Nick Foles, a perfect example of what is right in pro sports
By Dan Karpiel
Did you watch the Super Bowl on Sunday? I did. Though I have to admit in the run-up to the game my interest in it was as low as it has been in my 30-plus years of watching football. Philadelphia and New England are not exactly two of my favorite teams and, like many Americans, my interest in professional football has waned somewhat the last couple years.
That being said, Super Bowl LII was one heck of a game. Even as someone who loves to see good defensive football – and that was one area where the game (1,151 combined total yards of offense allowed!) was sorely lacking – the back-and-forth nature of the contest to the very end, the big plays, the way the officials let the players play, even the Eli Manning/O’Dell Beckham “Dirty Dancing,” commercial made the game worth four-and-a-half hours of my time.
Yet when I sat down to write this column my mind kept coming back to one thing – Philadelphia quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.
It was not just so much Foles’ performance in the game, which was incredible, but the way he carried himself in the lead-up to the game and in the 24 hours since, that stuck with me.
Foles’ performance, not just in the Super Bowl, but throughout the postseason, was one of the most brilliant stretches of play the game has ever seen. In his three playoff games, Foles completed 77 of 106 pass attempts for 971 yards, threw six touchdowns and only one interception for a passer rating of 115.7.
The only other players to complete greater than 70 percent of their passes in a single postseason are both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Their names? Joe Montana and Troy Aikman. Perhaps you’ve heard of them.
Despite his excellence on the field, where he matched his childhood idol Tom Brady throw-for-throw, play-for-play, catch-for … drop, it was Foles humility, his honesty, his unabashed pride, his faith and for his family, that made yours truly a fan.
No one expected Foles to be here. Not even Foles himself. From 2015 to 2017, he was traded by the Eagles, released by the Rams, and cut by the Chiefs, only to re-sign as a backup with the Eagles last spring. When 2017 league MVP candidate and burgeoning superstar Carson Wentz blew out his knee in November, Foles was installed as the Eagles’ starter.
After being released by the Rams in July 2016, Foles said he contemplated retirement from the NFL, at age 27, but decided to keep trying. As he said in his press conference after winning the Super Bowl, “I had to take a week off when I was a free agent just to think about it, and it was the best thing that ever happened, because I think people are fearful of feeling that way because they feel like they’re the only ones that feel that way.”
How and where did he find the strength? It was his faith and his family. Foles was emotional speaking about his wife, Tori Moore, and his seven-month-old daughter, Lily James, saying, “That’s the most important thing … when I get home, I get to see (Lily James), I get to see my wife … I know every time I step on the field, every single thing I do … and that gives you a little extra juice … I want her to grow up and be proud of her daddy.”
As Foles explained on Feb. 1, before the Super Bowl, “I want to be a pastor in a high school. It’s on my heart. I took a leap of faith last year and signed up to take classes at seminary. I wanted to continue to learn and challenge my faith. You want to impact people’s hearts.”
In a time where discussion of pro sports is dominated by the bad apples – the anthem protesters, the criminals, the domestic violence perpetrators, the greedy, the drugged-up, the drunk drivers – it is good to see a good guy like Nick Foles finish first.
Asked what he wants people to take from his unconventional journey to champion and MVP, Foles replied, “Don’t be afraid to fail … failure is part of life, that’s a part of building character and growing. I wouldn’t be here right now if I hadn’t fallen a thousand times, made mistakes, we’re all human, we all have weakness. I’m not perfect, I’m not superman, I might be in the NFL and we might have just won the Super Bowl, but I still have daily struggles. That’s where my faith comes in, that’s where my family comes in.”
With a perspective on what’s important, whether he wins another Super Bowl, another MVP, another game, throws another touchdown pass, or even catches another, Foles knows the reason he is here and is grateful for it.
For Foles, the Lombardi Trophy, the gaudy, diamond-festooned Super Bowl ring, the sterling silver MVP trophy and the trip to Disney World were just icing on the cake. Talk about impressive.
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