Eagles, Chiefs gift Super Bowl 57 tickets to Marine friends involved in kidney donation

On Sunday, when the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 57, one particular pair of fans will hold opposing allegiances, but will take in the event thanks to the unique bond that brought them back together.

According to the TODAY Show, Eagles fan Billy Welsh and Chiefs fan John Gladwell met more than 20 years ago when they served in the Marines. Though the two remained Facebook friends, they hadn't spoken until 2019, when Welsh posted that he needed a kidney donation. After reading the post, Gladwell set up tests that determined that he was a match and then both underwent a 10-hour transplant in a Philadelphia hospital, according to TODAY.

"It meant the world to me," Welsh said Wednesday during an appearance on the show. "I was speechless. John Gladwell is my hero."

Gladwell said he was moved by the thought that Welsh was a father to a son that was around the same age as his own grandson.

"I wasn’t going to let his son grow up without his dad being there for everything," Gladwell told the TODAY Show.

The story eventually reached Eagles team president Don Smolenski, who later contacted Chiefs team president Mark Donovan. Both teams then set up a plan to send Welsh and Gladwell to Glendale, Arizona to watch the game in person.

"The opportunity to bring these two guys together, their two teams playing on the biggest stage in sports, it’s very, very humbling and gratifying," Smolenski told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday.

According to the Inquirer, the Eagles and Chiefs set up a video call with Welsh and Gladwell and didn't tell either Marine that the other would be on the call. It was on that call when the executives from both teams told Welsh and Gladwell that they would be flown to Arizona, put up in hotel rooms and seated next to each other at the game.

Kickoff is set for Sunday, Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET from State Farm Stadium.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Super Bowl 57 tickets gifted to friends involved in kidney donation