Editor’s Note: Gene Seymour is a critic who has written about music, movies and culture for The New York Times, Newsday, Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @GeneSeymour. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion on CNN.


I live in Philadelphia and, though I’m not a native, I’ve made my home here for many years. So I don’t even have to look out the window of where I am now to know how much the city’s heart is aching.

Gene Seymour

After their baseball Phillies lost the World Series to the Houston Astros last fall, Philadelphians wanted their football Eagles to win this Super Bowl. Wanted it bad, too.

Winning one five years ago wasn’t enough. By common consent, this was the best all-round edition of the Eagles ever: powerful and merciless at both ends of the ball, a quarterback in Jalen Hurts empowered with the ability to throw long and accurately and the stamina to carry the ball himself for big scores.

With a 16-3 overall record, including the playoffs, the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles were considered by pundits, coaches and other experts to be a juggernaut. To repeat, I live here. I’ve lived here off and on for 40 years. Let me tell you something: I can’t remember any Philadelphia team being called a juggernaut. Not even the Phillies team that won consecutive pennants in 2008 and 2009 and a championship in that first year.

At the moment I’m writing this down, I don’t know for sure how the result of Super Bowl LVII is going down in neighborhoods like Fishtown, Fairmount, Kensington, Germantown, Queen Village, South Philadelphia, the “Great Northeast” (honest, that’s what it’s called), Manayunk, East Falls… In my own neighborhood of West Philadelphia right now, it’s been quiet so far. There might have been fireworks if the team had beaten the Kansas City Chiefs, who, as other quadrants in the multiverse know by now, outlasted the Eagles 38-35.

If you watched the action Sunday night, you know what a terrific game of American block-and-tackle football it was; an instant classic whose outcome remained in doubt until the last few seconds. (It was so engrossing that it made people forget how mediocre most of the multi-million-dollar commercials were – with one telling exception in which an Eagles superfan nearly stole the show.)

Back to the game. Much was made by the press and others about this being the first Super Bowl in which both starting quarterbacks were African American. (After the game was over, veteran ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman even pointed out that it was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.) Both Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, 27, and his 24-year-old Philadelphia counterpart Hurts played brilliantly.

Philadelphia may not want to hear this right now, but their guys played with as much tenacity, boldness and grit as Kansas City. The Eagles have, in short, nothing to be ashamed of.

They just had the misfortune of being beaten last night by the Count of Monte Cristo.

After being named Most Valuable Player in both the regular season and the Super Bowl, Patrick Mahomes is now a certified legend of professional sport. Even before this game, he was considered something of a unicorn in his profession, a once-in-a-generation player who seemed to channel greats like Tom Brady, Joe Montana, John Elway, Roger Staubach and “Slingin’” Sammy Baugh – while also hearkening back to such out-of-the-box daredevils as Mozart, Elvis, Picasso and iconic test pilot Chuck Yeager.

The legend blew up big on Sunday, with a hard-fought win against a high-ankle sprain that Mahomes sustained during the playoffs.

I don’t know whether you’ve ever had a high-ankle sprain, but those things hurt! As in not being able to put any weight on the ankle without wincing or hobbling, both of which Mahomes did at the end of the first half. And he was still wincing a little in the second half, even after he’d managed to scamper and pass his team into a position to win the game.

That kind of grace under pressure transcends the grand and puffy hype of the NFL and its annual spectacle. Mahomes’s gallantry was the kind that rises like yeast to mythic glory, the kind they used to write epic poems about centuries before the motion picture camera was invented for deepening and widening the proliferation of legend.

It’s easy to overstate such things, I know. But that’s what the Super Bowl has been encouraging us to do since LBJ was president. Sunday night’s game was so great in and of itself, that it made Rihanna’s half-time concert – an appearance she spurned in 2019 in solidarity with one-time Super Bowl quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick’s protest of police brutality – almost an afterthought. It should be said, however, that her willingness to perform on and off elevated platforms in a noisy outdoor arena while pregnant showed comparable derring-do of her own.

Oh…and about the commercials? The only one that, in an unscientific and arbitrary poll on social media, connected well with audiences came relatively early in the broadcast. It was a T-Mobile ad featuring Bradley Cooper and his mother.

Cooper himself was born and raised in suburban Philadelphia and, as noted, is himself an Eagle fan. His credits include a starring role in the 2012 comedy-drama, “Silver Linings Playbook” in which he played a suburban Philadelphia former schoolteacher being treated for bipolar disorder. Cooper’s dad in the movie, played by Robert De Niro, is a serious-as-a-heart-attack Eagles fan and one of the movie’s crucial scenes is a scuffle in the team’s stadium parking lot.

This year’s commercial with Cooper and his mother Gloria is a hoot-and-a-half, more a collection of random outtakes with mother and son breaking each other up while doing anything but sticking to the script.

At one point, mom tells her son he “looks like a clam.” Cooper assures her he knows what he’s doing because, after all, he’s been nominated nine times for an Oscar. “Yeah,” she says, “but you never won anything.”

Eagle fans, keep Gloria’s comment in mind when trying to get through the next several days and months. First, because her son laughed as hard when she said that as when she muffed the actual script. And second because, well, your team HAS won something. And will, again.

Someday. Maybe soon?

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