Eagles fans deliver a Super Bowl send-off. ‘I wish it were today.’

by 24USATVFeb. 5, 2023, 8:20 p.m. 18

Jalen Hurts waved to the crowd in a retro mint green Eagles jacket as defensive end Brandon Graham filmed the throng of fans who’d showed up on a 35-degree day to see the team off for their trip to Superbowl LVII.

“We’ll keep this quick because we got a plane to catch,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni told the crowd. “But, appreciate everybody’s support, appreciate everybody being out here. If you’re going to Arizona, be loud like you always are!”

It’s a Philly thing, the green-clad fans here will tell you. Rooting for the birds at any hour, in any weather in a sea of matching black knit caps. Sunday’s pep rally to send the Super Bowl-bound Eagles off to Arizona to take on the Kansas City Chiefs was like a tailgate dropped on the 30-yard line of Lincoln Financial Field.

“I would battle the rain, the snow, doesn’t matter. We’d be out here to send these guys off,” said Dustin Broyles, who danced onto the field through an archway of green balloons. Broyles came in from Schwenksville.

“Why?” he asked, confused and a little offended by the question. “Because I’m a [redacted] die-hard Eagles fan!”

Forget Sunday scaries — everyone here was dealing with shared Super Bowl jitters. Just how to get through a week of work with another championship game so near?

“I wish we could fast-forward,” said Mike “Fuji” Fiordimondo, 51, who flapped his arms to the DJ’s music in an Eagles poncho, his hair dyed green. “I’m pumped and ready to rock. We’re gonna win this one, we just gotta shut down [Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick] Mahomes.”

» READ MORE: How the Eagles’ Lane Johnson draws on his mother’s strength: ‘We’ve been through the road of hard knocks’

The field celebration felt like familiar territory to Fiordimondo, who’s been a season ticket holder for 35 years, but for other fans it was their first time inside the hallowed halls of the Linc — and certainly onto the field.

Sonia Williams drove up from Washington to cheer on the Birds. She was born and raised in North Philadelphia but lives near FedEx Field, home to the Commanders, now.

“Since I couldn’t go to any games this was my way of being part of the celebration,” Williams said. Now 51, Williams first got into the team when she was a 9-year-old chasing around her older brother. “You know, little sisters wanting to do everything he did,” she said.

Williams’ brother died two years ago of lupus, making this Super Bowl run bittersweet. “It’s touching me now because he’s not here to enjoy it,” she said. “Everyone’s saying, ‘He’s enjoying it, he’s enjoying it.’ But it just would be nice if he was here enjoying it with me.”

Williams took a minute and wrapped herself tighter in a long green leather coat which she wore to the parade in 2018. “I’ll see you there, wearing this when they win,” she said.

The Eagles cheerleaders, the drumline and Swoop all made appearances. But fans were mostly interested in taking photos on the field, and lining up to get a glimpse of the team captains as they jogged in. Kids kicked imaginary field goals and sprinted up and down the field.

Sean Watson laid down on the 50-yard line and posed for a photo in his all-Eagles two-piece suit.

“37-17 Eagles,” he said immediately upon being approached by a reporter. “And we’re gonna know by the third quarter. We’re getting another Lombardi. Two wins in five years, a dream come true, a mini-dynasty,” he predicted.

Watson, who has worn the same hat for a week and will not take it off until after the Super Bowl, is not worried about jinxing the squad. “I believe if you truly think you’re the better team, the better team is gonna win, even if that’s not how it works,” he said matter-of-factly.

Not every fan could name the entire starting roster. “I’d say I’m entry-level,” said Ilana Salmon, 28, who won tickets for the pep rally through work. “We’re out here dancing at 9 a.m. though, so clearly we’re feeling it.”

A lot of fans talked about how the mood of the entire region has felt lighter.

“It’s so hype and it just, it really brings everybody together, which I think our country needs right now,” said Kelli Bradley, 58, of Tinicum Township in “Delaware County hashtag Delco.”

As the pep rally cleared out, William James lingered for another look back at the field. James used to work security at the Linc until he was diagnosed with colon cancer a few years ago. He tailgates every game even though he doesn’t get to watch from inside anymore.

“You see stuff like this, it keeps me going, man,” said James, of West Philadelphia. “These birds, I think that they boosted the morale of this city, sportswise, because we been let down a lot. You look around, there’s less talk. We walking and not talking. People are happier. Look at ‘em, look at these faces.”

“Go birds, man. I cannot wait. I wish it were today. Like, right now. We’re ready.”


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