PHILADELPHIA -- The 2017 Eagles embraced the role of underdogs to the point where some of the players started wearing "underdog" masks before and after games during their Super Bowl run. It was an identity that helped the team chase down the city's first Lombardi trophy despite long odds and a number of injuries to key players.
With a new season upon them and the title of "champs" now next to their name, however, coach Doug Pederson says it's about time to leave the masks, and the partying, behind.
"I want those guys to remember it, I want those guys to embrace it," Pederson said of the title run, but stressed the importance of turning the page mentally. "It's a great motivating factor for us to sort of rip off the dog masks and no longer be the underdog, but be the hunted, have the target on our back."
Pederson has an exact date and time when he wants the Super Bowl celebration to end and the transformation to take place: 12:01 a.m., June 15. That's day after the Eagles are scheduled to get their championship rings.
"Honestly, after the ring ceremony, to me, we've put that to bed, we've put that to rest, and we move onto 2018," he said at the start of minicamp Tuesday.
The party has been ongoing since the Eagles captured their first Super Bowl title by upending the New England Patriots on Feb. 4. Over the weekend, a group that included Pederson, quarterback Carson Wentz and owner Jeffrey Lurie, with the Lombardi trophy in tow, were brought on stage to be honored at the Kenny Chesney concert at Lincoln Financial Field.
Pederson noted that he was at a pair of events on Monday, and said the city remains "on fire."
"It's great. I love it," Pederson said."The fans are excited, and they should be."
But there is a 2018 season to tend to. The long postseason run and subsequent celebration has equaled a shortened offseason. With training camp just over a month away now, the coach believes it's about time to flip the switch mentally.
"When we come back July 25th, in two weeks we're playing a football game," he said, "so that's our focus."