A Philly special pit stop

Sunday Night Football bus kicks off 2018 NFL season at Bridesburg Boys and Girls Club

Superstar: Mariah Cruze talks about the Philadelphia Eagles with the Eagles cheerleaders on the Comast NBC Sports Sunday Night Football bus. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

By Melissa Komar

Sunday night football came early to the River Wards this week.

Comcast’s NBC Sports Sunday Night Football bus rolled up to the Bridesburg Boys and Girls Club Tuesday to celebrate the kickoff of the 2018 NFL season with some of the Philadelphia Eagles’ smallest fans.

“It’s a bus that goes on tour to all the cities where there is a Sunday night football game,” said Bob Smith, regional vice president of community impact at Comcast. “This bus will go to all those stadiums on game day. But, we like to bring it into the communities on the days beforehand.”

The bus will criss-cross the country each week, stopping in cities with an upcoming game, some outside the traditional Sunday night schedule, like the Eagles’ Thursday nighter.

Comcast Sports “has a special relationship with Boys and Girls of America” and the bus stops at clubs “all over the country,” according to Smith, who is also on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Club.

“We love it here in Bridesburg. We’ve done community projects here and brought the bus here a couple years ago,” Smith said. “These kids are fantastic.”

The anticipation among the “fantastic” fans was at a fever pitch at the special event as they prepared to see the Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles face the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.

Meeting fellow cheerleaders, especially ones who root for her favorite team, left little ones like Mariah Cruze, 9, starstruck.

“It was really cool seeing the cheerleaders. I’m a cheerleader, too, at the Leprechauns,” she said. “I loved their Eagles T-shirts and pom-poms.”

Mariah’s brother, Maccoy Brockington, 5, who plays football for the Leprechauns, was just as excited, running around the bus with his freshly decorated football.

“Carson Wentz is my favorite,” he said.

Other pint-sized football fans were slinging their footballs and admiring each other’s handiwork.

Each child received a complimentary football to decorate and have signed by some of the Eagles cheerleaders.

And, one lucky youth’s football was selected for its champion-quality artistic flare.

Zoe Willis, 11 , a member at the Northeast Frankford Boys and Girls Club, drew the famous “Philly Special” play call on her football.

Underdog no more: Zoe Willis designed the winning football, which featured the Philly Special play call. MELISSA KOMAR / STAR PHOTO

“In the gym, all the kids got to decorate those football and then the judges got to pick out a ball that would represent these kids,” Smith said. “And, then it goes on the bus and goes on tour. Kids at Boys and Girls Clubs, at schools, and fans down at the stadiums will get to see the ball these kids decorated.”

The football was placed in a display case on the bus, and will travel with the future winners selected each week.

Inside, fans can try their hand at broadcasting, see how they measure up to some of the biggest hands (and feet) in the NFL and view a full uniform setup of both teams each week and a map of the bus’s travels.

And, they’ll see the weekly winning footballs, with the Philly Special at the top of the pack, an underdog no more.