Hit ‘em low, hit ‘em high and watch our Eagles fly.
Philadelphians have sung these words loud and proud for years. We sing the Eagles fight song for every occasion — at the games, on the bus, in the streets. These words are more than a battle cry for our team as they leave it all out there on the field; they ring true for all fans too. We are all too familiar with the highs and lows of loving our Philly teams.
Before this week, many fans were hesitant to embrace the possibility of a Super Bowl win — even as the team racked up win after win. And who could blame us fans? Our hearts have been broken so many times; we’re afraid of jinxing the possibility of a good thing. Of all the many words used to describe Philadelphia sports fans, optimistic is not one of them.
But with the Eagles sitting on top of the NFL at 8-1 heading into their bye week, the Super Bowl chatter, in Philadelphia, around the country, and in Vegas, got louder. On Tuesday morning, Bovada released odds that the Eagles are favored to win Super Bowl LII, at 4-1. On top of that, the beloved QB Carson Wentz is the MVP favorite, at 1-1.
With odds like that, even the most nervous sports fans started to think that victory — and the high that comes along with winning — is possible.
And then, just at the moment that sports fans were feeling hopeful, we lost Doc.
An overwhelming sadness swept the city. This was — and is — the lowest of the low.
Roy Halladay gave us one of the greatest highs in recent Philadelphia sports history with his perfect game in 2010. Even though he only spent four seasons with the Phillies, he meant a lot to this city. Doc’s shocking and tragic death is a sobering reality of the fragility of life and a reminder of just how much our players mean to us.
We use our teams as an escape from our own realities. All week long I heard the listeners of 97.5 The Fanatic flood the airwaves to share their sentiments of why Halladay meant so much to them. Fans called to share memories of how he lifted them out of lows in their personal lives and how his pitching made friendships stronger because people would get together to watch him play.
This is why we watch. This is why we spend so much of our energy cheering for our teams, whether they win or lose. Being a Philly sports fan is about more than what happens on the field. It’s about the way sports makes us feel and how it brings us together.
The highs and lows of this week should teach us a lesson about how lucky we are to be surrounded by fans who are so passionate and so dedicated to our teams. Despite the peaks and valleys in the history of Philly sports, we are fortunate to go through it all — the wins, the losses, and even death — together as fans.
We should use this week in Philadelphia fanhood to acknowledge that it’s OK to give in to the high that this year could bring.
I approach fearful situations the way my mother taught me: If this doesn’t work out, what’s the worst-case scenario?
For us, we lose. Hey, we’ve been here before and we didn’t give up. We will never give up.
As the bye week comes and goes and we look to next weekend’s game against Dallas, I’m going to embrace the optimism with arms wide open. I’m not afraid, and you shouldn’t be either.
What do you have to lose? Life is just too short.
Fly, Philly, Fly.
Natalie Egenolf, a native Philadelphian, is the sports-update anchor for “The Mike Missanelli Show” on 97.5 The Fanatic, host of “Saturday Sports Social With Natalie Egenolf” on 610 AM Sports, and host of the new “Sevens in 60” show on 610 AM Sports. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter @NatalieEgenolf, and Instagram.