MISSOULA — Before the 2017 NFL season started, Tim Hauck knew his Philadelphia Eagles were going to achieve something special.
Last March at the Montana Football Hall of Fame induction, Hauck said, "We expect big things this year."
The Big Timber native and Grizzly great just didn't realize how big.
“With the number of injuries we’ve had, and not just to Carson Wentz but a lot of key players on our team, if I knew we were going to lose those guys, I never would have dreamed this was going to happen," Hauck told 406mtsports.com on Thursday morning.
"Going into the season I think we could just feel it in our building. Our guys are good guys, they’re good players and they work extremely hard at their craft. They’re a tight-knit group. I think they got tighter as the year went and even with the injuries, they pulled together and made this happen. I don’t know if I could have told you we were going to the Super Bowl, but I knew we were going to have something special.”
Hauck — known as "Hitter" Hauck at Montana — is in his second season coaching the Eagles, but is in his second stint with the organization. Hauck spent four of his 13 years in the NFL with the Eagles from 1999-2001.
Because of his longtime connection to the program, Hauck understands just how much a Super Bowl would mean to the Eagles. He himself was just short of an appearance in the big game as a player in 2001.
“The fact that I spent four of my playing years in Philadelphia in that same building with a lot of the same people on the ownership side and the management side of things, it’s really special," Hauck said. "I understand what that city and what that organization’s been through a little more than some who haven’t been around it. I know that, not this organization, but the city of Philadelphia is going to go absolutely crazy if we win this thing.”
One thing that stands out to Hauck is the support he has from his home state.
"It's awesome," Hauck said of the Montana support. "I’m Montana through and through. Montana will always be home to me. Everything I’ve achieved is through my upbringing in Montana. My work ethic and desire, the things that my parents taught me as a little kid. If you want to do something, go out and work your tail off and good things will happen.”
On Saturday, the Eagles are going to get a pep talk from NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre, thanks to the Green Bay connection Eagles' head coach Doug Pederson has.
Pederson's not the only one with ties to the Packers. Hauck does too.
Hauck played for the Packers from 1991 to 1994 and briefly lived with Favre for three to four months.
"I was looking for a place to live and he said, ‘Why don’t you move in until you can find a place to go,'" Hauck said of living with Favre. “... He’s a great guy. He was a big part of our success in Green Bay and had his Hall of Fame career. He’s just a special person in the football community.”
Hauck added of Favre's upcoming pep talk: "I haven’t talked to Brett for quite a few years so it’ll be great to see him. He’ll do a great job with the team. He’s a straight shooter. He’ll tell them how it is. He’ll be entertaining at the same time. I’m looking forward to that one.”
Tim's brother, Montana's football coach Bobby Hauck, told 406mtsports.com that when the two saw each other last week, Tim couldn't hold in his joy.
"He's pretty fired up," Bobby said of Tim on Thursday. "He's pretty level headed. He doesn't usually exhibit that much emotion about stuff like that so I could tell he was pretty juiced up.
"I'm happy and excited for him. The guy has done so many things over his lifetime that he and the family should all be very proud of. This is just a cool deal to actually reach the pinnacle of the sport and participate in it because he's been really close numerous times. To actually get there is more about just the fulfillment and enjoyment rather than anything else."
Part of that fulfillment for Tim is how the Eagles are embracing — quite literally — underdog status.
Several players have been wearing life-like dog masks to personify that role.
"My life has been an underdog, whether it was a walk-on in college or a free agent, all the uphill climbs," Tim said. "It seems like everybody on this team has that story, not everybody but a lot where they’ve battled with everything they’ve got. It’s not like we’ve put the Patriots on a pedestal. We expect to win this game."
“Dreams are coming true, but we’re not satisfied yet. Let’s go get a win here.”
Bobby agrees with his brother's assessment.
"You heard it here first," Bobby said. "The Eagles are going to beat them soundly."
Super Bowl LII kicks off at 4:30 p.m. MT on Sunday on NBC.