Wally Loges, 70, of the Scullville section of Egg Harbor Township, converted his garage into an Eagles shrine 10 years ago. There are old pictures, ticket stubs, figurines and an autographed Chuck Bednarik bobblehead from the 1960 championship team.
“It’s made out of papier-mache,” said Loges, who still remembers listening on the radio when the Eagles won that championship.
He’s hoping to feel that emotion again Sunday when he watches the Eagles and Vikings in the NFC championship game in his garage with his dog. The dog, however, will be in her crate with a treat.
“She could knock stuff over,” he said.
It’s Loges’ fan-cave: a place where he can go and enjoy ESPN shows during the week and watch the Birds on the weekends. He, like others in South Jersey, has devoted different rooms specifically for the love of football. Bobbleheads and large TV screens take the place of home gyms or offices.
* * *
Max Goldstein has a loft in his Linwood home where Eagles jerseys adorn the wall. He has an autographed football from former Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown. He looks at that football and thinks about the hit Brown put on Reggie Bush in the opening minutes of the 2013 NFC Wild Card Playoffs. He has an autographed DeSean Jackson trading card that always reminds him of the Meadowlands comeback.
And that’s the common thread: the feelings the memorabilia brings these local fans.
Or, for Goldstein, the times he wishes he could forget, like when he fell asleep during the 2005 Super Bowl against the Patriots. Goldstein fell asleep only to wake up realizing the Eagles had lost.
But this year may be different, Goldstein said.
“Everyone is calling us the underdog, but this would be such an emotional win for me and the Eagles’ fan base. I’m not just a fan of the Eagles. They’re my religion,” said Goldstein, 24.
On Sunday, Goldstein will watch the game at his home. He said he will have a six-pack of beer next to him in case the Eagles lose.
“It’s misery beer,” he added.
* * *
Surrounded by life-size stickers of Eagles players, Atlantic City Council President Marty Small was watching three TV screens at once in his home.
Above the TVs is a stock market-style ticker that projects sports betting lines from Las Vegas.
Behind his two rows of home movie theater-styled seats is a mini lounge and wet bar with Philadelphia Eagles lights and signs. In the corner of the room is an arcade-style system with more than 400 classic games.
Small moved to his home in Atlantic City in 2009 and had an open floor plan for his Eagles-centric room. He told his wife he wanted a room devoted to the football team, and she could decorate every other room in the house.
He said the room is an investment, but it is an investment in something he truly cares about.
“You definitely have to be a real fan. I live and die with it,” Small said.
Small has season tickets to the Eagles, so he will be at the NFC championship game Sunday in Philadelphia. But whenever there is a road game, he and his group of friends — whom he calls the wolf pack — will watch the Eagles at his fan cave.
Small has good and bad memories. The bad ones he doesn’t want to talk about, but he’s quick to describe the feel of the room when the Eagles came back to defeat the Giants in the second Miracle at the Meadowlands in 2009.
“This room turned upside down. We went crazy. I was so excited,” he said.
Small said he has no time for bandwagon fans. He said a Super Bowl appearance would mean so much more for the true fanatics like him.
“We’ve suffered for far too long, and if anybody deserves a Super Bowl, it’s us Eagles fans. The heartache of a loss affects your mood during the week. For me, football has no off-season,” he said.