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The Super Bowl is 'surreal' for coach Doug Pederson: 'It really hasn't sunk in completely yet'

Zach Berman, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Football

Tackle Lane Johnson said that Pederson told the players that he "wasn't going to change for anybody" in the Super Bowl. The commentators might have been surprised. An out-of-town fan at a Super Bowl party might have doubted him. But the Eagles didn't expect Pederson to start thinking conventionally because there were more rings on the other sideline or more eyeballs watching him.

They also didn't think the Eagles were at any preparation disadvantage against Belichick on the other sideline. Pederson was asked all week about how daunting a challenge it is to go up against Belichick, whose five Super Bowls as a head coach rightfully earns him the distinction as the elite coach in NFL history. And though he didn't say it, Pederson's play-calling and decision-making hasn't taken a backseat to anyone this season. That's why they won 16 games, including the Super Bowl.

Torrey Smith referenced the "heat" Pederson took and that he wanted Pederson to "cherish" the championship. It's clear that his players -- especially veterans -- respond to him. Chris Long, who has played 10 NFL seasons, noted the way his coach carries himself, pointing to Pederson's attitude after Carson Wentz's injury.

"We came into the team meeting room and Doug just erased any doubt that anything was going to change," Long said. "That's a leader."

Pederson gathered his players in the locker room an hour after the Super Bowl finished and offered one final speech. Throughout the season, he asked the players, "Are we done?" The answer was never "yes" -- until Sunday.

He shared all those moments when he nagged them about the little things that fans don't see -- the dress code, practicing well -- and how it led to the Super Bowl. He recited what's become a team mantra: "An individual can make a difference, but a team makes a miracle." He repeated that they're "world champions" and that it was because of the players, and on Monday, he emphasized how urging the players to take ownership was a theme of the season.

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But it was because of the coach, too. Pederson is a Super Bowl-winning coach. And no matter what happens for the rest of his career, he'll also have that distinction.

"I know it's going to take some time, it's kind of surreal right now," Pederson said. "These next few days are going to be a little crazy. A lot to do still. But excited for the guys. We'll remember this for the rest of our lives."

(c)2018 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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