HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The night before Super Bowl LII, Kamu Grugier-Hill was awake past curfew. No, he wasn't out and about in the host city of Minneapolis – and he definitely wasn't up to any off-field shenanigans.
His eyes were wide open, staring off into the darkness of his hotel room. The moment of playing in a Super Bowl had finally hit him, thousands of miles from the home in Hawaii where he first dreamt of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
"I tried to get as much sleep as I could. But there wasn't much going on with that. It was just something that I've been dreaming about forever," Grugier-Hill told Hawaii News Now on Tuesday. "The craziest thing is that it didn't actually hit me really until that night before the game. This is happening tomorrow."
Eventually, the Kamehameha-Kapalama graduate and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker managed to get some rest. After all, it was just another football game, being played like it was any other Sunday.
But with the whole world watching, it was difficult to block out the noise.
"I think that was the worst part about it being later, or a night game, because you're just waiting around all day," Grugier-Hill said. "You just want to end this thing and get it rolling. And some guys couldn't even control themselves. I wish I could put it into words, man … You're not getting the same amount of rest that you've been getting, you know? You're doing media meetings for two-three hours and you still gotta find that focus to go out and practice hard and watch film and stuff.
"At the same time, you're trying to enjoy the moment you're out there with your teammates. You've having fun, but it's tough. You gotta do it if you want to win."
The frigid weather conditions in Minnesota were well-documented leading up to Sunday's big game. But once the players took field, Grugier-Hill said that he felt warm.
He was – both figuratively and literally – in the heat of the moment.
"It's just packed. There's cameras everywhere. It was almost hotter in the stadium just because how much lights and cameras and flashes were going off," he said. "Just the heat off those lights, it was just a totally different day."
A different day, a different game, and a different opponent. Grugier-Hill, who mostly lines up on special teams for the Eagles, jogged out to his mark on the field for the opening kickoff through the sea of noise erupting from the tens of thousands of fans in attendance at U.S. Bank Stadium.
His teammates were enjoying the calm before the storm; some were jumping up and down in excitement. But Grugier-Hill was locked in, and couldn't take his eyes off his opponent.
"For me, personally, just before that first kickoff, just looking 10 yards across the line, just looking at these guys in the eyes just knowing what we're fighting for, what's at stake... That's something that's burned into my memory," he said. "Just looking at those guys and saying, 'I'm not going to let you guys take this from me,' that was what our whole team's mentality was."
By now, the final result of the game should be common knowledge. The Eagles won their first Super Bowl in franchise history in a remarkable 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots.
The game itself was an experience for Grugier-Hill, but the second Tom Brady's Hail Mary toss into the end zone was batted into the turf is the moment he can't get over – mostly because it was too surreal to believe.
"Once that clock hit zero, man. That was a feeling I'll never forget. I honestly could not put it in words for you guys," he said. "It just felt like I was dreaming. Even after, we were just looking at each like, did that just really happen? Are we Super Bowl champions? Guys are on their knees crying, having their girlfriends, wives and mothers holding them, it was such an amazing experience, man."
The "City of Brotherly Love" soon became a wasteland as Philadelphia fans took over the streets of their city, celebrating the victory the only way Grugier-Hill says Eagles fans can: through unadulterated, unfiltered chaos.
"This city has been waiting for this for so long. And to finally get a Super Bowl win, to this city it means so much. To these individual fans, not even this team, they're pride for their team and their city is something I can't even explain," he said. "I've never seen fans act the way they act out here. It's a different breed out here. I mean, you saw what these fans did to the Minnesota fans."
Grugier-Hill says that fellow Hawaii native and former MLB All-Star Shane Victorino reached out to him after the Super Bowl. Victorino, who won the World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies a few years back, gave Grugier-Hill a heads up on what to expect.
"He said, 'You have no idea what you're about to walk into,'" Grugier-Hill said with a smile. "I know Thursday (Super Bowl victory parade) is about to be even crazier."