MINNEAPOLIS — Somewhere in the middle of the Eagles' celebration hysteria on the field of U.S. Bank Stadium, Malcolm Jenkins and Patrick Robinson finally found each other.
Two former first-round draft picks of the Saints.
One a two-time Pro Bowler, a leader of the NFL's social justice cause, a key piece of the Philadelphia foundation ever since New Orleans let him walk away in free agency. The other a journeyman, a bust with the Saints who repaired his reputation on a series of one-year deals, vindicated finally after Jenkins convinced him to come to Philadelphia.
Jenkins and Robinson hugged each other hard.
"I just started crying," Robinson said. "Tears of joy."
Jenkins, Robinson and former Saints linebacker Dannell Ellerbe played varying roles Sunday night for a Philadelphia defense that spent most of the night at the mercy of Tom Brady, New England's ageless Super Bowl wonder.
The heart and soul of Philadelphia's defense, Jenkins played all 76 snaps on defense, making four tackles and breaking up one pass, his biggest Super Bowl moment coming on a crushing blow that knocked another former Saints first-round pick, Brandin Cooks, out of the game.
Robinson, the Eagles' nickel cornerback all season, played 53 snaps, taking his lumps like everybody else in the Philadelphia secondary. Ellerbe, who joined the Eagles in November after the Saints decided to cut him in training camp, took just three snaps.
But the end of a Super Bowl is more about the journey than the final step, and whatever happened on the field, there was Jenkins in the middle of the Eagles in a victorious locker room, screaming to his teammates just how much this one meant to him.
"I have never been a part of nothing like this, haven't seen nothing like this," Jenkins said. "First time bringing it back to Philly."
Jenkins has been a part of something like this before, a rookie on the Saints team that ended decades of frustration by overcoming the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
Being a rookie on a veteran-laden team, though, is nothing like the place Jenkins occupies in Philadelphia now.
"This one, I was a bigger part of this one," Jenkins said. "Being a leader, being a starter, contributor."
Ellerbe has also won a Super Bowl before, playing a key role for the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. At first, Ellerbe said the only difference between the two titles was that this one came from the NFC, but in reality, this road was far different for the veteran linebacker.
"The first one that I did, I had a major role in it," Ellerbe said. "This one, I just had to fit in where needed. Just to put a little piece of my imprint into this game, it feels great."
Ellerbe's season started in disappointment.
Frustrated by the injuries that kept him off the field for half his time in New Orleans, the Saints cut Ellerbe in training camp, and it took two months before he finally landed in Philadelphia.
At times, the inactivity was frustrating.
"I'm glad I got cut now," Ellerbe said.
For Robinson, who was the Saints' first draft pick after New Orleans won the Super Bowl but never lived up to his first-round status with the Saints, the victory represented his first ring, a championship to which he will forever be tied in Philadelphia for jump-starting the Eagles with a pick-six in the NFC championship game.
Robinson was spent emotionally after the game, tears in his eyes, a sign of how far he's traveled.
Jenkins, who has always loved Robinson's play, has been trying to get him to come to Philadelphia ever since Robinson's rookie deal in New Orleans expired.
Now Robinson is so glad he finally listened to the first-round pick the Saints took the year before him.
"That's what we did it for, right?" Robinson said. "To come get this championship. We finally did it."