Foles’ berth in Super Bowl has ring of destiny
Eagles saw a quality person in QB, made extra effort to bring him back.
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.
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.