Jalen Hurts is the master at dropping thought-provoking quotations, motivational mottos that border on profound when you go back and read the transcript. He often talks about "keeping the main thing the main thing." And not riding waves. And trying to be the coffee bean. All great metaphors.
The one that shook the internet earlier this year was when he told his teammates: "Be the thermostat, not the thermometer." It's kind of the perfect thing for the leader of a football team to say. Hurts' point was for the Eagles to set the temperature in the room instead of letting others dictate how they respond to it.
Fascinating, right? Alex Farr a.k.a. justmadnice was inadvertently channeling Hurts when they created the soundtrack for the Eagles Gameday Poster Playlist presented by Pepsi for Week 17. The singer-songwriter – originally from West Grove, Pennsylvania – was in the lab earlier this year, thinking about their own temperature and inner demons, when they penned an introspective song called "Shadow." They weren't thinking about football at the time, but listening to those lyrics now – like, hearing them and exhaustively digging into them – there are plenty of parallels.
"The song is about asking your shadow self for guidance and help," Farr said. "It comes from a place where if you're too nice, you get taken advantage of. Your shadow self can protect you from that sort of situation. Also, it's about accepting all parts of yourself, not just the good ones."
Fresh off the release of their debut EP, "Small" – a delicate 4-track ode to what humanity could be – Farr had struggled to put music out there for the masses to consume. It's not easy: "You need hope, trust, and a little bit of fairy dust." The latter came via an Instagram message from Chill Moody (Executive Producer on the Pepsi project), who asked if they wanted to write a song for the Eagles.
"Um, what? Yes," Farr fired back at him. The next few months were spent finding the right sound. They wanted to pay homage to big brass and jazz music since the Eagles are hosting the New Orleans Saints on New Year's Day.
"Chill asked for something swampy," Farr said. "I wrote the song on bass guitar, then we added the horns later. I think it's appropriate for New Orleans, it's got a grit and magic about it."
Hit play on "Shadow" and your ears are immediately engulfed by Farr's sultry voice, full of powerful bass and elongated vowels. It sounds like a jazz funeral. And then those infectious horns – beautifully blared by trumpet player martronimous – take it to funky Mardi Gras levels, spiked with soulful guitar strings. Poetic justice since that's how it all started.
"I had been a playwright in New York City before I really got into music," Farr said. "I moved to Philly in 2017 and bought a guitar and started writing music on the same day."
IS THIS REAL? ILLUSTRATING ON THE ROAD
Hannah Agosta was tasked with creating the poster art for the penultimate regular-season game at Lincoln Financial Field. She, like many artists involved with the series, got a random email in her inbox and wondered out loud if someone was pranking her. No, it was signed in Midnight Green by Eagles design guru Matthew Schwenk.
"Is this real? I don't typically do sports illustrations," Agosta said, "so I wasn't sure how they found me. I found it interesting that they wanted to do something different."
Off she went on a journey to paint with the colors of the wind – literally, she has been drawing from the road while driving across the country and experiencing nature – as she tried to marry the tradition of Mardi Gras with the quirkiness of The Mummers. Agosta, a native of Downingtown, Pennsylvania, decided to draw an eagle flapping its wings high above Lincoln Financial Field, with flowing beads and confetti and ticker tape dangling from its talons.
"The Eagles gave me great feedback and it was a true collaboration," Agosta said. "I liked how open they were to my style and my vision. They let me have a lot of creative freedom, which I really appreciated."
Agosta, who submitted her final canvas from Colorado, calls her style "colorful, bright, whimsical," and maybe a little surreal, depending on the project. For this sketch, there is a tongue-in-cheek nod to religion as the eagle hangs in flight like the modern-day Holy Spirit. She uses mostly pastel colors: light hues of purple, pink, green, yellow, and blue.
"I'm a positive and thoughtful person and I try to emulate that in my artwork. Inspirational and joyful," Agosta said. "I hope it makes people feel alive and appreciate something that's really not a part of their daily routine, and that goes for this project and anything I create."
Follow her Instagram (@hannahadraws) to get a better idea of what she means. You see, Agosta is kind of a big deal as she does freelance illustrations for widely circulated national publications like The New York Times, Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Science Magazine, and Los Angeles Times. She graduated from the University of the Arts in 2014 with a major in illustration and a minor in art history. However, her passion for art dates to when she learned how to crawl.
"I've been drawing since I was an infant," Agosta said. "It grabbed a hold of me early. I had applied to college for sciences and arts, that was the crossroads for me. Then I decided to follow my passion and I don't regret it. I love it."
SUPER BOWL MEMORIES LAST FOREVER
One common bond between all the artists and musicians interviewed this season has been their favorite Eagles memory. Inevitably, they all point back to that magical Super Bowl Championship in the 2017 season. Agosta was living in Philadelphia at the time and attending the University of the Arts when the playoff run started.
She watched the game at a friend's house at 10th & Bainbridge, where she watched a last-ditch Hail Mary pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski hit the turf. Game over. The Eagles had won the whole damn thing.
"It was nuts. I went down to Broad Street to celebrate," Agosta said. "There was so much energy in the city that night. It was insane."
Meanwhile, justmadnice confessed to watching the Super Bowl just as intently that night but didn't make it out to party in the streets. It didn't matter. The celebration could be heard and felt without going outside.
"The city was electric," justmadnice said. "People were causing chaos but in a good way."
Agosta and justmadnice will both attend the Eagles-Saints matchup on January 1, marking the first time that either artist has been an in-person spectator at an NFL game. Needless to say, they are expecting a victory.
"Super stoked," Agosta said. "Go Birds!"