I’m not sure about you, but the surrealism of what occurred Sunday, at least in my eyes, is still rather potent, if only because of the ripple effects of winning the Super Bowl — the parade, the idea of players entering the offseason with rings on their fingers, the late-night TV interviews with Eagles who otherwise would’ve never found themselves in the limelight.
As we all bask in what once seemed eternally unattainable, I want to share a special project that’s been in the works for much of the 2017 season:
The unofficially definitive guide to the Eagles’ Super Bowl season.
The unofficial guide to your Super Bowl champion #Eagles. Foreword by @BrandonGowton.— Cody Benjamin (@CodyJBenjamin) February 7, 2018
Pre-order now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org! First to order will also get a new Adidas backpack. pic.twitter.com/0I3nxiCFgW
Some of you know me for my weekly columns here. Some of you know me from my work at CBS Sports. Some of you know me as a no-good peddler of a previous Eagles book I wrote. And I am here, right now, to be the latter.
Long story short: I present to you “Hatched,” a 150-plus-page book all about the Eagles’ Super Bowl season, complete with 19 game recaps, a breakdown of the entire roster, in-person reporting from Super Bowl festivities, stories from the locker room, a look at the team’s community service and spiritual foundation, and ... a foreword by Brandon Lee Gowton.
Officially, the book will be available March 1, but anyone interested in a copy can email CodyJBenjamin@gmail.com to pre-order a copy for just $9.99 total (free shipping).
The first person to pre-order will get a free Adidas sport backpack and a mini portable radio from Super Bowl Opening Night. I’ll also give away one of the first 10 pre-ordered books for free.
And instead of just throwing this at you and hoping you buy a copy (please do that), I’d love to talk more about it with you. So throw any questions or feedback into the comments, and I’d be happy to discuss any and everything about the book! (Even if you don’t want it.)
In the meantime, here’s a little something ESPN’s Mike Clay had to say about “Hatched:”
Hatched is a must-read for Eagles fans. This book takes us back through a magical season for a team that was so much fun to watch and cover. And, for those of us who had the Eagles winning the NFC East, it’s terrific told-you-so ammunition … sorry (not sorry), Cowboys fans!
And here, below, is an excerpted preface from the book:
I wasn’t ready to believe it.
When the ball hit the ground, ricocheting off an end zone painted nautical blue, the clock hitting double zeros, a final whistle barely overcoming gasps from the crowd, a referee affirming, “This is … the end of the game,” I was not ready. By the looks of the half-dozen Philadelphia Eagles who had retreated to defend a desperation bomb from the greatest quarterback of their lifetime, neither were a good portion of the men who had just won the Super Bowl, America’s most-watched TV event.
I wasn’t ready because there were a full nine seconds left in the biggest game of the 2017 National Football League season when that final play began, but I wasn’t ready more so because I had grown up knowing a world that simply did not permit Philadelphia football championships -- and learning to love the annual pains of having hope anyway.
When streamers started to rain from the enclosed sky of U.S. Bank Stadium and those Eagles, representing one of the seven oldest franchises in the NFL, finally realized that the clock had, in fact, run its course, what commenced was something like the five stages of grief, except with utter, inconceivable jubilation. Philadelphia, for years inseparable from my childhood and for eons before my time, gained something that too long had escaped its reach, and it gained it in the blink of an eye.
Unlike the bath of testosterone that is screaming alongside thousands of others from the stands of Lincoln Financial Field, more so a house for the pounding toll of bells from the “Rocky” theme than a mere sports venue, what accompanied the instant evolution of Eagles Super Bowl history was not belligerent hooting and hollering. For me, it was a hug. It was a clasping of hands on top of my head. It was a quiet entrance into disbelief. I could not yet comprehend that that was really it.
In hindsight, I should’ve known it was coming. Because while Feb. 4, 2018, will forever signify the day that the Eagles finally cleared a hurdle I -- and countless others before me -- had been taught to accept as impassable, it was months earlier that faith had been restored.
Truth be told, this book, a commemorative reflection of a season cemented in league history, was something I started in October 2017, just under a month after the Eagles had played their first real game of the year. No one, myself included, knew then that Philadelphia would go on to disrupt its own pattern of championship performances come wintertime.
But there were traces that something special was starting to form. A youngster at quarterback, maybe the most vital role in all of professional sports, who oozed of talent and character unlike most young men, let alone those on his stage. New and familiar faces blending seamlessly in a business often driven by ego. Unity that carried into the community during a time that saw politics and sports collide. The 2017 Eagles were just different, and when they accentuated that to a remarkable degree with their defying road to ultimate victory, this book just about wrote itself.
I began my personal Eagles fandom in a rather carefree way, adopting the team entering 2005 simply because my stepdad was pulling for them in their last Super Bowl appearance in ‘04, but what started as a trivial curiosity quickly escalated to an obsessive devotion. Over time, that coincided with the launch of my sports writing career, and “my” Eagles became an unknowing business partner as much as a yearly source of escape, my objectivity hat coming on and off depending on the time or day.
They never left, though, and that was ironically never more apparent than when I moved from Pennsylvania to Minnesota in 2016, taking a job and marrying my wife in a state that, a year later, would play host to the unbelievable event of Eagles history. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, they say, and that might’ve applied just as much to the woman responsible for my distance -- the woman who road-tripped with me to Kansas City for Philly’s second game of 2017, braced the cold for the Eagles’ first playoff game against Atlanta on a visit back home, openly rooted against my in-laws’ hometown Vikings in the NFC title game and then surprised me with an apartment swathed in green decorations for the Super Bowl.
The Eagles, you see, have always been a part of my family, even though they’ve played many roles. So writing about them, as I did as part of my job over the course of 2017, was never a tall task.
Neither was identifying just how special this particular team was, though. There’s only so much credence you can give to gut feelings, I suppose, but when I watched them, when I talked to them and when I covered them, I never felt anything but proud to do it. Even, say, under the glamorous lights of Super Bowl Week, when the rest of the league -- and maybe even the rest of the worldwide Eagles following -- finally had reason to give them attention, I sensed, as I walked among them, engaging them face to face, that they were different. The organization they represented may have long been like family to me, but they were like family in their own right.
They were not your standard pro football team. They were not your standard Philadelphia Eagles.
So in that moment, on a cold Minneapolis February night, when the clock hit :00 and I could not, for the life of me, believe what they had done, I knew, deep down, that I’d believed all along.
This, in the pages that follow, is their story.