NFL: Philly mayor ‘ambivalent’ about greasing poles before Super Bowl
When the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl five years ago, the country was introduced to a local tradition: ecstatic fans climbing light poles.
The Eagles are back in the big game, ready to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in Super Bowl LVII, and the city is starting to prepare for a similar ruckus should the Eagles prevail again.
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Greasing the city’s light poles in February 2018 only made the challenge more endearing for some Philly fans, and Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney said Tuesday that he doesn’t feel strongly about whether to get the poles slick this time around.
“Greasing the poles keeps more people from climbing up them, but it doesn’t stop everybody,” Kenney told reporters. “So whatever the police thinks we should do, we do. But I’m ambivalent about the poles.”
The tradition has its roots in the city’s Italian Market Festival in the 1960s. It was a friendly competition for some festival-goers to climb a 30-foot pole greased with lard.
City officials greased the light poles last fall ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies clinching the National League pennant and booking their trip to the World Series. Pole-scaling was also on display two weeks ago when the Eagles beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
“NFC Championship, what I saw from the coverage, it was diverse,” Kenney said. “People of all colors, ethnicities were out dancing with each other. Philadelphia Police were dancing with young kids. There’s a general spirit of good will when you’re successful, and hopefully we can keep that going all year.
“I think we had like eight people arrested out of 20-some thousand, so it’s not that bad. No sense in overreacting.”
–If there’s one position on the roster the Eagles are uncertain about entering the Super Bowl, it’s a surprising one: punter.
Arryn Siposs suffered an ankle injury on his plant leg in mid-December when attempting to advance a blocked punt against the New York Giants. He had to be carted off and was assumed to be done for the season, but his recovery has progressed and last week the Eagles opened the 21-day practice window for Siposs to be activated off injured reserve.
But Siposs has yet to be activated as of Tuesday. Brett Kern is the Eagles’ other option at punter.
“We’re still working through that,” coach Nick Sirianni said in a news conference Tuesday, declining to offer any more details other than saying Siposs looked good in practice last week.
Siposs pinned 16 punts inside the 20-yard line and yielded just three touchbacks in 13 regular-season games.
–DeVonta Smith won two national championships at Alabama before the Eagles picked him 10th overall in the 2021 draft. Making it to his first Super Bowl, therefore, has not appeared to faze him in the slightest.
“I’ve been playing in games like this from little league, middle school, high school, college,” the former Heisman Trophy winner said. “So yeah, I feel like I’m built for games like this. I’ve been playing in games like this all my life, so to me it’s really just another game.”
Smith caught 95 passes for 1,196 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022, his second NFL season. Being paired with A.J. Brown (88 catches, 1,496 yards, 11 TDs) made for a dynamic receiving game to complement the Eagles’ run-heavy attack.
Smith was asked why the Eagles have faced more man coverage than any NFL team this year.
“I look at it like you have to pick your poison,” he said. “I think some teams would rather just man up than let us just run the ball all day.”
–The Eagles’ defense may have led the NFL with 70 sacks in 2022 — the third-highest single-season mark of all time — but Brandon Graham knows the toughest challenge awaits when up against the slippery, endlessly creative Patrick Mahomes.
“Mahomes is the guy that extends the plays and drops the dimes,” Graham, who had 11 regular-season sacks, told reporters. “You’ve got to make sure you can hit him, get him on the ground, create turnovers, make him make bad throws.”
Haason Reddick, who led the Eagles in the regular season with 16 sacks and had 3.5 more in their two playoff games, called Mahomes “a tremendous talent.”
“I don’t know if you can contain him,” Reddick said. “I just don’t know, he’s that good. I won’t lie, he is.”
Graham, 34, has spent his entire 13-year NFL career with the Eagles and was part of the team that won Super Bowl LII under coach Doug Pederson. He said he was grateful that Sirianni kept him and other veterans on the team when he was hired in 2021.
“He kept a lot of us because we give (younger players) something to look up to and I don’t take that for granted,” Graham said. “When I’ve got that C on my chest, I know a lot of guys look up to me so I try to give them something to look up to.”
Counting the postseason, the Eagles have a whopping 78 sacks. That is third most all-time behind the mid-1980s Chicago Bears, who had a record 82 in 1984 and 80 in 1985.
–Field Level Media
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