UPPER MERION – Inside of Angelo’s Pizza, a spot regularly recognized as one of the best in the area for pizza and cheesesteaks, you would hard pressed to find a picture on the wall of owner Tony Capone. The walls are covered with pictures of youth teams Angelo’s has sponsored, Italy’s national soccer team, an old map of King of Prussia, and some autographed sports memorabilia.
Capone’s presence is undeniable since he is almost always behind the counter and greets regulars with a hearty hello.
On Super Bowl Sunday, things changed when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33. Not just for the franchise when they claimed their first title, or for the long-suffering fans, but for Capone.
He has been an Eagles season-ticket holder since the mid-eighties and has experienced the many lows – “Kotite,” he says, simply. The highs, “Reid…winning the NFC Championship game.”
Capone got tickets to the Super Bowl through the Eagles Season Ticket Lottery. He flew to Minneapolis with his nephew, Gennaro Bifulco, where he experienced the pinnacle of fandom when the Eagles won the Lombardi Trophy.
When they arrived for Capone’s first Super Bowl, he was happy to discover it was definitely Eagles Country.
“10 to 1. We saw way more green shirts than red and blue shirts,” commented Capone.
Unlike some Eagles fans, Capone is ever the optimist. He never calls for the coach’s head or benching of players. His pre-season prognostications are always 16-0. His feelings about Big Game were positive.
“Honest to God, I really thought we were going to win,” said Capone. “I thought it was going to be 31-27. When they were going back-and-forth…I didn’t know if we could keep up with it.”
Like Eagles fans at home or at their favorite bar, at U.S. Bank Stadium, Capone was nervous and anxious throughout the game.
Bifulco upgraded their tickets, and when the game started, a lady with an orange shirt kept walking up and down the aisles.
“Stop it, you’re distracting us from the game,” Capone good-naturedly, said.
“Be nice. Somebody very special is going to stop here,” she replied.
A few minutes later the security guards began filling the section followed by halftime act Justin Timberlake.
“Crazy…Crazy,” said Capone.
A few minutes into Timberlake’s performance, Capone appears on television, to over 103 million viewers, next to the pop star. He is on the other side of Timberlake when he snapped a picture with “Selfie Kid” Ryan McKenna. Although the image McKenna and Timberlake went viral and was turned into a meme, Capone enjoyed his brush halftime airtime. His inbox was immediately flooded with messages.
Immacolata wanted to scream when her father popped on the screen but was hoarse, like many, from cheering the Eagles, during the first half.
“It was surreal. I said, ‘it’s daddy! It’s daddy!” and we all jumped up and started screaming. Then the texts started coming in,” said Becki.
Capone recovered quickly from the halftime excitement because he knew that despite the Eagles leading by ten points, the game was far from over. The moment he knew his beloved Eagles were finally champions didn’t come until the clock hit all zeroes.
“The last four downs, he (Brady) was right there. Not till this morning did it hit me,” said Capone of the realization that his home team was World Champions.
Capone joined other excited and tired Eagles fans, including Governor Wolf on a flight back to Philadelphia in the morning.
On Monday evening Capone was in his familiar spot behind the counter at Angelo’s serving up slices and talking Birds.
“It was mind-boggling. To do that in that moment!” he was said about Eagles head coach Doug Pederson’s gutsy “Philly Special” call when Nick Foles turned into a receiver.
The Super Bowl afterglow doesn’t show any signs of fading for Capone (or any of the Eagles faithful). He also can’t escape Timberlake.
A full size framed poster of the moment of halftime fame greeted him when he returned to Angelo’s and will soon find its way on the wall.
On Saturday, Sofia is having Trolls-themed birthday party. A movie which included the Timberlake chart-topper, “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”
He doesn’t seem to mind. For diehards like Capone who suffered through Kotite and NFC Championship heartbreakers, the feeling they have now is one that they have never experienced and don’t want to ever stop