Super Bowl LII-bound Philadelphia Eagles go all in on underdog role, dog masks
The most wondrously farcical story of the NFL postseason involves an epidemic of facemask pulling, but there isn’t a 15-yard penalty in sight.
The masks in question are made of rubber, resemble a German shepherd dog and belong, resoundingly, to the Philadelphia Eagles and pretty much any other cheese-steak appreciator who can get their hands on one.
As the most unheralded No.1 seed in memory trounced the Minnesota Vikings, 38-7, on Sunday to win the NFC championship and progress to the Super Bowl, Lincoln Financial Field played host to a canine invasion.
Offensive tackle Lane Johnson, who sparked the whole thing a week ago, yanked a mask over his head in the locker room. Defensive end Chris Long had one on, and a spare next to his discarded pads. Tight end Zach Ertz slipped one over his head. Linebacker Bryan Braman yelled out: “I want to be a dog,” as teammates descended into fits of laughter around him.
The masks look creepy as heck at the best of times, but perhaps never more so than when the wearer nods their head.
“We are the dogs now, man,” Johnson said. “There is no stopping it now.”
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But why has a team named for a majestic bird adopted man’s best friend as its spontaneous mascot? It is enough to make you paws for thought. Sorry, it was that kind of night, and yep, it’s that kind of story.
It began when Johnson got angry with every mention of his team — those 13-3 powerhouses of the regular season — being dismissed and derided once the playoffs got underway, for the sole reason that Carson Wentz was out of the season.
The Eagles were underdogs against the Atlanta Falcons last week, underdogs again ahead of Sunday and will be underdogs once more against the New England Patriots on Feb. 4. Johnson found it disrespectful, lured Zach Ertz in on his plot and ordered a stack of masks on Amazon.
Proud to be dogs … underdogs, get it?
The Eagles get it all right, and so do their fans. The scoreboard operator now flashes doggie faces up on the big screen at intervals. The organization clarified that fans would be allowed to bring masks into the stadium after a rabid online rumor suggested otherwise, the only caveat being that they couldn’t wear them through the security gates, perhaps for fear they would be mistaken for police sniffer dogs.
There were pooches everywhere in the stands, but there’d have been even more if the popularity of the darn things hadn’t caused an online shortage. One internet distributor contacted by USA TODAY Sports said that any orders placed from this point forward would not arrive until close to the middle of February, by which time this year’s NFL top dogs will have been crowned. Down, boy.
Some fans couldn’t get their hands on the German shepherd look so a handful of them went for the second option that a lot of stores who provide such stuff offer — a pure white lady poodle. They looked ridiculous, wonderfully so, but the whole thing is ridiculously hilarious so it all fit perfectly.
It is hard not to take life a little seriously when your best chance at Super Bowl glory gets seemingly stymied by an injury to your stud quarterback, but the Eagles have flipped their story, have relished being written off and clearly get a kick out of how the doggie trend has taken hold.
“I found mine at a market,” mask-wearing fan Ken Hawkins, 38, said. “Someone offered me $50 for it today, but I can’t sell. It’s a part of history now.”
The Eagles are no one’s pet team particularly, but after defying the bookies they’re bounding to the frozen north with the reward of the biggest Bowl of all in sight.
It’s fun, it’s silly and yep, in the best possible way, it’s a dog’s life in Philly.