There’s an old thought in the publishing world — books, magazines, newspapers, whatever — that after a major sports event is finished, unless you’re in the winning team’s city, you move on. Or, unless you’re talking about Nick Foles.
This month’s CYITML “C” word is COACH, which is someone who understands the game; is an independent thinker; a good self-evaluator; and offers enthusiasm. Is there a position that understands that definition better than a backup quarterback? And, does any backup quarterback Nick Foles, who happened to be the MVP of last weekend’s Super Bowl LII, embrace that definition any better?
“It takes a lot of confidence and a lot of humility,” Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, a perennial backup quarterback during his career, said in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. “You need to have the confidence that you can step in there and not only manage the game but play to win. But it also takes humility. You know your primary goal is to support the starting quarterback. Nick certainly exudes those qualities.”
Foles, who took over for injured starter Carson Wentz in Week 14, became the 10th backup quarterback in Super Bowl history to lead his team to a win in the championship game. The previous? New England quarterback Tom Brady, who took over for Drew Bledsoe during the 2001 season and helped the Patriots win Super Bowl XXXVI.
Unlike Brady, though, in 2001 or 2018, Foles has contemplated retirement. During the first four years of his career, 2012-15, with Philadelphia and St. Louis, started 35 games. He then spent 2016 as Alex Smith’s backup in Kansas City, playing in only three games for the Chiefs. Somewhere between the two Missouri cities, Foles thought about walking away.
“I wanted to retire from the NFL, and I really struggled,” he said in a video devotional for the YouVersion Bible app. “I couldn’t pick up a football for about eight months. I had no love for the game, and it was tough.”
Foles continued: “I kept asking God — and so many of us ask God for signs, we ask God, ‘Hey, please just put it on the wall, like, I want to know,’ but that’s not how it works. … He’s not always going to do that. He was shaping me. He was bringing me down to my knees … At that moment, through that prayer, He said, ‘Hey, just take a step of faith. You’re either going to stop playing the game of football and you’re going to go onto a different area of your life and I’m going to be with you, I’m going to be the most important thing in your life, or you’re going to step back into football and you’re going to continue to play and I’m going to be with you every step of the way and you’re going to play to glorify me.”
Thankfully for the Eagles, Foles decided to keep playing.
Foles reminds me of the Abraham Lincoln quote: “I will study and prepare myself, and someday my chance will come.”
In CYITML terms, a COACH isn’t a backup or a reserve or a bench warmer, or whatever term you want to use. But it certainly fits Nick Foles.