The Philadelphia Eagles won the hearts of America by taking down football’s most prolific dynasty at Super Bowl LII. The story behind this team is one that will find it’s own place in NFL history. The number one seed that nobody but it’s fans believed in. Underdogs in all three postseason games. Philly never wins the Super Bowl. It was absolutely perfect. Anything can happen on Sunday, and it did. In the most beautifully remarkable way.
The Eagles were dogs. They embraced it. I do as well as I try to give a glimpse of my favorite individual underdog stories of the season that manufactured the greatest sports memory of my life. We are all we got. We are all we need.
1. The Fans – Okay, maybe I am little biased here. Nobody believed in us. Nobody believed we could do what we did, as fans. It started with the draft. An unprecedented showing on a national stage. The season became magical on that day. The transformation of becoming a winning fan base started on that day. The Eagles fans continued to show up. Whether it was Washington, KC, LA twice, New York or Carolina. It felt like the Eagles had 12 or 13 home games. Then, the pinnacle. Eagles fans owned Minnesota. I could hear it on TV. Home game in the Super Bowl. I had people there tell me it was 70% Eagles fans. Sure, all the coverage wasn’t perfect. There is always going to be a few knuckleheads. A few knuckleheads at the tailgate, and a few knuckleheads in the media pushing it. We did it though. We showed up as the driving force behind this magical season and we showed well. I have no doubt the parade will be no different. Regardless of whether anyone worldwide believes it. Underdogs this year, but underdogs no more. Philadelphia is now one of only five cities that won the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA title, and the Stanley Cup. We are 4 for 4. We are winners. We are champions.
2. Nick Foles – The Nick Foles story is legendary. From the pending retirement to the Oakland/Dallas games, to “Philly Special”. You can’t write this stuff. As if surgically shredding the #1 ranked defense in the NFL in the NFC Championship game isn’t enough. He DOUBLES DOWN in Super Bowl LII. In route to winning MVP, he beats the greatest QB of all time on his best day where he throws for over 500 yards. Nick Foles was completely unconscious. These are not things that human beings are supposed to be able to do. Especially not ones that have the flawed history of Nick Foles. Forget about Philadelphia. This could be the single greatest underdog story of all time. Tear down Rocky, and replace it with Nick. The time is now.
3. Nelson Agholor – Nelly! The Chip Kelly crowned jewel was all but buried by the city of Philadelphia. Considered a first-round bust, countless articles were written on how Agholor was finished in the NFL. It was too late for the third year wide receiver to turn his career around. Agholor never listened. It only takes one to believe and it starts with yourself. He continued to work hard and impressed enough in training camp for the Eagles to get comfortable trading Jordan Matthews, paving the way for Agholor to flourish in the slot. Agholor proved them all wrong this year posting almost 800 yards and 8 TD’s proving to be an important part of a Super Bowl winning offense. Jeffrey makes the most money, but I’d argue with anyone that Nelson is the Eagles best WR. A far cry from where he was this time last season.
4. Howie Roseman – Prior to this season, the Eagles were in a playoff drought that strongly coincided with Roseman’s involvement with personnel within the Eagles organization. There were many people, including myself, that were highly skeptical of Roseman’s ability to build a roster. Howie pushed all the right buttons this season and proved the doubters wrong. You can point to the impact of Joe Douglas (who Howie hired), but there is one resounding message you can not argue. This season never happens without Howie Roseman. The Eagles GM didn’t flinch when he traded Jordan Matthews for Ron Darby or when he relinquished more draft capital for Jay Ajayi. Free agent signings like Chris Long & LeGarrette Blount brought the necessary leadership to get the Lombardi to Philadelphia. Even those who believed in Howie didn’t believe that this was the year. Only Roseman believed. Against all the odds, in the face of all those in league circles who said he wasn’t “football” enough. There is nobody that deserves to hoist that trophy more than Howie Roseman.
5. Doug Pederson – Where do I start? I had to put him on the list. If there was one thing I learned this season, it is that Doug Pederson is an ANIMAL. The transformation of the Eagles Head Coach into a fearless, relentless, play caller has been my favorite part of the season. Nobody gave this guy an interview except the Eagles. Nobody wanted him. An Ex-Browns GM unleashed an unprecedented verbal assault on his credentials in September. He is now a Super Bowl winner in only his 2nd year. He is the 2nd best head coach in the NFL behind the greatest head coach of all-time, who he just outcoached on the biggest stage. Every dog has its day, but I have a feeling that Doug will have many, many more.
6. Corey Clement – Glassboro’s finest. The undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin was a local long shot coming into training camp. When Darren Sproles went down, opportunity knocked. Clement crushed it paving a way to be a big part of the Eagles backfield for years to come. Every team in the league said he wasn’t good enough in April. 253 names got called while he waited. Doug Pederson called his name 4 times in the Super Bowl. Four receptions for 100 yards. Stay ready, kids. Never, ever, give up.
7. Patrick Robinson – Bust. Cut’em. I am surprised Patrick Robinson made it out of training camp. With all the odds against him, Robinson bounced back this year with the best season of his career. Credit to the keen eye of Jim Schwartz for moving him into the slot and maximizing his skill set. Robinson was widely regarded as one of the top slot corners in the game this season on an Eagles secondary that needed someone to step up in a big way. Nobody saw Patrick Robinson coming.
8. Jason Kelce – Remember when we couldn’t wait to trade Kelce to New Orleans for Mark Ingram? I never liked that deal, but I did get tired of Kelce’s Andy Reid-ish responses to criticism insisting he just “has to do a better job”. Well, he came through this year. A fit for Chip Kelly’s offense and a perceived mismatch for Pederson. It’s no surprise the quarterback of the trenches would lead his line to a flawless postseason. Foles got to go to Disneyland, but none of it happens without Kelce. We may have insisted he was too small in September, but this dog played BIG when it mattered most.
9. Jake Elliot – After getting drafted in the 6th round by the Cinncinati Bengals, he lost out in training camp and was moved to the practice squad. With the odds stacked against him, the Eagles gave him an opportunity. I don’t think anyone expected the great things we saw from Elliot this season and I’m sure nobody in Cincinnati did in September. When opportunity knocks, CRUSH IT!
10. Lane Johnson – Bravado and Beer. Two things that will always resonate with the city of Philadelphia. I will be the first to admit I wasn’t a huge Lane Johnson fan coming into the season. I felt like he didn’t show enough accountability during his suspension. However, he won me over in a big way. It started early with not only the notion that we could win the Super Bowl when nobody believed it, but he also got Bud Light on the hook. Belief starts with one. He may not be the conventional underdog, but he had a lot to prove in my eyes this season. Plus, how can you not have the mastermind of the dog mask on the list? Using it to raise money for Philadelphia Public Schools is a testament to how much this big olde pup has grown this year.