ORLANDO, Fla. — It seemed like Doug Pederson couldn’t turn in any direction this week at the lavish Ritz-Carlton Orlando without being greeted with a verbal pat on the back.
It was a tough climb to the top; you’ll forgive him if he enjoys the view.
“It’s freaking awesome!” Pederson said Monday night, amid a sea of more congratulations during the reception for the NFL’s annual league meetings.
The Eagles head coach is certainly enjoying the afterglow of the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history and all the praise that comes along with it.
While Pederson and the rest of his coaches have already moved on, logging hours in the facility daily during the offseason, there are near-constant reminders of the success from 2017 — whether it be dozens of fans wearing Super Bowl gear on flights from Philadelphia to Central Florida or the constant flow of congratulatory messages coming from the NFL hierarchy.
“It’s something that’s a little bit surreal,” Pederson said. “You’re walking amongst all your peers, you got all the owners and GMs and head coaches and presidents and everybody. When you’re outside of NovaCare, outside the building, that’s what makes it real special, what you’ve accomplished, and how hard it is to get there and win that football game. I appreciate everything that got us here, obviously, and to be congratulated, it’s pretty cool.”
This is Pederson’s third time at the NFL’s owners meetings and it’s a decidedly different experience being the only head coach in attendance who ended last season with a win.
Well, almost the only one.
Former Eagles offensive coordinator and new Colts head coach Frank Reich is enjoying the spoils of victory too.
“It’s been really neat,” Reich said. “That’s one of the cool things in this profession. It’s a close-knit profession. Guys know the ups and downs of this profession, and there are ups and downs. And so when you have a good streak and when things go right, I think the guys in this profession appreciate and know what that feels like. That’s been encouraging.”
Last year, when the event was held in Phoenix, Pederson’s Eagles were coming off a 7-9 campaign that landed them in the basement of the NFC East and his coaching counterparts weren’t very complimentary at all. What a difference a year makes.
Pederson said he didn’t grab any sort of souvenir from Super Bowl LII in Minnesota. He didn’t get a football, didn’t take anything out of the locker room. He does have one of those blue Super Bowl LII helmets and he’s thinking of maybe getting a replica Lombardi Trophy made for his house. If nothing else, he’s going to get a championship ring.
Of all the texts and calls of congratulations Pederson has received over the last few months, one stood out. On Feb. 24, Moorestown, New Jersey, held “Coach Doug Pederson Day,” a “pretty special” honor for one of its most famous residents. Pederson estimates about 800 Eagles fans showed up at the Moorestown Community House on that Saturday.
Since the confetti rained at U.S. Bank Stadium, Pederson has watched a replay of the game. Even though he obviously knew the outcome, Pederson couldn’t help but tense up.
“I was nervous,” he said.
He didn’t need to be, of course. The Eagles won the game. If Pederson needs a reminder, he won’t go long before someone pats him on the back again.