PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — John J. Bossong III could hear the echo of his late father’s voice amid the waves of fans all clad in Eagles gear during Thursday’s celebration of the Eagles’ Super Bowl championship.
Phil Vecchiolli, a junior at Villanova, has only known the Eagles as a competitive team, for the most part; though his first resonating recollection as an Eagles’ fan was their NFC championship loss to Tampa Bay in the 2002 season. He’s seen winning that led to heartbreak.
Dashanae Flippen, a junior at Interboro High School, is a big-time Eagles’ fan whose mother happens to be a big-time Cowboys’ fan, so she got a chance for one day to remind her mom who the better team is.
Three different people, from diverse backgrounds, all coming together to enjoy a special moment in the biggest gathering of people in the history of Philadelphia.
That’s the power the Eagles have had in winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
“This is surreal, being in a sea of three million people,” said Bossong, an IT manager based in Chester County who brought his son Johnny with him. “I went to the Phillies’ parade in 1980 and I wanted to make sure my son gets the same feeling. This is 1980 times three. You never know when you’re going to get back. This is the pinnacle of all the sports in this town.
“This is the top team, because it is a football city. Philadelphia may be a hockey city when the Flyers win, a basketball city when the Sixers win, a baseball city when the Phillies win, but it is always a football city, whether the Eagles win or not. This is an emotional time, because I think of my father, Jackie, who didn’t see this. I actually put a picture of my father on the wall behind me on Sunday so he could watch the Super Bowl with us.
“It’s why I wanted to make sure that my kids didn’t go to other Super Bowl parties. They were told they had to be home to watch the game with the family, because I remember what it was like watching the 1980 Super Bowl when the Eagles played Oakland with my father, my cousin, and my uncles. They were watching the game and you saw how high they were in the beginning of the game, and how sad they were in the end. They said it, ‘There’s always next year.’ But they had that bond. People take this to their grave with them, it’s shame some never saw it. They’re watching from Valhalla drinking from the horns.”
Vecchiolli, 21, is interning this semester at a major Philadelphia firm. He was able to get the day off and absorb the celebration with some high school friends who were home, one of whom flew up from Arizona.
“I’ve seen the perpetual success the Eagles have had, but it never hit the top of the mountain until now,” Vecchiolli said. “My father used to go to games when they were really bad, in the 1970s. It’s like that scene in ‘Invincible,’ when they’re losing to the Bengals, 31-0, or something. My father told me it was like that for years, you went to those games expecting the Eagles to lose. I was in second grade when the Eagles lost to the Patriots in the 2004-05 Super Bowl. I watched the game with my dad, Mark, and remember crying like a baby after Rodney Harrison picked that ball off.
“This year, I had friends that were home from college and they wanted to go to XFINITY Live! to watch the game. I asked my father if he wanted me to stay back home with him. My dad is as superstitious as I am. He said, ‘No, I want you to stay down there and experience what it’s like if they win.’ Then he reminded the last time we watched the Super Bowl together, they lost. I wouldn’t miss this parade. All my father needed to see the end of that game, and that was good for him.”
For Phil, he was struck by one emotional cord during this fantastic journey.
“Driving home last Sunday night, I had to pull by the side of the road, because I broke down hearing Merrill Reese’s call that the Eagles won,” he said. “It flashed back to me thinking there wasn’t anyone I was happier for than Merrill Reese, who has been calling Eagles games for over 40 years and never witnessed the Eagles winning a Super Bowl.
“That was still fresh in my head, just the genuine, pure happiness in his voice. It’s something that he’s been craving for over 40 years. It was unbelievable, like this parade is unbelievable. I wouldn’t miss this. One grandfather got to witness this, and I remember kissing the chain around my neck on Sunday on that fourth down with about five minutes left. I said, ‘Come on Pop [his late paternal grandfather], we need one here.’ And don’t you know, Nick Foles sidesteps a guy who is about to sack him, and he finds Zach Ertz for two yards and the Eagles score later in the drive to take the lead. I think that’s what this is all about, a celebration, not just for us, but also for those who can’t see this. I can tell my kids that I witnessed history.”
Flippen, who lives in Prospect Park and is a three-sport athlete at Interboro, which was given off for the day. She has a chance to relax and take it easy after Sunday, after standing throughout the game and then running out in the street after the Eagles won.
“I didn’t have to tease my mom, she gave the Eagles their props, and we all ran out in the street and started to yell and scream,” said Flippen, 16. “My mom yelled at me for running in the street when a car came towards me, but I’m okay, I’m alive. This was important that I go today and share this with my mom. I’m never going to forget this. We have Carson Wentz. We can do this a few more times.”