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Eagles fan, Ourlads founder, discusses team's "Special Aura"


By Thomas Hepler


The Philadelphia Eagles may be the first team to capture two Lombardi Trophies in one season.


Yes, I said, “TWO.” The first would be the Vince Lombardi Trophy as this season’s Super Bowl Champion. The second could be the Mike Lombardi Trophy for Coach of the Year—or would it be Least Qualified Coach of the Year, Worst Coach of the Year, Best Least Qualified Coach of the Year Since Richie Kotite, or whatever other designation Mr. Lombardi concocted? In my estimation, Doug Pederson has done a masterful job in only his second season.


I must confess to not having great thoughts about Pederson when he was hired, especially with his having the taint of Andy Reid attached. Even if it should all come tumbling down this weekend, I’m in with Pederson—not so with his so called mentor. Because we didn’t have a single word in American English that describes “…pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune,” it was necessary to appropriate Schadenfreude from the German language.


Schadenfreude best describes my delight when Kansas City lost in the first round of the playoffs. While Coach Reid is held in high esteem by many Philadelphia fans, don’t count me among that bunch. He was here much, much too long. Kansas City Chiefs fans might be echoing that sentiment by now.

Photo: Forbes.com

I’ve had an attachment to the Philadelphia Eagles dating back to the time I first heard radio broadcasts of their games in 1945. However, it wasn’t until 1949 that I ventured from the Anthracite Coal Region of Eastern Pennsylvania to see my first game in person, a convincing 28-3 early season win over the Chicago Cardinals in Shibe Park. A lot of good seasons and a lot more bad ones have followed me into my dotage.

Having said that, this year has a special aura about it; something I have never experienced in all those intervening years.

Not in 1960.

Not in 1980.

Not in 2004.

I first sensed it in game three when the Eagles beat the Giants with a game ending 61-yard field goal. Those are the type of games they would lose in past years, but not this season. The feeling continued to grow when they went to the West Coast and took down the L.A. Chargers. It grabbed hold in game six when they won in Carolina against the favored Panthers, and from then on, the belief has not left me. Even the loss in Seattle hadn’t dimmed it. If there was to be a diminishing effect with the season ending loss of Carson Wentz, it never took. I have, and continue to have confidence in Nick Foles. The loss in the final regular season game against Dallas had no significant meaning, either.

And now I wait for the Vikings to arrive and I fully expect the Eagles to win. That Minnesota was able to pull out a miracle finish against New Orleans is irrelevant to me. Who expects a defensive back to make a critical tackle in the modern game when they don’t even make the routine ones?

One last thought!

I want the Eagles to play New England in the Super Bowl. A win over the likes of Jacksonville, while important, would win the ‘other’ Lombardi Trophy. But it would not have the immediate as well as the long-term impact as dethroning the Patriots.

If this rant has the ring of delusion, it might be so. I’m just shaking off a bout of this year’s flu. Should it all comes crashing down, perhaps I am hallucinating. Leastways, I can always claim the flu continues to cloud my thinking.

I’ll close with a story I tell from time to time.

God came to me one day and said, “Tom, you are such a great guy I’m going to give you a wish, something I rarely do. Think it over carefully.”

I said, “God, I’d like to live forever.”

Somewhat perturbed, He replied, “That is one wish I will never grant, but you are worthy of one more try.”

“I would like to see the Eagles win the Super Bowl before I die.”

To which God replied, “You are a very sly guy.”

Should the Eagles win the Super Bowl, then my story will, of necessity, be retired—though I could sell it in Detroit.

Could this be my swan song?

Thomas Hepler is the founder of Ourlads NFL Draft Guide. Although he retired after the 2004 NFL Draft, he still consults with the magazine on specific matters. You can read more about Ourlads in sportscaster Bill Werndl's autobiography: No Curveballs: My Greatest Sports Stories Never Told, which is available on Amazon.

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Photo: Forbes.com