Sundays in South Philly
Published 4:15 pm Monday, February 6, 2023
Growing up in a household that at times seemed like it was centered around sports, I have been blessed with many great sports experiences in my short 23 years of life. From Philadelphia Eagles games, traveling across the country during summers to see different MLB ballparks, an NBA Finals game and an NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, my parents have sacrificed and made these experiences possible. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for experiencing the NFC Championship in Philadelphia where the Philadelphia Eagles clinched a Super Bowl berth against the San Francisco 49ers.
In Philadelphia, the Eagles are a part of people’s lives. People live for Sundays. I have never seen a community that rallies around a team like Philadelphia rallies around the Eagles. The city of Philadelphia is a place with many different cultures, ethnicities, religions and it’s something that is unlike any other city. On Sundays, people put those differences aside and gather in South Philly to cheer for one common goal; an Eagles win.
The passion from Eagles fans is something that my grandparents have passed down to my parents and something that my parents have passed down to me. Not just my family, but millions of families in the northeast have passed down their fandom. Since the time I could walk, I remember my Sundays being centered around morning mass and the Eagles game. We have sat through the best of times like a Super Bowl win in 2018 and have sat through the worst of times like three straight NFC Championship losses from 2000-2003, but each week the passion of Eagles fans remains the same.
Email newsletter signup
This season, however, has been different. I have never seen an Eagles team like this and have never been more excited about an Eagles team. The young offensive talent like MVP candidate Jalen Hurts, second year wide receiver DeVonta Smith and all-pro wide receiver AJ Brown has put up points unlike any other Eagles offense. The aggressive defense led by all-pro edge rusher Hasson Reddick and veteran defensive back Darius Slay has brought a swagger and energy that resembles the city of Philadelphia.
This year’s team set a franchise record recording 14 wins, winning the NFC East and securing a number one playoff spot in the NFC. As the Eagles slaughtered the New York Giants in the divisional round, my cousin pitched out the idea of me coming up to Philly for the NFC Championship. Within 20 minutes I secured my plane ticket and was bound for Broad Street in a week.
After a week of work and two days of family time, Sunday finally arrived. My cousin Chris and I headed to Lincoln Financial Field at 7:30a.m. as the sun began to rise, despite gametime not being until 3:00p.m.
At 8:00a.m. you could see how much this game meant to Eagles fans, as the I-95 exit to the stadium was backed up, seven hours before kickoff. As we parked and made our way to the tailgate, the energy felt different. It felt like not only did the 49ers have to play one of the greatest Eagles teams assembled, but they would have to face a rambunctious crowd. From the music, drinking games, endless cheesesteaks and slightly illegal fireworks fans were setting off in the parking lots, Eagles fans were ready. Eagles chants and the Fly Eagles Fly fight song echoed for what felt like miles.
One of the most memorable parts of the tailgate was a car full of 49ers were driving around trying to find parking spots, and a flock of Eagles fans surrounded the car, yelling and hurling boo’s at the fans. Little did they know that was a preview of what was to come in the game.
As hours until game time wound down, the energy around the tailgates and the stadium began to build and build until the stadium lit off fireworks at 2:00 to signal that gates had opened. Fans were literally sprinting into the stadium and running up the stadium steps like Rocky running up the art museum steps.
Despite the 38 degree day with on and off rain, the crowd did not care. Fans packed in just for pregame warm-ups. Some fans went to the Eagles side to get a glimpse of their favorite players, but Chris and I went to the 49ers side in an attempt to boo the 49ers and give them a nice Philadelphia welcome.
Seeing the Eagles run out of the tunnel with Philadelphia rapper Lil Uzi Vert and “I just wanna rock” bellowing out of the stadium speakers was one of the loudest I have ever heard a stadium. Anita Baker performed the national anthem which was followed by a flyover that shook the ground and even gave me goosebumps. All that was left to do was win.
Like any other Eagles fan, I was filled with nerves as the game started. The Eagles quickly erased those nerves as the first drive resulted in a Miles Sander touchdown run, immediately followed by a Hasson Reddick strip sack. The strip sack by Reddick was probably the apex of that game as the roar of the crowd was so loud, it felt quiet. Reddick was firing up the fans on the jumbotron and at that moment I had a good feeling we were going to the Super Bowl.
After a few more touchdowns and an incredible defensive performance, the Eagles had the ball with 30 seconds left in the third quarter on the one-yard line, with a 21-7 lead. Quarterback Jalen Hurts took a quarterback sneak into the end zone, seemingly putting the game away and punching the Eagles ticket to the Super Bowl.
The fourth quarter felt like one giant party with 100,000 people. Songs like “this is how we do it” and “won’t back down” echoed throughout South Philly as the Eagles clinched their second Super Bowl berth in six years.
The most memorable moment by far was my cousin Chris turning towards me and hugging me while yelling, “We’re going to the Bowl!” As the clock hit zero, confetti filled the sky, players pranced around the field and Eagles fans sang the loudest version of “Fly Eagles Fly” I have ever heard.
Seeing the team I loved as a child clinch a championship was an incredibly emotional moment and something I will remember forever. The only thing left for the Eagles to do? Finish the job in Arizona and bring home their second Super Bowl in franchise history.