Millennials excited about Super Bowl rematch

February 2, 2018 GMT

It was 13 years ago that the Philadelphia Eagles punched their ticket to Super Bowl XXXIX, before losing to the New England Patriots in a 24-21 heartbreaker.

The lead-up was a joyous time for Eagles’ fans — young and old — as Philadelphia was back in the big game for the first time in 20-plus years — putting the bitter 1981 memory of the 27-10 defeat at the hands of the Oakland Raiders behind them.

“I remembered most of it, but a few moments that I remember are the two Todd Pinkston touchdowns and the Rodney Harrison interception to pretty much end it for us,” Matt Brown, a Philadelphia millennial and longtime Eagles fan, said in vividly remembering what happened in that Super Bowl played on Feb. 6, 2005, at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.

Fast forward to 2018, and Brown is among a new generation of young fans who are excited again as the Eagles are in Super Bowl LII, taking on none other than the New England Patriots on Sunday in Minneapolis.

At the time, when the Eagles went to the Super Bowl during the 2004 season, many local millennials were between 11 and 12-years-old. They can recall the Eagles advancing to three-straight NFC Championship games to begin the millennium under former head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb. However, they would lose all three games to the St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers, respectively.

Seeing the Eagles reach the NFC Championship game in consecutive seasons, but not get the job done reminded many fans of the Buffalo Bills who won four-straight AFC title games in the 1990s, but could not bring home a Super Bowl title.

There was a lot of pain and heartbreak in the early 2000s, especially for young Eagles’ fans. Every time the team had a chance to the win the NFC championship, here comes Ronde Barber of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Ricky Manning Jr. of the Carolina Panthers stealing the joy.

However, the Eagles’ fortunes started to change for the better in the 2004 season. Prior to training camp, Philadelphia made a huge splash in the free agency market, signing both All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens and defensive end Jevon Kearse.

With the addition of Kearse and Owens, plus the core the Eagles already had intact, it seemed as if they had all the pieces to take that next step in reaching the NFL’s holy grail — the Super Bowl.

Luckily enough, things broke the Eagles’ way as they started out the regular season with a record of 7-1 thanks to a squad led by defensive coordinator Jim Johnson firing on all cylinders and an offense that had multiple playmakers in McNabb, Owens and running back Brian Westbrook.

That season, the Eagles had the all elements in place to make a Super Bowl run and they did, despite not having Owens for the latter half of the season due to a leg injury. Owens miraculously came back in Super Bowl XXXIX and had a hell of a game with nine receptions for 122 receiving yards.

Despite Owens’ efforts, it wasn’t enough as the Eagles fell 24-21 to the Patriots. Pinkston, who was much maligned in his NFL career for not making the tough catches, had a good game with two touchdowns. But when the Eagles needed to make a play to win the game, memories of NFC Championship games from the past, haunted many fans as McNabb’s pass was intercepted by Harrison.

Harrison then proceeded to flap his wings like an eagle to celebrate another Patriots’ Super Bowl title.

However, when it comes to the 2004 team and this year’s Eagles’ team, Brown sees vasts differences between the two, but the same chance to win.

“Back then, the Eagles had a star-studded team with McNabb, Westbrook, Owens, Dawkins and etc,” he said. “This time around, the Eagles have some vets but overall a very young and hungry group that overcame so many injuries.”

Brown added, “There’s more of an underdog feeling this [time] around because of that [in comparison to the 2004 team].”

The underdog moniker is something that the Eagles and their fans have rallied behind as many analysts and oddsmakers have not given them a chance this postseason with quarterback Nick Foles under center.

Foles, the backup QB in his second go-around with the Eagles, replaced Carson Wentz who suffered an ACL injury against the Los Angels Rams on Dec. 10.

Heading into Super Bowl LII, the Eagles are 4-point underdogs, according to the oddsmakers.

Darryl Simmons, another millennial and longtime Eagles fan, shares similar sentiments as Brown.

“I was more so excited that the Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl that year,” he said. “This year, we look better as a team. Every position knows what their expectations are.”

This season, the Eagles have done a great job with players being ready to play when their number is called. The next man up mentality is something the Eagles’ coaching staff under Doug Pederson has instilled in the players and has helped them get to this point.

Even though he currently lives on the West Coast, the Philly native has faith in the Eagles to get the job done against New England, which is 4-4 in Super Bowl appearances.

“Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson has done a tremendous job of coaching everyone under his leadership and that even showed when he was working with Andy Reid in Kansas City. The Eagles will be ready to execute come Sunday,” Simmons said with confidence.

Both Brown and Simmons expect things will be different this time around on Super Bowl Sunday, unlike what happened 13 years ago. The two millennials believe the Eagles will finally bring the NFL’s Vince Lombardi Trophy home to the city.

“I’m going to go 28-21 Eagles,” said Brown.

“The Eagles win of course. This is a rematch long overdue,” Simmons said.