The Philadelphia Eagles are returning to the National Football League championship game for the first time in 24 years. The Eagles lost to the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl 15, 27-10. VOA's Jim Stevenson has more from Jacksonville, Florida on the team that is hoping to give the franchise its first ever Super Bowl title.
The New England Patriots have won two of the last three NFL crowns. Beating the defending Super Bowl champion will take the very best the Eagles have to offer. They are determined to win the big game, and vow they will not fall into the trap of celebrating their arrival to the Super Bowl. Past teams did, like the 1998 Atlanta Falcons, 1994 San Diego Chargers and 1985 Patriots. Those clubs looked no further than the opening kickoff before they were crushed by superior opponents.
Philadelphia has had a tough road in finally reaching the Super Bowl. The Eagles lost three straight NFC title games at home before winning in their fourth try this year. Head coach Andy Reid says this team, more than any, knows how special it is to advance to the Super Bowl.
"After that last touchdown [in this year's game] I think the guys started getting kind of caught up in that part [feel the emotions of winning]. You know, it was great. I think it makes it even more worthwhile that we had to do it four times to get over the hump," Reid said.
The Eagles are led by five-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb. He says the often cynical Philadelphia fans have reason to cheer for this team.
"We know a lot of people turned their backs on us and just did not have the confidence that we would be able to do it [get to the Super Bowl]. I think we answered a lot of questions. I think we answered a lot of critics. So, maybe people will be happy about the Philadelphia Eagles again. Maybe not. But as you can see, we are not worried about it," McNabb said.
But McNabb and his teammates do have the pressure of making up for years of Philadelphia sports futility. None of the city's major professional sports teams has won a championship since the 76ers captured the National Basketball Association title in 1983.
The 76ers were the last team to play for a championship, losing four straight games to the Los Angeles Lakers after opening the 2001 NBA Finals with an overtime victory. The ice hockey Flyers were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL's 1997 Stanley Cup Finals. The baseball Phillies were two wins away from winning the World Series in 1993, before a dramatic home run in Game Six gave the Toronto Blue Jays a second straight title.
For some fans, the Eagles already have accomplished enough by overcoming years of adversity on the way to the Super Bowl. Those fans also know the New England Patriots are favored to win their third NFL title.