When I was a freshman in college, I made the classic move of taking an introductory psychology class that had about 700 people in a gigantic auditorium where it was impossible for me to pay attention. one thing i did remember was the concept of flash memories.
People can remember minuscule aspects of days gone by if they are associated with a big event. For a specific generation, everyone could tell you where they were on the day that John F. kennedy died, but probably not how his day went on november 21, 1963. the professor asked if anyone knew what they were doing on september 10, 2001. no one raised a hand. he then asked if anyone remembered what they were doing the next day. Everyone obviously raised their hands. you get the point.
Reading: Miracle at the meadowlands 2
I have seen hundreds of games of eagles in my life. there are victories and defeats that I don’t remember that have been lost in time. did i watch the eagles week 2 win over the 49ers in 2005? I’m sure I did, but I couldn’t tell you anything about it. there are wins and losses that I remember a play or two of. those can be summed up as “matt bryant game” kind of days.
There’s that stretch from mid-January 2018 to mid-February 2018 where I could write a 1,000-page tome on every craziness in my life, sure, but that’s a different thing. for just one day a day that was absolutely meaningless to 99 percent of the people on the planet one day philadelphians couldn’t tell you if you gave them the date i feel like i can still smell the meatballs being cooked by the parents kitchen and feel the polyester of your sofa as it was on December 19, 2010.
this was an article that was prepared for 10 years. I have been planning to write it on this day for several years. In a world before patrick robinson caused an earthquake in lincoln’s financial field, before doug pederson wanted philly philly, and before brandon graham’s outstretched arm changed the city’s landscape, the miracle happened in new meadowlands .
I was in the third year of high school. In another timeline, I could have seen myself shutting down the game with a little over eight minutes left in the game and the Birds trailing 31-10. If you think I’m an emotional wreck now as a human being, imagine me at 16. I wasn’t a happy teenager at the time.
For a reason I still don’t know, I didn’t retreat to my room to sulk and drop consolation bombs, but instead relaxed on the loveseat in my childhood home waiting for the final nail in the coffin of my life. Sunday. afternoon.
on the next drive, michael vick connected with brent celek for a george kittle-esque 65-yard touchdown to cut the eagles’ deficit to just two touchdowns. I did not cheer I didn’t get excited. I was still wallowing in self-pity, thinking that the eagles were passing up the opportunity for a special season after all. I had seen this movie countless times. I knew the ending.
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then it happened david akers.
He hit that side kick perfectly in a way that couldn’t possibly happen in today’s game with protective rules minimizing the chances of getting one back. the eagles were alive. I went from sulking on the couch to inching to the edge of my seat.
vick’s 35-yard run was fascinating. he was at the height of his powers that day. I was left wondering what Vick might have done if he had spent his entire career in Reid’s offense. he might have seen a super bowl parade in my youth and not become such a pessimistic Philadelphian.
there was another parade of eagles. there was another Eagles touchdown. Jeremy Maclin threw the ball against the wall after the game-tying touchdown. years later, listening to the merrill reese call of these late game heroics on youtube, I would hear these words that would stay with me forever:
Years ago, a giants beat writer, I think for the newark star ledger named jerry izenberg, wrote an excellent book, there are no medals for valor, and there is no win or lose in this game. but give the eagles some credit for coming back and fighting for all they’re worth.
That’s my team. that’s my city that’s the shit that makes me feel alive and gives me goosebumps every time i hear merrill’s voice.
I liked it. they sucked me in again, as they had countless times. I fell in love again. i felt like a kid watching donovan mcnabb teams race through the nfc. I saved my third meatball sandwich of the day. my existence had risen to another plane.
Before I could process things any further, Trevor Laws crushed Eli Manning for a sack, forcing Matt Dodge to punt.
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I can remember the next few minutes as if they happened last Sunday. my dad and I are on our feet, unable to relax and stay still given the magnitude of the moment. they wish jackson stays behind to return the punt. “There’s no way they’re really going to kick it, right?” I think. oh, i was wrong.
desean is boastful, waving his arms in the air to cheer himself up.
“Come on, you son of a bitch, back off,” my dad said about five times in a span of 10 seconds.
he places it. he muffs he throws he dodges jason avant killed a guy. he ran until all zeros were on the clock.
My chubby teenage self explodes and jumps and dances and screams like I just won the lottery (maybe I did). my dad, all 6’4″ and 275 lbs. of him, was jumping when our living room started shaking. our dog sandy was barking like a burglar just came through the front window. my mom ran downstairs after drying her hair and yelled, “what the hell is going on?!?”
We didn’t care. we just saw once-in-a-lifetime magic.
yes, it was just one regular season game in a year the eagles suffered an early playoff loss, but in a pre-super bowl world, it remained everything i loved about the underdog nature of this franchise and Philadelphia as an integer.
maybe jalen hurts can give us another miracle on Sunday.
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