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Why I’m thankful for the Eagles

and for you, Bleeding Green Nation

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are. It’s Thanksgiving morning. We’ve prepared all week for this long day of watching football, eating everything we can get our hands on, and drinking until the same Aunt Nancy stories you’ve heard four times become interesting. The football gods have again spared us from the devastating task of trying to actually pay attention to an Eagles while also appearing to be interested in said stories. Even if her stories are so titillating that they could make the wallpaper peel itself off of the wall before rolling across the floor into the fireplace, seeing your aunt still brings a special joy to your heart that we call love. Many of us are fortunate enough to be with our family today, and many of us will be fortunate enough to experience the sensation of love. For others, however, today is just another day filled with missing loved ones that we’ve lost.

Over the past five years, my family in particular has had it rough, and days like today really bring it all back. In March of 2014, I lost my older brother, John, unexpectedly in a car crash. My brother was a high-school football star who played in college, and I always enjoyed talking X’s and O’s with him. He had a great sense of humor and always made sure I had a smile on my face. Later that year, his seat at dinner table was empty at Thanksgiving for the first. We prayed and thanked the Lord for what family we had left and for the strength to get us through the toughest year we’d ever had. About a year later on New Years Eve 2015, I lost my uncle Jim in the middle of the night after his apartment building unexpectedly caught ablaze. Not much of a football fan, my uncle, who was a former chef, spent most Thanksgivings in the kitchen preparing masterpieces. Come Thanksgiving 2016, another seat at our table was empty, and the food was noticeably lackluster. On Mother’s Day in 2017, my 97-year-old grandmother, who we called Dolly, passed away after a long happy life. Six months later, yet another seat at Thanksgiving was left unfilled. In late March of 2018, my younger brother, Eric, was unexpectedly taken from us. Last year was the first one since 1993 where I had to endure my family on Thanksgiving without my brother, who was also my best friend, and a fellow Eagles fan.

Just when I thought I was going to get through a calendar year without sadness, my other grandma, this one affectionately known to me as “Grans”, fell down and was taken to the hospital. After battling a variety of conditions for over 2 weeks in the hospital, she ultimately succumbed to mother nature and passed on peacefully surrounded by family and loved ones. We buried my sweet grandmother this past Saturday and in just a few hours, yet again, I will sit at that table with one less family member. I will watch today’s games without my brother, John. I will eat the overcooked Turkey, just wishing my Uncle Jim was still around to have cooked it. I will miss my grandmothers, the wisdom they would have passed onto me, and the eye rolls that me and my brother would share when they told us we needed to get our hair cut.

Even with all I have endured in recent memory, I have plenty to be thankful for. I’m thankful to have healthy and happy parents who love me. I’m thankful to have a group of close friends whom I think of as brothers. I’m thankful for my dogs, Linc and Eris, that keep me a float at the darkest times. I’m thankful to have a good career and to have the opportunity to write for the best damn Eagles site on the web, and finally, I’m thankful for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Born in Wilmington, I've been an Eagles fan for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories involve gathering around the TV at Granny’s house on a Sunday afternoon, cheering on the Eagles, and eating the delicious snacks my Uncle would whip up. I’m thankful for those memories.

By the time I made it to high-school, I was living in Pittsburgh, surrounded by Steelers fans. I remember meeting the girl who would ultimately be my first love (and then first heartbreak) while at a watch party the year the Eagles played the Patriots. I’m thankful for those memories.

When I was in college, Eagles games made for a great excuse to get together with my brothers and throw a few back. One afternoon in particular, I remember leaving Pittsburgh at halftime to drive back to school. I had originally planned to stay for the entire game but after watching the Eagles get obliterated throughout the first half of the game, I decided to call it an early one. I arrived at my apartment an hour and a half later to find the front door kicked down. I had been robbed while I was away for the weekend. Those bastards took everything including our 60” flat screen TV, our video game consoles, and all. Given the recent events, the thought of watching the Eagles lose didn’t seem so bad anymore so I moved my 23” TV from the bedroom to the spot where I had left the bigger one, just days earlier, and I turned on the game while I waited for the police to show up to my unsecured apartment. To my surprise, the score was no longer 24-3 Giants, but it was now a tied game with just 14 seconds remaining. The Giants punted the ball to DeSean Jackson, who returned the ball for a game winning touchdown. As it turns out, I had missed one of the greatest quarters of Eagles football to ever happen, but it didn’t matter. The Eagles won and were not going to the playoffs. I’m thankful for that memory.

A few years later, I was surrounded by friends, all wearing my various Eagles jerseys by force, when I watched Nick Foles and company raise the Lombardy trophy. The Birds won the fricken Super Bowl. I got to celebrate the win my little brother and boy, did we celebrate. Little did I know this would be one of the last times I ever saw him. I’m thankful for those memories.

In my short 28 years on this planet, I’ve seen a lot of good, I’ve endured a lot of bad. I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime and I've grown apart from friendships that will last a lifetime. Through it all, one of the only constants in my life was the Philadelphia Eagles. They have always been there for me when I needed them and they will always be there for me, and for that I’m thankful.

I encourage you to share in the comments below what you are thankful for on this fine Thanksgiving day. What memories, good or bad, have a significant Eagles moment tied to them?

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