Super Bowl Parade

How Jason Kelce ended up in a Mummers costume

How Jason Kelce ended up in a Mummers costume

On Tuesday night, as Bob Coyle was practicing with the other members of the Avalon String Band, he got a call from his wife Libby that sent him down into the basement of their headquarters at 2nd and Tasker in South Philly. 

The phone call became a mission. 

"She says, listen, ‘Do you have a Mummers suit for someone who's 6-foot-4, 300 pounds,'" Coyle recalled on Thursday night. "I said, honey, who the f--- needs that?"

The answer, of course, was Jason Kelce. 

Libby began cutting Kelce's hair around six years ago when the Eagles' center moved to the city and the two have become close friends in the years since. On Tuesday, Kelce called her and said the players were coming up with different ideas of what to wear for the parade in a couple days and he thought about a Mummers costume. 

So Coyle headed down to the basement and found one of about a half dozen costumes left over from the string band's 2008 "Ire-land of Leprechauns" performance. The actual costume belonged to musical director Jim Crompton, who played college football himself.  

"Jimmy's a big dude," Coyle said, "but it fit Jason perfectly." 

Crompton, 33, is a big dude. He's 6-foot-5 and is anywhere from around 275-300 pounds. After playing high school football at Archbishop Wood, he went on to play right tackle at Lycoming College. 

So with the big costume in tow, Libby showed up to the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday to cut Kelce's hair and then to help him squeeze himself into the giant leprechaun costume. Bob joked that she helps him get into his suit every year, so she was able to help Kelce too. 

"It fit him like a glove," Coyle said of the costume that Kelce wore in front of millions of people on Thursday afternoon, "and he fell in love with it immediately." 

On Tuesday night, Crompton started to get hints that Kelce might wear his old costume and then on Wednesday he saw photos of Kelce trying it on. 

He still wasn't sold. 

"I really didn't think he was going to do it," Crompton said. "We have some friends who are in the band who are police officers at the stadium and they sent pictures out saying he was in full-on suit. It was pretty cool. The whole day was just amazing."

And it wasn't just that Kelce wore his costume for the parade. Kelce was wearing it when he gave one of the most epic and passionate speeches in Philadelphia sports history. 

Kelce shouted into the microphone about what it meant to be an underdog and, of course, dropped a few F-bombs along the way. 

"Yeah, that's going to go down in the books. That speech was epic," Crompton said. "I think it kind of rang true for a lot of the members of the Avalon too. We've been kind of struggling the last couple years, have been the underdogs along with them. We definitely know where he was coming from with that speech. It had a lot of depth for us."

Coyle said it was especially neat seeing that speech come from such a genuine guy in one of his band's costumes.  

It's pretty clear Kelce's speech — and that costume — are going to be remembered. 

"Here we are, it's 10 years after Chase Utley and we still talk about that," Coyle said. "That was a great speech. But this speech that Kelce gave today, I mean, you could tell it was from the heart, it wasn't scripted and it was spot on. It couldn't have been any more Philly." 

Mike Lombardi responds to Jason Kelce's burn

Mike Lombardi responds to Jason Kelce's burn

Jason Kelce delivered one of the single greatest championship day rants of all time. Dressed in a full Mummers costume, a nod to the outfits worn in the New Year's Day parade held annually in Philadelphia, Kelce was seen high-fiving fans and riding a bicycle during the parade route, but he saved his best for last.
 
Still in costume, Kelce stepped to the microphone on the art museum steps and called out many of the hot takes that have been said and written about these Eagles. The one person Kelce called out by name was former longtime NFL executive Mike Lombardi.
 
"When Doug Pederson was hired, he was rated as the worst coaching hire by a lot of freaking analysts out there in the media," Kelce said. "This past offseason, some clown named Mike Lombardi told him that he was the least qualified head coach in the NFL! Doug Pederson! The man who went for it on fourth down in the Super Bowl with a trick play! He wasn't playing just to be mediocre. He's playing for a Super Bowl. And it don't stop with him. It does not stop with him."
 
Lombardi heard the speech and responded via Twitter shortly after Kelce ended his speech with a flurry of curse words.


 
It's hard to argue with Doug's results.
 
Entering this season, Lombardi was very critical of Pederson but later backtracked on his comments and actually picked the Eagles to win the Super Bowl against his former employer, the New England Patriots, when many thought the Eagles were overmatched.
 
The Eagles have fed off the negative comments of others and their underdog status and, perhaps, it's one of the contributing factors to their success this season.

Eagles see themselves in us and that's why this is so unique

Eagles see themselves in us and that's why this is so unique

The Columbus Panhandles were an NFL team from the 1920s whose players worked in the Central Ohio panhandle shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad. 

The Dayton Flyers also played in the 1920s, and their roster was composed mainly of workers from the Dayton Metal Products Company. 

The Decatur Staleys were made up of workers at the Staley Manufacturing Plant in Chicago (and later became the Bears).

That was the early NFL, before it was even called the NFL. Many of the teams had been around for years, playing as sandlot teams or semi-pro teams before the formation of the American Professional Football Association — which became the NFL when league owners met in 1920 at the Hupmobile showroom in Canton, Ohio.

The early history of the NFL is a fascinating one. Most teams were based in industrial midwestern towns and made up of local athletes from those towns, and so they really reflected the personality of those towns.

Teams came and went before the league developed some stability in the early 1930s. The institution of a college draft in 1933 meant rosters were no longer mainly comprised of local athletes. The league grew and changed and evolved over the years, eventually into the multi-billion industry it is now.

Which brings us to the 2017 Eagles and why this team is so special and so unique.

I've never seen a team that is a better fit for its city than this one. 

Times have changed and the modern NFL has very little in common with the old APFA of a century ago. But what this team does share with those teams is a very deep, strong and profound bond between the players and the fans.

Just like those factory workers who were the early pro football players in Columbus and Dayton and Chicago and all those other Midwestern industrial towns truly represented the towns they came from, so does this group.

It's different, of course. These guys didn't grow up here. They haven't spent their lives here. But, man, they get this city and what we're all about.

Something unique and something beautiful happened here these last few weeks and month, and it's something that goes beyond simply a really good football team winning a bunch of games and then a Super Bowl.

No, this was far more meaningful to both the team and the players because there is such a unique bond there, one you rarely find in sports.

There's no question that we as a city can appreciate this team more than any other Super Bowl champion has ever appreciated its football team.

Part of it is simply the 57-year wait. The longer you wait, the sweeter the payoff. And 57 years is an awfully long time.

But that's only the start.

The more time I spent around this 2017 Eagles team, the clearer it was that its working-class personality was genuine. Every team calls themselves working class. But this team is filled with guys who legitimately have gotten where they are simply through sheer hard work, quieting doubters and overcoming adversity.

Think about it.

Rodney McLeod, Trey Burton and Corey Clement were undrafted. Jason Peters, too. Jason Kelce, Jalen Mills and Beau Allen were drafted in the sixth or seventh rounds. Brandon Graham, Mychal Kendricks and Vinny Curry were at one point labeled high-round busts. 

The Patriots didn't want LeGarrette Blount or Chris Long. The 49ers didn't want Torrey Smith. The Bears didn't want Alshon Jeffery. The Rams and Chiefs didn't want Nick Foles. The Saints wanted no part of Patrick Robinson. The Dolphins didn't want Jay Ajayi. The Bengals didn't want Jake Elliott. The Ravens didn't want Tim Jernigan.

Heck, Kenjon Barner, Bryan Braman, Dannell Ellerbe and Will Beatty weren't even on NFL rosters for much of the season.

They were all too small, too slow, too old. They were all told they weren't good enough, but put them together and they were better than any football team in the world.

And nobody has overcome more than Doug Pederson, who was released five times in his playing career and managed to stick around in the NFL 14 years just through hard work and determination, then faced all the same questions as a coach. Not smart enough. Not experienced enough. Not savvy enough.

Philly has always been a city that has always proudly worn that underdog tag, and it probably goes back to being wedged halfway between Washington and New York. 

But it goes way deeper than that. Philly is a city where if someone says we can't do something, it doesn't break us, it makes us want to achieve something more. Philly is a city where the more we're doubted the harder we go to try and prove people wrong.

We aren't a city of first-round picks or big-money free agents. Like the Eagles, we're made up of undrafted rookies, late-round draft picks and waiver wire acquisitions.

That's at the heart of this symbiotic relationship.

Philly is a different kind of place. We have a chip on our shoulder because we've been looked down on for so long by the cities north and south of us, by the national media and their tiresome Santa Claus narratives, by cackling Cowboys fans clinging to their distant memories of Aikman, Irvin and Smith.

We are a city of undrafted free agents and late-round draft picks.

So the Eagles players can appreciate us and relate to us just as much as we appreciate and relate to them. We are one. One city. One team.

And that's what makes all of this so special.

We relate so deeply to them, and they do as well to us.

Every one of those members of the 2017 Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles riding up Broad Street Thursday looked out at the millions of people on the parade route and saw themselves.