We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, February 6. 2018
I’m basically a kid. Sure I’m 55 going on 56, and I am starting to feel the aches and pains which we associate with age. Herniated and bulging discs make moving difficult sometimes. I have to watch what I eat and work out regularly to keep weight off. I miss the days of eating as much as I want, and as indiscriminately as I did. Bags of chips, tubs of ice cream, a whole pizza. Those days are memories. But one thing keeps me young. Sports. I love sports of all kinds.
I played soccer and beach volleyball in my youth, but really enjoyed being team statistician for basketball. I love numbers, and sports are about numbers. Sabermetrics got me back into baseball after all the scandals and negative stories of the 80's and 90's caused me to lose interest. When you get right down to it, sports are a great combination of the things I love. Physical activity, competition, and data.
But one sport has always been my favorite. Football. Never played it, always loved it. Especially one team in particular, where the team is mostly religion.
When the opportunity arose to travel to the game with my beloved Philadelphia Eagles, how could I turn it down? I was especially blessed to have a contact who was given a three day trip with team management, staying with the team at their hotel, and enjoying a fabulous Super Bowl experience. I admit I hesitated, since my nieces believe I am bad luck for Philly teams when I attend games. But this was a once in a lifetime chance. Superstitions had to take a backseat. I was, for three days, transported back to my youth. My compatriot often had business to attend to, but assured me the time was mine to do as I pleased. I spent much of it with his clients, who I got to know well.
The team ran fantastic events. I was seeing my sports heroes, taking pictures with them, even riding a roller coaster with one. Meeting their parents, old team alumni, and legendary Philadelphia sports reporters and broadcasters like Ray Didinger (who really is a most wonderful person). Three days of sheer joy, topped by one of the greatest Super Bowls in history. I admit I had seven minutes of absolute terror when Brady worked his magic and took the lead. I was shaking, my stomach churning. I could feel nieces cursing me, somewhere. It was like a horror show, but one we in Philadelphia have lived too many times. I almost resigned myself to the inevitable disgust and ill feeling I’d felt so many times before. Deep down, I knew this team was special and that resignation was unwarranted, and somehow, our “backup” quarterback was the one with the magic. This was a man who, a year ago, considered quitting football. He was tired of the game and didn’t love it anymore. But Philadelphia brought him back, and thankfully he repaid the city many times over.
I've now been home for 18 hours, after being awake for about 36 hours (only 2 hours of sleep on the plane breaking that up) and trying to launch back into work. But I have people stopping in to congratulate me, look at pictures, hear stories. It will be a while before work takes a front seat.
As I got on the plane home yesterday, I still found myself choking back tears, and every now and then the feeling returns. It’s just a game, though. I didn’t play. I’m just a fan. Why does it mean so much? There's no need to really answer that. It just feels so good. I’m a kid, I’m allowed my little joys, even though this was a huge one because of the experience I got to have. I want to thank the person who took me and shall remain nameless, since he does not like any press. He is a wonderful person and I offered him both my kidneys if he ever needs them. This was unexpected and it became a special, magical moment because of him and my ability to share it with him.
I made so many new and wonderful friends, especially the 3 guys sitting behind me for 3 hours during the game. During that time, we were best friends, and while I don't know them, we had a great time. We were all children again, sharing little victories throughout the game, agonizing over the tougher moments, and finally having one big group hug at the end.
To others on the trip, you are all good fun! I loved meeting you and your kids. Many, I'm sure, I'll see again.
I also want to thank my wife for putting up with me, letting me go, and even doing one cheer (however quickly, just to get it over with). She told my 23 year old son if he ever wanted a pony, today was the day to ask for one. I’d buy it no questions asked, too. I want to thank my in-laws who graciously admitted they would (this one time) root for the Iggles, just for me. Even their cousins in Ireland sent an email that they would be watching and cheering. Singular moments making lifetime memories, with the opportunity to share with friends.
I loved the calls, the texts, Facebook comments to my constant (and non-stop, except during the game) updates, any communication I received from friends and family. I loved seeing friends and family who came to, or live in, Minnesota. As much as I loved the entire experience and especially the outcome, it was the connected nature that made me feel incredible. I could have just gone and enjoyed it on my own. But I shared so much with people online, and I hope they could live vicariously through me.
Fly, Eagles, Fly
On the road to victory
Fight, Eagles, Fight
Score a touchdown 123
Hit 'em low Hit 'em high
And watch our Eagles fight
Fly, Eagles, Fly
On the road to victory
One for Bird Dog
The coach, Doug Pederson
My favorite player, Brent Celek (I had the good fortune to chat for a long time with his brothers).
Alan Page and Franco Harris at the game
A rollercoaster ride with Chris Maragos
Injured QB Carson Wentz
Headrest on the team charter flight
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I know how you feel. Grew up with the Giants and married into the Eagles (sister-in-law has worked 35+ years in the Eagles front office and older son re-enlisted in the Coast Guard last year on the 50-yard line at the Linc). But twice a year my wife gives me the stink eye because she's not sure who I'm really rooting for. :-)
Good chance I met your sister-in-law.
Marrying into the opposing team is always difficult. Makes for more than a few uncomfortable moments.
My father-in-law used to have season tickets to Giants Stadium. He always gave them to me for the Eagles game, even though it was his favorite game of the year. He hoped my sons would be Giants fans, living in the area. My older son doesn't follow sports, and is only nominally a Giants "fan". My younger son is perhaps more rabidly pro-Eagles than I am. He and his grandfather make a bet on the games each year.
He'll be heading down for the parade from Syracuse, where he is finishing college.
There were a few tense moments after the hit on Rodgers this season.
Great article! Being a 62-year-old South Jersey boy who lives right across the river from Philly, I can relate. Great pics!
For your sake, I'm glad my Patriots left their defense in Foxborough.
If you like sports data I recommend the Michael Lewis book [u] The Undoing Project[u] about two men who developed the field of player data for recruiting purposes.