E-A-G-L-E-S!

E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES! The Philadelphia Eagles are going to the Super Bowl! The city has waited 24 years to hear those words again. 24 years after a 20-7 victory over the ever-so hated Dallas Cowboys and of course 24 years after the only appearance for the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, a loss to the John Madden led Oakland Raiders.

A game in which the Eagles lost 27-10, the same score that the Eagles trounced the Michael Vick led Atlanta Falcons to earn their rightful title as the NFC’s best team and a spot to try and topple the defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots.ÊÊ My only regret for the game was that I was unable to be in the city for the historical victory. A victory for a city that is exploding with anticipation, anticipation for redemption for three straight NFC championships loses.

It would have been easy for the Eagles to give in after having their most important off-season acquisition and legitimate MVP candidate Terrell Owens fall to a broken right leg and two torn ligaments in his ankle. It would have been easy for them to fold and concede another Super Bowl run suffering another disappointing end to a season that started with such anticipation and even greater hope that this team could bring the Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia.

Instead, they fought with more heart then I have ever seen a team play with and overcome another late season injury to one of their best players and still make it this far. Two years ago it was Donovan McNabb who was not yet back to 100% in the playoffs after suffering a broken ankle and last year it was Brian Westbrook being lost for the entire playoffs and McNabb suffering an injury to his ribs during the NFC Championship game against the Carolina Panthers that severely limited his play. This year it was Owens cheering, dancing, and jumping all around the sidelines showing very little sign of a serious injury that has held him out of the playoffs.

The team will have to put him in a straight jacket and strap him to his locker for him not to playin the Super Bowl. The Eagles next stop is in Jacksonville to reach a goal that no other Philadelphia team has reached in 22 years. Not since 1983 when the Philadelphia 76ers swept the Los Angeles Lakers has a Philadelphia team won a championship. It is the longest current streak for any city with a team in the four major sports (football, baseball, basketball, and hockey).

The city’s last try was the 2001 76ers team in which Allen Iverson led the team into the NBA Finals against a Lakers team led by the most dominant player ever, Shaq, and a young star from Philadelphia who then was still in good favor with his teammates. That Lakers team also had not lost a game that entire playoffs heading into game one when the Sixers were able to steal a victory in overtime only to show little resistance during the next four games to the eventual NBA champs.

The city also had the Flyers in ’97 who got swept by a much quicker Detroit Red Wings team that was in the middle of a dynasty along with ’85 and ’87’s loses to Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers who were in the middle of a dynasty as well that dominated throughout the 1980s. And then there was 1993 and a bunch of tobacco chewing, beer bellied, scrappy baseball players who made up the Phillies that jumped from the cellar of the division to a World Series berth only to lose on a walk-off home run by some guy named Joe Carter.

The city has even suffered from a horse, Smarty Jones, who came within 14 miles of winning the first Triple Crown in horse racing since Affirmed did it in1978 only to have him fade and, dare I say it about a horse, but choke. There was word that a parade was being planned if he had won, we needed to celebrate something.

For now, during a time when there will be no annual Flyers playoff run, and the Sixers, with the most dominant player ever and the soon-to-be greatest player ever playing in Cleveland now in their conference, a title run seems unrealistic. Then there is the yearly summer purgatory known as a Phillies season in which the team will perpetually hover around .500 and not be good enough to make a run, nor bad enough to try something different.

Philadelphia and the surrounding area is so clearly focused on one date, February 6. The only way to be truly considered champions is to beat the defending champions. In this case the defending champions are a so-called dynasty in the making, the New England Patriots. Granted they have won two of the last three Super Bowls with a missed playoff mixed in between, but this team and this city has been waiting a while for this opportunity.

The Eagles goal is in Jacksonville, 800 miles away, 24 years in the making for “one team, one city, one dream.” So come February 6th I will be at home with my fellow Eagles fans drinking a Yuengling and eating a Pat’s steak, whiz wit please. Bring on the Patriots!