A Play Call for a Ages and a (Backup) QB That Amazes: How a Eagles Won Super Bowl LII

This story appears in a Feb. 12, 2017, emanate of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. To subscribe, click here.

Nick Foles stood in thigh-deep H2O in California’s Sierra Nevada towering range, surrounded by hunger trees, holding a fly-fishing rod in his right hand. Rainbow fish flittered to a water’s surface, snapping during a dry flies he was floating. This was late Jul 2016. Foles was 27 and alone, during a bottom of a canyon, on a trailhead named Forks of a Kern, and he was confronting a many poignant flare of his life: He’d customarily motionless to retire from pro football after 4 seasons, in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

Foles mislaid dungeon use when he went into those mountains, nonetheless initial he’d sent a handful of texts to family, friends and his representative confirming his decision. He designed to spend a few days alone with his thoughts, sleeping in a tent on a side of a stream with a H2O rushing by, eating fish and beef and celebration cocktails with friends, afterwards floating down a Upper Kern nonetheless any finish in mind, NFL or otherwise.

On a five-hour expostulate in, he’d run by all of his reasons for retiring, explaining to his brother-in-law, Ryan Moore, that he’d mislaid his passion for football in his final season, with a Rams, who’d benched him and afterwards cut him over a phone. He felt disillusioned. He designed to spin a high propagandize priest and join his father, Larry, as a full-time restaurateur. “I couldn’t find a error in his reasoning,” says Moore.

After 3 days, Foles left that halcyon environment during assent with his decision. But as he gathering behind toward civilization his phone regained service, and among a fusillade of texts he’d missed was a note from Andy Reid, who’d coached Foles for one year with a Eagles before relocating on to lead a Chiefs. Reid complimented Foles’s abilities and referenced his possess experience: being pushed out of Philly, a transition, a unknown. “You have a lot of good football left in you,” he wrote.

When Foles called his father during midnight, Larry wondered either his son was O.K. “Dad, I’m going to Kansas City,” Nick said. “I’m going to play for Andy.”

The subsequent night Foles was pushing around Newport Beach, Calif., with his dual brothers-in-law, acid for a field. And there, in a relations darkness, Foles threw a football for a initial time in 6 months. Two days after he left for Chiefs camp.

“He wasn’t 100% assured during that point,” says Moore. “But he had to take that burst of faith.”

• Eagles fans, applaud Philadelphia’s initial Super Bowl pretension with SI’s special commemorative package. Click here to order.

Flash contemptuous 19 months, by a deteriorate spent mostly on a dais in K.C., to a solidified sleet creation of Minneapolis, inside a passionate Eagles locker room after their feat over a Patriots in Super Bowl LII. It’s tough to contend what’s many extraordinary about their 41–33 triumph: a register fabricated by a ubiquitous manager who’d been expel into outcast dual seasons ago; a manager who’d spent 13 seasons as an NFL backup and was cleaning a high propagandize locker room a decade ago; or a fly-fishing quarterback who scarcely retired, afterwards transposed one of a league’s best players en track to being named Super Bowl MVP.

The Eagles collected in a core of their locker room after their better as “Dreams and Nightmares” by jailed Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill blared over unstable speakers. For a organisation that warranted a NFC’s No. 1 seed and played Vegas loser in any one of a playoff games, a lyrics were an ethos, a soundtrack for a disrespected.

I used to urge for times like this, to rhyme like this/So we had to grub like that to gleam like this

Players stood on chairs, threw packets of Uncrustables into a atmosphere like corpulent confetti and sprayed so many champagne that a Lombardi Trophy compulsory incessant wiping off. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox danced from locker to locker, swigging Moët true from a bottle, with a feat cigar tucked behind his ear. Nearby, teammates took pulls from a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue.

“Have y’all seen a city right now?” using behind Jay Ajayi shouted. “Philly is burning down!

Eventually, a actor many obliged for delivering Philadelphia a initial Super Bowl win done it to his locker. There Foles was greeted by Carson Wentz, a MVP claimant he transposed in Week 14 when Wentz tore his left ACL, portending certain doom for a accursed fan base. “I told you,” Wentz gushed to his stand-in. “I knew it.”

After that damage in Los Angeles, Foles had met with his father, and Larry grappled with a same concerns as any Eagles fan. Were a Super Bowl dreams over?

“It’s going to be O.K., Dad,” Nick said. “I’m going to step up.”

Confident as Foles was, there’s no approach he—or anyone—could have famous afterwards what would come on Super Bowl Sunday inside U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. No approach he could have guessed he would chuck for 373 yards and 3 TDs, and catch another score. No probable approach he could have illusory apropos a initial QB in 16 years to win a championship after starting a deteriorate as a backup, no possibility he could have likely toppling a Patriots—perhaps finale a biggest dynasty in NFL history—and outdueling a biggest passer of all time.

“[People] don’t know who Nick Foles is,” Larry pronounced afterward. “He’s a kind of male that can hide adult on you.”

VRENTAS: ‘A Team Makes a Miracle’: How a Underdog Eagles Became a Unlikeliest Super Bowl Champs

Super BowL LII was ostensible to be a coronation, some-more explanation that no matter what happened to New England’s 3 pillars—owner Robert Kraft, manager Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady—the Pats would prevail, given prevalent is coded in their DNA. Sure, there was heightened tragedy this deteriorate between 3 organisation who share 5 Super Bowl trophies; and, yes, there was a matter of the indenture that non-stop on Brady’s thumb, customarily days before a AFC pretension game, requiring 12 stitches. But these were a Patriots. Even with Spygate and Deflategate, they’d played in Super Bowls in half of Brady’s 16 full seasons.

This one, though, felt different. Different given Brady and Belichick had any unprotected tiny slivers of humanity. Brady participated in a divulgence online documentary series, Tom vs. Time, that debuted a week before a Super Bowl, and he waxed sentimental in Minneapolis about childhood vacations to a family plantation 110 miles northwest, in Browerville. Belichick, too, participated in a just-released doc, a 30 for 30 partial with his mentor-and-sometimes-antagonist Bill Parcells. At media night, one author counted a Patriots’ celebrity smiling 33 times—about 33 times some-more than usual. 

Before Sunday’s diversion kicked off, Brady told broadcaster Jim Gray that he designed to play subsequent season. Belichick had already common with friends that he wasn’t accurately certain what his destiny held. Both organisation would have weighed their options anyway, nonetheless now there were additional considerations. Belichick had limited a margin and trickery entrance of Brady’s physique coach, Alex Guerrero, and a midseason trade of Jimmy Garoppolo had heightened existent tensions, and, well.?.?.?. Typical Patriots: another spin of controversy, another Super Bowl. “I hatred to make it sound like this,” Brady’s father, Tom Brady Sr., pronounced a week before a pretension game, “but it has kind of spin natural. There’s always something. But they come through.”

Except, here came Team Improbable to mutilate that narrative. The Eagles and a Patriots total for 74 points and—stop and consider about this for a moment—1,151 yards, the many in any diversion in NFL history. There was receiver Alshon Jeffery, rejected as oft-injured by a Bears (and combined off years ago by Tennessee manager Lane Kiffin as unfailing to siphon gas for a vital if he went to South Carolina), grabbing a burst spin from Foles for a 34-yard measure and an early 9–3 Eagles lead. There was using behind LeGarrette Blount, whose Eagles offer a Patriots chose not to compare even after he scored 18 TDs for them in 2016, barreling into a finish section to extend that advantage to 15–3.

The Pats roared back, of course, and Brady, during age 40, threw for an singular 505 yards and 3 scores, dual of them to parsimonious finish Rob Gronkowski. New England came behind given that’s what New England does. But any time a Pats pulled closer—or even when they pulled ahead, 33–32, on Gronk’s second score, mid by a fourth quarter—Philly responded. 

The Eagles didn’t win by luck, they won by being brazen. Late in a second entertain manager Doug Pederson dialed adult a play—Philly Special, they called it—that his organisation had used a past 3 weeks. Corey Clement, an undrafted rookie using back, took a approach snap and flipped a spin to undrafted parsimonious finish Trey Burton, who threw to Foles for a one-yard score. “That shows we a kind of confidence, a kind of guts, a kind of manager that [Pederson] is,” says ubiquitous manager Howie Roseman. “Unbelievable. That’s called big balls.”

He pauses. “Can we contend big balls?”

The Eagles won with schematic wrinkles. Trailing by one in a fourth quarter, they lined 3 wideouts in a garland arrangement to a right, sent Clement in fit to that side, and afterwards watched Foles rope a dart to parsimonious finish Zach Ertz, who’d lined adult in singular coverage on a left. His diving, 11-yard measure done it 38–33 with 2:21 time left. Of course that would be too many time to give to Brady. Of course he would assign down a margin and win his sixth ring.

But on a Patriots’ indirect possession Cox assigned dual blockers, permitting defensive finish Brandon Graham to giveaway adult and strike a spin from Brady’s grasp. Derek Barnett recovered, and while New England would get a spin behind with 58 seconds after a 46-yard Jake Elliott margin goal, Brady couldn’t serve one final enchanting drive. In a conflict of Tom vs. Time, a QB had simply run out of seconds. The of course never came.

KING: The Philly Special: Inside a ‘Set of Stones’ Play Call That Helped a Eagles Win a Super Bowl

As a high propagandize comparison in Marlboro, N.J., Howie Roseman started promulgation his résumé to pro football teams—and not customarily one or 10. He mailed them to every singular franchise. He designed his credentials with a front bureau career in mind, earning a Fordham law class given he suspicion it could assistance him in destiny agreement negotiations. He became a coop companion that afterwards Eagles boss Joe Banner never wanted, mailing letters that arrived like clockwork any afternoon. Eventually, Banner relented, employing Roseman, afterwards 24, as an delinquent novice in 2000 and examination his student arise to spin a NFL’s youngest ubiquitous manager, in ’10.

Three playoff-less years followed, though, and in 2013 Philadelphia hired Chip Kelly divided from Oregon. By ’15, Kelly had wrested crew control divided from Roseman, and a child who never wanted to be anything other than an NFL GM had mislaid his dream. “He was disturbed he’d never get another chance,” says Banner.

These days, Roseman refers to 2015 as his “gap year.” Yes, he still worked for a Eagles, nonetheless he spent many of that deteriorate on a road, assembly with former Chelsea executive of football operations Mike Forde, Spurs GM R.C. Buford and First Data CEO Frank Bisignano, along with execs in ball and hockey, business leaders and several late NFL ubiquitous managers.

When a Eagles dismissed Kelly nearby a finish of that year and slid Roseman behind atop a franchise’s crew throne, a once-again GM immediately faced a dual many critical decisions of his tenure: He indispensable a conduct manager and a authorization quarterback.

Roseman, along with a fortuitous of executives that enclosed owners Jeffrey Lurie, flew to Kansas City for a three-hour talk with Pederson, who before coordinating a Chiefs’ offense had been a Philly partner from 2009 by ’12. Eight NFL franchises had conduct coaching openings that offseason, nonetheless Roseman Co. were a customarily front bureau that even reached out. (Among a many topics discussed that afternoon was a examination behind in 2012 by a former Arizona quarterback. Pederson recounted how he’d been a customarily manager during a throwing session. That kid’s name? Foles.)

With Pederson hired—and with recoil ascent among Philly fans over his inexperience—the breeze 4 months after took on that many some-more importance. Roseman met Carson Wentz during a Senior Bowl and, even nonetheless he had started customarily 23 games in college (at FCS North Dakota State), a Eagles, opposite convention, gave a QB their top class given Andrew Luck left Stanford in 2012.

“We were peaceful to do anything in sequence to get Wentz,” Lurie says. And they did, trade adult twice to name him during No. 2. Still, Roseman placed a singular prerogative on backup QBs, and altogether his Eagles committed $60 million in guaranteed income toward a contingent of passers: Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and Wentz. (Bradford, whom Roseman inherited, would be traded to Minnesota by August.)

The Eagles went 7–9 in Pederson’s initial season, and Roseman’s QB devise was roundly mocked. Nothing about his Mar 2017 signing of a giveaway representative Foles—for $7 million guaranteed, and a $6.1 million top strike for releasing Daniel—did anything to ease that criticism. But his devise was clear. “We prioritized some-more income for a second quarterback than any organisation in football,” says Lurie.

Roseman afterwards changed down his priority list, adding pieces. He sealed Jeffery and Torrey Smith, maestro wideouts; pass rusher Chris Long; cornerback Patrick Robinson; Blount and Elliott. He traded with a Ravens for run stuffer Timmy Jernigan and with a Bills for cornerback Ronald Darby. And he drafted Barnett during No. 14 with a collect he’d performed from a Vikings for Bradford.

The Eagles started 7–1, Wentz ascended into a MVP review .?.?. and still Roseman kept dealing, obtaining Ajayi, a discontented Dolphins using back, in Oct for a fourth-round pick. Lurie favourite a pierce many for what he says it signified: “that we were all in.”

Roseman had combined depth, and that abyss would be tested. Lost were rapid using behind Darren Sproles (arm, ACL), special teams ace Chris Maragos (ACL and PCL), Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters (ACL and MCL) and defensive signal-caller Jordan Hicks (Achilles). Then disaster really struck when Wentz went down.

After that play, a tutor called Roseman immediately. Down on a field, a QB kept repeating a same sentence: “Something’s not right.” The doom and dejection staying low inside roughly any Eagles fan heightened in that moment. Here they were again. The misfortune probable luck. Another earnest deteriorate gone.

Enter Foles, a quarterback that Pederson, a longtime clipboard manoeuvre himself, had sought in giveaway agency. After that win in L.A., reserve Malcolm Jenkins addressed a team. “Let’s get this out of a way,” Jenkins said. “This is what we’re all thinking: What happened to Carson sucks. It’s terrible. But we’ve come too distant and we aren’t going to stop now.”

Ten years ago, Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre went down to Shreveport, La., to revisit Pederson, his longtime Packers backup, who’d customarily started coaching during a tiny high school. Favre figured his aged crony would do good during that level. “I didn’t consider he’d take it any serve than that, really,” Favre says. 

Pederson’s career had already taken some peculiar turns. After his father, Gordon, hand-delivered a prominence fasten to a manager during tiny Northeast Louisiana University (now Louisiana-Monroe), Doug landed a grant and threw for 6,445 yards in 3 seasons. Still, he went undrafted in 1991. He sealed with a Dolphins nonetheless was cut, bounced around several use squads and director teams, was excised to Germany in a World League .?.?. and nonetheless somehow he managed to hang around a NFL, notwithstanding never staying on a organisation for some-more than 4 uninterrupted years. He became Favre’s sideline playmate in Green Bay, relaying opponents’ tendencies, and was nicknamed a “Front Doctor” for his ability to review a defense. “There’s no doubt we would not have been as successful nonetheless him,” says Favre.

As Pederson’s doubtful career wound down, he started revelation family and friends that he was meditative about coaching, and in a summer of 2005, dressed in a fit and tie, he walked onto campus during Calvary Baptist Academy to talk with a six-man preference cabinet for a pursuit heading a school’s rebooted football program. “We know we had a successful career in a NFL,” one interviewer asked in a tiny discussion room nearby a superintendent’s office, “but what creates we feel like you’d be a successful coach?” Pederson had a five-minute answer prepared. Even nonetheless he didn’t know it during a time, he explained, he’d been a manager his whole life.

Inheriting a register that had left 4–6 a year before—and a locker room consisting of dual proxy classrooms assimilated together, with a weight room converted from a storage closet—Pederson guided a Cavaliers to a playoffs in any of his 4 seasons. After games he would hand-wash his players’ jerseys and towels and stay adult late picking adult a rabble left in a stadium. He’d found his calling.

Then Andy Reid rang, charity Pederson a pursuit as a descent peculiarity control coordinator on his Eagles staff. It was a lowest stage of a coaching ladder. Pederson accepted.

In a offseason after his initial year with Philly, he visited his youngest brother, David, behind in Louisiana, for what can loosely be described as “vacation.” David remembers his hermit bringing along his laptop and playbook and sitting on his cot for hours any day, logging plays in credentials for training camp. The playbooks were voluminous. The work was tedious. “And he desired it,” David says. “That’s since we consider Doug is ideal for Philadelphia. He’s been an loser his whole life.”

Foles simply could have retired. His father is a rarely successful grill owners in Austin, carrying sole dual bondage in 2011 for $59 million and afterwards fast branch around and opening adult several more. Nick even invested in 3 of them himself.

But football was executive to his life. When Nick was a toddler, Larry Foles would dump Nerf balls onto his child’s conduct to rise hand-eye coordination, notwithstanding his wife’s protests. Father and son would transport to Texas Longhorns games and leave Memorial Stadium during halftime to chuck around in a parking lot. When he was seven, Nick asked Larry if he could play quarterback in his dad’s Thanksgiving Day Turkey Bowl game, backing adult opposite grown organisation who worked in a family’s restaurants. 

Even if his father had faith, Foles mostly felt as if his coaches didn’t trust in him. When he was a sophomore, a coaching staff during Austin Westlake High attempted relocating him to parsimonious end. “No, I’m a quarterback,” he said. Even then, he didn’t start until he was a junior. Later, when college recruitment was slow, father and son flew out to Arizona, armed with VHS prominence tapes, to accommodate a coaching staff. They left feeling tiny interest. Later, after Nick fell to No. 3 on Michigan State’s abyss breeze and he motionless to transfer, Larry still had to send a Wildcats more tape. Nick didn’t start until a center of a following year.

Then, with Pederson’s recommendation, a Eagles comparison him in a third spin of a 2012 draft. Foles’s career took a remarkable star spin in Year 2 after Michael Vick was injured: He set a NFL record for a best TD-to-INT ratio (27:2, given surpassed by Brady) and tied a symbol for TDs passes in a diversion (seven); he went 8–2 and took a Eagles to a internal playoffs; he started a subsequent deteriorate 6–2 .?.?. and afterwards he pennyless his collarbone and was traded for Bradford in a pierce that repelled and saddened him.

One year Foles was incompetent to travel a streets of Philadelphia, such was a adore entrance his way; a subsequent year he couldn’t leave his house, such was a souring of a fan base. He was concerned about being sent to a Rams in 2015, forced to play on a organisation and for a coach, Jeff Fisher, he did not choose. He struggled—but, in hindsight, winning 4 games for a Rams that deteriorate seems some-more supernatural than disappointing. At year’s finish Fisher cut him over a phone, that was unchanging with a approach Foles felt he’d been treated in St. Louis.

Yet there he was, a quarterback who’d roughly late a year and half earlier, heading a Eagles to feat in their 3 final regular-season games in 2017, afterwards dual playoff wins. In demolishing a Vikings in a NFC championship diversion Foles threw for 352 yards and 3 TDs. “We were like a 4?…?400 send team,” says Roseman, definition that his register pieces were flitting a metaphorical rod from harmed starters to a backups.

The throng during Lincoln Financial Field that dusk in Jan was during once generous and carefully optimistic, meaningful there was still one diversion to win—a diversion a authorization had never won before.

Vince Papale remembers being six, vital in his family’s close unit in a Philadelphia housing project, everybody huddled around a black-and-white TV to watch a Eagles any Sunday. He bought his initial set of deteriorate tickets to a aged Franklin Field in 1966, pity them with a organisation of friends. In those days he played in a hold football league, and on Sundays he would leave a field, squeeze some blackberry brandy, bound on a sight to 30th Street hire and travel over to a stadium. “My blood runs as Kelly immature as we could presumably imagine,” he says.

Papale famously done his favorite team’s register in 1976 formed on a travel tryout. His life was after immortalized in a Disney movie, Invincible, that embodied a attribute between Philly and a football team. Today he compares Eagles fans to addicts, even in a gaunt years. He says that obsession combined angst for a supporters of an 85-year-old authorization that hadn’t won a championship given 1960.

Papale can sympathize with a manager like Dick Vermeil, whose Eagles mislaid to a Raiders in Super Bowl XV, in 1981. Vermeil remembers behind when he was building a immature QB, and how he mostly wished his organisation “could play a few some-more highway games,” given of a angst during home when things were bad. But he also remembers a best years, when fans in a reduce bleachers would try to pass him a fifth of wine as he done his approach onto a field. Their support, he says, “could be roughly embarrassing. They took a Eagles into their home as partial of their family.”

After dual decades of postseason failure—Philly won dual playoff games between 1981 and ’99—the Eagles went to 4 true NFC championship games, and Banner, afterwards a president, couldn’t travel down a travel nonetheless conference singsong E-A-G-L-E-S chants. When he was negotiating with mayor Ed Rendell on a new track deal, he asked Rendell since he adored pouring open income into a team’s new home. Just travel a streets downtown, Rendell told him, and demeanour during a faces of homeless people and CEOs alike. You could tell with one peek either a Eagles had won. “What else brings people together in that way?” Rendell asked.

“It’s unequivocally a pleasing romance,” says Papale.

Wayne Baird, a lifelong fan who works in IT, knows that intrigue well. He remembers unctuous into Veteran’s Stadium, where a blockade wasn’t really high and all he had to do was squeeze one of a concrete walkways and raise himself up. He recalls all a losses, a better opposite a Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX, a heartbreaker in a 2008 NFC championship diversion opposite a Cardinals, a community clarity of pain—of almost—that Banner says lingered.

“This is what happens to us in Philadelphia,” says Howard Eskin, a longtime internal radio personality. “Always bad news and bad luck.”

Baird never gave adult hope. He believed in Foles like he believed in Wentz, even when 11 months ago he was diagnosed with layer dungeon lymphoma, a singular form of cancer, and given 4 months to live, max. For years he’d been observant he wanted to see an Eagles Super Bowl feat before he died. Suddenly that window seemed to be slamming shut. As Philly clung to a five-point lead in a internal playoff diversion opposite Atlanta on Jan. 13, Baird forsaken to his knees and prayed. “I’m 62, we got cancer, and I’ve never seen a Eagles win a Super Bowl. Don’t do this to me,” he begged.

Then his organisation won and won again, and even a tiny Crisco couldn’t stop submissive Eagles fans from climbing a light poles downtown after a NFC pretension game. One enthusiast, oddly, navigated a dune cart adult a stairs of a Philadelphia Museum of Art in an apparent paper to Rocky, a strange Philly underdog. Fans and players comparison latched onto that theme. CreepyParty, a tiny newness association formed out of China’s Guangdong province, customarily sells about 10 of a German shepherd masks any day, nonetheless when Long and descent tackle Lane Johnson distinguished on a sideline by donning their masks (get it? underdog), a association fast changed 230 of a dog likenesses on a Sunday in January. When their register of 300-plus sole out (and after fans depleted their husky, basset chase and black poodle models), a association re-upped their batch .?.?. and afterwards sole out again.

In a end, Baird done it to Minnesota and watched his dream reveal in person. “If we wasn’t terminal,” he says, “I would demeanour during somebody and say, ‘All right, we can die now.’”

Around midnight on Monday morning, dual students during a Merriam Theater of a Arts leaned out of a fifth-story window in downtown Philadelphia, trombones in hand, and led a thousands fabricated next on Broad Street in a noisy delivery of “Fly, Eagles Fly.” The Crisco that state military had lathered ineffectively onto travel poles dual weeks progressing had been transposed by hydraulic fluid—so fans simply uprooted a poles from a belligerent and carried them down a streets on their shoulders. Others climbed atop trade lights and surveyed a singular stage maturation underneath them.

Some 2,000 college students marched from Walnut to 30th Street and, en masse, chanted “F— Tom Brady” and “Big D— Nick.” Other revelers stood atop cars and threw dollar bills into a air. One male dressed as Santa—a dress that evokes a many outrageous impulse in authorization history—crowd-surfed down a road, not too distant from where a Christmas tree was illuminated afire. Another fan got on a knee in a center of a m�lange and, holding advantage of a moment, proposed. (She pronounced yes.)

Others, certainly, took it too far. At a Ritz-Carlton hotel, one fan after another cascaded down a awning, until eventually it collapsed. One male hold on to a behind of an ambulance, lights flashing, and skateboarded behind it, while others leaped onto a roof of a military outpost and clasped on firmly as their float sped down a street. Cars were flipped, drones were flown; fireworks and fume bombs were set off, bottles thrown. The blockade during City Hall was mounted and climbed. As were rubbish trucks and glow trucks and tractor trailers and a Rocky statue, on that a series 86 Ertz jersey had been placed. A military equine was stolen and trotted by a city. One man, apparently held adult in a moment, leaned down and, with a propelling of a crowd, ate a square of equine excrement off a ground.

Some 1,000 miles divided in Minnesota, Papale cried in his children’s arms. His whole life he’d waited for this moment, nonetheless he never could have approaching a approach it happened: a injuries overcome, a backup QB who won Super Bowl MVP, a improbability of it all. It was real.

“Validation,” Papale says. “[The fans’] prerogative for all a pain and suffering, like an exorcism of a demon that has been with them for years and will now be expelled from their body.

“And a biggest celebration we will ever see.”

Additional stating by Robert Klemko and Tim Rohan

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