The football game that will be played a week from Sunday in Minneapolis – where, if there is divine justice, every owner of every NFL team will suffer frostbite on all applicable limbs and appendages for approving this Nordic nonsense – isn't just the culmination and highlight of the NFL season.
In a very real way, it is the Media Super Bowl as well. Working the most popular, most highly rated, most important sporting event in the United States represents something of an accomplishment, too, even if the attendance qualifications are woefully less strict than those for the teams. The Eagles and Patriots had to survive a four-month season and then two playoff games to get this far. Many media members will be on site despite having a season not any better than the Cleveland Browns'.
Fortunately, you have come to the right place, judging by the newsprint you hold or the website you are viewing. We here at Philadelphia Media Network, proud publishers of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News and equally proud programmers of Philly.com, have quite the week in store for you leading up to the Super Bowl.
A full two-dozen staffers will be in Minneapolis not just to chronicle what is said and done by the football teams as they prepare, but to give you expert insights found nowhere else, and to also keep an eye on Philadelphia fans who travel to the Twin Cities to celebrate their singular passion. Not to mention, football.
Get insights on the Eagles delivered straight to your inbox with Early Birds, beat writer Zach Berman's newsletter for Eagles fans. Click here to sign up.
I know, I know. It seems too good to be true. But just to whet your appetite, I have been authorized to grant a sneak peek at some of the stories we have planned for the week. All of this is subject to change, of course, once New England's infrared cameras are discovered inside the Eagles' practice facility, and once Nick Foles is found dancing at dawn in a St. Paul Laundromat, but, for now, we're pretty darned proud of what's coming.
Bob Brookover catches up with New England linebacker Marquis Flowers, who practiced against Nick Foles every day for two years at the University of Arizona. "He was the skinny, blond one, right?" Flowers says. Paul Domowitch tells us which coordinator from the Patriots and Eagles won't get a head-coaching job. Hint: none of them. Jeff McLane goes to the local GNC with tackle Lane Johnson. "It's like visiting your old high school," Johnson says. "A lot of great memories, but you don't go there anymore."
Zach Berman gives us the insights of LeGarrette Blount and Chris Long, who are attempting to become the first players to win a Super Bowl in consecutive years, with the second championship coming against the team they won it for the previous season. Explaining the premise will take the first 400 words. Amy Rosenberg reports from downtown on the flash mob of Eagles fans who draped the Mary Tyler Moore tam-tossing statue in Eagles garb, then drank tea and sang, "Who can turn the world on with her smile?" Les Bowen compares the fashion styles of Doug Pederson and Bill Belichick, and finds neither has one.
Frank Fitzpatrick and defensive tackle Beau Allen visit his nearby hometown of Minnetonka, where they eat a lot of starch. Allen is the most recent Eagle to play on both offense and defense (he was a fullback for four snaps in 2016), and Fitz asks Allen what he remembers of Chuck Bednarik. McLane accompanies Carson Wentz as he hunts for loon near Bemidji. Despite recent knee surgery, Wentz enthusiastically swims after a fallen duck, brings it back in his mouth, and then shakes happily after putting it at McLane's feet.
>> YOUR PHOTOS: Eagles fans show off their Super Bowl excitement
Bowen breaks down the legendary workout regime of New England quarterback and noted fitness fanatic Tom Brady, which, Les reveals, seems to revolve around a lot of thumbing of his nose. David Murphy does an analytical breakdown of the 13 NFL franchises that have never won a Super Bowl (Bengals, Bills, Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Eagles, Falcons, Jaguars, Panthers, Lions, Texans, Titans, and Vikings) and determines that the Phillies should absolutely put Vince Velasquez in the bullpen this season. Bill Bender and Anna Orso interview locals at the Mall of America to see if they know that the largest mall in the United States is in King of Prussia, Pa. They do not.
Mike Sielski profiles New England safety Duron Harmon, the Delaware high school player of the year after leading Caesar Rodney to the state championship in 2008, about his memories of growing up in Magnolia, Del., pop. 225. It turns out they aren't extensive. Rosenberg joins Eagles fans to sample the fare at the finest cheese curds and hot dish restaurant in Minneapolis and find it is impossible for the fans to spell the team name with a mouthful of cheese curds. Berman reports that New England tight end Rob Gronkowski has passed concussion protocol with a series of grunts that match his previously recorded baseline grunts.
Marcus Hayes goes ice skating on the Mississippi River with Fletcher Cox to relax before the big game. "You first," Cox says. "I want to make sure it's safe for me." Marc Narducci posts video of Eric Rowe and Dion Lewis discussing how they overcame the sorrow of landing with the Patriots after being drafted by Eagles. Mike Jensen begins a new series: "A Year in Minny Hoops." It will require only 10 stories.