Super Bowl 2018: In accomplishing the impossible, Eagles change Philly forever

Beyond the raucous wave of celebration that's already hit the streets of Philadelphia in the wake of the Eagles' Super Bowl LII championship, there is a much milder collection of reflective questions stewing in the minds and hearts of anyone who's ever called themselves a part of the Birds' family.

Is this real? What's the catch? Did the Eagles really just win the Super Bowl? It couldn't have actually happened, right?

Because for as much as the rowdiest factions of Eagles faithful will leave no doubt that the men in midnight green are finally Lombardi Trophy winners, there is an even more sizable crowd left to ponder Sunday's upset of the New England Patriots as if it may truly not have occurred -- as if there's still something left to overcome in this 2017 season.

Sound ridiculous? Try telling to a city that persistently finds itself ridiculed for its obsessive dedication to the Eagles and yet, simultaneously, entering this week's big game, had not a single Super Bowl win to call its own. Try convincing lifelong Philly fans who are conditioned to runner-up heartbreak -- and were told to abandon their title aspirations week after week after week upon the Eagles losing Carson Wentz, their surest leader of the decade -- that their team literally won it all, ending that ever-elusive chase for championship relevancy.

To the common Philadelphian and, especially, the green-bleeding lifer, it just doesn't sound right.

The Eagles ending the year atop the league, the Lombardi having graced their fingerprints and lip pecks, sounds like a pipe dream for a fan base that last witnessed gridiron supremacy in 1960, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, a gallon of gas cost a quarter and some guys still played on both sides of the ball. It sounds like some nightmarish fantasy that never actually comes true, a one-up of the back-to-back-to-back-to-back teases of the Andy Reid years in the 2000s, when somehow local desperation found its peak in the form of spoiled Super Bowl chances and one crushing Super Bowl loss to -- guess who -- the Patriots.

Good news for a city long starved for a football crown, however: Just because Sunday's championship doesn't immediately sound, feel, smell, taste or appear real doesn't mean it isn't any realer than the best of them.

In true Philadelphia fashion, the Eagles of 2017 won it all in a way only a team from their town could -- against all odds, as historic underdogs, weighed down in critics' eyes by the burden of their own championship drought, if not their daunting circumstances.

Go figure that in a season where Wentz, an MVP candidate and the most promising quarterback to suit up for the Birds since Donovan McNabb led the Eagles to Super Bowl XXXIX in 2004, fell victim to the injury bug right as the playoffs came in sight, joining a slew of other big names on the sidelines, the team would rally unlike it'd ever done before.

Go figure that Nick Foles, a backup quarterback, would team up with Doug Pederson, a second-year coach often misconstrued as a lesser version of Reid, to be a pillar of the first Super Bowl-winning unit in franchise history -- a team that exuded likability but, most of all, did what Reid never could, what Dick Vermeil never could in 1980 and what countless Eagles every single season in between simply could not do.

In the end, of course, it doesn't matter much how the Eagles did it at all. The fact of the matter is they did it.

Whether it wants to believe it or not, that's something Philadelphia -- its fans, its community, its Eagles -- has been waiting to say for a long, long time, as Iggles Blitz's Tommy Lawlor reflected:

The 2017 Eagles won the Super Bowl. But that win was for all the Eagles…Harold (Carmichael), (Ron) Jaws (Jaworski), Reggie (White), Brian Westbrook, Brian Dawkins, Trent (Cole) and even Big Red. Vermeil's guys. Gang Green. The fun 1995 team. The 2002 Eagles, who won with 3 different starting QBs. The 2004 team. The 2008 team. The Michael Vick Experience of 2010. All of those players were like ghosts, sitting on the Eagles sideline and doing anything they could to help the Eagles pull that game out.

And now, with the impossible made possible, the Eagles can take pride knowing that they haven't only accomplished the ultimate goal of this particularly special season, but that they've changed their city and rewritten history. No longer are those title-drought jokes relevant. No longer is the game-day obsession for naught. No longer, surreal or not, is there a haunting goose egg at the end of every discussion pertaining to the city's beloved product on the gridiron.

Welcome ... to the new Philadelphia.

CBS Sports Writer

Cody Benjamin joined CBS Sports in 2017 after time spent with SB Nation, various newspapers and his own Eagles outlet. Raised around the Philly sports scene, he now lives in Minnesota with his wife and... Full Bio

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