From the Sports Editor: 37 years later, champagne is finally opened to toast Eagles’ Super Bowl title

Dover’s Frank Markert waited 37 years to pop open a bottle of champagne to celebrate an Eagles Super Bowl championship. (Submitted photo)

The bottle of champagne was really just an afterthought that day.

It was 1981 and Frank Markert was heading over to a Super Bowl party with some friends from General Foods.

They were going to watch his Philadelphia Eagles play the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XV.

“I just said the heck with it, I’ll get a bottle of champagne, too,” Markert recalled. “We’ll celebrate big.”

The Dover man could never have imagined that it would take him 37 years to get that bottle open.

That’s because Markert decided he wouldn’t open the champagne until the Eagles actually won a Super Bowl.

They lost that first one, in ‘81. Then they lost again, this time to New England, in 2005.

All the while, Markert kept the bottle in his refrigerator, just waiting for that day the Eagles won the NFL title.

Finally, finally, that day arrived last Sunday when the underdog Eagles toppled the mighty Patriots, 41-33. At long last, the 87-year-old Markert got to tase that victory champagne.

“And it was good,” said Markert, who watched the game with about 40 people in his Dover home. “I had no idea (what it would taste like) but it was delicious.”

But then a funny thing happened.

Markert and his Andre Brut champagne bottle went viral.

One of Markert’s grandsons captured the celebration and sent out the video. Because of the way the moment seemed to capture the years of suffering by Eagles’ fans, the video kept getting shared online.

“I was on ESPN and Good Morning America,” said Markert. “There was four million hits.

“I don’t have a computer or Facebook — none of that stuff,” he added quickly. “But everybody was telling me all about it. Everybody from everywhere was calling me.”

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Markert came to Dover in 1962 as a Navy recruiter. He spent 20 years in the Navy, including a tour in Viet Nam, before working at General Foods.

Of course, 37 years is a long time to keep a bottle of champagne in a refrigerator.

But, just like he never lost faith in the Eagles, Markert never forgot about the bottle. He even had plans for his oldest grandson, Kyle Griffith, to inherit the champagne if the Eagles didn’t win a Super Bowl in his lifetime.

Markert said it never got pushed to the back of the refrigerator, either.

“It didn’t get pushed back, it was treated nice,” Markert said with a laugh. “We went through more refrigerators than we did bottles of champagne. And that’s the truth. We had two refrigerators in that period of time.

“Everybody saw it — every day they saw it. ‘We’ll get ‘em this year Pop. We’ll get ‘em this year, Pop.’”

‘This year,’ finally came last Sunday. For Markert, it was worth the wait.

Flying with the Birds

Another diehard Eagles’ fan, Fazad Mohamed, didn’t have to wait nearly as long to see Philadelphia win its first Super Bowl.

But the 25-year-old Caesar Rodney High grad got to have his own memorable Eagles’ moment last weekend.

Mohamed was chosen to lead the Philadelphia Orchestra in a rendition of the Eagles’ fight song before their concert on Saturday night.

So before a full house at the Academy of Music, the former University of Delaware marching band drum major stepped to the podium. After removing his jacket to reveal his green Carson Wentz No. 11 jersey, he led the orchestra in a spirited rendition of the fight song.

Mohamed then turned to the audience, leading them in the ‘E-A-G-L-E-S’ chant that ends the song.

“The experience was definitely one to remember, along with the historic win on Sunday,” said Mohamed, now a student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“I’ve been a huge Carson Wentz fan since he signed on with us, not only for his athletic abilities, but also due to the fact that he’s so down-to-earth. I will always respect an individual who has immense talent but remains humble despite it.”

DSBA to honor McDonough

Joe McDonough is a shining example of someone who turned a tragedy into a way to help people.

When his son, Andrew, died at the age of only 14 in 2007 after battling leukemia, the Wilmington resident founded the B+ Foundation,

The organization, named for Andrew’s blood type, raises money to provide emotional and financial to families throughout the country who have children with cancer. It also funds childhood cancer research.

On Feb. 19, the Delaware Sportswriters & Broadcasters will honor McDonough with its Herm Reitzes Service Award at its 69th annual banquet. The event is being held at noon at the Sheraton Wilmington South Hotel, 365 Airport Road, New Castle.

In addition to the John J. Brady Award as Delaware’s Outstanding Athlete of 2017, which will be announced that day, the banquet will honor the state’s Team of the Year, and the winners of the Tubby Raymond Coach of the Year Award, the Herm Reitzes Award for Public Service and the Buddy Hurlock Unsung Hero Award.

Tickets are available at $35 at http://www.delasports.org/

Odds & ends

• Of course, the Super Bowl wasn’t quite as memorable for Patriots’ safety Duron Harmon. The Caesar Rodney High grad did pull in his team-high fifth interception of the season.

“It hurts,” Harmon said after the game. “It hurts, just because you see the confetti coming down and you’ve been a part of it twice. … Just as a defense, we feel like we let the team down. It stings — it stings bad.”

• Back in the late 1990s, Matt Nagy and Brian Ginn shared the starting quarterback job for the Delaware football team. The two became good friends.

Now that Nagy has been hired at the head coach of the Chicago Bears, it seems only fitting that Ginn should be part of his staff. This week Nagy hired Ginn as an offensive assistant. Ginn spent 17 seasons as an assistant coach with the Blue Hens.

• Dover International Speedway is hosting a Daytona 500 watch party next Sunday, Feb. 18 at the Fire & Ice Lounge in hotel and casino area. The event starts at 1 p.m. and there is no charge.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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