“It’s emotional. Like I said, I love playing in Philly.” Nick Foles told reporters, choking up a little just minutes after leading the team to a buzzer-beater win over the Houston Texans. “I knew there was a chance this could be it. I don’t think about the future, but I am aware off that because this city means a lot to me, this team means a lot to me, wearing that jersey means a lot to me.” They say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. When you look back at the legacy of Nick Foles and realize that this man has become a genuine hero over the last five years, to think that next season, that story could take on a second chapter away from the City of Brotherly Love, it puts it all into perspective.
By now, we all know the narrative. After Doug Pederson pounded the table for the Eagles to take Foles in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the former Arizona quarterback would find a home in Philadelphia. From that incredible 27-2 season that saw the first Nick Foles jersey make its way to Canton, to the wobbles that followed, Foles quickly became a hero. Not just for his play on the field, but his attitude. Taking that huge, illegal hit against the Redskins before coming back to lead the team really showed the world just how resilient he is.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Chip Kelly era would send Foles in a different direction. A blessing in disguise, Foles was traded to the Rams where after a season of struggles under Jeff Fisher, he would be cut one season later. Fisher famously told Foles that he hopes he lands on his feet, aired in an episode of ‘Hard Knocks’.
Land on his feet, he did. Foles, as we all know, would reunite with Doug Pederson and Andy Reid in Kansas City before eventually returning to Philadelphia with Pederson to complete one of the greatest sporting miracles of all time. Even after the legend had unraveled into the most incredible chapter of all time, Foles still had some unfinished business.
Sticking with the team for one more year on a revised deal, Foles would backup Carson Wentz as he returned from his torn ACL injury, playing in the opening two games of the season. Little did he know that he would be called into action in the final few weeks, with the future of the franchise once again struggling with injuries. But since his return to the field, the offense has taken off to new levels.
A shocking win over the Rams was followed up by a new single-game franchise record in passing yards to elevate the Eagles to a win over the Houston Texans. The team’s playoff hopes have been saved by Nick Foles and as the team continue to scrap with every last breath to save their season, it’s the composure of Foles that is keeping the machine moving.
Not only that, but he did so in emphatic fashion. Forget the stats, forget the win. The fact that on the game-winning drive, Foles was driven to the ground and winded by Jadeveon Clowney and limped off the field with the assistance of trainers, only to return to the game a few moments later, converting two monumental third downs and pushing the Eagles into field goal territory. That sums up Nick Foles in a nutshell.
“That’s just Nick.” Pederson said, completely unsurprised at this point by such a huge game when it mattered most. “He’s always been calm in and around the — his preparation during the week and of course leading up to the game. He’s a guy that just wants to continue to just help the team win and dish the ball and put it in our playmakers’ hands. Really not getting much credit. Just let the other guys do it. Even after taking that hit and then going back in, I thought it took a lot of courage and guts at that point to want to finish the game and come back in and it’s just a credit to Nick.”
“He’s extremely calm. He’s always exuding positivity.” Said Zach Ertz after his record-breaking season was solidified. “It’s hard to talk well about one guy and then it seems like the comments are going to come off as demeaning to another, so I don’t want to do that by any means. I just want to solely focus on Nick. He’s playing at an extremely high level. We love playing for him because he’s always exuding that positivity. Guys love playing for him. He’s always going to give us a chance on those jump balls, those 50-50 balls, and I think he just ultimately trusts us to make plays. He’s done that for years here and he’s a really talented quarterback.”
The truth is, whether Nick Foles returns next year or not, that nobody will ever view the number 9 in the same way. From a third round pick backup QB, and being an outcast who was sent to the Rams, watching his career fading, to the MVP of Super Bowl 52 and a quarterback who may, just may, have been able to send the Eagles back into contention to defend that very crown, his story embodies everything Philadelphia stands for.
It’s that grit and determination that makes this City and this quarterback so special. If Foles were to somehow send the Eagles all the way back to the promised land, there would be no argument at all from anybody. But in my opinion, the argument is already settled. For Foles to overcome every ounce of adversity he’s faced, lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl crown and then take a decimated season and piece it back together to at least inject a spark of hope, that’s a quarterback who will never be forgotten by this City…and the team should absolutely honor that by retiring his number when the time is right.
There will be other backup quarterbacks in the future, there may even be others who don that number for a while. But there will never be a Nick Foles. There will never be another legend of that magnitude, that will echo through generations as one of the greatest stories ever told in the world of sports. There will never be a man as humble and as loved as Foles, or a scenario where he opts to willingly go back into the shadows to help the team and push Carson Wentz to his best through ACL recovery.
There will never be another number Nick Foles.