There is plenty of room on the bandwagon!
Many years ago, I got a chance to spend a little time and had a few conversations with Andy Reid, the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles at the time. Coach Reid’s humility and genuine kindness caught me by surprise, and I instantly became a fan. Ever since then, I found myself rooting for the two Pennsylvania teams – the Pittsburgh Steelers, my childhood favorite, and, because of Reid, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Like so many others this season, I got caught up in the charisma and magical play of quarterback Carson Wentz and began to believe that this team, with its great offensive line and rock solid defense, could make a deep playoff run. With great hope and excitement, I really jumped on the bandwagon and, every Sunday, watched the Eagles as if I had been a fan forever. Then, in Week 13, along with millions of other fans, I was absolutely deflated when Wentz went down with a season-ending injury. Many thought the Eagles were headed toward another season of unfulfilled promise and potential.
As the weeks went by, however, the Eagles embraced the role of an underdog, believed in themselves, and rallied as a team to keep the magic rolling into the playoffs. Coach Doug Pederson, a protégé of Andy Reid, remained confident and aggressive, and week after week, backup quarterback, Nick Foles, got the job done. We’ll be watching replays of the “Philly Special” forevermore.
The Super Bowl was a storybook ending to a dramatic season. The long wait and decades of disappointment are over. For the first time in their history, the Philadelphia Eagles are world champions and the bandwagon of longtime, diehard fans and relatively new ones, like me, appears to be pretty full.
In my role at the United Way of Wyoming Valley, I have come to really appreciate the charitable work of the National Football League. Across the nation, the NFL and the United Way have worked together to strengthen communities and improve the lives of children and those in need for 45 years. It is the longest running partnership between a professional sports league and a nonprofit organization in the country and, today, a key focus of this relationship is on children’s health and helping kids to develop healthier minds, bodies and character.
While the Eagles championship bandwagon appears full, there will always be plenty of room for those who want to serve kids and make a difference right here in our community. Being a football fan is not required!
Since changing our focus four years ago to address the critical and complex issues of childhood poverty, I am very proud of the work the United Way of Wyoming Valley has been doing in our community to help children and families. We have established new and innovative partnerships with local agencies, schools, regional and national organizations, foundations and hospital systems to better address the education and health of children and the financial stability of families. Progress is being made; yet, there is much to do.
Children in poverty are life’s underdogs. They deserve a shot of having a storybook finish with their promise and potential being fulfilled. Please jump on this bandwagon and cheer for our kids. There’s plenty of room.
Congratulations to the Eagles and their fans. Here’s to an all Pennsylvania Super Bowl next season … Eagles vs. Steelers in Super Bowl LIII.
Bill Jones is President and CEO at United Way of Wyoming Valley. He can be reached at 829-6711 ext. 1230.