Few memories in a father and son’s relationship are as lasting and meaningful as a Superbowl victory. Especially when the road to achieving it was long and difficult. Such was the case for myself growing up a New York Giants fan in the 1970’s. I shared this bond with my father in 1986 when Bill Parcells’ New York Giants defeated the Denver Broncos in Superbowl XXI.
What the photo doesn’t tell you is how many Sunday’s, Thursdays and Saturday’s you gave up watching your team play and fail to advance to the Big Game. Don’t get me wrong, I am the furthest thing from being an Eagles fan. But this photo brings back this very special memory for me.
Growing up in the shadows of the Meadowlands, I was a captive participant in my dad’s weekly pilgrimage to Giants Stadium from the age of 6 onward. A more humble approach to appreciating a team I could not imagine. The team had early wins in their team history that had earned them credibility with their fans. The Giants played in a number of classic games that took place before the Superbowl ever existed and won two NFL Championships. This success undoubtedly earned his trust and admiration for the GMEN. My early experience was quite different, to say the least.
The Giants of my childhood had a tight end name Gary Shirk who would regularly catch passes on third down almost always one-yard short of the first down marker. The Giant had a runner named Leon Perry who was often one-yard short of the first down on his third down running attempts. God forbid the coach consider a trick play or ask the QB to get the first down using his feet. These ideas were unheard of at the time. First downs were a hard thing to come by until then GM George Young made a trade with the Houston Oilers to acquire journeyman running back Rob Carpenter. The good news was that Carpenter still had something left in the tank when he came to the Giants.
The Defensive story was a little different. From John Mendenhall to George Martin, the often berated Gary Jeter and of course Harry Carson, the defense had star players. Stars that will seldom be remembered because the Giants had losing records during those years. Good defensive performances didn’t matter that much if you could not put some points on the board.
The Eagles have experienced a long and difficult road to the Superbowl. I have heard rumours that former Eagles QB Ron Jaworkski still has nightmares of being sacked Giants linebacker and all-time great Lawrence Taylor. Yes, the Eagles history has been more frustrating than the Giants. The Giants have four Superbowl wins while the Eagles had none. Although I have tried diligently to pay as little attention to their franchise as is possible, I do know that Philadelphia had lost both of their previous visits to the Superbowl. Until Sunday.
The Eagles, with backup quarterback Nick Foles, played a game for the ages. They needed to be near perfect to beat this Patriots team. And near-perfect they were. Backup Nick Foles outdueled Brady. And the Eagles defense played until the final snap. The Eagles played sixty minutes of football; the only way you are going to beat the New England Patriots. The rest is history.
This NFL season could be characterized as one with questionable officiating. It has become unclear what constitutes a catch. And penalty calling remains as inconsistent as ever. But the outcome of this Superbowl feels fair and just.
As unbelievable as this may sound, the Philadelphia Eagles Superbowl victory should serve as inspiration to those fathers and sons who have suffered through losing season after losing season following their team. The reality of today’s NFL is that a team can go from bad to good almost overnight as a result of good drafting and effective use of free agency. As the saying goes, in the NFL, on any given Sunday, anything can happen. The Philadelphia Eagles Superbowl win is proof.