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February 13, 2023

Shamus Clancy: Thoughts on a painful Super Bowl loss

Losing sucks.

This Monday morning is a tough one for Philadelphians. 

As people hoped to wake up with the best hangover of their lives, they arose and felt like they got smacked in the face with a frying pan instead. 

The Eagles, during the most dominant season I had ever seen them put together, lost Super Bowl LVII to the Chiefs. Andy Reid, after so many playoff failures in Philadelphia, was the one hoisting the Lombardi Trophy as the favored Birds retreated to the locker room, licking their wounds.

There's no getting around it. The feeling seeping through the Delaware Valley sucks. It just sucks. No amount of mental gymnastics can clear that.

This season was the first time I had covered the team as an official media member. It was a dream come true. What more could a kid from South Philly hope for? I even got to go to Arizona to cover the Super Bowl for a few days. What a world. I've been more level-headed about the Birds than ever, but there was no doubt in my mind that this was the best Eagles team in franchise history and that they were going to spank Kansas City as millions and millions of people watched on, finally, fully understanding the bravado Eagles fans carried themselves with this year.

I have more self-respect than Deebo Samuel, Robbie Gould and the entirety of the San Francisco 49ers, so I'm not going to make excuses. Did the field conditions suck? Yes, but the Chiefs were playing on the same damn field. Did the game essentially being decided on a ticky-tack call suck? Of course, but the defense had 57 minutes before that to come up with a single, transformative play in the Brandon Graham vein and didn't.

As I sit here after ordering Taco Bell delivery like a waste of space and listening to "Let's Not S**t Ourselves" by Bright Eyes on an endless repeat, I think back to the 2017 Eagles. How could I think about anything but them every moment of my life? I appreciate Nick Foles and Doug Pederson more this morning than when I awoke a champion on Feb. 5, 2018. 

It's so hard to win. That's why only one team does per year and they go down with the mammoths of history in the process. Every single, solitary thing needs to go right to produce a title and during the winter of 2018, that's what happened, as balls bounced off defenders' knees into receivers' arms and a third-string tight end threw a fourth-down touchdown pass.

Nine times out of 10, the 2022 Eagles would wipe the floor with the 2017 Eagles. That 10th day just happened to play out in the Super Bowl. Foles, Pederson and the boys played the game of their lives while these Eagles blew a 10-point halftime lead. Sometimes, it's better to be special than good. And that's what those 2017 Eagles will forever be: special. They won it all, the city's first Super Bowl title, in such an improbable fashion, in the most Philadelphia underdog story possible, and that's why they're the most famous Philadelphians since the Founding Fathers. That's why there's a statue outside of the stadium.

"Heroes get remembered, but legends never die."

Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown are unquestionably Philadelphia sports heroes, but, to the sadness of this city, they've yet to become legends in that 2017 mold. That trio played out of their minds and it ultimately wasn't good enough. That's the pain of being emotionally invested in sports. It's only matched by the glory of Nick and Doug five years earlier.

It only takes one day to become an icon. That's why a sixth-string undrafted rookie running back is as beloved in Philadelphia as straight-up Hall of Famers. The pain is real for Philly and you're well within your right to soak that up, release your emotions and seethe if you need to. It won't subside until Hurts is the one carrying the Lombardi Trophy during a parade down Broad Street.

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