Eagles Win Super Bowl LVII!

How does it feel to have the Eagles win Super Bowl LVII?

Euphoric.

I grew up with the Eagles and, as every long-suffering Philly sports fan knows, have experienced more lows than highs, along with my devoted family. This franchise has attracted exceptional players and coaches over the years – and we’ve cheered them all on with passion – but there’s something unique about this particular team. From their commitment to their faith and their work ethic, to their ability to block out relentless negativity and fully rely on each other, they’ve proven the “impossible” is, indeed, possible. Even after losing franchisee quarterback Carson Wentz and many other key players to injuries, they never gave up. Instead, every member of the team dug a little deeper to contribute even more and keep their momentum going strong.

As Doug Pederson eloquently stated, “An individual can make a difference, but the team makes the miracle.”

I loved Nick Foles’ description of failure as a character-builder, in a world where social media provides the “highlight reel” of life during his press conference.

This Eagles team truly embodies the spirit of Rocky and the city of Philadelphia. In a tumultuous NFL year characterized by disrespectful anthem protests, watching the season culminate in an unforgettable Super Bowl with a breathtaking pregame show — featuring an uplifting rendition of America the Beautiful by Leslie Odom Jr. and a stirring performance of the Star Spangled Banner by Pink, while every single player stood — filled my heart with hope. That my team overcame adversity and defied the odds to get there was the icing on the cake.

But the Eagles came to win, not just show.

My favorite play of the game:

With this one a close second:

To witness my team, the Philadelphia Eagles — led by their “back-up” quarterback Nick Foles — defeat the premier team in the NFL, was a dream come true. The victory was even sweeter because it belonged to men of stellar character who gave glory to God, supported each other, and provided a shining example of what can be accomplished when individuals contribute their God-given talents and go all-out to help their team achieve a mutual goal.

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles…and thank you for being my inspiration!

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Fly Eagles Fly: It’s About So Much More Than Football

I grew up with the Philadelphia Eagles.

From the time I was old enough to talk, I remember my older brothers teaching me about the game – from penalties to plays to strategies. I never understood the whole concept of women hating football because in our household, my mom was just as passionate about the sport as anyone else — and she passed that along to my older sister and me. In our home, Sundays were about gatherings of family and friends (after Mass, of course), home-cooked meals prepared by Mom (who at 86-years-young is still hosting Sunday dinners), and during football season – Eagles games.

To be fair, we were an equal-opportunity Philly sports family, so our support extended to the Phillies, Flyers, and Sixers. I had the privilege of being in attendance when Tug McGraw threw the last strike to win the World Series against the Kansas City Royals in 1980, and I remember many occasions when my mom would take us to the airport to greet whatever team had just emerged victorious or needed the support of fans in the aftermath of losing a playoff or championship.

When I was 11, my brother Mark took me to a one-day event at Widener University, where the Eagles used to train. I recall how excited I was to meet Dick Vermeil and watch the players practice. Back then, it never occurred to me that I’d ever meet a female who didn’t love the game because just about every woman I cared about did.

But some of my best lifetime memories involve freezing in the bitter cold at the NFC Championship Game in 1981 with my brother Paul and sister Carolyn as we watched the Eagles defeat our nemesis, the Dallas Cowboys, 20-7 and advance to their first Super Bowl. Sadly, they lost 27-10 to the Oakland Raiders, which we witnessed with a houseful of people and yummy food.

My parents had three season tickets and as the years went by, preferred to watch the games on television, creating more opportunities for my siblings and I to cheer on our team from section 242 at Veterans Stadium. Every year when the season started, we’d look forward to hanging out with our friends in section 242, which included a man named Michael Trent whom my dad (a retired general surgeon) once operated on. Often mistaken for former Houston Oilers quarterback Warren Moon, he would often quip that he wished he had Moon’s money. These people lived and died with the Eagles, and though they could be rough and rowdy at times, never beat up the opposing team’s fans. I’d submit they are the true representation of Philly fans — not the bad apples who get all the press and give the rest of us a bad reputation. (For the record, I once went to a game in the Meadowlands in 1989 with Mark and Carolyn, where we were threatened with bodily harm by Giants fans who were displeased that the Eagles beat them).

There have been many inspiring Eagles players, from Harold Carmichael and Bill Bergey to Ron Jaworski and Wilbert Montgomery, to Vince Papale and Brian Dawkins…and this year’s group of Eagles, led by amazing coach Doug Pederson, is no exception. In an NFL season characterized by disrespect of our flag, country, and military, they are a breath of fresh air. In spite of tremendous obstacles — losing their starting quarterback Carson Wentz , along with several key players, to injuries, they never gave up. They blocked out the noise from the media and other “experts” who declared with certainty that Nick Foles could never take them to the Super Bowl. Even loyal fans I know decried the impossibility of carrying on without our franchise quarterback.

But the Eagles didn’t listen to conventional wisdom.

Instead, embracing their status as “underdogs” in true Rocky fashion, they stuck together, built each other up, worked hard, and maintained their belief that it could be done. And here we are today: NFC Champions.

Congratulations Philadelphia Eagles. This fan believes you can and will beat the Patriots. No matter what happens, your integrity, teamwork, faith, and work ethic are an inspiration for all — Philly fans or not.

 

 

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Goodbye NFL

Goodbye NFL

I just left the following comment after reading Daniella Bova’s excellent post, “You’re not a Real Fan!”:

Funny how the NFL is selective in its support of “free speech,” even though this really isn’t a free speech issue, which pertains to the freedom of individuals to criticize their government without fear of punishment. The NFL is a private organization (although why they have a nonprofit status is a mystery to me), and as such they have a right to enforce a code of behavior when their players are at work.

Where was the NFL’s support for Tim Tebow, who was mocked relentlessly for kneeling in prayer? Why did the league forbid players to honor September 11’s victims on their cleats or prevent the Dallas Cowboys from honoring their slain police? Why was it okay for Colin Kaepernick to wear socks depicting cops as pigs?

The NFL’s blather about not wanting to make a “political” statement is patently absurd when they’ve been doing exactly that all along by what they allow and disallow. I’m disgusted by the Pittsburgh Steelers for shaming a true American hero, Al Villanueva, for standing in pride for the anthem.

As someone who was raised on football, whose family had season tickets to the Eagles before I was born, and whose fondest memories revolve around sports events and family parties, I am DONE with the NFL. I never thought I’d say that, but this country means more to me than a game.

Let’s also remember that these overpaid millionaires and their overpaid commissioner voted not to assist the players who came before them, the ones who built the league and never made a fraction of what these men earn today. These guys are suffering from all kinds of bodily injuries, yet these selfish jerks refuse to help — even though they owe them everything.

Just as with the election, the NFL has underestimated the passion and anger of everyday Americans, to their own detriment. Good riddance to them and God bless America.

Here’s a link to a 2013 article in the Washington Post highlighting the plight of former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Reggie Williams and the ongoing issue of retired players’ medical bills and problems, excerpted here:

The NFL’s disability board, jointly administered by management and the players’ union, has a denial rate of almost 60 percent. When players file for workers’ compensation for the on-the-job harm they suffered, they often find their claims opposed by their former teams. The league is currently in legal and legislative fights with at least 3,000 former players, who, like Williams, have attempted to seek reparation for their injuries by filing claims in worker-friendly states. When these claims and all other avenues for medical care are exhausted, the cost of their poor health can often fall on the taxpayer.

“First and foremost, the NFL is in the hurt business,” said Mel Owens, a former NFL player who is now a California attorney and represents Williams. “In workers’ comp they will end up paying for the players’ brains, hearts and livers, as well as orthopedic injuries, and it’s expensive. But they don’t want to pay at all.”

The NFL contends it offers benefits — many extending beyond an athlete’s employment — that are more generous than those offered in most professions. Workers’ compensation is just one of those, afforded to players by the collective bargaining agreement with NFL owners. When it opposes claims, the NFL says it is seeking to limit what would otherwise be “nearly unlimited exposure” for years-old injuries.

Pardon me, but when the NFL Commissioner makes in excess of $40 million per year and players today sign multi-million dollar contracts, the least they can do is help the ones who blazed the trail.

With respect to whatever it is they are protesting, since they have an abundance of wealth (thanks to hardworking Americans of all races who subsidize their salaries and stadiums) and an influential platform, why not start a foundation? Volunteer in their communities?

Better yet, take some time for reflection on the destructive policies in the inner cities that purposely create the poverty and crime they supposedly decry. Why not reach out to, say, the city of Chicago, rampant with black-on-black crime and do something to turn it around? These pampered show-boaters have risen above their own circumstances; instead of acting like a bunch of spoiled ingrates, they ought to be mentoring others to follow in their example of overcoming humble beginnings.

Perhaps they could also reflect upon the fact that there is no other country in which they could experience such upward mobility and reap obscene financial rewards for their athleticism, made possible by fans who can only dream of making that much money in a lifetime.

While they’re at it, they may want to get the actual facts about cases like Ferguson, since the ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ narrative has been exposed as a lie.

It would also be nice if they would recognize that the white people they tar and feather as “racists” have been colorblind in their emotional and financial support. As noted above, my family had season tickets before I was born. I grew up watching players like Harold Carmichael, Wilbert Montgomery, Mike Quick, Gary Cobb, and Randall Cunningham — along with Tom Dempsey, Ron Jaworski, Vince Papale, and Stan Walters.

These men and their teammates were not only fine athletes devoted to the game, they were also gentlemen who appreciated their fans and loved their country, much like Tommy McDonald before them. To the best of my knowledge, none of them beat their wives or girlfriends, nor did they whine about how “oppressed” they were. In my family, none of us cared who was black, white, Asian or whatever…they were part of our team, the Philadelphia Eagles, and we supported them. Any criticism was limited to their performance on the field. Period.

My patience with the NFL was wearing thin last year, but thanks to the antics of this past weekend, including the Pittsburgh Steelers shaming of a true American hero, Al Villanueva, I’m done. And to the players who knelt for the National Anthem in England, yet stood for God Save the Queen, please get a clue about British colonialism in Africa and American Exceptionalism. Your little stunt only proved the extent of your ignorance.

I’m a busy entrepreneur growing a business; I can find more valuable uses for my time on Sundays than watching you disrespect the United States military, its citizens, and our flag. I’m also a proud and grateful American who’s had enough of your nonsense.

Goodbye and good riddance, NFL.

 

 

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