PHILADELPHIA (CBS)- Eagles fans are known for their passion. It’s a staple of life as a Philadelphia fan and in most years, it goes unrewarded. But, in 2018, the fan base finally enjoyed a happy ending with the team delivering a win in Super Bowl LII over the New England Patriots. A new documentary released tomorrow follows four Eagles superfans during the course of that season, chronicling the highs and lows leading up to the franchise’s first Super Bowl win.
Maybe Next Year, directed by Lehigh Valley native and Eagles fan Kyle Thrash, follows Eagles fans Shirley a.k.a “Eagles Shirley”, Bryant, Barry and Jesse and the intersection between their Eagles fandom and personal lives during the course of the 2017-18 season. For Thrash, the project started as a way to capture the passion and emotional relationship that fans have with the team. In these four fans, Thrash wanted to represent different aspects of Eagles fandom, running the gamut from endlessly optimistic to always negative.
“I think we obviously are stigmatized group of people so I tried to show where a lot of that passion comes from,” said Thrash in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “Someone like Bryant, a lot of people have preconceived notions of and I wanted to represent where some of that heart comes from inside of that nega-delphia stigma that we all get. With someone like Barry I wanted to show how the obsession can take over your whole life and you start getting all this memorabilia and before you know it you’re building this huge garage barn where you have 100 some odd people, people you don’t even know come over to watch games with you because you love the team so much.”
“Shirley, we wanted show how her passion takes over her work life and how she’s always just this passionate person. She’s such an emotional person that it comes across in this extremely passionate way on those phone calls,” continued Thrash. “And then Jesse who I think is your average, everyday fan, that works a hard nine to five type job. He wakes up even earlier than that to drop off his kid who has special needs and then come over to take care of his father who at the time unfortunately had cancer. He’s juggling all these things in life, but on Sundays he has the team to root on and believe in something bigger than him so I wanted to just look at fandom through different angles and I use those four characters to do it.”
The emotional connection with the team shown through the different lives of these four fans is something that shines through in a way that all Eagles fans can connect with. Thrash says he wanted to explore those areas to show where the strong emotions associated with the team come from. From anger when the team isn’t doing well to elation when they are to the reversion back to negativity at the first sign of trouble, the emotional journey of the film, told through the 17-18 season shows every aspect of the fan base.
“I think that you almost get used to the pain, so you put on this protective, pump the brakes mentality. This armor. And, I think that can come across as anger,” said Thrash. “When you keep losing you get a chip on your shoulder so I think that makes you become defensive. I just wanted to explore and peel back the layers of why we’re stigmatized and where a lot of, how passion can quickly be misguided or be looked at in the wrong way but really, it all comes from a real place and usually the right place.”
When Thrash began the project, he didn’t know the Eagles would go on to win the Super Bowl that year. Entering 2017, the team was coming off a 7-9 season with quarterback Carson Wentz beginning his second year as a starter. While they were expected to be better, a championship run was far from expectations.
The film captures the rising optimism and joy, followed by the crash of negativity as the team jumped out to a 12-2 record before seeing Wentz tear his ACL in a win over the Los Angeles Rams. Through calls into sports radio and interviews with the four fans, you’re transported back to those moments and the feeling of disappointment in having to once again say “maybe next year.” Instead, Nick Foles took over, led the team to an improbable title and the rest is history.
In the end, Thrash hopes the documentary serves both as an exploration of fandom and a way for those on the outside of Eagles fandom to see the human side of connection with the team.
“I wanted to show how we’re united through fandom. You eat together, you drink together, you watch sports together. I wanted to share that communal aspect of it, but also how that’s where it starts, being together believing in something but then it it quickly turns into again obsession and identity,” said Thrash. “There’s so many themes that go into fandom. I think it really is a human film. What I tried to show is that there’s a lot of commonality in people and we were trying to explore different types of people.”
Maybe Next Year is available starting Tuesday, November 10 on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play and Vimeo on Demand. The film can be pre-ordered here.