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‘Underdog’ Philadelphia savors first-ever Super Bowl triumph

The Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl championship Sunday, defeating the favored New England Patriots 41-33. Philadelphia fans took to the streets in celebration, climbing light poles and jumping off awnings. Bob Ford, columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer talks about the Eagles’ championship drought and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles’ remarkable story.

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  • John Yang:

    Finally tonight: Super Bowl LII is now in the books, and the Philadelphia Eagles have their first NFL championship since 1960. That was before the Super Bowl was even created. They beat the New England Patriots.

  • Announcer:

    For the Philadelphia Eagles, the long drought is over.

  • John Yang:

    It was a victory decades in the making.

    The underdog Eagles jumped in front of the reigning champion Patriots right from the start. Just before halftime, they added to their lead with a trick play, a touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles. Foles also threw for three scores, making him the first player in NFL history to throw and catch a Super Bowl touchdown.

    Then, with two minutes to go and the Eagles up 38-33, Tom Brady was sacked and fumbled, shredding the Patriots’ hopes for a late comeback and a record-tying sixth Super Bowl championship. The Eagles added a field goal for a final score of 41-33.

    It was an improbable victory after starting quarterback Carson Wentz was sidelined by a knee injury in December.

    In the end, Foles from backup to Super Bowl MVP.

  • Nick Foles:

    To be a part of the Philadelphia Eagles’ first championship, it’s been a long time coming. And I know there’s going to be a lot of celebrating tonight.

  • John Yang:

    Even as Foles spoke in Minnesota, the celebration began in Philadelphia, as thousands flooded Broad Street. Gravity was no match for determined fans, who climbed light poles, even though police had slathered them in grease.

    Some tried to live out the team’s fight song, “Fly, Eagles, Fly,” diving off awnings. A victory parade is set for Thursday.

    We are now joined by Bob Ford, an award-winning sports columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com. He’s in Minneapolis, where the game was played last night.

    Bob, thanks for joining us.

    What does this mean for Philadelphia? This is a city with a storied tradition in football, but not a lot of trophies.

  • Bob Ford:

    Yes, they have wide aspirations and narrow trophy cases in Philadelphia.

    And, as you suggested, their last previous championship for the Eagles was in the final month of the Eisenhower administration. That’s six years before the Super Bowl era even began. And here they are in the 52nd Super Bowl finally breaking through.

    So it’s fair to say that a certain amount of civic impatience had taken root over that time. And, as I said, to finally break through with the Super Bowl championship means an awful lot, and the city is very happy today.

  • John Yang:

    Talk about — tell us the story. A lot of people may not realize the story of Nick Foles, the quarterback who played — started the game last night, led the Eagles to this victory.

    He’s been a backup for a long time and actually contemplated retiring not too long ago.

  • Bob Ford:

    Yes, he was originally drafted in 2012 by the Eagles. Not a high draft pick. He was taken in the third round, 88th overall, but I can guarantee you that none of those 87 ahead of him were MVP of the Super Bowl last night.

    And he had sort of a bounce little bit of a career at the very start with the Eagles. He got a little bit of a chance to be the number one guy, did very well for one season. Chip Kelly, then the coach, thought he wanted to go in another direction. He wanted a very mobile quarterback. Nick is not necessarily that.

    He was traded to the Saint Louis Rams, didn’t do very well there, was brought in as a starter, lost the job, became a backup, bounced to the Kansas City Chiefs the next year also as a backup, and did contemplate retirement. He said, I just might hang it up. This isn’t any fun. This is not why I got into football.

    But he was lured back to the Philadelphia Eagles by Doug Pederson, who is a friend of his, who had coached before when he was with the Eagles. And he said, you know what? I’m going to give it one more chance. And I think this is a place where I could at least enjoy the game, enjoy the people.

    There was certainly no idea that he was going to become a starting quarterback again. The Eagles have a very, very fine young quarterback, second-year player, Carson Wentz.

    But then, December 10, he tore his ACL, and suddenly Nick Foles was in the spotlight again, John.

  • John Yang:

    And I remember a lot of the headlines were that the Eagles Super Bowl hopes or their playoff hopes had died when Carson Wentz went out.

  • Bob Ford:

    Well, that was certainly the assumption, because Carson Wentz was an enormous part of just getting the Eagles in position to have a postseason run.

    He had a wonderful season, perhaps maybe a most valuable player-quality season. And Nick, as we know, had a very, very spotty history. And no one thought that he was going to be the kind of guy who would be able to pick up the team and keep carrying them in the way that Carson Wentz had.

    But I guess we were all in for a little bit of a surprise.

  • John Yang:

    And now you have got this quarterback who led his team to the Super Bowl championship, and is very likely not going to be the starting quarterback next year.

  • Bob Ford:

    It’s an odd circumstance that a guy who is the MVP of the Super Bowl doesn’t necessarily have a starting job for the following season. You’re correct.

    But Carson Wentz, who is the starter, is going to come back from that ACL knee surgery. And it’s expected that he’s going to be back by the start of the season. And Nick Foles will be back on the sideline wearing a baseball cap and applauding.

    He’s under contract to the Eagles. So, if they want to keep him around, they can. He doesn’t really have a whole lot of choice there. But it is a really, really odd circumstance for someone who did what he did last night in the Super Bowl.

  • John Yang:

    And, Bob, I guess this victory last night was fitting, because they were not favored. They were going up against a team that had won the Super Bowl a number of times. But does it fit with sort of the underdog mentality of Philadelphia sports?

  • Bob Ford:

    Yes.

    And it fits also with the city’s perceived persona as that sort of Rocky character, punching up against, you know, the bigger foe. And, certainly, when you look at the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, they had become a monolith in the NFL. They have won five Super Bowls in 17 years.

    This is a team you don’t beat lightly. So, yes, I think that people like that sort of thing. And it does fit in with the way the city feels about itself. It’s stuck between the glitz of New York and the power of Washington and sort of the snootiness of Boston.

    And where does Philadelphia fit into that scheme? They have to be the blue-collar underdog. So this was a pretty good outcome for them. And they wear that coat pretty well.

  • John Yang:

    Big night for Philadelphia.

    Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, thanks for being with us.

  • Bob Ford:

    My pleasure, John.

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