“Can you feel that? That thing that’s beating in your doggone chest. Can you feel that? Can you feel what’s about to happen?” –Brian Dawkins
What does it mean to be a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles? What does it deeply, truly mean? Is each game just an event, a spectacle? Or something more? Listen closely, and understand what it means to bleed midnight green and bear the bird on your soul as an emblem, a symbol of a way of life.
It means kissing your grandmother goodbye before leaving for Lincoln Financial Field. She can’t walk but she makes sure she’s in front of her 1988 Sony television when the Eagles are on.
It means walking up the stairs of the Linc on Sunday, the Philly skyline behind and an ocean of green in front.
It means finding your seat, finally arriving and and savoring the smell of the freshly cut grass on the field, the cheese steaks around you, and the spilled beer on the ground.
It means embracing your troubled cousin, whom you only see on game day, when troubles fade and all is forgiven.
It means shaking hands with fellow fans all around you. Names are not necessary because on Sunday, we are all one.
It means emptying a wallet of hard-earned cash on Chickie and Pete's crab fries and genuinely believing that it's money well spent.
It means realizing that you are surrounded by generations of Eagle bloodlines, and understanding that, as you sit beside your father and grandfather, you are now a part of a tradition older than most can remember.
It means fireworks and jets.
It means becoming a piece of history, one that has seen the likes of Buck Shaw, Dick Vermeil, Buddy Ryan, Ray Rhodes, and yes, Andy Reid grace the Philadelphia sidelines and coach fabled teams.
It means knowing that you are now a part of a story peopled by characters like Chuck Bednarik, Steve Van Buren, Wilbert Montgomery, Wes Hopkins, Reggie White, and Brian Dawkins.
It means looking to your left and seeing your grandfather, 80 years old, standing in the bitter December cold just to see his boys play. He hasn’t missed a home game in 50 years, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
It means looking to your right and seeing your father who has waited his entire life for a championship that has yet to shine its glorious light on Philadelphia. It weighs heavily on each of your hearts, but you press on, together.
It means seeing these men beside you turn into young boys again when the Eagles fly, “on the road to victory.”
It’s a sparkle in their eyes, and a connection that draws them together in a way that simply cannot be found in any other walk of life.
It’s realizing that you are now a part of that connection.
It’s feeling that unequivocal bond.
It’s a game.
It’s a culture.
So tell me,
Can you feel that?