BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Is there anybody more Philly than Duce Staley? Is there anybody who gets the city better than Duce? Is there anybody who understands what is happening right now like Duce?
Staley is the only person in franchise history to spend seven or more years with the Eagles as both a player and a coach, and although his official job title right now is running backs coach, he sees another aspect of his job as explaining to anyone who will listen exactly how badly the city of Philadelphia wants this. How badly the city of Philadelphia needs this.
"I tell these young players all the time," Staley said Wednesday. "I tell them, 'You don't understand the passion and love that's in this city if we bring home the Super Bowl. You won't understand the parade. You won't understand the tears that they will shed. The tears of joy. Tears of memories, good and bad. You won't understand it.'
"It's our job to deliver a championship to this city so they can see."
Staley has spent 14 of the last 20 years with the Eagles, 1997 through 2003 as a tough, physical running back who ran for 1,000 yards three times, and 2011 through 2017 as a running backs coach under three head coaches.
He grew up in West Columbia, S.C., and played for the nearby University of South Carolina before coming to Philly. He said it didn't take long to realize how special Eagles fans were and how special Philadelphia was as a football town.
"My first year," he said. "Training camp. Coming from the south, where football was king, you know about all the traditions down there and the toughness of the SEC and all that and then all of a sudden you go north and you hear about Philadelphia Eagles fans and you hear stories from way back in the day when they played Dallas and those fans rocking the bus.
"All of a sudden, you're inside the Vet and you're playing Dallas and they're introducing the team and I'll never forget this, they introduce ... 'MICHAEL IRVIN ..." and all of a sudden you hear all the fans yelling, "SUCKKKKKKKS,' and then you hear, 'EMMITT SMITH!' … 'SUCKSSSSSSSS.' And then they announce the coach and you hear, 'REALLY SUCKSSSSSSS!' and I'm like, 'Oh my God, this is real.'
"I love those guys."
The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl, but they'll get their chance Sunday when they face the Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Duce said he's always giving the young players on the team history lessons about the Eagles and the powerful bond between long-time Philadelphians and the team that was founded in 1933 by Bert Bell and Lud Wray.
"I educate them," he said. "There are a lot of people who still remember the 1960 team, but that wasn't even a Super Bowl. It was an NFL Championship. We haven't won a Super Bowl, so I have that conversation with them.
"I talk about my playing days, when we got close but never got over the top. I share stories with them. I talk about how hard it is to get here, but now that you're here, what are you going to do? What are you going to do now that you're here? That's the question. That's what it's about.
"Every time you lace 'em up and put your helmet on, it's the same game. Now take that history of never having a Super Bowl and play with that passion, play with that fury, and leave everything on the field."
Listening to Staley speak, it's easy to forget he wasn't born and raised here.
But since his rookie year in 1997, there's been a powerful bond between him and Eagles fans, probably because of his no-frills, straight-ahead, physical style of running.
He played football exactly the way Eagles fans want someone to play the game, and now he wants nothing more than to be part of the group that ends those 56 years of frustration.
"This great city deserves a championship," Staley said. "These fans deserve it.
"You're talking about fans who've been passionate dating way back. It's not like they wake up and all of a sudden they decide to be Eagles fans. It's in their blood. I mean, this is through pedigree. These guys — and women — are born into this Eagles family.
"It's similar to back in the 1970s with the Steelers. A lot of those fans, their parents made them Steelers fans. Little kids wearing Steelers jerseys before they can talk. Eagles fans are the same way. They were born into that great Eagle family.
"Their parents, their grandparents, were loyal fans and now they pass it on to their kids and they pass it on to their kids and then they pick up the flag and wave it."
Staley admitted he's daydreamed about what it would be like if the Eagles did finally win a Super Bowl.
What would it mean to the city? Even Duce is at a loss for words.
"It's going to be a lot of tears being shed," Staley said. "Tears of joy. Tears of finally. That big deep breath that you take after finally doing it, finally achieving it.
"I don't think it's even fair for me to answer it. That's up to those long-time fans who've been out there supporting this team since forever, for a lot longer than I've been around.
"Fans whose families have had family members passed away buried in Eagles stuff. Who had Eagles funerals.
"That's a question for the older fans who've been through the ups and downs with this team, who lived through the ups and downs, different coaches, different teams. I don't think words can even describe it."