When the Patriots meet the Eagles on Thursday night in a rematch of Super Bowl LII, Bill Belichick’s team will be focused on their own player evaluations, not exacting revenge. The Patriots head coach has zero interest in looking back to February for extra motivation heading into the second preseason game.
However, the Philadelphia media is under no obligation to prepare 53 players to compete in the National Football League next month. They’re free to focus on the parallels between this game and the one that ended in green-and-white confetti, as well as all the adjacent local news.
Zach Berman of The Philadelphia Inquirer acknowledged the contest won’t be a second game-planning duel between Belichick and Doug Pederson, but noted the history between the sides cannot be ignored. He also predicted Philly fans making the trip to Foxborough will bring some mementos along for the ride.
“If any Eagles fans enter the gates at Gillette Stadium, they might have some reminders from last year,” Berman wrote. “After all, there was a banner with the final score of the Super Bowl at the Phillies-Red Sox game Tuesday.”
One fan who won’t have to make the six-hour drive north is Gina Lewis, an Eagles supporter who purchased a billboard ad on Route 1 near Gillette Stadium that ensures Patriots fans won’t forget that 41-33 scoreline. When Philadelphia TV station Fox 29 covered Lewis’s story, they described the billboard as “epic” and concluded their report with the words, “Fly, Billboard, Fly.”
Another news item from the Boston area also made headlines in advance of this week’s matchup. This time it was a Nigerian Dwarf goat named Foles stealing the show. Foles, who lives at the Franklin Park Zoo, got his name when Zoo New England lost a bet to the Philadelphia Zoo. The goat, born two months after Nick Foles earned his Super Bowl MVP award, is now old enough to entertain visitors.
“The little boy and his friends started giggling. They couldn’t stop giggling. All the giggling,” NBC Philadelphia reports from Boston. “Really, the reactions from children when they meet Foles the goat aren’t that different than the reactions from Eagles fans when they meet Foles the G.O.A.T.”
Foles (the human) is still waiting on a congratulatory message from the man known as the G.O.A.T. round these parts. Tom Brady never shook hands with the Eagles’ quarterback after the Super Bowl, and reportedly hasn’t done so in any fashion since. Earlier this year, Philly Voice described the ongoing evasion as “our national tragedy” and recently singled it out as a central storyline to watch on Thursday.
However, the player in question doesn’t seem too bothered by the perceived snub.
“We both have a lot going on in our lives, in time,” Foles said. “We practiced with the Patriots a few years ago and I got to chat with Tom and he’s a great guy. Everyone makes a really big deal about it but it’s not really big deal at all. I’ve talked to him before. He’s a guy I have always looked up to. You have to admire someone who’s one of the greatest ever and still going strong.”
All eyes — especially those in the Philly media — will be on Brady and Foles after the clock runs out this time around.