BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Every night before Chris Maragos falls asleep, he lies in his bed and thinks about running onto the football field with his teammates in Super Bowl LII.
He won't get to do that on Sunday.
His season as a player ended way back on Oct. 12, when he suffered a knee injury in Carolina. But he's continued to be a part of the team. He's continued to be a leader and a captain.
And he's not the only one.
"Honestly, I'd like to say that it's not pretty difficult, but I'd be lying if I said it was," Maragos said. "Obviously, it's disappointing not playing, but when I came to this organization I wanted to do anything I could to help this team win. Right now, my role is to help these guys from a mentorship role, from an experience role. That's my way of contributing.
"I think as you come in and you have special seasons like this, everyone has to lay aside their pride, everyone has to lay aside their own goals and aspirations for the team."
In addition to Maragos, the Eagles have also lost Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, Caleb Sturgis, and, of course, Carson Wentz. Every single one of those injured players is in Minnesota for Super Bowl week and they'll be watching as their teammates try to take down the Patriots on Sunday.
They'll be cheering, they'll be offering advice, they'll be doing the same type of supportive things they've been doing all season. But this is the big game and they won't get to play.
What will it be like to watch the Super Bowl?
"Tough, but amazing," Hicks said. "These guys deserve everything. They have worked as hard as any team and are as close as any team I've seen. I'm excited, man. I know they're prepared. They're going to go out there, play loose and play great."
Pretty much every key injured player said the same thing this week. Of course it's going to hurt like hell to miss out on playing in what would have been one of the biggest games of their lives. That's natural.
"As humans, we all want to be the competitors that we are and be out there on the field," Wentz said. "Every time the offense comes on the field on Sunday, it's tough. It hits me a little bit. But then I'm in it. I love these guys and I'm a part of this team as much as anybody else. I get involved in the game and that kind of all goes away. Without a doubt, as humans, it just feels ... it's tough. It's tough to not be out there, but I love watching these guys and I couldn't be happier."
All of the injured players have been incredibly selfless all season. They've helped their teammates with whatever they possibly could. They're in film rooms, they're on the phone offering advice, sometimes they watch practice.
They've been around for the whole ride, even when they weren't able to play anymore.
"We all get together," Peters said. "Wentz goes with the quarterbacks and Hicks has the linebackers and we just support everybody. Maragos got the special teams. Sproles got the running backs. And I take care of the offensive line. We have support with every group."
The injured players said it's been helpful to have other key guys in the same position. They're able to commiserate and lean on each other when the tougher times come.
Hicks and Maragos have talked about it before when they have lunch together in the NovaCare Complex while everyone else is off working out and practicing. It would be a lot harder if they weren't together.
And the season would be a lot harder on everyone if these key leaders didn't stay involved. Lucky for the Eagles, they did.
"It's been difficult all year," Hicks said. "Can't sugarcoat it. It's been tough. But you roll with it and you learn from it and you try to find different ways to help. Your role changes and it is what it is. Right now my role is having a different perspective and sharing it. That's part of the leadership role. You go down but you're still a leader."