Super Bowl LIII? That’s canceled.
For Shani Newton, it is anyway. She’s actually spent most of the week working pre-Super Bowl events in Atlanta, but she won’t be staying to see who wins. She doesn’t see the point. Not when she can throw a party to bring 2018 back.
Her Super Bowl LII rewatch party is set for the same time as this year’s game. Newton is expecting 50 to 75 guests.
“It never gets old,” said Newton, who is 43 and lives in East Falls. “I wouldn’t say it changes. You just get more proud of the championship win.”
It doesn’t get old for me either. When I want a reminder that it happened, I pull up the highlights on YouTube and let them play. Even as the Eagles were making this season’s surprising late surge, and hope was still alive, I kept going back to that game. Most often, I turn to the roughly 40-minute NFL Sound FX version, where players and coaches are mic’ed. Sometimes, I turn the volume low and treat it as a bedtime lullaby.
No, I’m not at all kidding. There is something very calming about returning to that video and being able to say with, pride and confidence, that Zach Ertz became a runner on that fourth-quarter red-zone play, and that anyone who sees differently is spewing trash.
It’s not just that it was our first Super Bowl victory. There’s also the story behind it. We refaced the football dynasty that we had last lost a championship to, and beat them with a backup quarterback. Rewatch parties were happening long before the Eagles’ dreams of a repeat trip were snuffed last month. But as fans return to highlights or full viewings of the victory, rewatching serves as more than a refresher. Fans say they conjure memories of decades of wins and losses, of heartaches and celebrations.
Charles “Chuck” Freeman, of South Philly, remembers Buddy Ryan’s defense (he wishes our current defense played more like that one), but he also remembers the Fog Bowl against the Bears in 1988 and when Randall Cunningham fractured his leg in 1993.
“There were so many times when things went right for us, that [things] caved in for us,” said Freeman, sitting at a welcome desk in the lobby of Pacifico Cars, where he’s a salesman.
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Outside the dealership at 67th and Essington, there’s a van covered in screens on three sides broadcasting highlights daily of the Eagles' postseason run last year. While the van awaits an owner, the dealership has been playing highlights on endless loop. “Until we win the Super Bowl again," Pacifico general manager Tom Flynn said, "I’m going to leave last year’s Super Bowl video playing.”
Chris Watson, a salesman there, still rewatches at home in Swedesboro. He compares the Eagles-Patriots game to a favorite movie that belongs to all Eagles fans, wherever they may be.
“It’s yours, it’s everbody’s" Watson said. "It’s a connection.”
Cristel Russell, a marketing professor at American University in Washington, compared rewatching that Super Bowl to combing through a family album, but one that can reflect regional identity.
“This game is a piece of collective history. It’s not a personal nostalgia, it’s a communal experience,” said Russell, who’s researched repetitive consumption. Revisiting something, she continued, invites reflection between the moment frozen in time and the moments that have passed since. Over time, our city changes. We change too, Russell said. “Even though you’re the same person watching this, you’re never the same person.”
Eagles fans can and do pick the plays apart. Amateur edits of the game, Russell said, such as a version that matches the TV broadcast with Merrill Reese’s play-by-play, or fan-edited reels, can change the experience.
“It’s increasingly easily to customize your own ‘best of,’ " she said. “You know your heart rate’s going to go way up, and you’re going to have chills.”
Super Bowl LII plays most weekdays at the bar inside the Acme at Second and Girard. Tony Rodgers, a nightclub manager who often uses the space as a day office, always asks for it.
He discusses games at the Vet. He thinks back on the refs who, in his view, have given the Eagles a hard time over the years, and how last year’s game was different. The night of the Super Bowl win, he went to the cemetery where his wife is buried to decorate her grave site to celebrate. The cemetery, he said, was full of families. He remembers the candles, the champagne.
When he’s watching for the umpteenth time, he’ll pick one player to watch throughout the game. Bess Ingram, who tends the Acme bar, doesn’t have a problem putting on Super Bowl LII whenever Rodgers requests it.
“How can I say no to him?”said Ingram. She paused, then acknowledged: “And we watch it.”