Nick Foles, Super Bowl MVP: ‘I Wouldn’t Be Here Without God in My Life’
Philadelphia Eagles QB stunned everyone with his performance on the field, but his motivation is far larger than athletic excellence
Though the latest NFL season was highly controversial, Super Bowl LII MVP Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was a bright and rare standout who caused little controversy and managed to be a true underdog winner.
Foles excelled during the Super Bowl, throwing for nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns in addition to a touchdown reception. However, it was what he did after the game that tells more about the person he is.
Holding his daughter during a postgame interview on the field, Foles was quick to credit his success: “Unbelievable,” he said. “All the glory to God.”
In a league so heavily politicized, Foles remains a positive influence on America. He is a devout Christian whose Twitter bio reads: “Believer in Jesus Christ, husband, father, son, brother.” With this in mind, it should be no surprise that Foles has said on many occasions he is working to become a pastor when his football career is over.
Currently, Foles is enrolled in a Liberty University online master’s degree program at the Rawlings School of Divinity.
“I wanted to continue to learn and challenge my faith,” Foles told Delaware Online. “When I speak to high schoolers, when I speak to middle schoolers, that’s such a time of young men and young women’s lives that there’s a lot of things that are thrown at them, so much temptation in this world.”
If it were not for his faith, Foles might not be the champion he is today. Though he’s never been a starter for a full 16-game NFL season, he had a subpar 2015 season and was released by the Los Angeles Rams because they drafted a new quarterback, Jared Goff. After that, Foles seriously considered retiring from the game of football. Instead, he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs — where he had the opportunity to play with one of his former head coaches, Andy Reid.
"I knew as a person, the more growth I would have and the more opportunity I would have to glorify God and trust in Him was to go back and play football ... because of everything I had encountered," Foles, a native of Austin, Texas, said last Thursday in a press conference. "It took a lot more faith to go back and play than if it would have gone the other direction, but either way would have been fine."
Foles was not supposed to be the Eagles' starting quarterback this season; instead, he filled in for Carson Wentz for the last three games of the regular season and also during the playoffs, as Wentz tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in December. In the final two games of the regular season, Foles struggled; he completed 46.9 percent of his 49 pass attempts for 202 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. In one game, he even caused the team to be shut out by the Dallas Cowboys. But Foles kept believing — and completed over 70 percent of his passes in three playoff games.
"I wouldn't be out here without God, without Jesus in my life," he told The Washington Post following Sunday night's Super Bowl win. "I can tell you that first and foremost. I don't have the strength to come out here and play this game like that. That's an everyday walk. We have struggles as people. That's just been my rock, and my family."
Within the Eagles organization, Foles is one of several people who are outgoing about their faith. The team's original starting quarterback this season, Carson Wentz, went on a mission trip to Haiti last year and delivered a sermon in his home state of North Dakota last July, according to USA Today.
Plus, Foles was photographed praying with wide receiver Torrey Smith, offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, and defensive end Brandon Graham, tight end Zach Ertz, and middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, after the Eagles' playoff win over the Atlanta Falcons last month.
Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich, a former NFL quarterback, was also a seminarian and pastor prior to getting back into the sport.
Undoubtedly, the Eagles are currently in a great position coming off a Super Bowl victory. They even have two quality options as quarterback for next season. Since Foles showed he is capable of playing well at the highest level imaginable, however, whether he stays in Philadelphia or is traded to the strongest bidder prior to the 2019 season remains to be seen.
Regardless of where he ends up in his football career, Foles is driven by a force much larger than himself. The 29-year-old already knows what he wants to do after his football career is over: be a positive influence in the Christian community. Perhaps now he is in an even better position to do this because his stock as a professional athlete rose dramatically after winning Super Bowl LII.
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.