By Mark Vasto
One of the best parts of not being a Philadelphia sports fan is that you get to watch Philadelphia sports fans from a neutral vantage point … something many Philly sports fans are trained at spotting and keying in on.
Take Frank, for instance. I work with Frank. The Eagles had beaten Minnesota badly a few days before. When Frank saw me, he stood in front of me and said, “Sooo … what do you think?”I had no earthly idea what he was talking about. His manner of dress? Did he get a new haircut or handbag? What?
“The Iggles!” he said with a special type of smile. It was the smile of hope and pride and trepidation all mixed together in one facial expression at once. For a half-century, Frank had rooted for the Eagles. Week after week, he dissected the previous game and upcoming contest in ways the most practiced and studied football analyst from the NFL Network or ESPN could never do. Now they were on the cusp.
“I think that the Eagles better not keep it close in the fourth quarter,” I started to say. Then I caught the look in his eyes. It was the kind of look a kid gives you when he finds a stray puppy and asks if he can keep it, pleeeeease. Seeing this, I quickly added that I thought the Eagles had the superior defensive line and better running game, two necessary ingredients in order to beat a pass-perfect offense featuring the likes of Tom Brady and the Patriots.
One of the guys that works with Frank exclaimed to me that, get this, Frank was going down to Florida with another Eagles fan so he could watch the game on the beach. Not that there was anything wrong with that, it just seemed a little odd. Some Philadelphians behave like a bunch of crabs in a pot — whenever one of them tries to leave, they get clawed back into the boil.
Frank again smiled with wide eyes. “Do you think they’ll have the parade on Tuesday, so I can get back in time to be there?” Yes, I surmised that the Eagles would need to wait at least one day and let the city call up a battalion or regiment of anti-riot police.
“Aha! So you think we’re gonna win!” A pause then a meek, “Right?”
There was plenty the Eagles did right during Super Bowl LII, but there was plenty to nitpick too. For example:
Chris Collinsworth announced the game as if he was in a locked room with a bunch of Patriot terrorists that had guns trained on him. Did Dodge really think Martin Luther King’s anti-consumerism speech was a great vehicle to sell vehicles? (Apparently so.) And did anyone ever stop to ask Bill Belichick why he felt it necessary to wear that ridiculous cut-sleeved sweatshirt, that he was a Super Bowl coach and not an itinerate hobo who just got fired off the line of a bad roadside diner?
Does any of it matter anymore to the city of broken lamp posts and Crisco? No, it does not. For Philadelphia — the Eagles in particular — proved everyone wrong by doing what was right on game day. They never gave up, and now we’ll never stop hearing about Nick Foles. Right, Frank?
Mark Vasto is a veteran sportswriter who lives in New Jersey.(c) 2018 King Features Synd., Inc