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!

Share

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.

 

 

Share

The Blind Side: Inspiring, Illuminating and Instructive

Published by Parcbench on February 11, 2010:

As someone with a strong aversion to liberal orthodoxy — no matter how subtle — masquerading as entertainment in major motion pictures, I can count on my hand the number of yearly visits I make to the movie theater. Contrary to popular media opinion, even politically astute conservatives enjoy a little escapism every now and then, whether in the form of action, adventure, drama, romance or historic films. Alas, with so few worthy offerings at the cinema, an activity that was once an enjoyable addition to my leisure time has become a  rare occurrence.

That’s sad because there’s nothing quite like viewing a great film in the Palace Premier at Muvico in Boca Raton. The problem is, like most conservatives, I don’t want to be lectured about how “greedy” (like those “evil” Hollywood executives or overpaid actors, perhaps?) our corporate CEOs allegedly are, or how careless with the environment our middle-class citizens supposedly are (compare and contrast the condition of D.C. after the inauguration, and after the 9/12 March on Washington for the real story).

Those of us who proudly cling to our God, guns and patriotism, or at least appreciate our country and military, know that America is mostly made up of decent, hard-working, charitable people. While far from perfect, we recognize that the USA truly is “the last, best hope on earth”, even if our moral superiors in Hollywood don’t.

And when we fork over our hard-earned money for two hours of entertainment, we expect to be entertained, not demeaned for rejecting the “values” of Tinseltown and believing in the goodness of Americans, including our military members — even those who happened to hail from the south, a typical target of Hollywood derision.

Which makes my review of The Blind Side all the more satisfying to write: not only is it based on a true story of Christian charity and faith, it takes place in Memphis, Tennessee, in a part of the USA liberals refer to as “flyover country”. Or in other words, a vast, non-coastal area populated with nothing but racist rednecks who shoot off their guns indiscriminately and inbreed with close relatives.

Academy Award nominee Sandra  Bullock stars as Leigh Anne Tuohy, an upper-middle-class interior designer and married mother of two who lives a comfortable life in an upscale neighborhood.  One cold, late-fall evening, while driving home with her husband Sean (played by country singer Tim McGraw) and son S.J. (Jae Head) from a Thanksgiving play at her kids’ prestigious Christian school, she encounters homeless, shivering “Big Mike” (Quinton Aaron), the latest addition to the student body.

What begins as an act of compassion leads to a positive, life-altering experience for both Michael and the Tuohy family. In a definitive demonstration of the superiority of decent, determined  and committed individuals over the failed policies of the nanny state, Michael flourishes under the care of his “adopted” parents and siblings, who recognize his potential as a human being, athlete and scholar.  And while the newest addition to the family confronts seemingly endless obstacles on the way to his ultimate triumph, none of them are a direct result of racism — at least not on the part of his caretakers, for whom the color of his skin is irrelevant.

Michael himself is a living, breathing testament to the enduring spirit of the individual. In spite of the circumstances of his birth to a welfare mom living in deplorable government housing, he never succumbs to the anger, bitterness and violence that consumes his peers in the projects. Instead, he develops into a young man with a remarkable protective instinct and a heartbreakingly gentle disposition that endures, whether he’s rinsing out his only shirt in the washtub of the laundromat or quietly seeking shelter in the cold, long after the school day has ended.

In one telling scene toward the film’s conclusion, Leigh Anne — having  just spent hours searching for her “son” amid the slums of Hurt Village — asks how he managed to survive in such a soul-killing environment. Michael explains that whenever something bad would go down, his mother would instruct him to close his eyes and not open them until it was all over, until it was “good again”.

“I only saw the good,” he tells an emotional Leigh Anne. And it’s precisely that ability to block out the pain of the past and stay focused on whatever good he can find, that prevents Michael from descending into a life of crime and despair. As an individual, he manages to rise above the dire consequences of oppressive statism masquerading as government benevolence.

And in the Tuohy family, we witness the results of faith in action. While I fully acknowledge it’s not necessary to believe in God in order to have the capacity to demonstrate meaningful compassion toward others, given Hollywood’s proclivity to denigrate Christians, it is gratifying that the real people behind the story just happen to be followers of Christ. Oh and yes — they also happen to be southern. The more I think about it, the more amazed I am that the powers-that-be in the entertainment industry even made this incredible film in the first place. Lucky for us, even Hollywood hypocrites embrace the “dirty”, capitalistic concept known as profit — something they’d make more of, if only they’d produce more positive, uplifting films like The Blind Side.

Share