A family in Delaware County feared this day would come, a Super Bowl that tangles rooting interests between their beloved Eagles and a Patriots wideout who honors their loved one with every catch.
"While we're torn, we're lifelong Philadelphia natives and we bleed green," said Pat Colleluori, 37. "I'm trying to look at it as a win-win. We wish both teams could win."
Colleluori's younger brother, Nick, who played lacrosse at Hofstra University, died at age 21 on Nov. 28, 2006, from diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a blood cancer affecting the lymphatic system. Before his 14-month battle ended, Nick began a nonprofit, the HEADstrong Foundation, hoping to raise awareness and funds for cancer with the help of athletes.
Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan, a lacrosse standout at Penn State, donates money to the foundation every time he touches the ball. For a player who barely played college football and went undrafted before landing in New England, Hogan touches the ball quite a bit. In last year's AFC championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hogan had nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Hogan wears lime-green wristbands — lime green is the national awareness color for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma — during every game for HEADstrong.
Toward the end of Nick's life, he expressed his last wishes to his parents during a ride home to Ridley from the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. He also told them whom to turn to, when things got rough.
"The lacrosse family is my brotherhood," he told them. "They won't turn their backs on you."
In 2007, while at Penn State, Hogan played in the inaugural Nick Colleluori Classic, a tournament organized by the foundation, and through mutual friends at Hofstra, the family made a connection. HEADstrong had a booth set up at the 2016 NCAA men's lacrosse quarterfinals at Brown University, and Hogan, who had just signed with New England, joined them.
"He just jumped right in and started working with us right there," said Pat Colleluori, HEADstrong's chief marketing officer.
Eagles assistant secondary coach Dino Vasso, who played football with Nick Colleluori at Ridley High, is also part of HEADstrong.
Pat Colleluori said one of his best memories from his brother's final years was attending an Eagles home game with their father. They'll all be rooting for Hogan to have a good game, too, for Nick's sake — but not that good.
"My brother was a huge fan," he said. "We want to see the Eagles come through."