Found December 25, 2012 on
Philly Sports Nut:
It was Christmas 1960 and I was a little dude. My family had almost finished opening the gifts under the tree. But there was one little box left. My parents usually left the biggest gift for the children last, and I was heartbroken thinking that the little box was a bow tie, which was a popular item those days. So I slowly reached for the little box and began to unwrap it. The weight seemed about right for a bow tie. But as I took off the paper, I was startled to see what was inside–two tickets for my father and I to attend the NFL championship game to be played the very next day in Franklin Field. The Eagles would be hosting the Packers.
As it turned out, my buddy’s father had also bought two tickets for them to go to the game, too. Christmas was on Sunday that year and my father didn’t know if the other family had gotten up early enough to open their gifts before church. So I was sworn to secrecy. Both my buddy and I sat through the church service eagerly wanting to tell the other the big secret, but had to wait until the service ended until our fathers had the chance to talk.
Well, I managed to sleep a little bit that night despite the heightened expectation and excitement. We took the bus up to the game, where our seats were in the upper part of the end zone in the horseshoe stadium. While the official temperature at the start of the game was 28 degrees, it sure seemed a lot colder to me. The hot chocolate my mother had put in a thermos for me did little to fend off the wind chill.
The Packers jumped off to a quick six-point lead on two field goals by Paul Hornung. The Eagles gained the lead in the second period on a long corner route pass from Norm Van Brocklin to Tommy MacDonald. But the Eagles found themselves behind in the fourth quarter after Max McGhee ran for 35 yards on a fake punt, then later caught a seven yard pass to put the Packers up 13-10. Ted Dean ran the ensuing kickoff back 58 yards and then ran in for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 17-13 lead.
The Packers started their last drive with about a minute and a half left. They advanced down the Eagles 22. With time for maybe two plays left, and out of timeouts, Bart Star passed to Jim Taylor. He bulled forward to the 8 yard line before Chuck Bednarik both tackled him and pinned him to the ground so the Packers could not run another play. And the Eagles were the NFL Champions!
That game has been emblazed in my memory for 52 years. Whenever I would play touch football in the street as a kid, when I went long, I would always think of MacDonald’s TD pass. When I would run back a kickoff, I would be Dean. When we would play tackle on the field behind the elementary school, when there was a tackle, I would jump on the pile thinking I was Bednarik.
I have bled green ever since that Christmas Day. Five decades have passed without another championship. There has always been an Eagles ornament on the Christmas tree. There have always been one or more pieces of Eagles clothing in the closet. There were the miserable two-win seasons under Joe Kuharich and Ed Khayat. There were the five straight regular seasons with 11 or more regular seasons wins under Andy Reid without a Super Bowl victory. Through it all, the Eagles were my team; period. Just when things would really get depressing, we would always seem to pull out a great last-minute victory against the Giants.
A few years back I attended one of those great wins against the Giants. It was another very cold day, this time in January 2009. We knocked the defending champs out of the playoffs in their own stadium. We hung around after the game to sing Fly Eagles Fly to close down Giants Stadium. I made my way back to the train station and saw a little dude and his father both dressed in Eagles gear. I asked the father’s permission to tell his son a story. I told him that my father had once taken me to an Eagles game a long time ago, and I still remembered it many years later. I predicted that the same thing would happen to him after today’s game. He looked up puzzled and asked his dad what I meant. He’ll find out, it might take a little time. But days like that stay with a child for a long, long time. Fly Eagles Fly !
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