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Wide Awake: Go Team!
Cheering for the Eagles when you’re really not a sports fan

During the NFC Championship game, every time the Eagles made a great play or scored a touchdown, my husband Joe would jump up and march in front of the TV. It was kind of like a chicken walk, but really slow, and his fists would be clenched and raised above his head. The Eagles had a great game, so this happened often. I smiled each time.

I was happy he was happy. And I was happy so many other people were happy. The spirit of community in the past few weeks has been incredible. Even my daughter, who goes to college in upstate New York, texted us photos of kids in class wearing Eagles gear. The love was widespread, and everyone felt it – even those of us who may not be the biggest of sports fans.

No matter your athletic ability or knowledge, watching a winning team is always fun (unless, I guess, they’re beating your team). I’ve been watching along with Joe each week and giving him my thoughts as a non-sports fan. I think my observations are interesting, because I’m watching with no emotion and I notice things a more seasoned fan might take for granted. Joe does not agree that my findings are interesting.

We’ve been lucky that we’ve been able to cover the Eagles a lot in SJ Magazine (thanks to ESPN’s Sal Palaontonio and Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro), and while I don’t call myself a sports fan, I am an Eagles fan. But I like this team mainly because I admire the leadership and teamwork and passion. Every motivational speaker will tell you those three things make a winning team. The Eagles are living proof of that, and we get to watch it play out right in front of us. It’s been fascinating.

There was a moment during the championship game, right after Alshon Jeffery scored, when he kept running through the end zone until he reached the stands. It was something I had seen him do in other games. Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson and Mack Hollins came up behind him, and the four of them were cheering along with the crowd. Fans were leaning over the railing giving them high-fives, clapping and just yelling. If it wasn’t for the uniforms, you wouldn’t know who were the fans and who were the players. In those few seconds, they were all on the same team.

I watched that (after Joe did his victory march in front of the TV, of course) and couldn’t get over how genuine it seemed. Those fans wanted the win as much as the players did. The players wanted to give them the win, and the fans wanted them to know how grateful – beyond-the-moon grateful – they would be to get it.

If you take that dynamic off the football field and apply it to any group of people working together, you understand what you need to get great results. The question is: how do you foster that within a group? I don’t know. Doug Pederson does, and it’s been so enjoyable watching him achieve it and then showing the nation the purest definition of team.

Certainly we live in a time when the country could benefit watching a team working in unison with purpose and passion. For us here in South Jersey, we’ve been benefiting all season, because we’ve been sharing the same up-and-down emotions – determination, heartache, hope, triumph – for months. We all felt it. We all lived it. Everyone did, regardless of your sports IQ. You don’t have to know what a safety is to know what awesome is. And this season, this team, has been awesome.

 

ESPN’s SalPal will be writing a diary for SJ Magazine readers every day in the week leading up to the Super Bowl. You can read his up-close observations from right in the middle of all the excitement. Find SalPal’s reports here.

February 2018
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