Halftime Sports

Nick Foles, Do It For My Dad

February 1, 2018

I had this all planned out. It was November 19, 2017. I was working on a Spanish assignment, and the Eagles were playing at their arch-rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, on Sunday Night Football. Philadelphia was atop the NFC East, coming off a bye with a record of 8-1 and a chance to really take control of the division. Similar to much of the rest of my college career, I had waited until the absolute last possible minute to finish my assignment. And then the Eagles were on.

So I had a choice to make: watch the Eagles or finish my assignment.

It was an easy decision for me. After all, I could put the final touches on my Spanish homework at halftime. So I watched the Eagles for the entire first half.  But at halftime, I began to think I made the wrong call. It was a tight game, I still hadn’t finished my assignment, and I was stressed.

I took the halftime break to finish my edits on the Google Doc for my Spanish assignment and emailed my professor, but by the time I got back to watching the game, it was already over. The Eagles had taken a 9-7 halftime deficit and turned it into a 23-9 lead. I hurried up to the living room of my apartment, where everyone was watching the Eagles finish off a 37-9 rout of the Dallas Cowboys on national television in the prestigious AT&T Stadium. It was surreal.

Jay Ajayi ran for an almost-touchdown of 71 yards, after which his teammates heckled him on the sidelines for being “slow as shit.” Carson Wentz finished the game with 168 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs. It was a quarterback performance that may not have turned many heads on the national level, but I was sold. I got into bed, opened up my phone, and checked Instagram.

The entire Eagles team, from Chris Long to Alshon Jeffery to Donnie Jones, was on Instagram Live. I flipped from stream to stream, watching the Eagles celebrate on their plane back to Philly. And I remember thinking that this was finally it: the team that would bring a Super Bowl home to Philadelphia.

Before I went to bed, the only thing I could think about was writing this post. It was going to be titled, “Carson Wentz, Do It For My Dad.”

Quite a bit has changed since November 19. Less than a month later, the Eagles went into a week 14 December matchup at the Los Angeles Rams with a 10-2 record. They came out with a win, putting them at the top of the NFC standings, but they left the Coliseum missing something important: their franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. He was out for the season with a “torn ACL,” as head coach Doug Pederson notified the media at the Monday morning post-game press conference. It was one of the toughest days in all my years as an Eagles fan (and it certainly didn’t help that it was the start of finals week).

From that point on, this season has been a bizarre dream for me and everyone else in Philly. Nick Foles, the heroic Eagles quarterback of their historic 2013 season, replaced Wentz. He took care of business against the Giants and squeaked out a win against the Oakland Raiders at home on Christmas to clinch the number one seed in the NFC for the Eagles. In the divisional round, he notched the first playoff win of his career in a grueling 15-10 win against the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field. I was lucky enough to be there, right by the corner of the end zone where Jalen Mills locked up Julio Jones on that heart-wrenching fourth-and-goal play.

The NFC Championship, however, was something different. Like the divisional round, the Eagles were home underdogs, a rare occurrence in the playoffs. But this was the Minnesota Vikings, arguably the best team in the NFC, with the best defense in the NFL, riding the wave of a miraculous home victory against the Saints. Apparently the Eagles, along with the entire city of Philadelphia, didn’t really care. They demolished the Vikings 38-7, in a game that didn’t seem close after the Vikings’ first possession.

So now the Philadelphia Eagles are in the Super Bowl. That’s a sentence I never would have dreamt I would be writing a few years ago, but here we are. And they’re playing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX.

It has been 13 years since that Super Bowl, and while the Eagles may be an entirely new team, the Patriots still have the same starting quarterback and head coaching duo that they had in 2005. They’re 5.5 point favorites, as they probably should be.

But I’m as happy as I could possibly be right now. Ever since the Eagles lost Wentz, no one has given them even an ounce of respect. And they sure as hell won’t on Super Bowl Sunday. But that’s just the way Philadelphia likes it.

I’ve been an Eagles fan since before I could walk. My parents dressed me up in midnight green for every Eagles game I can remember as a kid. I can still see the Eagles fans who cried in that St. Louis dome after the Eagles lost in the 2002 NFC Championship to the Rams, and I will never forget the three-point Super Bowl loss the Eagles suffered to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in 2005. Being an Eagles fan wasn’t just something that I did because I was a suburban Philadelphia resident; it was a torch that my dad passed down to me, a burden of pain and joy and hardship for years to come. But from the time I was born until now, I haven’t carried that torch alone. My dad carries it with me. He has been an Eagles fan since he was born, watching the Eagles through the Ron Jaworski years, the Randall Cunningham years, all the way up until now. He’s never seen the Eagles win it all.

When I started my college career at Georgetown, it was hard for me and my dad. We were on such different spectrums politically and socially that I really didn’t know what to talk to him about.  Like many blue collar Philadelphians, my dad and I rarely talked about our emotions. But every Eagles’ game day, I would call him up before the game, at halftime, and during the post-game report to discuss everything. Those were (and are) some of the few moments over which we’re able to bond.

It only felt right that last Sunday night, I came home to Philadelphia to watch the NFC Championship game with my dad. We yelled and we screamed and we cried through all 60 minutes of that incredible game.

So now the Philadelphia Eagles are in the Super Bowl. They’re led by a group of men most people assumed couldn’t make it further than their divisional round opponent. But this Philadelphia Eagles team is special. Malcolm Jenkins has been saying it for weeks: they’re all they’ve got, but they’re all they need.

I’m going to finish this with one final, desperate request. It’s something that I know I’m not alone in asking for from this team. It’s something that I know so many other Philadelphia Eagles fans, young and old, so badly want.

Nick Foles, do it for my dad.

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