Foles’ berth in Super Bowl has ring of destiny

Ea­gles saw a qual­ity per­son in QB, made ex­tra ef­fort to bring him back.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Les Bowen

Larry Foles, fa­ther of the lanky, unas­sum­ing fel­low who is about to lead the Ea­gles’ sur­prise chal­lenge to the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots’ dy­nasty in Super Bowl LII, says he al­ways thought his son would end up back in Philadel­phia, where Nick Foles’ ca­reer be­gan with such prom­ise.

To an out­sider, this whole busi­ness might seem like the cra­zi­est thing ever: Team loses MVP can­di­date Car­son Wentz in Week 14 and brings off the bench a guy who looked like its quar­ter­back­ing prodigy four years ear­lier but since then has kicked around with a cou­ple of other teams, once even con­tem­plat­ing re­tire­ment. For­got­ten QB then leads team to Super Bowl.

To the peo­ple clos­est to the for­mer West­lake High School star, it makes per­fect sense.

“Nick’s an un­der­dog. He’s al­ways been an un­der­dog,” said Larry Foles, 71. “This whole sce­nario fits him very well, be­cause it’s un­der the radar. He’s al­ways flown

un­der the radar; he’s still fly­ing un­der the radar. That’s some­thing I think he han­dles well.”

Traded to St. Louis by Chip Kelly early in 2015, benched af­ter less than a sea­son there as the starter, re­leased, then signed for a year as a Kansas City backup, Nick was a half-for­got­ten relic of the Ea­gles’ re­cent past this time a year ago. But not to his friends and fam­ily.

“I re­ally felt like he would be back with the Ea­gles. I felt that all along,” Larry Foles said, cit­ing how owner Jef­frey Lurie, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Howie Rose­man

and coach Doug Ped­er­son felt about Nick.

Be­fore the Ea­gles drafted Nick in the third round in 2012, Ped­er­son, then the quar­ter­backs coach, “was the one who came down here and tried him out on West­lake’s field, with 40to 50-mph winds Nick was throw­ing in, so Ped­er­son knew what Nick was,” Larry Foles said.

He said this feel­ing grew stronger when his son signed with the Chiefs and for­mer Ea­gles coach Andy Reid in 2016; Nick knew Reid and Ped­er­son re­mained close.

But Larry didn’t nec­es­sar­ily see Nick lead­ing Phil- adel­phia to the Super Bowl.

“I just felt like there would be an op­por­tu­nity where he could get back there and do what­ever, you know?” he said. “Thank good­ness it was, and he’s a happy boy about it.”

The Ea­gles signed Nick to a two-year deal af­ter the Chiefs de­clined the sec­ond year on his op­tion.

Lurie’s ad­mi­ra­tion

Frank Scelfo knows ex­actly what Larry Foles is talk­ing about. Scelfo was Nick’s quar- ter­backs coach at the Univer­sity of Ari­zona. In Jan­uary 2014, Scelfo was the Jack­sonville Jaguars’ quar­ter­backs coach, and that staff was re­spon­si­ble for the South team at the Se­nior Bowl.

This was weeks af­ter a wild-card play­off loss to the Saints ended the Ea­gles’ 2013 sea­son, which in­cluded an amaz­ing 10-game stretch in which Nick Foles threw 27 touch­down passes and two in­ter­cep­tions. As re­porters, play­ers, agents, coaches and scouts milled about on the Ladd-Pee­bles Sta­dium turf af­ter the South’s prac­tice one day, Rose­man asked Scelfo if he would mind hav­ing a word with Lurie.

What Lurie wanted to talk about was Foles. Though not so much about his quar­ter­back­ing.

“The big­gest thing is that he rec­og­nized the per­son. You look at the num­bers, he’s a good quar­ter­back. That’s not what Jef­frey, what I saw him al­lud­ing to,” Scelfo re­called. “What I saw him al­lud­ing to was, ‘What a great guy. What a great per­son. What a great man.’ He’s hum­ble. He gives ev­ery­body else praise. He thanks God; he thanks his team­mates; he thanks his coaches. You’ll never hear him say. ‘Boy, I did a great job to­day, and I took those guys on my back, and I had to do it my­self.’ Some guys do that.”

The next sea­son Foles strug­gled, then went down with a bro­ken col­lar­bone. The Ea­gles missed the play­offs. Kelly de­manded con- trol of per­son­nel de­ci­sions and traded Foles for Sam Brad­ford. The Kelly regime didn’t last. Lurie’s re­gard for Foles did.

“We made such a con­certed ef­fort to make sure we could get Nick back on the team,” Lurie said in the afterglow of Foles’ 352-yard, three-touch­down pass­ing per­for­mance in the Ea­gles’ 38-7 NFC cham­pi­onship game romp over Min­nesota. “Who

knew it would come to this? We pri­or­i­tized more money for the sec­ond quar­ter­back po­si­tion than most any other team in foot­ball. We even were will­ing to eat a lot of

the con­tract we had so we could go out and get Nick.”

Lurie was re­fer­ring to about $4.1 mil­lion owed to Chase Daniel.

“We’ve al­ways had so much con­fi­dence in Nick,” Lurie said. “His Rams expe- ri­ence, we thought was an out­lier. He’s a won­der­ful per- son and we knew he would be great with Car­son. Who knew we would have to rely on him? I’m hon­estly not sur­prised how ter­rific he played once he got some time with our play­ers, in terms of train­ing. It was like go­ing through a train­ing camp the last three, four weeks. He hadn’t played with the first team the en­tire year. He’s been do­ing it, and there’s no­body I’m hap­pier for.”

His fa­ther’s son

To Larry Foles, his son’s story isn’t that in­cred­i­ble. Larry was a Pe­tal, Miss., high school dropout who started out work­ing at a Shoney’s and built a restau- rant em­pire. Two restau- rant em­pires, ac­tu­ally — the first one went down in the stock mar­ket crash of 1987, a cou­ple of years be­fore Nick was born.

“That was the best thing that ever hap­pened to me,” said Larry Foles, who has restau­rant in­ter­ests in Texas, Ari­zona, Colorado, Cali- for­nia and Ten­nessee. In 2011, he and a part­ner sold

eight of their prop­er­ties for a re­ported $59 mil­lion. “I had these restau­rants, and I lost everything. I lost the busi­ness. I learned a cou­ple of good lessons that have stayed with me.

“It’s about be­ing smarter, re­ally, more than any­thing else. ‘If I ever have this op­por­tu­nity again, these are the things I’ll do bet­ter.’ It was a learn­ing process.”

Af­ter fail­ing big, he said, “you get more grounded; you get more thought­ful; you get kin­der.”

For Nick Foles, set­backs seem to have led to a greater sense of per­spec­tive. In 2013, team­mates praised his calm, up­beat out­look, but at times it seemed the quar­ter­back was too in­sis­tently pos­i­tive and lacked in­tro­spec­tion.

“Nick was al­ways kind of the calm guy. He never got too high; he never got too low. I think his per­spec­tive may have changed,” tight end Zach Ertz said. “By that, I mean that he’s not liv­ing and dy­ing by ev­ery sin­gle play. He’s ex­tremely calm and col­lected now. Obvi- ously, he did hit some lows; he’s been open about that. But we’re ex­tremely grate- ful that he de­cided to come back and play last year and, ul­ti­mately, be here for this year. I don’t think we would be in this sit­u­a­tion right now, as con­fi­dent as we are, with­out him.

“I don’t think he’s changed too much, but his over­all out­look, his over­all de­meanor, may have changed slightly.”

One thing Nick ref­er­ences in al­most ev­ery in­ter­view is his 2014 mar­riage to Tori Moore, a for­mer Ari­zona vol­ley­ball player, and the birth of their daugh­ter, Lilly, last year.

“She has per­spec­tive that a lot of wives don’t have,” Scelfo noted.

Nick said re­cently that he does everything he can to pre­pare, then “when I go home, be with my wife, be with my daugh­ter, be with my dog, I’m go­ing to spend that fam­ily time, be­cause that’s huge for me. They’ve been a part of this jour­ney ev­ery bit as much as I have.”

He says he in­deed is a dif­fer­ent per­son, at 29, from who he was four years ago.

“That Nick is dif­fer­ent from this Nick,” Foles said. “You could ask your­self if when you were 20, were you the same per­son? You’re not. You might have some same val­ues. You might look a lit­tle older. I’ve grown; I’ve changed.

“There’s been tough things to deal with through the course of it, but that’s where you lean on fam­ily, your loved ones, your faith, and con­tinue to grow, till all of a sud­den you’re blessed to be in a mo­ment like this, where you’re do­ing Super Bowl me­dia with an amaz­ing group of guys, and you just can’t be­lieve it.”


West­lake grad Nick Foles has led the Ea­gles into the Super Bowl af­ter tak­ing over for an in­jured Car­son Wentz.


Owner Jef­frey Lurie says the Ea­gles made a con­certed ef­fort to get quar­ter­back Nick Foles back on the team af­ter his two years away. “Who knew it would come to this?” Lurie says of Sun­day’s Super Bowl.

Larry Foles says he fore­saw his son’s re­turn to the Ea­gles.

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