ST. PAUL, Minn. — Officially, it's called Super Bowl Opening Night. Monday night, it seemed more like a joyous Eagles office party.
They laughed together at some of the more absurd interview requests. They videotaped each other with their phones. They cracked each other up watching their teammates answer questions in other languages.
This Eagles team is so close, and it seems determined to enjoy every last second it has together as much as possible.
“What we have? It’s rare, man," Nigel Bradham said. "Honestly. And it really comes from … you know what? Honestly? It’s tough to say. I really don't know where it does come from. I wish I knew. If I knew, every team would have it.
"But it’s a bond like no other, man. It's a bond like no other."
The entire franchise gathered Monday night at the Xcel Energy Center, home of the NHL's Minnesota Wild. Everybody on the active roster, the practice squad and the rather large contingent on injured reserve.
For the Patriots, it was just another media day. For the Eagles, it was incredibly special. A celebration of exactly what is possible if a bunch of people work together for a common goal.
And the fact that a couple thousand Vikings fans who paid a few bucks to watch booed every time an Eagles player was introduced wasn't going to ruin this party.
"This is my first year here, and it shocked me when I came here how close this team was," Corey Graham said. "Right from the beginning I saw how nice and how cool all the guys were. From Day 1.
"The day I got here, I'm walking down the hallway (at the NovaCare Complex) and you can't walk past someone without them introducing themselves and talking to you. From Carson (Wentz) to everyone else.
"Little things like that mean a lot when you're with a new team. We do everything together. We hang out, go out to eat together, we go to our kids’ birthday parties together.
"It’s crazy. It’s like a brotherhood here. It makes all of this sweeter because when all is said and done, that’s who we’re playing for. That’s who we’re fighting for. When you're closer, it means more because you don’t want to let your brothers down, so you really persevere to make sure you’re held accountable."
It really is crazy. The Eagles are one win away from their first NFL championship in 57 years. And they got there without half a dozen of their best players.
It really does show just how powerful togetherness can be in sports. It takes a lot more than a bunch of injuries to break this bond.
“I just think it comes from the caliber of person that’s in the locker room," vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said.
"When you get guys that fight so hard for each other and fight so hard for the city and guys who just love football, this is what you get.
"I think the best teams every year have this kind of close-knit mentality. It’s something that Howie (Roseman) and I and Doug (Pederson) and Jeffrey (Lurie) talked about, just bringing in a certain type of person, guys with a lot of character."
This is Donnie Jones' 14th NFL season with five different teams (see story), and he said he's never experienced anything like he's experienced this year.
"From way back at the beginning of the year, we heard our coach was no good, our team, who knew if we were any good?" Jones said.
"Even throughout the year, I don’t know about the respect factor for our team. I think the resilience of this team is really amazing. When I think about all the people we lost, all starters, all great players, and we lost them all and to have guys step in and fill their roles and be here now?"
He paused and gazed around the floor of the Xcel Energy Center and saw several of his teammates goofing around with the international media, all of them with big smiles on their faces.
"It’s just special, and that’s what a team’s all about," he said. "I’ve been on a lot of teams, played a lot of years, and this is a special group. The most special I’ve been around. I’m just blessed I was here this year to experience this with these guys and play one more game.”
And that's Super Bowl LII. Eagles-Patriots. Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"It’s really family to us and I think that’s the real reason this is so special," Bradham said. "Roomful of brothers. Imagine all your brothers in the Super Bowl? That’s what it is."
Young guys. Old guys. First-round draft picks. Undrafted players. Guys from all over the country. East Coast. West Coast. Small schools. Big schools.
Somehow, it all works perfectly.
"It’s just a great group," Graham said. "I can honestly tell you there’s not one bad apple on this team, and that’s rare when you have a locker room. That’s rare.
"There’s not one person I can honestly say, 'Oh he’s a jerk.’ Special group. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
Jones has been in the NFL longer than any of his teammates. He had been a part of only one postseason win before this year, and he seemed to be enjoying media night as much as anybody.
“When I first signed here, Mr. Lurie said he saw this as an extension of his family and I truly feel that way," Jones said. "It’s not like this everywhere.
"That’s why football really is so great. So many guys, from different places, different upbringings, different parts of the country, and you work together to achieve that one goal, which is to win games on Sundays.
"Everybody has meshed and gelled better than any of us could have imagined. We’ve accomplished a lot so far but we still have one more game to go to finish this thing off.”