MINNEAPOLIS - As the Eagles slowly made their way off the confetti-covered turf and away from the mass hysteria unfurling on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium, most turned their attention to the next celebration in the locker room.
Brent Celek wanted a different one.
The longest-tenured athlete in the city of Philadelphia could think about just one thing on Sunday night after becoming a Super Bowl champion. He wanted to share it with the people who have cheered his name, worn his jersey and watched him grow up.
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He just wanted to get back to Philly.
"I'm so excited for my team, this organization, but man, I'm so excited for these fans," he said. "I can't wait to get back to them and party."
Brent Celek is a Super Bowl champion.
Brent Celek is a Super Bowl champion.
Once just didn't seem enough. Not for this guy. Not for the guy who might embody what it means to be a Philadelphia athlete more than anyone in the city. Not for a guy who has missed one game in his 11-year playing career, and simply for a concussion that didn't heal in time for a Thursday night game. Not for a guy who has never once complained about taking a backseat to younger players at his position and who even went out of his way to laud those same players at his postgame Super Bowl press conference.
Celek just gets Philly. And Philly gets Celek.
"I'm sure they're all going nuts," Celek said. "I wish I was there hanging out with them because I know they're going crazy right now."
Celek, who turned 33 recently, will get his chance to party with the fans this week. The city is holding a parade to end all parades on Thursday at 11 a.m. It'll go from South Philly near the sports complex and end, fittingly, on the Rocky Steps. It's going to be nuts and Celek knows that. Nay, he relishes that.
These are his people. And he's going to throw back a few adult beverages with them. He's earned that right. For the last 11 years, he's put on his hard hat and gone to work for the Eagles. He was once a pass-catching tight end, who shifted roles into a primary blocker and is now really the team's third option at the position. He's handed it all with such undeniable grace because he cares about his teammates and his team.
On Sunday night in front of a packed group of reporters, Celek said he knew in his first week in Philadelphia how much the Eagles meant to the people of the city. He said right from the beginning, he knew how much it would mean to win a Super Bowl with the Birds because fans hadn't ever had one.
"Now they do!" Celek said.
It means so much for Celek to play his entire career with the Birds. That's why it wouldn't be that outrageous to think this might be the perfect time for him to ride off into the sunset. Eleven years with the same team and cap it off with a Super Bowl ring.
"This is the icing on the cake but we'll see," Celek said. "I'm not saying one way or the other what the deal is."
A few weeks ago at the NovaCare Complex, Celek got in front of his teammates and spoke. He didn't tell them anything they didn't know. He just told them his truth, his story. He told them about how in his second year in the league, he made it to the NFC Championship Game and had waited nine years to get back. He told them that making it to these heights wasn't the goal. The goal was to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Philly.
Celek and the Eagles have done that.
And on Thursday, he'll get to throw down with millions of fans who became family.
"It's surreal. Especially in Philly," Celek said. "People who played in Philly and know our fans understand what it means to these people. I know what it means to them. This is legendary! This is legendary right here."
To be fair, so is Celek.