A Super Bowl mural grows in Philly’s Northeast

Listen 2:25
Retired football player Bill Bergey leads fans in an E-A-G-L-E-S chant at the dedication of a David McShane mural at Spike's Trophies in Northeast Philadelphia commemorating the team's Super Bowl win.

Retired football player Bill Bergey leads fans in an E-A-G-L-E-S chant at the dedication of a David McShane mural at Spike's Trophies in Northeast Philadelphia commemorating the team's Super Bowl win. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

While the Eagles’ Super Bowl win this year will not soon be forgotten, it’s now become a permanent part of the city’s landscape. A mural marking the win is now a towering sight in Northeast Philadelphia.

Spike’s Trophies – an awards supply store on Grant Avenue near the Northeast Philadelphia Airport – is wrapped in sports. The eastern wall of the building is covered with a painted collage of the city’s athletic champions going back more than a century, when the Philadelphia A’s won their first World Series in 1910.

It was completed in 2014 by David McShane with Mural Arts Philadelphia. Since then, he’s added to it twice, as Villanova University won two NCAA men’s basketball championships in 2016 and 2018.

The mural may have not only ended the Philly sports curse, but created its blessing.

“I was kidding Dave the other day that he can take credit for the Philadelphia championships,” said the building’s owner, Keith Baldwin, president of Spike’s. “Starting with Villanova, and the Super Bowl, it didn’t happen until he put the mural up on the side of the building. Now, hopefully, we’re gonna add the Sixers.”

After the Super Bowl win, McShane was asked to come back and start another series of panels on the opposite side of the building – the western wall – depicting the city’s future athletic successes.

“We decided to start a whole new chapter on this side,” said McShane, looking down about 100 feet of blank wall space. “You can see there’s a lot of wall space left, and we all know it’s going to be a long, ongoing story of the championships to come.”

The new mural is the first marking the Super Bowl win, but not the first of the Eagles. There’s a much larger rendering across town, a 17,000-square-foot image near Lincoln Financial Field painted in 2015 by Mural Arts Philadelphia.

Another mural, arguably more popular, decorates the side of an artist’s studio on Bainbridge Street in South Philadelphia. Depicting an eagle clutching a diminutive New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in its talons, it was painted independently by artist Meg Saligman outside her own building. Its vengeful attitude against Brady has made it a social media favorite.

‘Tangible touchstone’

The new mural at Spike’s is designed to be more heroic than confrontational, depicting key moments of the game, including touchdown passes and a diagram of the Philly Special — a risky play that was key to a spectacular victory.

“The memory of that, for an Eagles fan, will always be crystalline,” said Hall of Fame sports writer and broadcaster Ray Didinger. “That’s something everybody will remember — where they were, who they were with, how they felt when that game ended.

“I think people in the parade will have the same kind of memory,” he said. “But it’s nice to have a tangible touchstone for somebody who wasn’t there, to point to it and say this is what it was. That’s Nick Foles, that’s Brandon Graham, and walk through the whole history.”

The long stretch of blank wall next to the Super Bowl mural seems conspicuously empty, thirsty for another win. The next spot might be for the 76ers, but Didinger is not holding his breath.

“I don’t know what the next mural will be. It may well be basketball,” he said. “It may not be this year, but I don’t think it’s going to be long.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.