My text message began like this: Hello everyone. You’re invited to join us for the Super Bowl this year! It ended like this: Fair warning, if you root for the Eagles, you will be asked to leave. See you soon!
The recipients were 18 friends and family members. To some of them, that second bit might’ve come off as a playful joke. It wasn’t.
I despise the Philadelphia Eagles. Imagine the hatred Anakin felt toward Obi-Wan after being left for dead on Mustafar, then multiply it by the population of Pennsylvania. I despise them, one, because they’re a division rival of my New York Giants, and two, because Philly sports fans are, on the whole, obnoxious.
Need evidence? We got it at the 2023 Super Bowl. Prior to kickoff, the NFL recognized Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott for earning the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, a prestigious honor given for “commitment to philanthropy and community impact” (this according to an official NFL announcement).
Yet humanitarianism didn’t preclude Philly fans from booing Dak. Loudly.
To be honest, I booed, too, though only for a moment. (Eagles and Giants fans share a common enemy in the Cowboys.) When I realized the purpose of Dak’s appearance, I stopped.
The Philly fans did not. In fact, they seemed to take pride in their booing.
But Dak wasn’t the only person suffering harassment by Eagles fans. I have two college friends who root for “The Birds,” as they like to call them. These friends (who shall remain nameless) sent me several taunting texts during the NFC Divisional Round, where their stupid Birds demolished my Giants. On the morning of the Super Bowl, they sent even more texts, at least half of them featuring that accursed eagle emoji.
These are the kind of people we’re dealing with. My wife Sara’s cousins are the only nice Eagles fans I’ve ever met. The rest are loud, combative, and probably practice cannibalism.
To add more stress to my stress, I had money riding on the Super Bowl. Not much money, mind you, but just enough to get me riled. I’ve never tried sports betting before, but, lured by the promise of a $50 referral bonus for my brother-in-law, I opened a FanDuel account and added $10. This I wagered on the Chiefs to beat the Bengals in the previous round, earning me a hefty sum of $9.80. With that and the $50 free bet, I had cash to burn.
I won’t bore you by enumerating my bets. Suffice it to say, each was silly, vindictive, or some combination of both. For example, I placed $1 on any player to record an “Octopus,” which is, according to FanDuel, when you score a touchdown and a two-point conversion on the same drive. I also risked $3 on Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert accruing under 50.5 yards, because he seems like a deuche.
I thought I’d feel excitement after placing my bets. Instead, I felt only regret. Every dollar gained outsized value (even the free referral bucks). I considered all the things I might’ve purchased with that cash: breakfast at Dunkin’, Valentine’s Day chocolates, Magic cards. Why not all three?
Maybe it’ll get more fun once the game begins, I suggested to myself. (Spoiler: It didn’t.)
The Game Begins
I was jittery at kickoff. This was partly because of my nameless Philly frenemies, partly because of my shoddy bets, and partly because my friend Jimmy showed up wearing a Terrell Owens jersey. Jimmy isn’t a big football fan, but he is a fan of trolling me, so he bought the jersey on EBay a week prior.
“It’s in great condition,” he kept saying, rubbing the green texture between his fingers. “Pretty good for $20.” I begrudgingly admitted that it was.
For not being an Eagles fan, Jimmy did an excellent impression of one. When Philly scored on their first drive, for instance, he turned to me and said, “This game is gonna be a blowout. I’m telling you, not even close. “
At this point, I silenced my phone, fearing my nameless Philly frenemies would be up to the same antics. My suppressed rage was making me sweat, and my clothing wasn’t helping; I wore a Saquon Barkley jersey over a Giants hoodie over a Daniel Jones t-shirt.
At least the food was good. Regina and Jeremy made chili, Emily and Tuna made dumplings, Alondra and Jacob made guac, etc. I gorged prior to kickoff, yet lost my appetite soon afterward. Only when the Chiefs replied with a touchdown and held the Eagles to a three-and-out could I eat again. I enjoyed a dumpling or six, then added a bowl of chili as the Chiefs drove another 42 yards and lined up for a field goal.
It’s all going to be okay, I assured myself. The Eagles are about to be behind.
When a football hits the uprights, most describe the sound as a “doink.” Yet I think it’s more similar to the tolling of a bell, which is synonymous with either death or AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells.” Here, it was the former.
The bell tolled for Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker on that attempt. When his kick struck the left upright, I turned to my friends and said, “That’s a bad sign.” Jimmy gleefully agreed.
My fears were confirmed when Philly followed with a touchdown, then held the Chiefs to a three-and-out. But at least now I might make some money.
“This is my guy Tommy Townsend!” I announced to our guests. “If he punts this ball over 48.5 yards, I make $2!”
The payout was technically $1.89, but whatever. I’m sure everyone thought I’d lost my mind. I stood in a half-crouch, wide-eyed, as my guy Tommy Townsend (a player I’d never heard of two weeks ago) caught the snap and booted the ball.
Punts always disappear on a broadcast, arcing over the eye of the camera, reappearing only when they land. So it was with my guy Tommy Townsend’s punt, which thumped into the hands of the return man at the Eagles 25-yard line.
“That didn’t look like 49 yards,” said our friend Ryan, and indeed it wasn’t. It was 48. I came half a yard short.
I continued to sweat through my layers as the game progressed. A fumble touchdown followed by a regular touchdown followed by a punt and a field goal, and suddenly, it was halftime, with the goddamn Eagles leading 24–14. Worse yet, with 1:44 to go in the half, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes re-injured a high-ankle sprain he’d suffered two weeks prior. The dude was grimacing in agony on the sideline.
“Told you it wouldn’t be close,” said Jimmy, grinning evilly.
We Head To Halftime
I’d like to take a moment to thank Rihanna. I wouldn’t count myself a fan, per se, but her performance was a welcome distraction from my stress, which was building.
Mahomes is dead, and so is the dream, I thought. If Rihanna plays “Fly Eagles Fly,” I might lose it.
Instead, she played family friendly hits like “Wild Thoughts” and “Bitch Better Have My Money.” She opened with the latter, which seemed appropriate considering all the bets I was losing. She closed with “Diamonds,” and, in an effort to cheer myself up, I said aloud, “Hey, isn’t this a Pink Floyd song?” (The joke being that both Rihanna’s song and Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” have a key noun and verb in common. Get it?)
Nobody laughed, so I repeated the joke a little louder, thinking they just hadn’t heard it. This is a strategy I employ with Sara, because I assume all my jokes are funny. She usually answers with a flat, “I heard you the first time.”
So it went here, too. Everyone heard—they just weren’t amused. Their silence was louder than the tolling of a bell.
The Game Resumes
So there I was: Overheated, overeating, losing money with FanDuel and losing patience with Jimmy, with Pat Mahomes dead on the sideline and not even a stupid joke to lighten the mood. Not for the first time, I wondered if I cared a little too much about the outcome of this game.
Sure I do, I thought to myself in return. But seriously, fuck the Eagles.
Fortunately, KC began the half with a masterful touchdown drive. Mahomes looked very much alive, despite his re-aggravated injury. Perhaps Rihanna’s performance gave the Chief’s medical staff time to inject raw HGH into his ankle—I didn’t know, and I didn’t care, so long as he won.
The Chiefs had a clear fumble-recovery touchdown taken off the board, but we won’t dwell on that. Instead, we’ll skip ahead to their next touchdown, scored by Kadarius Toney.
Toney is a former New York Giant, albeit one with a checkered history. He lost half his rookie season to injury, then missed several more games in 2022 before being traded to the Chiefs. A few hours after the trade, here’s what he tweeted (and deleted):
“That Joke Would’ve Been Funny If I Was Actually Hurt Still Lol…Irrelevant people don’t get updates.”
In other words, it appears he was faking the injury to force a trade.
Still, once a Giant, always a Giant, as I always say. I placed a modest wager on Mr. Toney scoring a touchdown, so not only did he give Kansas City the lead—he added $15.60 to my bank account.
Several guests departed shortly thereafter; first Sam, then KK, then Regina and Jeremy, then Alondra and Jacob. It’s proper host etiquette to hug your friends goodbye and, to my shame, I didn’t. I shouted my goodbyes from the couch, because when friendship and loathing the Eagles go head-to-head, I think you know which one wins.
After another Kansas City touchdown, Philly answered with a touchdown of their own, plus a two-point, yielding a score of 35–35 with 5:15 to go. This is where Jimmy really came alive.
“I could win $22,000,” he whispered.
He and a co-worker had split a Super Bowl square for five and two, meaning any score concluding any quarter with the last digits of five for the Chiefs and two for the Eagles would earn a massive payout.
“People have to die to get a square in this pool,” Jimmy explained, making me wonder how many people he’d killed to get his. “If this works, I’m gonna jump through a window.”
Okay, I thought, but that would mean the Eagles would win, and we can’t have that. Also, who’s paying for the window?
While Jimmy begged the TV for an Eagles touchdown, I rocked back and forth on the couch. Every play became an eternity, like waiting on the result of a medical test. Twelve snaps and 66 yards later, the Chiefs took a three point lead, leaving eight seconds for the Eagles.
Though Jimmy’s 22k dreams were now crushed, Philly had one last shot at the end zone. Jalen Hurts dropped back to pass. He waited, waited, scanning the field for something, anything. He pulled back, let loose. The ball arced, peaked, and descended…right into the turf.
Die Eagles die.
How did I feel when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl? Or, more accurately, how did I feel when the Eagles lost it?
Relieved. Not excited, not happy. Just relieved that I wouldn’t be hearing about this night for the rest of my life. Selfish, I know, but true nonetheless. The diagnosis was treatable rather than terminal. The disease had been cured.
Plus, I profited. I missed my aforementioned Dallas Goedert and Tommy Townsend bets, along with a reckless flyer on both Kelce brothers to score touchdowns. But I hit on Kadarius Toney, plus the Chiefs to win straight-up. I even hit the Octopus, achieved by none other than Eagles QB Jalen Hurts. As it turned out, I’d unwittingly bet on the Birds.
Speaking of the Birds, I had a text queued up for my nameless Philly frenemies. I typed it into my phone and almost sent it, but Sara convinced me to sleep on it.
I never did send that text. However, I think it’s a damn fine example of karmic sarcasm, so I’ll include it below.
Hey, just wanted to say, what a satisfying end to the Eagles season. Loved seeing them coast to the playoffs with an easy schedule, then bully a feel-good Giants team and a fourth-string QB on the way to the Super Bowl. Hurts put up a great fight though, especially when he chucked that final pass into the dirt. You must be so proud!
Anyway, couldn’t have happened to a more cordial and sportsmanlike fanbase. Go Birds!
Damn. Now I wish I’d sent it.
Whatever. Justice was served, our Super Bowl party was a success, and I have $91.40 to spend on a developmental editor for my next book. As far as I know, that editor is not an Eagles fan.
Kyle A. Massa is a comic fantasy author living somewhere in upstate New York with his wife, their daughter, and three wild animals. His published works include three books and several short stories. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, running, and drinking coffee.
Originally published at https://kyleamassa.com on February 20, 2023.