Musings: The surreal and the satisfying

(Image from Philadelphia eagles Facebook page)

It's been a week, but the joy, pleasure and reflection remain. Joy and pleasure aren't things normally associated with fans of Philadelphia sports teams. I'm a native Philadelphian who grew up rooting for the Phillies, Eagles and the Warriors before they moved to San Francisco, so I speak from experience.

Being a life-long Philadelphia sports fan hasn't always been easy. More often than not it's been a bitch. But I'll start with the good news. My sports fan claim-to-fame is that the only time I ever had a season seat for anything was the year the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup. Glorious.

I recall remaining in my seat after the final buzzer when the Flyers beat the Bruins unwilling to move, too overcome to move. It was surreal to see Bobby Clarke unable to do the skate around with the cup because so many fans had stormed the ice.

My first sports love, however, is the Phillies. And while they have won the World Series a couple of times, I still have a permanent scar on my heart from when they broke it in 1964. For those who don't know, the Phils had a 6.5 game lead with 12 games left in the season. They then lost 10 straight games and were knocked out of first place. I was crushed.

I was 11 years old the last time the Eagles won the NFL championship, but I don't recall the event. Because of the NFL's old blackout rule, the game was not shown in the Philadelphia market.

So, with last Sunday's Super Bowl win I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as both expressions were trying to happen at the same time, canceling each other out as they met in my throat.

A supermajority of people who were calling into sports talk radio this past week told stories about watching games or going to them with their fathers or grandfathers. I'm no different.

I had been to a Penn football game or two but was ecstatic when I learned my father had gotten tickets to an Eagles game and I was going with him. It was my first Eagles game. I remember that day well. It was Nov. 24, 1963. The TV was on in the living room and, as my father and I were saying goodbye to my mother before leaving the house, Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald in a Dallas, Texas police station. That, too, was surreal.

The Eagles lost that game against the Redskins, but I'll always remember my father's reaction to one particular Eagles touchdown. We had end zone seats and Timmy Brown, my favorite Birds running back, scampered and juked for a touchdown running right at us. He faked two Washington defenders out of their socks. Everyone stood and cheered and I heard my father shout, "What feet!"

I got out of the Air force in October 1972, football season. One Sunday we were sitting on the couch watching the pregame and saw some of the Eagles players pounding each other on their shoulders as part of their preparation. Dad and I both laughed, looked at each other and, without a word, stood up and pounded each other on the shoulders. We did that every Sunday the rest of that season.

So, when Super Bowl LII ended, I jumped up and down in joy and thought of my father. "They did it. They did it, dad," I said.

The crush of emotion subsided by Tuesday, but it still felt good. As I was leaving the Concord Township council meeting, I jokingly turned to someone and said, "If you didn't hear, the Eagles won the Super Bowl." I then turned to a colleague who was walking out with me and said, "It feels so satisfying to be able to say that."

While watching the parade Thursday, all those emotions came back. In my head, I was watching the parade with my father, again not knowing whether to laugh or cry. But I don't care. The Eagles won the Super Bowl. Damn, that's satisfying.

** The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section, or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to editor@chaddsfordlive.com

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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