I have loved sports as long as I can remember. I wanted to be a football player or a race car driver when I was 5. When I was a 6 year old boy living in Pittsburgh, I was given an Eagles Helmet as a gift. Because of that helmet I started paying attention specifically to the Eagles on Sundays and noticed something very interesting. The most exciting quarterback looked like me. He had a hightop fade, brown skin, and carried himself with an unshakable dignity. At the time there were three other brown skinned quarterbacks: Doug Williams, Rodney Pete, and Warren Moon. But that year Randall was ranked third behind Don Majkowski and Dan Marino, but number one in excitement. Unfortunately, just the previous year I was not aware enough to realize how significant Doug Williams was at the position starting and winning that years superbowl. I had a vague awareness, as much as a child could have. But the way Randall moved and carried himself captured my imagination. Randall had a cannon for an arm, lightening quick speed, and eyes behind his head that would make defenders miss in the most embarrassing way. I was captivated.
Out back of our house we had a thorny rose bush. I would put on layer upon layer of sweat pants, my winter coat and gloves and top it off with my eagles helmet. I would pretend to be Randall Cunningham diving over defenders into the end zone, jumping into the bush over and over again. My mother would yell at me thinking I was mentally delayed, but I was Randall Cunningham and the crowd was too loud to kill my vibe.
Through the years the Eagles gave many different QB’s the ball. After Randall was Jim McMahon, Jaws, Tye Detmer, Rodney Pete, Koy Detmer and many others. But then the brightest spot for the organization and the second coming of Randall, Donavan McNabb was drafted. A man that was booed on his draft day with racially biased undertones would go on to become the greatest player to wear the green and white in Philadelphia. He carried himself in such an exemplory fashion despite harsh and unfair criticism. He was never caught in the media in scandal, and he played his heart out. After Donovan, came Michael Vick who was all but dead to football due to his legal troubles and cocky attitude. No other team would give him a chance, but Philadelphia did. The city almost tore itself apart when he was signed. I would hear arguments and racial slurs being tossed around on the train as I rode into Center City Philadelphia. But yet they stuck with Michael Vick till the city began to love him for his courageous play and clearly humbled attitude.
By 2016 the Eagles had broken my heart to the point of cynicism. A former friend I grew up with had been unfairly and unwisely traded to the graveyard for running backs, Buffalo, and Collin Kaepernick had been unfairly and systematically boxed out of football for his protest. I felt compelled to support him and boycott the sport. The entire 2017 season I did not watch a single game. I did keep track of the eagles records via the internet, and listened to fellow supporters recap games, but I stayed strong…until now.
By mid season it was a very real question ‘If the Eagles go to the Superbowl will I watch?’ It’s something I have wanted since I was 6 years old, to see the Eagles win a title. In college my PA friends and I ran around campus in the cold winter air dressed only in our boxer shorts screaming at the top of our lungs after the play clock ticked to zero and McNabb and the Eagles had outscored Atlanta. I gave myself a migraine from excitement only to be embarrassed at the paddling we received in the Superbowl.
But then I realized something.
As long as I have been aware of them, the Eagles organization’s track record has shown them to give athletes opportunities based on their skill not the color of their skin, even at the most prestigious position of quarterback. From Cunningham, to Sanchez, to Foles the Eagles have given everyone the same opportunity which is exactly what Kaepernick was protesting. Equality and fairness. The Philadelphia Eagles have been fair even if the city they represent has not been. It is the reason I came to admire the team and support them through horrible decisions and terrible play. So not only will I watch the Superbowl, but I will throw a Superbowl watch party, wear my Cunningham Jersey, and throw anyone out who roots against My Eagles.
Fly Eagles Fly.