When a fourth-grader showed up to his school lunch table and started pumping his chest about how the Philadelphia Eagles were going to win the Super Bowl, it drew some awkward stares from his classmates. That was in October. And the scene unfolded at Morello Park Elementary School ... in Martinez, California ... right outside San Francisco.
This is the story of Mac Hill, the 10-year-old son of a die-hard 49ers fan who will be flying cross-country this weekend to attend the NFC Championship Game. His parents, Justin and Elisabeth, will be on the flight, too, but they'll be packing 49ers gear. Not Mac. He's bringing his lucky Eagles hat and a bold prediction.
"The Eagles are going to win ... by a lot," Mac said.
The trash-talking has been intense inside the Hill household in recent days, with Mac getting in his dad's ear the minute the 49ers beat the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Round. Justin is a lifelong 49ers fan dealing with the confusing reality of raising an Eagles fan. A football house divided against itself cannot stand, or something like that.
"He was chirping in my ear, on the drive home from my father-in-law's house on Sunday night, telling me how the Eagles were going to win, and that the 49ers had no chance," Justin said. "That was hard to swallow. I could have done without that."
Why is a kid born and raised in the Bay Area so hyped about the Eagles? Well, there are a couple layers to peel. Mac became captivated by the 2017 Super Bowl team as he gravitated toward their underdog mentality and Philly toughness. It didn't hurt that his school's mascot is the Eagles, plus he really, really likes the color green. Wait, there's one more reason.
"You sent me cool stuff, and I really started liking them," Mac said. "Everything that happened that year was fun. And then they won the Super Bowl and here we are."
(Editor's note: This reporter did indeed ship a Philly care package to Mac in 2018, one filled with Eagles stickers, buttons, pennants, sunglasses, and a shirt with an underdog mask on it. Guilty as charged!)
Fast forward to 2023. Mac has been aboard the Jalen Hurts' train since the beginning of the year. He called the Eagles' starter a "really good quarterback," and makes sure to rub his dad's face in it every chance he gets. Sometimes, it can be a tad annoying.
"I could do without all the trash-talking," Justin said. "Honestly, I was a little surprised when we asked him who he was going to be rooting for if the Eagles were to meet the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game and he said the Eagles. A friend joked that we were a house divided."
The family is set to arrive in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, with plans to grab a cheesesteak and then get a good night's rest before hitting the tailgate lots ahead of Sunday's game. Mac wouldn't reveal what he'll be wearing, although it will have a midnight green hue. He's excited to see the atmosphere inside Lincoln Financial Field for what will be his first-ever Eagles game.
"I'm excited to be at a football game where I don't have to sweat," Mac said, referring to a 49ers game he attended. "Maybe a snowflake will fall on my head. It's going to be hype."
Meanwhile, Justin is debating whether to wear 49ers' attire on his body. Or any trace of scarlet red and gold. He's feeling squeamish after watching an ESPN documentary about that misunderstood day when Eagles fans threw snowballs at Santa Claus.
"I'm expecting to be harassed at the game and that's fine," Justin said. "I think I'm going to wear one piece of paraphernalia, my 49ers beanie."
Let's send the Hill family home with some incredible memories from the best football town in America - and a loss, of course. Justin has already prepared himself to be singing the blues on the plane ride back to Cali.
"I'm a pessimistic 49ers fan; 38-21 Eagles win," Justin said. "To me, it's a win-win. I'm going to be happy for myself if the 49ers win. If they lose, I'm going to be happy for my son."
Mac, on the other hand, has been prepping his pipes to sing the Eagles Fight Song at the Linc and, hopefully, on that same plane ride back home. When this reporter asked him if he knew the words, he started to blurt out "Fly, Eagles Fly" before his defeated dad muted the line.
"There's a lot of tension right now," Justin said. "It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out."