Extra Points: Fly like an Eagle
“I wanna fly like an eagle, to the sea.
“Fly like an eagle, let my spirit carry me …” Steve Miller Band, 1976
It was an omen.
Driving along the Cape May Beachfront on Saturday, I spotted a crowd pointing cell phones toward the sky on the Boardwalk - it's a "Cape May Thing" - near the Cove.
I pulled over, looked up, and saw a majestic bald eagle perched atop a pole. After a few minutes, he flew off toward the ocean, only to reappear a block away on a light fixture at Broadway Avenue.
That should have convinced me the Eagles were going to beat the 49ers in the NFC Championship game the next day.
Instead, I stuck with the Niners, believing that Philadelphia officials had greased the city's poles for naught. No one would be doing any shimmying after a 24-20 Birds' loss.
After all, eagles had been spotted all over Cape May/Lower Township in the last few months. My wife, Karen, and I saw two at the World War II lookout tower near Sunset Beach. Another one was spotted soaring over the trees along the 10th fairway at Cape May National Golf Club, which was the only birdie I encountered that day.
Was I supposed to bet on Temple after seeing a snowy white owl at the bay last spring?
I headed to Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa Saturday night and plopped down $50 on the 49ers and Bengals to win Sunday and advance to Super Bowl LVII on February 12.
It wasn't long before I was tearing up my ticket.
Any chance the 49ers had of pulling off the upset disappeared in the first quarter, when Eagles pass rusher Hasson Reddick pried the football away from Niners rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, injuring Purdy's elbow in the process.
Enter fourth-string quarterback Josh Johnson, who literally handed the Eagles a touchdown by botching a snap before exiting the game with a concussion after a collision with massive defensive tackle Ndkamukong Suh.
The referees also did the Niners no favors with several questionable calls that drew some choice remarks from me while watching the game at home with my wife and our daughter, Ashley.
Karen and Ashley, as well as our son, Kyle, are Eagles fans and took great delight in my anguish.
Midway through the third quarter, I finished off my iced coffee and contemplated getting another drink. I was thinking of drowning my sorrows with a Margarita, but Ashley had another suggestion.
"Why don't you go out to the kitchen and get a bottle of 'Haterade?' she said.
Once Johnson was knocked out and Purdy was forced to re-enter, it was all over but the pole-climbing. As a result, the Eagles are headed to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2017 season, where they will face former coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs in Arizona.
That's just perfect.
The last time the Birds reached the big game, it was played in Minnesota, which was about 100 degrees colder than Arizona. Think parkas instead of tee shirts, Uggs instead of flip flops, frozen faces instead of sun burn.
Super Bowl LII was also the site of one of my most embarrassing moments as a sports columnist.
On the day of the game, I boarded one of the earliest media buses at the Mall of America for the 20-minute ride to U.S. Bank Stadium. Ten minutes in, I discovered that I was wearing the wrong credential, then found out the credential office at the Mall of America had closed and everything had been shipped to the University of Minnesota's Fieldhouse.
The bus driver let me off at an intersection in the middle of nowhere. I trudged through a snowdrift and crossed an icy road to a McDonald's, where I called Uber for a ride to the college. Upon arrival, I asked the driver, who spoke no English, to wait while I got directions to the fieldhouse. He nodded, then promptly sped away.
Thirty minutes later, I found my credential, then hitched a ride on a rickety school bus to the stadium. I arrived in time to watch Nick Foles and company pull off an amazing, 41-33 victory over Tom Brady and the Patriots.
I caught a lot of grief back then for picking the Eagles to lose to the Vikings in the NFC Championship game, though I correctly predicted the Birds would beat the Patriots.
I haven't made up my mind about this one. I'm leaning toward the Chiefs, but that could change.
Especially if I spot another bald eagle.
The Chiefs’ offense features rookie running back Isiah Pacheco, a Vineland High School graduate.
Pacheco, who was a seventh-round draft pick for the Chiefs out of Rutgers University, rushed for 26 yards on 10 carries and caught five passes for 59 yards in Kansas City’s 23-20 victory over the Bengals Sunday. He also had a touchdown called back because of a holding penalty.
Pacheco rushed for 830 yards and five TDs while averaging 4.9 yards per carry during the regular season and caught 13 passes for 130 yards. He then gained 95 yards in the Chiefs’ divisional-round playoff victory over Jacksonville.