The wait is over–– welcome to Super Bowl Sunday. More than 66,000 fans will head to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota and millions more will plant themselves in front of televisions around the country to watch the big game. The short trip from the hotel to stadium for the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles organizations represents a journey that began the moment the 2016-2017 season ended. For the individual players and coaches, it represents a lifetime of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication to America’s favorite sport. The path has been a long one, filled with obstacles that at times seemed impossible to overcome. Both organizations have had major setbacks this season in their quest to be the last two teams standing and reach a game to be played in February – here’s how they overcame them and are playing for one of the most coveted championships in sports tonight.
The New England Patriots have been one of the most successful organizations in professional sports in the 21st century. Seeking to win a record-tying sixth Super Bowl tonight, they have been dominant for nearly two decades. Although the team has changed enormously, the three names at the top have endured: quarterback Tom Brady, coach Bill Belichik, and owner Robert Kraft. This triumvirate has been the motor to the well-oiled championship machine.
This year, however, has been somewhat of an exception to that rule, seeing some of its toughest moments for the Pats. After starting the season 2-2, the question of Tom Brady’s health and age at 40 created a media frenzy that persisted through the season. Brady, even after the Pats turned their mediocre start around to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as the AFC’s number one seed, at times has looked mortal and showing signs of age. Despite this, Belichik made a risky move of trading both backup quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo, the latter of which was especially controversial. Garoppolo, who started four games last year while Tom Brady served a suspension for Deflategate, was 4-0 and seemed the obvious successor to Brady.
Despite the fork in the road when the Patriots decided to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, the New England Patriots have put up a united front, securing home field advantage, winning two playoff games, and now seeking back-to-back Super Bowls.
The Eagles franchise has never won a Super Bowl. Many said they would not even make the playoffs this year– that they couldn’t beat the Giants (3-13) or the Dallas Cowboys (7-9) in the NFC East Division. After a Week 2 loss to the Chiefs, who looked like the best team in the NFL at the time with victories against both eventual Super Bowl teams, the Eagles rattled off nine wins in a row. After a developmental rookie year last season, up-and-coming quarterback Carson Wentz was looking like an MVP candidate. During this time, despite losing Darren Sproles with a torn ACL, Jordan Hicks with a torn achilles’ tendon, and team leader Jason Peters with a torn ACL– the Eagles continued to win. Then, they lost who seemed like the lead candidate for the MVP– Carson Wentz. Not many believed in backup quarterback Nick Foles to win a single playoff game.
Now they’re in the Super Bowl, having fully embraced the underdog mentality (link: https://classactsports.com/
Check out this incredible hype video released on the Eagles Twitter page:
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) February 1, 2018
A closer look into the stories of the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles reveal that the road to the Super Bowl was not an easy one, but now they’re here. Can the Eagles soar to victory, or will the Pats continue their dynasty? Only time will tell.