PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Fresh off their first Super Bowl title, the Philadelphia Eagles arrived home to a hero’s welcome Monday afternoon, hours after overjoyed fans mobbed the streets in a sometimes unruly victory celebration nearly 60 years in the making.
Hundreds of fans greeted the team’s plane at Philadelphia International Airport, cheering wildly and singing “Fly Eagles Fly” as Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie emerged with the Lombardi Trophy.
After getting off the plane, Lurie, Coach Doug Pederson and stars like tight end Zach Ertz and running back LeGarrette Blount approached the chain-link fence separating the team from the fans, smiling, pumping their arms and shooting video with their phones. Fans stood on cars and news trucks to catch a glimpse.
“It’s been a long journey to redemption,” said John Hall, 49, who works at Philadelphia’s public transit agency. “We don’t have to hear the negative anymore, that we don’t have a ring. It’s official now.”
Dan Mazzoli, 53, a disabled construction worker and die-hard fan from New Jersey, shared the moment with his 12-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter.
“We’ve been waiting for this all our lives,” he said.
Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, the unassuming backup quarterback who took over for injured star Carson Wentz and played brilliantly throughout the playoffs, wasn’t on the team plane. Foles headed — where else? — to Disney World, riding a float at the Orlando resort and fist-bumping Mickey Mouse amid a shower of green confetti.
“It’s all right to yell,” he told the cheering crowd. “We’re world champs! We did it! We did it!”
The underdog Eagles won their first NFL championship since 1960 on Sunday night with a surprise 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots, ending a drought that had long tormented the city’s football-crazed fans. Philly was the only team in the Northeast Corridor to have never won a Super Bowl.
The city scheduled a victory parade for Thursday along a 5-mile route that will stretch from the Eagles stadium complex to the steps of the Philadelphia art museum, whose steps Sylvester Stallone ran up during “Rocky.” It’s a fitting ending point for a team that Stallone had cheered on throughout the playoffs.
Revelers along the parade route will be able to indulge in free Bud Light at two dozen bars, thanks to a promise the beer maker made to Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson before the season.