Hours before Super Bowl, Eagles fans in Minneapolis savor the experience

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You had to walk sideways by 1 p.m. Sunday to make it from one end to the other of Gluek’s, the oldest restaurant and bar in downtown Minneapolis. And you could not make it more than a few steps before someone tossed green or white beads over your head. Philadelphia Eagles fans had taken over the establishment.

Debora and Chris Noll of Cherry Hill, N.J., claimed the one table in a narrow hallway between the bar and back dining area — a temporary refuge from the eardrum-rattling chants of “E-A-G-L-E-S!”

Debora was sipping a pinot gris when she caught the eye of a man walking by. It was Dan DePasquale, Chris’ former employee at the Lafayette College graduate’s civil engineering firm and a long-ago babysitter of the Noll’s young children.

They hadn’t seen DePasquale since his wedding 18 years earlier.

“I know you!” she said. “What are you doing here?”

“What am I doing here?” DePasquale cried. “The Eagles are in the Super Bowl!”

A surreal mood all week among Eagles fans in Minneapolis gave way to giddiness Sunday afternoon as the contest versus the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII approached. They sang and drank and hugged and patted their own chests to make sure a ticket still hung beneath a few layers of clothing.

They also had time to catch up with old friends and reflect on being there, together.

Sean Daily and Chad Von der Tann grabbed some food and Grain Belt Nordeast beers at the 8th Street Grill before heading over to U.S. Bank Stadium. They met 30 years ago as second-graders in Audubon, N.J., led their high school soccer team to its first South Jersey championship together and were best friends.

But Daily left the Philadelphia area to pursue a lucrative career in aerospace technologies and fell out of touch with Von der Tann. In fact, a 20th high school reunion this November was the first time they’d seen each other in over a decade.

Von der Tann’s family has had season tickets for 50 years — back to when the Eagles played at Franklin Field — and Chad, who works for a mortgage call center, went to every home game this season. At the reunion, Daily asked Von der Tann if he was ready for a Super Bowl trip. Out of my budget, he said.

Watching from his home in Denver, Daily saw Von der Tann on TV in his usual seat behind the corner of the end zone during the NFC Championship. When the Eagles had officially vanquished the Vikings, Daily gave Van der Tann a call and said he was taking him to Minneapolis.

“Chad’s the biggest Eagles fan I know,” Daily said. “I want to see his face when Coach Pederson holds up the Lombardi Trophy. That would be worth every nickel spent.”

“I definitely cried a little,” Von der Tann said.

Eagles fans appeared to outnumber Patriots fans at least 4 to 1. They could have stayed home, saved thousands of dollars and watched the game in front of a big-screen and bowls of chips and dip. With temperatures in the mid-to-upper 30s in Philadelphia, versus the high of 6 degrees in Minneapolis, they could have even partied outside.

But that’s not how fans like Joe Clifford and his son, Joey, are wired. Prior to making it to Gluek’s on Sunday, Joey drove home to Voorhees, N.J., from St. John’s University on Friday morning and then got in the car to drive the 18 hours to Minneapolis with his dad. They dealt with snow and sleet from western Pennsylvania to Indiana and only stopped for breakfast when they hit Wisconsin.

“It’s 6 a.m., we’re sitting at the table, and I look him in the eye and say, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Joe Clifford said. “This is really happening.”

awagaman@mcall.com

Twitter @andrewwagaman

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