MINNEAPOLIS – It’s 19 degrees in Minneapolis as the Eagles settle into their hotel and prepare for the week ahead, but it feels like a warm, wonderful day. This is Super Bowl week, when reality hits and the enormity of what’s in front of the team is clear.
The countdown to Super Bowl LII is on, and it’s beyond exciting. As the Eagles continue on with their practices and meetings and the substantial media obligations coming, this much is very obvious: This is a business trip. It is time to win the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.
“It’s a great way to go, to see our fans here on this rainy day to send us off to Minneapolis, we’re excited to get out there and go back to work,” head coach Doug Pederson said as the team boarded the buses from the NovaCare Complex to the airport with the help of Season Ticket Members, cheerleaders, SWOOP, and the Pep Band. “It’s been a business week, quite honestly. The guys are in a great frame of mind. They’ve worked hard this week, gotten in some good preparation time and now we’re ready to get out there, get settled in, and continue with the work.
“Everything comes down to this last week. As coaches, we have to make sure that the players, and myself included, are extremely prepared. Obviously, we’re going against a great opponent. Basically, it’s fine-tuning what we’ve done already. Keep doing what we’re doing and we’ll see what happens next Sunday.”
It’s been fabulous already: The NovaCare Complex was alive, and then a few dozen fans and some television trucks were there as the buses turned left onto Pattison Avenue on the way to the Philadelphia International Airport. At the airport, another few dozen fans and more television cameras were stationed behind waist-high barriers and the fans shouted out the players and the coaches as buses emptied and the boarding to the airplane began.
E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES! It never gets old.
After a smooth flight, the Eagles landed in Minneapolis and the airplane came to a stop in a large hangar, where more cameras lined up to shoot the team as it deplaned and walked to more buses, five of them in all.
A quick trip to the team hotel followed and then it was time to get to the room, unpack, and settle in.
Business as normal.
“It’s exciting times and hopefully when we get back to this building (NovaCare Complex) we can have an even greater reception,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “It’s been cool. Obviously, there are a lot of things going on. You’ve got tickets, family, requests, all that stuff, but we’ve been able to get back to the preparation, normal game week, get back on the practice field.”
Jenkins knows the routine, knows about all the things that are “pulling and tugging on you” during Super Bowl week. The best approach is to block it out as much as possible and focus on the only thing that matters: Winning the game.
There are no media obligations for the Eagles until Monday night when the made-for-television Opening Night takes over, and the team won’t have a full-scale practice until Wednesday. Between now and then there is mandatory conditioning and treatment for the players and meetings for coaches and players.
By Wednesday, this is going to be just like any other week. Other than, you know, the Eagles are one victory away from the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.
“You want to enjoy the moment. It’s the Super Bowl. You’ve worked super hard to get there, but at the same time you have to be able to get into a normal routine to prepare for the biggest game of your life so it’s a little bit of a balancing act,” Jenkins said. “I think we’ll do a good job handling that. We can find pockets to actually enjoy the moment, but make sure we’re getting ready to win the Super Bowl.”
For Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, this moment is everything. The thrill of winning the NFC Championship has passed. It was incredible at Lincoln Financial Field when the Eagles beat Minnesota, but Lurie and the Eagles understand the big picture.
His time overseeing the Eagles organization has included six trips to the NFC Championship Game, eight NFC East titles, a Super Bowl appearance in the 2004 season, and now this. Lurie’s Eagles have done everything … except win it all.
The ring is attainable. One more win. All business.
“It’s been exciting, but we’re going on a business trip,” Lurie said. “That’s really what it is. If you simplify this, we’re going on a business trip to bring back the World Championship trophy to the best fans of any sport in America, and I would say around the world. There are no more passionate fans than our fans.
“That’s how badly we want it for them.”