The Eagles Super Bowl win is not just a story of inspiration and perseverance. It is the story of Philadelphia, because this is our year.
Yes, Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate of any big city in America. We’ve seen more overdoses than any major American city. We’ve seen political corruption rear its ugly head. But just like the Eagles, this city can rise above its challenges, because this is our year.
The men who beat the New England Patriots were not the best to ever play the game. They were backups like Trey Burton, who threw a touchdown on a fourth down to keep the Eagles ahead. They were undrafted players like Corey Clement, who caught a touchdown when no one believed he could. They were backup linemen like Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who stepped onto the field when an all-pro tackle went down.
But don’t you dare call our Eagles underdogs, because they stepped onto the biggest stage in sports, and they proved that this is our year.
I knew that when I watched Jason Kelce speak of his love for his teammates. I knew it when I watched Doug Pederson give thanks to God for the opportunity. I knew it, most of all, when I watched Nick Foles’ incredible rise to become Super Bowl MVP.
Foles was drafted by the Eagles under Andy Reid, had a breakout year under Chip Kelly, was traded to the Rams, lost his job, and lost his will to play. But Foles had enough faith to give it one more try. He returned to football as a backup — first to the Chiefs, and then to the Eagles. And when Carson Wentz got hurt, Nick Foles inherited a team that would rather live up to their desires than give up on their dreams. He inherited a team that was willing to fight, and he led that team to the Super Bowl.
Nick Foles’ story proves many things. Most of all it proves that this is our year, because we’ve watched this team achieve more than we thought was possible, through faith and hard work.
That’s what I heard in the words of Jason Kelce, the University of Cincinnati walk-on who switched positions in college, worked his way into a sixth round draft pick and is now one of the best centers in the NFL.
“Persistence has summed up my whole career, summed up my whole life,” Kelce said as tears rolled down his cheeks. “The fact that we were able to overcome everything and just keep moving forward. I can’t help but be a little emotional.”
I want Jason Kelce and all the men who cried to know that their emotion is warranted, because there’s a lesson in this for all of us. If we, as Philadelphians, can just keep moving forward in spite of poverty, in spite of corruption, in spite of critics, in spite of injuries, we might not be Super Bowl champions like the Eagles. But if we follow their example, and fight despite the odds, we can all be champions at life.