— By Art Spander, The Sports Xchange —
MINNEAPOLIS — A few months ago he was a backup, again, waiting for the chance that as someone who had been with other teams knew might never come along. But come along it did, and Sunday night, still in his uniform pants, still unpretentious, there stood Nick Foles, the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl LII.
Foles became the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback when Carson Wentz went down with a torn-up knee. Oh well, said the critics, the Eagles are doomed.
Not at all. They were blessed. And brilliant. Foles, who had been this route before, a few years ago replacing Michael Vick, knew what to do. And more importantly, what not to do: Don’t try to be a hero.
Which, of course, is what he became, helping the Eagles to the first Super Bowl title in their history. And reassuring himself that he belonged in the game.
“There was a time where I was thinking of hanging up the cleats,” said Foles, “and I think as people we deal with struggle.”
A deeply religious man, Foles said his faith kept him going.”
He certainly kept Philly going, throwing three touchdown passes and in a beautifully scripted trick play catching one. Although the Patriots’ Tom Brady had the numbers — three touchdown passes, 505 passing yards (“He played a great game,” said Foles) — it was Foles and the Eagles that owned the thrilling 41-33 victory.
Foles was traded by the Eagles to the Rams in 2015, then released and headed to Kansas City, then released and last spring returned to Philadelphia as Wentz’s backup. No wonder Foles, now 29, was thinking of retirement.
“I’m so happy for Nick,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. “A lot of people counted him out, didn’t think he could get it done. I believed in him, the staff believed in him, the players believed in him.”
Foles said he let the game come to him, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“You never know what it’s going to be like when you’re going to the Super Bowl. I’ve never been here before. So, there were normal nerves. It doesn’t get any bigger than this. But I felt good. I felt calm.”
Pederson, a onetime quarterback, made sure Foles didn’t get jitters. The Eagles took the opening kickoff, and passes were called the first three plays. It was if they were saying, “Here’s what you’re going to get.”
“I wasn’t worrying about the scoreboard,” Foles said. “I was just playing ball. I was just going out there and ripping it.”
He ripped it, big time.