DaVaris Daniels was enjoying the sun and sand in the Dominican Republic while the rest of his family was back in Philly taking in the NFC Championship game.
“It was kind of weird (not being there) because we had booked the trip way before we knew anything about the dates of the games so we couldn’t change it,” says Daniels.
The significance of the game for the Daniels family? DaVaris’ dad, Phillip, is on the coaching staff of the Philadelphia Eagles, who convincingly beat the Minnesota Vikings to earn a trip to this weekend’s Super Bowl.
“I was kind of happy being somewhere warm watching it but would rather have been at the game celebrating on the field with my dad after, but it was still good. I got to talk to him after, so it was fine.”
The elder Daniels played 15 years in the NFL with Seattle, Chicago and Washington before spending some time in player personnel for the Redskins and finally joining the Eagles’ coaching staff in 2016.
Over that span, this is Phillip’s first Super Bowl appearance.
“His best year was with the Bears,” confirms DaVaris. “They went 13-3 just like the Eagles just did (this year). And they had the first playoff game and they lost. So that’s the furthest he’s ever made it before last week and now he’s in the Super Bowl so it’s crazy around here!”
The Daniels are a close-knit family who support each other in their individual pursuits. The Daniels, including Phillip and his wife Leslie, are familiar faces in the stands at Stamps games, cheering on DaVaris both at McMahon and on the road.
Phillip and Leslie Daniels took in a Stamps win in Winnipeg
“Oh yeah, anything that anybody in my family goes through we kind of feel like we all go through it together,” says the CFL’s 2016 most outstanding rookie. “It’s really special and just to have that support I know that (my dad) loves it just as I do when my mom and everybody comes up to all my games.
“This is big for us, especially for me. I’ve seen every bit of his career and this is something that we thought we would never get to. It’s just special to be here. We’re just excited to be here. We want to win most importantly because he’s been through two Grey Cups now where I haven’t gotten it done so it’s his turn, it’s in his hands so we’re all excited.”
While all the Daniels support each other, there’s no doubt Leslie is the backbone of the family. Her heart and soul is into football and her family.
“Oh yeah she’s loving it and she’s crying – she can’t even stop,” says DaVaris of his mom. “She hasn’t stopped celebrating since they won the game last week. So it’s crazy around here.”
The Patriots have a rich history of success in recent years, making eight Super Bowl appearances and earning five wins since Bill Belichick and Tom Brady arrived on the scene in 2000. But DaVaris isn’t too worried about Sunday’s match-up.
“I like it actually,” admits DaVaris. “Honestly, I don’t think the Patriots are the Patriots of the past. I think they’re a lot more beatable than they have been in the past. And the Eagles, they are a fiery group. They love being the underdogs and from being around those guys, I know that they really, really care about each other. I think there’s going to be a good battle out there. I think the Eagles kind of got something to prove so I think they have more fans than haters in this one.”
Leslie cheers on the Stamps at the Western Final (Photo by Mark Shannon)
The teams are already in Minnesota prepping for the big game while DaVaris and his family will head out on Friday on the family charter. His mom, however, is going out on Thursday for a very special reason.
“My mom is going a day earlier because she does this tradition, she fries chicken two days before every game,” says DaVaris. “She’s been doing that the last two seasons I think so they want her to come out early and do that again for the Super Bowl, so that’s kind of cool.
“It started with the D-line and then it became a defensive thing and then after that offence heard about it, they started coming and then coaches started hearing about it and they started coming. So I’d say they have a good 75 to 80 per cent of the team that comes in and grabs some chicken. And she makes more than chicken now, too. She expanded just because it was so many people and she got a lot of requests.”
It’s safe to say the Daniels family is geared up for a busy and exciting week. And Stamps fans may now have a reason to cheer for the Eagles on Sunday.