In case you've been living under a rock for the past few days, the Eagles won the Super Bowl, beating the Patriots 41-33 in one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever played. I can't say best because with 3 missed extra point attempts, a missed field goal, and enough defensive lapses to fill a swimming pool, the word "sloppy" came to mind more than once in the first half. Eventually though, the game found its groove and the Eagles showed what quality, aggressive coaching can achieve at the highest level of the sport. It's not an easy task, beating 5x champions on a neutral field. Doing so on a championship stage while having previously lost their starting quarterback, left tackle, and utility man Darren Sproles over the course of the season is a tremendous accomplishment.
Living in Center City, I had the unique opportunity to be a part of the revelry and merriment that followed after the historic win. Below are a few pictures I managed to get while walking through the horde on Broad Street.
As the pictures show, there was something magical about the city after this win. It wasn't that dissimilar to the excitement I experienced after the NFC championship victory, which had probably about 30% fewer people out in the streets celebrating (and with far fewer pole climbers). Of course, the size of the crowd isn't what matters (cough) - it's the attitude of the people there that count. For Philadelphia - that attitude felt like...hope? No, it wasn't hope - that was two weeks ago. It was pride - but more than that. It was confidence. Sure, many residents didn't do their city any favors by committing various acts of property damage (flipped cars, smashed windows, destroyed Ritz Carlton awning) - but overall the celebrations were loud, peaceful, and fun. For a city that for decades has been the butt of so many jokes, derision, and legitimate economic concern, the ascendance of the Eagles put a loud exclamation point on the past 10 years of Philadelphia's progress. Philly is no longer a city that can backhandedly be referred to as the "6th Borough". Philly is Philly, and should be proud to call itself such. New York will always be bigger. LA will always have Hollywood and better weather. Washington DC will always be more important - and all of that is OK. None of that matters, nor should it.
Let this be the moment where the City can take pride and ownership, not just in its history or cultural icons, but in its story and idiosyncratic offerings. Let us move past the cheesesteaks and water ices, as good as they are. Let us move away from touting the Liberty Bell and Art Museum, as iconic as they are. Let Ben Franklin and William Penn be revered - as they deserve reverence - but I urge Philadelphians to let this win propel them into a mindset of hope and optimism for the future and excitement for where Philadelphia is today.
This is something I know a thing or two about as a native St. Louisan. St. Louis shares many historic trends with Philly and other rust belt cities. If there's one thing St. Louisans are good at, it's being nostalgic - particularly the year 1904, when it hosted the Olympics and World's Fair. Somehow though, nostalgia turned to necropathy, as the city's spirit decayed along with its economy and infrastructure. Today, even as the city lurches into the 21st century, long-time residents of the region are incapable of seeing it as anything other than a shell of its former self, with the cry of "back then" preceding a torrent of negative comments about today. This doesn't describe everyone - but it describes a lot of them; and it describes a lot of "Negadelphians" too.
Look, I'll be the first to acknowledge that Philadelphia is FAR from a finished product. Poverty, violent crime and drug abuse rates are way too high, the public education system has systemic issues, and the local taxing structure needs serious overhaul. But each of those have been moving in the right direction for years - even if at a glacial pace, they're improving. It's time for everyone in the city to embrace that narrative.
If Philly was going to win a championship, other than beating New York, is there a better city to beat than Boston? Truly - Boston has been everything Philly hasn't over the last 20 years. A booming hotbed of economic resurgence. Home to championships in every major sports league, with a few repeat winners. But now? This win places a flag at the top of a mountain of progress that's been growing for years. William Penn over Paul Revere. Penn over Harvard. Cheesesteaks over Clam Chowder.
Eagles over Patriots.
Philadelphia has come into its own this year. Let us all embrace that feeling and forever stop thinking that we've got something to prove. We don't. We won.
Now, join me as I raise my celebratory Wawa sandwich and repeat after me:
Fly Eagles Fly - Philly Philly!
General thoughts and musings about the work SSC Solutions does and other things happening in and around Philadelphia