November 2nd, 2014 Week 8 of the season and the Eagles are 5-2. Season is looking promising. They are tied 7-7 with seven seconds left in the first quarter against the 4-4 Texans. It’s third and sixteen from the Texans 47 yard line. Nick Foles drops back and is scrambling looking for someone to get open. From behind comes Whitney Mercilus and drives Foles right in the turf. Nine yard loss and now backed up to their own 44 yard line. It’s a tough loss for a once promising drive. The Eagles did not just lose nine yards on this play though; they also lost their starting Quarterback for the season. Nick Foles heads to the locker room and is diagnosed with a broken collarbone. Mark Sanchez replaces him and the Eagles miss the playoffs. This was not just the end of Nick Foles season; it was supposed to be the end of his Eagles career. Not many people thought Foles would be the quarterback that would lead the Eagles to their first Lombardi trophy and former Eagles coach Chip Kelly was included in that. He would go on to trade Foles to the Rams for Sam Bradford that offseason. Fast forward to this week and Nick Foles is now the starting Quarterback for the Eagles in Super Bowl 52. Nick Foles’ journey back to the Eagles starting Quarterback is not just an underdog story; it resembles the storyline of a Hollywood blockbuster. The crazy part is he is not the only one on this team with a story like this.
Let’s talk about Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. Since the moment he got hired majority of people (myself included) doubted he would be the coach to take the Eagles back to the Super Bowl. Doug Pederson was not a name that had been mentioned by anyone as a rumored potential head coach. It came out of nowhere when they hired him. Add on the fact that Pederson was coming over from being Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator and now you got Eagles fans and the local media worried. Everyone jumped straight to the worst: “He is going to be a clone of Andy Reid”, “Andy never got the job done and Doug won’t either”, “He doesn’t have enough experience in the NFL to be a head coach”. Look when a city has never won a Super Bowl especially a city like Philadelphia everyone expects the worst. At the beginning of this season Michael Lombardi from the Ringer called Doug Pederson the least qualified coach to receive a head coaching job. Media outlets from all over had the Eagles around a measly 7-9 or 8-8 range and giving Doug no credit to get this team to be a contender in the NFC or even the NFC East. Also rumors surfaced during training camp that Jim Schwartz was gunning for his job. Doug has no shot of leading this team; except he has done that and more. Not only has he led this team to the Super Bowl, but he has done it having his players play selfless football. Everyone believing in the team and not in their own personal achievement is nothing short of incredible. This team has 53 men on the roster and to get every single one to check their egos at the door and play selfless football is a huge credit to Doug Pederson and the coach he is. He believes in his players and the next one stepping up if one goes down. Tell Eagles fans at the beginning of the season that Doug Pederson would lead a team that lost Jason peters, Darren Sproles, Jordan Hicks and MVP candidate Carson Wentz for the season to the Super Bowl and you would be labeled the village idiot. I mean how could you not react that way? It is insane to think the Eagles are one win away from their first Super Bowl with all that has gone against them, but here they are and Doug is the main reason for that. His journey these past two years is a true underdog story and fits right in with the city of Philadelphia. He is writing his own script and is just getting started.
Then there is Brandon Graham. Drafted with the 13th pick in the 2010 NFL draft and was immediately labeled a stretch pick. No one thought he should have gone that high. Eagles fans were especially mad they did not get Earl Thomas. Graham was already off to a bad start in Philly. His first few years he was a slow developer and meanwhile up in New York Jason Pierre-Paul who was drafted two picks after him was turning into a star. Graham was starting to get labeled a bust and being written off. Over the past few years Graham has done nothing but silence the doubters. He is one of the top pass rushers in the league now and is part of the best front four in football. Graham has now become a fan favorite here as well. He is constantly making appearances and interacting with the fans. He has embraced the city and in return they have embraced him. A guy who was about to be cast off is now one of the heroes for this team. He could have continued the narrative that everyone had already written for him, but he never gave up and is writing his own narrative that may end with him hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
So many players on this team are writing their own underdog story. Mychal Kendricks and Jason Kelce were almost traded and now are huge contributors for this team. Even the city of Philadelphia in general constantly feels like the underdog. Philly loves a good underdog story and if you go up and down this roster it is full of them. That’s what makes this team special. They continue to prove the doubters wrong and write their own script. Now this team is one win away from finishing this season’s underdog script with the proper ending for these players, this franchise and especially this city.
Written by Donald D’agostino
Image Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky