As Eagles' fans hope for a Super Bowl LII victory, memories of Super Bowl XV give me smiles and satisfaction. Vermeil, Jaworski, Montgomery, Carmichael, Walters, Bergey — just a few on the Eagles team at the 1981 Super Bowl in New Orleans, and I was there.
"You've been to a Super Bowl?" my students ask me. Yes, I, a substitute teacher, rubbed elbows with many of those players thanks to the generosity of a family member.
It all started in December 1980 when my in-laws, husband Mike, and I sat freezing in the stands as we watched the underestimated "Iggles" battle "America's Team," the Dallas Cowboys, for the NFC Championship game at the Vet. The sandwiches I brought froze solid and more than one fan did a Tarzan impression without a shirt. Bets were on that Cowboys would win.
But our Eagles deserved to win—and they did.
Gifted with tickets to the Super Bowl, I told my boss that I wouldn't be in to work the next day; he threatened to fire me if I left during the year- end insurance goals. Mike, on the other hand, told his boss he wasn't feeling well and would take the day off to rest his aching back.
We left Philly on the Eagles family plane, all dressed in green. The captain said it looked like St. Patrick's Day in his rear-view mirror. My mother sat on the plane next to then-general manager Jim Murray, chatting away as if he were her best friend.
When our plane arrived in New Orleans at 10 a.m., we wondered what to do until game time. Someone suggested lunch at Pat O'Brien's, a courtyard pub whose signature punch came in a gift glass. The balmy air, the wrought-iron fences and genial crowd made us hungry, but no food served 'til noon? Well, when in Rome … Let's have a mint julep and another, and another, until thankfully a waiter told us there was a takeout stand nearby.
Next to our table were Dallas fans, wearing cowboy hats and boots. But the biggest miracle of all? They were buying us drinks, and rooting for us to win. Huh?
This was a heavenly experience leading up to the game, better than any Mardi Gras. Nature called for me and as we neared the Superdome, someone suggested I just knock on one of the tailgating trailers. When I did, the owner and I stared in disbelief. We were old friends from our days at West Catholic High School.
Meanwhile, someone offered to spray Mike's beard Eagles green.
The Superdome was an arena like no other then, enclosed under a roof unlike the cavernous Vet. Within minutes of the game start, Jim Plunkett threw a touchdown pass and the cameras panned to Mike's reaction … and his green beard.
It was downhill from there. The Eagles gave their best, but lost to Oakland, 27-10.
Returning on the plane was sad, though passengers around the airport saw our disappointment and still said, "Good game." On the other hand, Mike returned to his job and his boss asked him if he felt better after the day off. Mike replied he did.
Truth is, Mike's excuse fell through when the boss saw Mike and his green beard on national TV and scratched his head.
But, in the end, we all won.
Mom was higher than the clouds, the Pat O'Brien's pre-game shenanigans are a special memory, and Mike's boss welcomed him back to work, as did mine. Both wanted to hear about the fun and experience. I had a friend I hadn't seen in years, and someday soon, I can share this story with my six grandsons. Go Eagles!
Hannah Dougherty Campbell is a writer in Havertown. firstname.lastname@example.org