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February 13, 2023

Even in defeat, fans in Center City stick with Eagles 'til the end

For several-plus hours Sunday night, the second-floor of a Residence Inn was home for Eagles fans.

For several-plus hours Sunday night, the second-floor lounge of the Residence Inn across the street from City Hall was home. 

Home and what would've been the launching pad for the party of a lifetime. 

Unfortunately, the Kansas City Chiefs came out of halftime with other plans. They climbed out of a 10-point hole and beat the Eagles 38-35 in the Super Bowl LVII, despite a late push from the Birds to stay with it until the end. 

As the Eagles' offense came back out onto the field for the fourth-quarter possession down eight, no one in the room was ready to quit. They were all chanting for the team as they marched downfield then let out some of the loudest cheers of the night when they got the score and then the two-point conversion to keep pace at 35. 

Pockets of Eagles fans from all over, with various family and friends, gathered on the floor at the beginning of the night in their midnight green gear with plenty of food, drink, and through-the-roof excitement. 

And even in defeat, they hung in with their team until the end. 

They all arrived within their own groups and with their own plans and setups, but the goal at the end was universally the same: See the Eagles win the Super Bowl, then spill out into the streets for the celebration after. 

That was the plan for the Prince family five years ago in 2018, back when Nick Foles and the underdog crew rode an unreal wave of momentum all the way to an upset of the New England Patriots and Philadelphia's first-ever Super Bowl title. 

Five years later, with the dominant but just as hungry new regime helmed by Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni, it was never even a question of what they were going to do. 

George Prince called to reserve the rooms right before the NFC Championship. 

"No question," Prince said as he watched the game draped in a new Jordan Mailata jersey – he played rugby for five years, so it was a natural fit. "It was really special [in 2018]. We just figured 'This was great!' So we invited 90 percent of the same people and a couple extra" this time around. 

Coming in from South Jersey, George, his wife Nancy, their daughter Jessie, their son G, and additional family and friends huddled around one of the lounge's televisions that they decorated with green and white balloons, a camo Eagles Hat, and Prince's old Brian Dawkins jersey from back in the 2000s. 

"My family's always watched the Eagles together," Jessie said. "From when we used to watch with my grandpa, we'd have him over on Sundays to our house, and my dad and my grandpa would be yelling at the TV. It was fun to watch together."

Both in 2018 and Sunday night, not because they were just watching amongst themselves she added, but with the feeling that they were watching alongside the entire city. 

"It's such a fun time," Jessie said. "It's a fun excuse to be together, to cheer for our team, and everybody in the city is doing the exact same thing, so that's kind of part of the magic of it."

Off in another corner of the room was Christa Mann, a season ticket holder of the last 12 years, along with her friends Debbie and Allen Gauvain – also season ticket holders – and Laura and Cameron Miller from Maryland. 

They went down to Arizona for the game against the Cardinals back in October, and that experience had them seriously weighing going back for the Super Bowl. But right around Christmas, they made the call and booked the rooms in Center City.

They wanted to be here, Mann said, to see the Eagles try and win it from home, then be right there for the celebration after if they did, the parade later that week too. 

On the table underneath their TV though was a good luck charm they picked up while they were in Arizona, a little plush Eagle they dubbed "Swoop Jr." Mann said. They picked him up in Sedona and the Eagles' momentum since rarely staggered, so he was packed for the stay and out for the game. 

The magic got them to the end, but just short of a second Lombardi Trophy and another parade down Broad St.

"I am still really super proud of the Eagles, especially Jalen," Mann said. "He just carried this team.

"They had a great run. We knew it was going to be a close game, but we're proud of where they landed."

In the back of the room was a white table, and laid out on top of it were puzzle pieces. For Nancy Prince, it's a tradition, or habit, that keeps her calm and focused during gameday. She puts puzzles together while the game's happening. 

"Otherwise I get too excited and start pacing," she said. 

She talked about the one she and her family completed together on one of the lounge tables as the Eagles won the Super Bowl five years ago.

The one on Sunday night, however, never got done. She was locked into the game for every second. 

But the result this time wasn't nearly as sweet. 

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