It’s more than just a game: A personal letter to the Philadelphia Eagles & their fans

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Sunday’s NFC Championship game will be a memory that will last a lifetime for fans of the Philadelphia Eagles. 38 unanswered points and a complete demolition job of the Minnesota Vikings. As a writer, I couldn’t help but be ecstatic for the world’s most passionate fanbase. Smiling throughout as I was live-tweeting the game and taking notes, it felt like something out of a dream. Then came the final snap. Trey Burton lifted his arms in the air and darted behind him and Nate Sudfeld viciously threw his arm down out of passion. I burst into tears. I had no idea why, but I was completely overwhelmed…and then it hit me.

I started Philly Sports Network when I was 19-years old. I was just a die-hard fan living on the wrong side of the Atlantic who wanted to make a difference. I wanted to bring something fresh to the table after being so tired of the same regurgitated content surfacing. As the months and years passed by and this site grew into something larger than I could ever have imagined, the fan inside me started to fade. When I was watching games, I wasn’t excited for touchdown passes anymore. I was looking at the route concepts, the coverage, the narrative, the mechanics. Anything that I could put into words and release as an article after the game.

Then came the interviews. Talking to the likes of Trey Burton, Jordan Matthews and Asante Samuel were again opportunities I could never have imagined coming to pass when I first started Philly Sports Network. But each one was approached by Liam the writer, not Liam the fan. Because they had to be. You cannot be biased as a sports-writer and I would be doing those patient and selfless men an injustice by being anything but unbiased.

At the age of 22, the part of me that was a die hard Eagles fan is no more. That love tumbled into my work. Putting the game of Football into words and video. Documenting the highs and lows of the Philadelphia Eagles and every player and person associated with such an incredible franchise. So why was I crying? Why, at 3:45 AM was I sat in my room, writing a recap, in floods of tears?

Because one part of being a fan never left me. The resonation.

What made me a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles to begin with all those years ago was the mentality. The gritty underdog. The ‘never-say-die’ attitude. The ‘us against the world’ mentality. At School, I was often bullied for my love of a sport nobody understood or my decision to pursue journalism and broadcasting. But a love for the Eagles, knowing that Brian Dawkins can power through it all, or LeSean McCoy would turn nothing into something, gave me that spark to carry on.

I’m very fortunate. Although I suffer with depression, I’m often able to vent those emotions into words. Often, my best work comes when I’m at my lowest and the reason for that is I simply believe. I believe in the work ethic of this team. I believe in their mindset and attitude. Their culture. Their ability to overcome adversity and not lose that determination when the going gets tough. It drives me. Every single day when I wake up at 6AM to work 9 hours at a second job, it drives me when I write an article on the train, or on my lunch break, or the train home, or in the evening. Relating to the challenges that the team faced, the burdens they endured and the colossal doubt spread by the outside world, it drives me to be a better writer and a better person.

I understand that I’m going to fail sometimes. There will be leaps of faith I take that simply don’t pay off, or decisions I make that don’t turn out as I’d hoped. But it’s part of the process and it’s something that I know I and the rest of us here at Philly Sports Network have to go through.

By running this site I have met some of the most incredible, hard-working and genuine people imaginable. They’re more than just writers, they’re a family to me. Seeing their success and driving them to be better is the most incredible feeling in the world. Especially in moments like this.

It’s bigger than just a hobby or a sport to me. It’s what I live for.

To see a team that pushed me down a career path I never thought possible, make it to the grandest stage of all without their franchise quarterback? That was an emotional moment for me. I honestly felt like over the last 12 months I’ve learned more about myself than I have in my 22 years of being combined…and if it wasn’t for the passion I have for what I do, or analyzing every move this team makes on and off the field, I would be a very different person.

There is no bias here. There never will be. There’s no clickbait here, there’s no misleading facts or rumors. There’s just heart, grit and passion. The same qualities displayed week in and week out by the Philadelphia Eagles. This story may seem so small to some, but to me it’s everything. The Eagles and everything about that franchise is what spurs me on through the good days and the bad. Through the moments of self-doubt, unrest and anxiety. Through the storm of those who insist on pushing failure onto your shoulders. It’s just that single belief. That all of this work, all of the setbacks, all of the rollercoaster moments, will be worth it in the end.

So thank you, to everyone within the Eagles organization. Thank you to the players who were so gracious in taking the time to talk to me, to the PR staff who were so kind to acknowledge this site that was created a million miles away and to every single fan who pushed their passion for the team into responses on articles they read. You have made this 22-year old’s life a remarkable one and I promise you this is just the beginning.

 

Liam.

 

Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

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