Monday, February 05, 2018
The miracle of Nick Foles - not beyond belief
MINNEAPOLIS – Larry Foles had a premonition about his son.
“I can say it now – back in August I wrote it in my phone: ‘We were going to the Super Bowl and Nick would be the quarterback’ — for whatever reason,’” Foles said. “I told a couple people. I did not say they would win it, but I said he was going. I kept it to myself for months.”
Foles’ son would not only reach the pinnacle of professional football, he would conquer it. And if Nick’s performance for the ages in the Eagles’ 41-33 win over the Patriots seemed like a dream to his father, all he had to do was glance to his left on the confetti-covered turf at U.S. Bank Stadium and see his son on the ESPN set talking to Chris Berman.
Larry Foles could look at his son’s wife, Tori, and the group of 28 family and friends, who had flown in from around the country and were now taking celebratory photos with each other as Eagles fans serenaded their Nick with chants of, “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!”
But Larry Foles always believed that this – a backup, who had been knocked around the NFL and once considered retirement, who had returned to the team that originally drafted him, who had been tasked with replacing the MVP-caliber starter and had struggled late in the regular season – was possible.
“Nick has never surprised me,” his father said. “Never.”
Like his son, Larry Foles said he never gets too up or down. But was there one moment during the evening when he thought Nick had his finest moment? Where he found himself overcome with emotion? The answer may surprise, considering the countless clutch passes he had completed.
“When he held his baby on the stage during the award ceremony,” Larry Foles said. “And he made his speech. I did cry then.”
Nick Foles answered a few questions.
“All glory to God,” he said.
“I felt calm,” he added.
Foles then walked down the podium and handed his seven-month daughter, Lily, to his wife. He returned to the stage and hugged his backup, Nate Sudfeld. After a few more hugs and high fives for his teammates and other Eagles staffers, Foles had to go. The post-game news conference was waiting.
The barricade was opened and bodyguards and NFL personnel tried to create a path for Foles and his family. But they were enveloped by cameras, reporters and well-wishers. Foles grasped Tori’s hand as she held Lily. After a brief TV interview, they finally made it through the tunnel.
As NFL personnel whisked Foles to the press room, his family – including his mom, Melissa – trailed behind. Tori wore a “Foles No. 9” shirt with glitter. Lily had a green headband with a bow and pink protection headphones on her head.
“Is she good?” Nick asked looking back.
“She’s good,” Foles’ agent Justin Shulman said. “She’s looking like this is the coolest thing.”
As Foles entered the makeshift auditorium, Eagles coach Doug Pederson had just begun his news conference. The Foles family sat stage left. Lily started to cry. Nick grabbed her and she soon stopped. She grabbed the silver cross from around his neck and started to suck on it.
“A lot of people counted him out and didn’t think he could get it done,” Pederson said of Foles. “I believed in him, the staff believed in him, the players believed in him.”
When Pederson was finished, Foles walked toward the dais and the coach and quarterback embraced. Asked about standing on the podium with his family after holding the Lombardi Trophy and being awarded the MVP, Foles choked up. It wasn’t the first time he had gotten emotional when talking about his wife and daughter during his Cinderella postseason run.
“That’s what life’s about right there,” Foles said.
He had a similar reaction when asked about helping the Eagles win their first Super Bowl.
“The people who bleed green, the people of Philadelphia, the people all across the nation that support the Eagles,” Foles said, “they’ve waited a long time.”
Nick Foles catches a touchdown pass in the second quarter of Sunday's 41-33 win over the Patriots (Getty Images)
He was then zipped back onto the field to interview with NFL Network and ESPN. The Foles family basked in the environment. Tori’s older brother, Evan Moore, briefly played tight end for the Eagles and was teammates with Nick. He and his wife took a picture together.
One of Nick’s sisters came over and teased her father about his interviewing skills. He was talking about his contact with his son in the days prior to the Super Bowl.
“I didn’t see him much,” Larry Foles said. “When I did it was, ‘Dad, how are you doing?’ We texted each other on game day and it was just, ‘I love you,’ and that was it. I was trying not to give any advice and he don’t want any advice anyway.”
Larry Foles said he watched the game from one end zone “about 39 rows up.” Nick came out firing. It was clear early on that he was performing at the same level he had played in the NFC championship over the Vikings. Larry Foles said he knew his son had special abilities when he was a teenager.
“His football team — they were 5-3 and he told me right after that, he said, ‘Dad, we’re going to that state championship.’ And they did,” Foles said. “They didn’t win it, but they played the No. 1 team in the nation.”
Larry Foles recalled watching Nick compete in national championship basketball tournaments around the same time.
“They would be down two points, have to get fouled and he’d hit all three to win it – that kind of stuff,” Foles said. “Basketball is little more difficult. You got to dribble, shoot, pass. Football – you just grab it and throw it.”
In December, just days after Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending knee injury, Larry Foles ran into Nick’s former quarterback coach at Arizona, Frank Scelfo. They were both connecting through Nashville’s airport and Foles tapped Scelfo on the shoulder in the terminal.
“I’m like, ‘What are you doing here?’ He told me he was going to see Nick in his first start,” Scelfo said by telephone. “He said, ‘I got to tell you a story. I had a vision or a dream’ – I forget what he called it. My wife was standing there, too.”
Foles told Scelfo of his August revelation.
“I was like, ‘You kidding?’ We laughed about it some. I said, ‘Well, I hope it happens,’” Scelfo said. “You kind of dismiss it. But when they got to the NFC championship, I said, ‘You got to be [kidding] me. My arms just started to tingle.”
When Nick completed the seemingly improbable on Sunday night, Scelfo said he texted Larry Foles a thumbs-up emoji.
“It wasn’t about him getting the job, it’s about next man up, you know?” Foles said. “Wentz is incredible, wonderful. But I just had a feeling.”
After the ESPN interview, Nick finally made it back to the locker room. His teammates cheered as he entered. He walked over to guard Stefen Wisniewski and center Jason Kelce and they shared a few chuckles.
Foles turned to walk back to his stall and there was Wentz standing, waiting. They smiled, hugged and sat down alongside Sudfeld. They joked. Foles laughed so hard he almost spit out his Gatorade.
“He loves that quarterback room – Wentz, Sudfeld,” Larry Foles said. “It’s just amazing.”
About 30 minutes after the locker room was closed off to media, Foles emerged with Sudfeld and wide receiver Mack Hollins. They were eating out of Styrofoam containers as they walked to a waiting bus.
Larry Foles said he didn’t know what the future holds for his son, who remains under contract with the Eagles for one more season, but who could likely attract a nice return from the highest bidder this offseason.
“I think he loves where he is, doing what he’s doing,” Foles said. “It’s about chemistry. It’s about being with coaches that believe in you, listen to you, that get input from you. And that’s what Doug, [Eagles offensive coordinator] Frank Reich and [former Chiefs offensive coordinator] Matt Nagy did.”
But there’s been something more than just chemistry at work over the last two months. Nick Foles believes it. His father believes in it and in his son.
“Nick rises to the occasion,” Larry Foles said, “when you need him.”