That Time A Philadelphia Eagles Fan Hijacked A Plane
At 5:11 this morning I was abruptly jolted from my sleep as the airplanes’ wheels hit the road Philadelphia runaway and a rouge man grabbed the stewardess’ speaker screaming “Fly Eagles fly…” The mass of green that filled the seats erupted, none more ecstatic than the stewardess.
A fitting welcome home.
The red eye from LAX was sold out with fans making their pilgrimage back to their city of origin. Back for their Eagles. The airport was chaos. Inbound flights unloaded Philadelphians that began to line up to get into Chickie's & Pete's for that first pregame beer of the weekend. Eagles balloons floated through the crowds like a Nick Foles deep pass to Alshon Jeffery. The airport echoed of Wing Bowl over several speakers. Eagles chants rang all around me and I was overcome with pride.
For Philadelphia this is everything. What the rest of the country fails to realize is that this game is so much more than a game. It’s more than a trophy, more than bragging rights, more that the greatest moment in Philly sports history. This weekend is about home.
My brother and I were alone at a bar in Sydney Australia less than two weeks ago in pure jubilation watching the Birds seal their ticket to Minnesota. Before the game clock hit :00 we were both on our phones cutting our dream trip short to book flights home. There wasn’t even a second thought. As the two of us dance in the street proudly boasting Kelly Green we realized no one else cared.
That’s why we are heading to Philadelphia.
You Philadelphia have this weekend's hot ticket. Being right here at home. Right here is where our hearts have been broken countless times. Right here is where we saw season after season end in disappointment. Right here is where the rest of the nation calls us bums, suckers, animals and losers.
They call us losers. Let that sink in.
Honestly, they are right. It’s in our DNA. It’s also what makes us the most resilient people anyone else has ever met. We love more, fight harder and live rougher than most despite the odds because we have to.
And that’s why we have to make it through this one last fight against arguably the greatest quarterback and coach combo the NFL has ever seen.
We are the home field advantage.
As a drove up I95 I was welcomed with that infamous billboard “From Wentz We Came, In Foles We Trust” and I started thinking about who I was going to spend Sunday with. Then it hit me.
Suddenly I was 15 again watching the game on mute while blasting Merrill Reese on WIP through the subwoofers- delay and all. Then 19 slumped under a table at McFaddens amongst an army of crushed cheese steak egg rolls watching Donovan McNabb dry-heaving on the biggest drive in our history. I was 28 hustling out of Mass with my ex headed back to our apartment in Old City to bunker down and watch the game. I was back to December 12, 2017 next to my brother watching Carson Wentz hobble to the locker room at the Coliseum in Los Angeles thinking the worse for this team. I thought of family, old roommates, coworkers, teammates, everyone that I had shared so many years- so much of my life with watching the Eagles. Watching us lose.
See for Philly, this is a time to reflect on our lives. Reflect on our duration. We’re not kids anymore. People have come and gone, married, have their own families and passed away. Yet each one is tied to a memory we have of our team.
This isn't just for reflecting on those moments when victory felt so close but where we are right now in our lives. Sports are religion around here- directly and inherently tied in with all those precious moments of our lives so far. For us, this Sunday is the height of our faith. To reflect. To forgive. To be faithful. To feel that anxiety, that feeling of destiny deep within us. To accept what we ultimately deserve.
For so long we have been those blue collar losers. Not that that’s bad, it’s just who we are. It’s what keeps us going. Throughout history Philadelphia has been rebels, defying the odds as the ultimate underdogs and I'll be damned if we don't thrive on it.
This weekend is about us. You and I and all those who have been with us on the journey. It’s for the guy sitting at the end of this diner counter, Eagles hat stained yellow from years of loyalty and pride in his colors, his team, his city. It’s for all those 80’s Christmas photos when dad had you sporting that Eagles hoodie as a three-year old. It’s for the two guys sitting behind me on the plane. One, a Philly first timer who’s reason for coming here was “Philly is too crazy not to go there.” The other, a Northeast native who simply said he was going home to watch the game “with my old man.”
With my old man.
This is especially for my old man. How many times have I heard that answer while making plans to come home this week. That’s what the rest of this country doesn’t understand. Sure there’s a good possibility a select few could burn this city down come Sunday evening but for the majority for us when that ticker tape falls and Jeffery Lurie holds up that Lombardi Trophy, we will be with the ones we love. No longer losers but winners.
Philadelphia is for winners. That feels damn good.
I get chills just typing it. Enjoy this last day of mediocrity. Enjoy all those who have shaped this organization who have left their mark on this franchise. Who never quit. Who never gave up on their fanbase because they knew we’d never give up on them.
What do we do once things change? Do we lose our identity or do we redefine what it means to be a Philadelphian. Theoretically, nothing will change in our day to day lives. Yet we know things will never be the same. Hold your head high because this is bigger than all of us. We are all in this together. One team, one people, one city, with nothing yet everything in common.
We are Philadelphia.
Fly Eagles Fly.