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The three most instrumental figures in my life: my parents and Doug Pederson.
It sounds hyperbolic, but the Eagles are everything to me. If not for the 2017 team that Pederson led, I don't know where I would be as a person nor what I'd be doing for a career. Maybe I'd be working on the TPS reports somewhere!
Pederson went from allegedly the worst coaching hire in the NFL in decades to a kingslayer, a man who defeated the greatest football mind and the GOAT with nothing more than a backup quarterback and a city-altering trick play in his pocket.
Pederson is now gone as the Eagles' head coach. I feel a pit in my stomach the way I never would imagine with a person I've never even met leaving Philadelphia. Brian Dawkins being allowed to walk in free agency was tough, but watching the man who brought the Lombardi Trophy parading down Broad Street was another matter entirely.
I'd live September 2017 through February 2018 on an infinite time loop if I could. A Sunday at the Linc went from nail-biting, anxiety-filled drama to a three-hour party (closer to a nine-hour one if you were hanging in the parking lot ahead of time).
I was 23 that fall in my last semester of college during that super 2017 season after taking some time off. As I grew into something resembling an adult, I watched the Eagles, the source of all my joy and torture for more than two decades, grow into the team I never imagined they could be: champions.
That was Doug's doing.
By the time I watched Pederson call a flea flicker while already up 17 points in the NFC Championship game in person, the coach had elevated 70,000 people packed into the stadium to another plane of existence.
When I met the love of my life and eventual domestic partner at the victory parade, I had become a new person entirely.
None if it happens without Doug.
I'm an emotional guy. I find that most Eagles fans, deep down, are as well. "We wear our heart on our sleeves even when we're not wearing sleeves," a team hype video once said. I thought Doug would be here forever. 2020 was a disaster for the Eagles, but it felt impossible to imagine someone else at the head of this team. The franchise needs an overhaul on an infinite amount of levels, but I'm still crushed.
I'm not alone in that adoration. That Super Bowl win was a cathartic release for millions of people. That can never be taken away from Doug nor us.
A new coach is coming. I have my doubts that they will be a better fit for the Eagles than Pederson, let alone that the replacement will bring the franchise to the highs that Pederson did.
Flags fly forever, as does my eternal gratitude to Douglas Irvin Pederson.