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How do Philly fans embrace underdog role? Lots of masks

T.J. from Reading, Pennsylvania, was one of hundreds of Eagles fan who embraced the role of underdog by donning a dog mask. Tim McManus/ESPN

PHILADELPHIA -- An Eagles fan was asked what it’s like when he puts his dog mask on.

T.J. from Reading, Pennsylvania, wanted clarification.

“What is it like physically or spiritually?” he asked.

Let’s go with both.

“It smells like mothballs,” he said. “It was probably sitting in a warehouse somewhere for the last decade. But I put it on, and once I kind of get used to the burning in my throat, I just want to start barking.”

It was an eerie scene outside Lincoln Financial Field prior to Sunday’s NFC Championship Game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings. Inspired by the “underdog” masks that right tackle Lane Johnson and defensive end Chris Long donned after the Eagles defeated the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round, Philadelphia fans went out in droves to purchase dog masks of their own.

According to CreepyParty, the manufacturer of the German Shepherd mask that Johnson and Long wore, the company had received orders for more than 2,500 dog masks as of mid-week. Their biggest issue has been trying to keep up with demand, as they had a limited number of masks in stock. With their factory located in China, they had to scramble to get the masks to the United States by game day.

No worries. The Philadelphia fans improvised, hitting up local costume stores, digging though attics and even designing dog attire of their own to get into character.

The fruits of their efforts were realized as the Lincoln Financial Field gates opened and fans began taking their seats. Vikings players didn’t have to look far to lock eyes with a canine.

As three-point underdogs to the Falcons last week, the Eagles became the first No. 1 seed in NFL history to not be favored in their first game of the postseason. They were installed as three-point 'dogs against the Vikings as well. The team and the entire city, clearly, have embraced the role.

"When did Carson [Wentz] go down? Since that point, no one's given us a chance," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said, referring to the quarterback's Dec. 10 ACL tear. "I understand Carson's a great player, but every week our guys are hearing the same thing. Now, all of a sudden, we're not good enough? We're 13-3, best record in football, home-field advantage throughout.

"The guys are gonna motivate themselves based on what they've heard for the last month. It really doesn't matter what you guys talk about because [our] locker room is united. I'll go to bat for every one of those guys. I'll go to war for every one of those guys in that dressing room."