Some may claim to be the biggest Philadelphia Eagles fans in Texas. But those people probably don't own their own restaurant dedicated to the City of Philadelphia and its beloved cheesesteaks.
Jimmy and Kathy De Laurentis are the owners of Youz Guys in Universal City. If you want an authentic Philly cheesesteak, you go to Youz Guys. Jimmy was born and raised in Philadelphia and spent more than 20 years as a cop there. Kathy grew up just across the river in New Jersey. When they retired, they moved to San Antonio and opened their restaurant. But they're still tied to the city and root for Philly teams with a passion.
And while the Philadelphia Phillies won a World Series in 2008, the city's sports history is littered with pain, particularly with the Eagles.
In fact, it looked like the Eagles season was going to come to another painful end when they lost starting quarterback Carson Wentz. Just another chapter in the agonizing sports history of Philadelphia.
“When you’ve been a Philadelphia sports fan as long as we’ve been, I guess you say after a while, you get used to it,” Jimmy said. “You don’t look forward to it but you get used to it. You get used to saying, ‘there’s always next year.’”
The last time the Eagles played in a Super Bowl, they lost by only a few points to the New England Patriots, who cemented their dynasty with a third championship.
Eagles fans don’t define their team with close calls because, frankly, there haven’t been many. It’s the drought that’s been the toughest thing to take. It’s been so long since they won a championship that the league and other fans barely recognize that it ever happened.
“You go so long without winning a championship,” Jimmy said. “The last championship they won was in 1960. The Super Bowl wasn’t even around then.”
And yet, here they are, being led by backup Nick Foles, on the verge of their first championship in the Super Bowl era.
Jimmy and Kathy say that, as Eagles fan, they’ve gotten used to the heartbreak. But they’re surprisingly confident about their chances on Sunday going against the Patriots dynasty that put them down before with a backup quarterback taking the snaps.
“It’s a whole new ballgame, it’s all different,” Jimmy said. “Fuhgeddaboudit. Pretty boy Brady’s all done.”
Youz guys is overloaded with Philadelphia sports memorabilia. But among the autographed jerseys, vintage jackets, and posters, something stands out more than anything else.
Rocky and Philly go hand-in-hand. It’s more than a movie for Jimmy, who brought up Rocky several times when we talked.
People forget that the character of Rocky had a long history before he fought Apollo Creed, a one-man championship dynasty in his own right, in the first movie or won the title in the second movie.
Rocky was down on his luck, working as a goon for a loan shark. He’d just lost his locker at Mickey’s gym. When he’s approached about fighting the champ, he thinks that he’s being hired to be a sparring partner. He didn’t think he was going to get a shot at the biggest title in the world.
“His whole life was a one-in-a-million shot,” Jimmy said. “Sooner or later, you become a champion. So, I say it’s time for the Eagles to become a champion.”
Youz Guys is never open on Sunday. But they’ve had so many customers looking to eat a good-luck cheesesteak on Super Bowl Sunday, they they’ll be taking orders for a few hours before closing up shop for the big game.
Jimmy and Kathy will be watching alone with their dogs. They say that that some of their Philly native customers are flying back home for the game to watch with family and friends.
If you can’t be at the stadium, you might as well be in the city of brotherly love if they win it all.
Jimmy isn’t sure how he’ll react if it’s the Eagles that get to hold up the Lombardi Trophy after the clock strikes zero.
“I’ll be calling everybody at home,” Kathy said. “I’ll be on the phone all night. My phone will be blowing up, I’ll be blowing up their phones too.”
They say that they want to have a special celebration at Youz Guys if the Eagles win the Super Bowl but they haven’t figured out what yet. One step at a time, after all.
But if you’re an Eagles fan in San Antonio and Philly pulls off the impossible with the underdogs winning that one-in-a-million shot? I couldn’t think of a better place to celebrate the next day than at Youz Guys with Jimmy and Kathy.