Bleary-eyed, Philadelphia was the opposite of hung over Monday on what may go down as the happiest weekday in city history.
The millions who call themselves fans of the Super Bowl champion Eagles rallied at sunrise if they slept at all, charging into work and school or just outside to greet their neighbor, wing sauce still wedged beneath their fingernails and voices hoarse from the collective howl of joy that erupted across the region at 10:18 p.m.
“Good morning. It’s a great day because the Eagles won the Super Bowl. How can I help you?” said the woman who answered State Rep. Chris Rabb’s phone this morning.
People wandered from office to office, coffee in hand, recounting every highlight. With the Philly underdogs claiming the crown after an improbable season of tough breaks, future victories seemed most possible. That’s a feeling we’re not wholly accustomed to, but for now and why not forever, this could be us.
“It puts the city upside down,” said U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.). “We’re starving, starving, starving for a Super Bowl. It puts the city together. It takes us over the top.”
The Eagles’ victory resonated with working-class people and those who help the less fortunate. They relate to the team overcoming adversity, and they connect to the perceived genuineness of the players, whom many described as humble, not cocky. A victory like this makes for a joyful day after.
“This can absolutely change your mood,” said Rachel Honore, 35, who works for the community-service agency Peoples’ Emergency Center in West Philadelphia, where she finds learning programs for low-income families. “The victory just sends out a peace-holistic euphoria for mind, body, and spirit,” she said. “It’s almost a high.”
Honore said the win speaks to something bigger in life.
“I work with underdogs, and achieving something when you were counted out from the jump means so much,” she said, adding a personal note: “I have an autistic son, and I was told by doctors he wouldn’t talk or understand. Now, he’s starting to speak. What moved me was being told you can’t, then digging deep and pulling something from within. I can parallel that experience with the Eagles.”
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D., Pa.) watched his daughter, Abby, 4, celebrate the win and realized she may never have a chip on her shoulder the way so many millions of people have had in the region. She might just expect excellence.
“It’s a very different perspective from my upbringing,” Boyle said Monday. “I’m sure there will be ample opportunities for character-building” for her.
Rabb, a Democratic representative from East Mount Airy, said he finds “the NFL, its politics and its structures, deeply problematic.”
But he said he believes this victory can propel the people forward, from being perennial underdogs into a populace that expects positive outcomes. Just the possibility of that, he said, is surreal.
“You’re talking about a level of camaraderie and faith and passion and excitement that is hard to replicate outside of sports,” Rabb said.
Not everyone came into the city for work, but those people felt they had a right to do whatever they wanted.
Lee Begelman, 24, was dressed in team colors head-to-toe and carrying four crisp copies of the Inquirer from the Reading Terminal Market, each costing $4. “I’m not going to class this morning, I’m not going on Thursday when the parade is. I came from home just to pick them up,” said Begelman, a Temple Law student from Voorhees.
Matt Hensel, 28, who grew up in Northeast Philly, and his fiancee, Stefanie Montefiore, 27, formerly of Drexel Hill, drove about 11 hours from Indianapolis to watch the game in the city. After checking out of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel across from City Hall, the couple faced a difficult decision: stay for the parade or head home.
“I told a couple of people I loved them,” said Montefiore of her interaction with strangers Sunday night.
Lindsay Chonofsky, 32, of Montgomeryville, was wearing an Eagles championship jersey she bought at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Montgomeryville at 11:30 p.m., where hundreds of others waited and partied to buy Eagles “merch” into the early morning hours. Chonofsky and co-workers Crystal DeFelice, 28, of West Chester, and Anna Waltz, 23, of Plymouth Meeting. said they were all nursing sore throats after the game.
“It was so worth it,“ said Chonofsky.
“I feel like I am ready to conquer the world,“ said Waltz.
Some city workers and business owners had to sweep up broken glass and fix downed poles. At a gas station at Broad and Catharine Streets that was looted during the celebrations, a sign on the locked door said simply: “Closed.” Candy bars and trash littered the sidewalk. The owner could not be reached for comment.
Three arrests were made during the night’s celebrations, according to the Mayor’s Office. Police Commissioner Richard Ross said more arrests were possible once authorities complete their review of surveillance videos.
At a Wawa in Cherry Hill, Douglas Proveaux, 27, munched on a green bagel while dressed head to toe in Eagles gear. He’d found a way to relate to this team, led by a backup who for a time no one really wanted. Proveaux struggled after leaving the foster care system six years ago.
“Nobody thought the Eagles would come this far,” he said. “It’s not just about football, it’s about how they overcame so much doubt. I know how they feel.”
Lifelong Philadelphian John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, leader of the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, rattled off a series of wins this city’s notched on its belt in recent years: the Democratic National Convention, the NFL draft and Pope Francis’ visit in 2015, and now, finally, a home to Super Bowl champions.
“This win just adds to the city’s mystique,” Dougherty said. “We have great stadiums, great sports teams, and now, the Super Bowl championship. Our great city just got greater.”
Former Mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr. remembers the moment when he learned the Eagles weren’t just a team to this city, when ownership threatened to move the franchise to Phoenix in 1984.
“The thing that struck me then and struck me now is that every place I went in the city, people were holding up signs. I’ll never forget that there was a 6-year-old standing in front of me, following me all the way into a meeting, and said, ‘Save the Eagles!’ I never saw anything like that.”
Goode knew what this win could do for the city:
“Someone called me and said to me, ‘This is the happiest day of my life. Better than when I got married, better than when I got my first job. Better than when I got into college. This is the happiest day of my life.’”
That was Sunday night and Monday morning probably wasn’t too bad either.
Staff writers Julie Shaw, Alfred Lubrano, Mensah M. Dean, Avalon Zoppo, Jonathan Tamari, and Barbara Boyer contributed to this article.