Grown men sat still, silent, and full of sadness. The clock had expired long ago, but the despair and heartache were still sweeping over the walls of Lincoln Financial Field, towards the I-95 ramp, down the Broad Street exit, and all the way to city hall.
Yes, this was a dreary but well-known feeling to most Philadelphia sports fans, but the frigid winter air that night carried something a little extra. What that additional ingredient may have been cannot be articulated for sure, but, as the city of Philadelphia wept in agony over a third consecutive NFC championship loss, a pessimistic cloud cast its shadow over the City of Brotherly Love.
Surely, Philadelphia had experienced its fair share of sports heartbreaks—i.e. 23 years of them, but something was different after the Eagles' three-year catastrophe. Suddenly Philadelphians everywhere entered into a long state of depression—local hangouts lost their appeal, cursing off New Yorkers became more than just a recreational activity, and, somehow, cheese-steaks lost their taste.
When the Eagles finally broke through the wall and defeated the Atlanta Falcons in the 2006 NFC championship game, a portion of that prolonged depression seemed to have been beaten out of the city's interior, in one, flashing moment—similar to the punishing hit inflicted on Algie Crumpler by a former Eagles free safety. Although the Eagles eventually fell to the mighty Patriots in the Super Bowl by one measly FIELD GOAL, a substantial weight had been lifted from the shoulders of Philadelphia's sons and daughters, from William Penn down to Pat and Geno.
Always depicted as a football city, Philadelphia's depression symptoms were slightly lifted with an Eagles appearance in football's greatest game—it was as if medication had temporarily eased the pain that the uncountable losses had inflicted on the city's people. However, as the Terrell Owens saga reinvented the word of torment for Philadelphia sports fans, the city further longed for the ultimate prize.
The Phillies' improbable run to the World Series, in 2008, broke the 25 year championship drought in Philadelphia. Cheese Wiz, fried onions, and diced meat quickly regained their delicious, hearty aroma and taste, and flipping off drivers with New York license plates immediately returned to being a simple and pleasing activity. Looking back on it, Brad Lidge sliding to his knees and lifting his arms in celebration, completely liberated a city that had, for so long, suffered the misery of the sports spectrum.