Nick Foles by the numbers
Daniel Sato, The News Journal
Conversations with former teammate, coach and father all show that Nick Foles is ready for the big moment.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Nick Foles is leading his team on an improbable run after taking over when something went wrong with the starting quarterback.
Foles has his Philadelphia Eagles headed to New Orleans to play the Saints on Sunday in the NFC divisional playoffs, looking for his fourth-straight win since stepping in for an injured Carson Wentz.
It comes a year after Foles stepped in for an injured Wentz and led the Eagles to a Super Bowl win.
They might not know it nationally, but his preparation for this moment started down in Tucson.
“He was in this situation back in college,” former Arizona Wildcats teammate Robert Golden said, “when UA and Coach (Mike) Stoops named Matt Scott the starting quarterback, and Nick comes in off the bench and performed well.
“That’s just kinda who Nick is, you know? Sometimes he gets overlooked, but every time he steps up, he performs.”
Golden was flashing back to Week 3 of the 2009 UA season.
“At Iowa,” said Golden, a free agent safety who worked last season for the Pac-12 Networks, “we were down. The offense was struggling, and he gave us a boost at the end of the game. Wasn’t able to finish it off, but Nick was the starter for the rest of the year, and we ended up going to the Holiday Bowl and finished second in the Pac-10.”
‘We don’t talk football’
Foles’ father, Larry, can’t tell you the specifics of how his boy does it.
“We don’t talk football,” Larry Foles said. “We don’t talk at all about it. He and I have a rule. … We’ve never even talked about the Super Bowl, except the fact that I don’t remember seeing much of the game. I can’t figure out why it was that way, I guess I was so high (on the experience). And he said, ‘Dad, I played in the game, and it’s hard to recall.’ ”
Larry Foles, who owns restaurants in several states, stopped giving his son sports advice back in high school.
“We talk about life and family and circumstances, things like that,” he said. “But when it comes to him playing the game, we just don’t talk about it.”
That doesn’t mean he’s not a huge supporter. Larry Foles has been there for the big moments, including last week at Chicago.
“It was quite a spectacle with all the noise. … That’s the loudest stadium I’ve ever been in,” he said. “With all the excitement of all the Bears fans, you’re thinking, ‘Do they even have a shot?’ But I knew that he would come through, and he did.”
Nick Foles has a way of keeping things in perspective, which helps him keep poised in big situations.
“He likes to keep it between his ears,” Larry Foles said. “Football is football. It’s just a game.”
Difficult situations teach lessons in perseverance.
“Any time you face adversity — which he has numerous times, we all do in life — you learn from it, move on and get stronger with it,” Larry Foles said. “It’s like he’s always said, you live in the moment. Don’t go back. Don’t go forward. Live in the moment. Don’t try to figure things out that you don’t have to. Just stay grounded where you are, and you’ll be fine. Spend your time and effort where you are.”
Never too big
A former coach, Bam McRae, remembers seeing those qualities in Foles back in college. (McRae, ahead of last year’s Super Bowl, called Foles “a freak athlete,” which proved prescient when Foles caught a touchdown pass in the big game.)
“I think he’s very spiritually grounded, you know?” said McRae, a former UA tight end and assistant strength coach. “He believes that he’s in a blessed position, and he doesn’t take for granted the opportunities that are presented for him.”
McRae, athletic director at Leman Academy of Excellence in Marana, remembers Foles getting involved in Athletes in Action and other faith-based groups.
“That carries him and allows him to be — as most people see — calm and just ready for the opportunity when it presents itself,” McRae said. “… The moment’s never too big. It’s just the moment. He knows that it’s gonna come, and it’s gonna pass. So, he’s not gonna go up and down with the moment. He’s just gonna live in it. And when it’s over, it’s over. He’s just gonna live in the next moment.”
In this case, the next moment is in the Superdome. We’ll see what happens after that.