another room. That’s fun. That’s fine. I know some people who say they aren’t going to watch at all, and I understand that feeling now. It may change between now and Sunday evening, but I get it. Without the Eagles in the game, how much interest is there for you?

I’m going to watch – from opening kickoff to the time the clock strikes 0:00 and not a minute before that or a minute after – and I’m going to enjoy the game because I love football. I love the NFL. It means a lot to me – a professional lifetime, for starters. But I’m not going to root for either team. I want to see great football because, frankly, I miss it when there isn’t an NFL game to watch on the weekend.

And after the game is over, every team is 0-0 and the focus is on 2019. The nature of the NFL is to look ahead. That’s how players and coaches and teams stay so even-keeled. You never wallow in the misery of a defeat and you don’t gloat after a victory. You just move on.

But until that moment, I’m going to cherish every second of being a “defending Super Bowl Champion.” I encourage you to do the same. We didn’t wait a lifetime for it to happen to skimp out on any of the memories after finally winning the Super Bowl – or the tears of joy or the feelings of pure elation.

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