For family, for Philly — the Eagles are Super Bowl champions


MINNEAPOLIS — They worked together, they practiced together, they studied together, they overcame adversity together. They experienced disappointment together and they celebrated victories together.

And Sunday night in Super Bowl LII, won a championship together.

The 2017 Philadelphia Eagles will forever be remembered as a team of 53 guys who played as one, who played without egos, who played not for stats or accolades or awards but to be part of something unforgettable.

It didn't matter how many injuries they suffered or what kind of odds they faced.

They won under Carson Wentz, they won under Nick Foles, and Sunday night they knocked off Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the mighty Patriots, 41-33, to deliver the first NFL championship to Philadelphia in 57 years (see breakdown).

"I'm so happy for our fans," said Jeff Lurie, who bought the Eagles in 1994 (see story).

"It's been something that I live every single day for. When I bought the team, all I wanted was to bring a championship to the most deserving fans in sports."

In one corner of the locker room at U.S. Bank Stadium, running backs Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement gathered around Ajayi's phone, watching videos from Broad Street (see video).

In another corner, Duce Staley — in his 14th year with the organization — did a little dance to celebrate.

The one common theme talking to players who had just climbed to the very top of the NFL world was they couldn't wait to share this with the fans (see celebration).

"We can't wait to get back," Malcolm Jenkins said. "It's one of those things, where our team embodies our city.

"There is a lot of adversity, a lot of hardship, but when we stepped on the field, that was our time to be together, our time to have fun and enjoy each other.

"We have more fun than any team in this league, and I think that's been a part of our success."

In a game that featured a combined 1,161 yards — most in NFL history in the regular season or playoffs — the Eagles became the first team in NFL history to win a football game despite allowing 600 yards (see Roob's observations).

But that's the thing about the 2017 Eagles. None of that stuff matters.

They just find a way.

"Philly is crazy right now," Fletcher Cox said. "The city probably won't sleep for a week. It's so exciting. I can't wait to get on the bus in the parade, riding down Broad Street to see the passion of these fans."

This is the perfect team for Philly.

The coach is a career backup that was mocked when he was hired. The quarterback thought about retiring two years ago.

Players like Clement, Rodney McLeod, Blount and Trey Burton were undrafted. Others like Jason Kelce, Ajayi, Brent Celek, Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Corey Graham were taken in the fifth round or later.

Others, like Blount, Chris Long, Tim Jernigan and Torrey Smith, were unwanted by their last team. And others, like Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, had to shed the big-money bust tag (more on Graham here).

"I'm so excited for that locker room," head coach Doug Pederson said. "For Mr. Lurie to give me the opportunity to coach this team and then everything we've been through this season. To get to this point … a lot of people counted us out, but that locker room believed. Believed in each other, believed in me, and we found a way to get it done."

Kelce, a sixth-round pick in 2011, has been here longer than anybody other than Celek and Graham, and he wasn't even trying to hide his emotions.

"The last two weeks, after we beat Atlanta, after we beat [the Vikings], I found myself in the shower, crying, dreaming of this moment," he said.

"I've worked so hard in my life to get here and everything culminates. … I've officially accomplished the best thing in this sport with a group of guys that mean more because really persistence has summed up my whole career, summed up my whole life.

"Just keep going. Keep moving forward, whatever obstacle is in the way. Just keep moving forward. The resilience of this team is incredible."

Blount and Long, who won a Super Bowl with the Patriots last year, became the first players in NFL history to win back-to-back Super Bowls with the second one coming against the first team.

"When you play football for a long time, you watch other people be a part of something amazing," Long said. "I was certainly part of something amazing last year. There's nothing like this. I was sitting on the field with my son, and I've never been so happy in my life, other than the birth of my son and my wedding day.

"It's hard to beat this. We're so lucky. We're so blessed and we have each other, and that's why we won."

Alshon Jeffery had another big game and finished the postseason with 12 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns.

He's been talking Super Bowl all year.

"I've been saying that since I told (practice squad receiver) Bryce Treggs when he came to South Carolina to work out with me for a week," Jeffery said.

"I told him we're going to win the Super Bowl. I believed that. We were going to win the Super Bowl, and that is what we did.

"Just hard work and dedication, just believing in one another. Brotherhood. This tight unit. Take football out of it, we are a real family. We are a real family."

This is the fourth championship in franchise history.

The Eagles beat the Cards, 7-0, at Shibe Park to win the 1948 title, beat the Rams, 14-0, at L.A. Coliseum (where Wentz got hurt two months ago) to win the 1949 title and beat the Packers at Franklin Field to win the 1960 championship.

"It's an amazing feeling," Blount said. "It's unmatched to anything. The closest comparison is the birth of your kids.

"I love these guys. This is a family. We told everyone we wouldn't be denied all year, and we stuck to that."

Foles was brilliant, as he has been since he replaced Wentz (see story). In 2013, he made the Pro Bowl and had the greatest touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL history.

This year he was better.

"We've all waited a long time to be in this position, to be world champions," Foles said. "The people who bleed green, the people of Philadelphia, the people all across the nation that support the Eagles, they’ve waited a long time.

"Mr. Lurie has waited a long time. Being a part of this, to be a piece of this puzzle, it's been a long time coming."

Celek, now finishing his 11th year with the Eagles, seemed to be enjoying this most of all.

Like so many of his teammates, he couldn't stop talking about the fans.

"I'm sure they're all going nuts," Celek said. "I wish I was there hanging out with them because I know they're going crazy."

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