Philadelphia Eagles win over Patriots gives hope to the ‘underdog’

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles celebrates after winning Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2018

Philadelphia Eagles win over Patriots gives hope to the ‘underdog’

LONDON: The dust will just about be settling in Philadelphia today, but the talk surrounding this year’s Super Bowl will rumble on for years to come.
It will go down as a classic.
The underdog Eagles upsetting the most successful NFL franchise of this century was a fitting finale that actually lived up to the enormous hype for once.
It was an absorbing battle between two teams who knew how the game should be played — there was no attritional, defensive quagmire in the middle of the field, rather it was an end-to-end spectacle of blistering offensive play.
That the Eagles came out on top after a final, desperate Hail Mary attempt from this season’s MVP Tom Brady will have come as a relief for the neutrals.
The Patriots were chasing their sixth title since 2000, having forged one of the strongest dynasties in American sport history.
But after the confetti had fallen and the fanfare was over, there could be no doubt the best team had won.
The Philly team assembled by Doug Pederson this year have been electric all season, mostly powered to their 13-3 regular season record by the right hand of Carson Wentz.
But the romance of their victory was made all the sweeter by the fact back-up quarterback and NFL journeyman Nick Foles was just as sublime in the pocket, coming in for the final five games and being named this year’s Super Bowl MVP.


He had been with the Eagles before, pulling off a remarkable season in 2013 but never fulfilling the potential he briefly showed that winter. Out of favor, his nondescript stints at the Rams and the Chiefs pointed to his suggestions of calling time on his footballing career being well-founded.
And then on a balmy December day in Los Angeles, Wentz tore his ACL and the rest, as they say, is history. Foles had gone from the quarterback wilderness to Super Bowl champion within two months.
Meanwhile, his opposite number last night — the iconic Brady — has dusted himself off and vowed to play on into his 41st year.
It is testament to the determination and commitment of the greatest quarterback of all time that he has the stamina to go again for another season.
Knowing “TB12”, he will probably come back stronger and go one better in next year’s showpiece.
And while much of the talk before Sunday’s game was about a victory heralding the confirmation of a “Patriots legacy”, a “Brady/Bill Belichick dynasty” — that air of invincibility they have built will most certainly have taken a dent. Yet, losing on Sunday will not detract from what Brady and Belichick have achieved — funded by the deep pockets of Patriots owner Robert Kraft — in a league system designed to stop one team dominating. It definitely will not be replicated any time soon.
This New England crop will go down as one of the best rosters assembled, Brady is already assured of a Hall of Fame spot and Belichick’s greatness will never be questioned.


But a first Super Bowl victory for the Eagles is good news for American Football and good for US sport in general. In the American sporting world of ever-increasing wealth, clinical corporatism and brand promotion-over-fan connection, it proves that upsets can still happen and an unfancied, unloved band of underdogs can get one over the big guns — with style and panache too. It’s a result that will live long in the memory.


Muslim player Sonny Bill Williams ‘to refuse to wear’ Super League gambling logo on shirt

Updated 23 January 2020

Muslim player Sonny Bill Williams ‘to refuse to wear’ Super League gambling logo on shirt

  • The 34-year-old New Zealander converted to Islam in 2009
  • Gambling firm Betfred have sponsored rugby league competition Super League since 2017

LONDON: Rugby superstar Sonny Bill Williams is set to refuse to wear the logo of Super League sponsor Betfred due to his religious beliefs, Toronto Wolfpack chairman Bob Hunter said.
The 34-year-old New Zealander, who switched codes for the second time following last year’s rugby union World Cup in Japan, converted to Islam in 2009.
Gambling firm Betfred have sponsored rugby league competition Super League since 2017 and last year agreed a two-year contract extension.
“We’re in discussions with Super League about this, but Sonny has been very clear in his stance on the matter,” Hunter told the Daily Telegraph.
“I think Betfred will benefit by taking the position that we respect and honor the player’s religious beliefs.
“In today’s society there are some very sensitive issues but I think the sponsor can say ‘yes, OK, we understand this. He’s a big brand and big name but we get it’.”
In 2017, Williams covered up a Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) logo on his Auckland Blues shirt.
It later emerged that he was exercising a “conscientious objection” clause in his contract, telling New Zealand Rugby he did not want to wear the logos of banks, alcohol brands or gambling sponsors.
Williams initially switched from league to union in 2008 and won back-to-back World Cups, earning 58 caps for the All Blacks. He has also tried his hand at boxing.
The former All Black is reportedly the highest-paid player in either code of rugby after signing a two-year deal at the Canadian club and Hunter said he had been given shares in the club as part of his package.
Hunter said Toronto were already starting to cash in on their big-name recruit before he had even played a competitive match.
“The fan interest just generally and the amount of media attention which helps you sell everything has been tremendous,” he said.
“A lot of my friends don’t understand rugby league and are not Wolfpack fans yet say ‘but I heard you signed this really big player, the LeBron James of rugby league’.
“Our season subscriptions have gone up about 30 percent and our sponsorship dollars are up 35 and it could (be) 40 percent by the end of the year.”
Toronto kick off their Super League campaign on February 2 against Castleford Tigers.
They will play a number of their early “home” matches in Britain due to the harsh Canadian winter. Their first game in Toronto will be in April.