On Dec. 10, Nick Foles’ season changed dramatically. Foles’ teammate, Carson Wentz, had his MVP-caliber campaign interrupted by a dreaded ACL injury. In an instant Foles went from backup to starter for the Eagles, a team on top of many Super Bowl contender lists.
A situation that might have caught other players off guard was nothing new for Foles, whose six-year NFL career has had more than its fair share of twists and turns. Looking competent but not flashy, Foles calmly led the Eagles to a fourth-quarter comeback victory against his former team, the Los Angeles Rams.
After Philadelphia selected Foles in the third round of the 2012 draft, he sat the bench behind Mike Vick for the first half of his rookie season. An injury to Vick in Week 10 thrust Foles into the starting role for a tumultuous few weeks before a broken hand ended his season.
That rookie season was, in a way, a microcosm of what his career has been like up to this point: a series of wild ups and downs punctuated by injuries. The only constant: Foles has never been able to lock down a starting job for more than one season.
Which is why it’s not a total shock to learn that the quarterback was strongly contemplating retirement after a disappointing 2016 season.
“A lot of people don’t know this — I’m going to share this right now, because I think it’s important. After my time with a certain NFL team [the Kansas City Chiefs], I wanted to retire,” Foles told the YouTube channel for YouVersion, a Bible app.
“This was a year ago. I wanted to retire from the NFL, and I really struggled. I couldn’t pick up a football for about eight months. I had no love for the game, and it was tough.”
Foles, who is a deeply committed Christian, opened up about the process he underwent in deciding to return to the NFL.
“I kept reading Scripture, I kept praying, I kept asking God — and so many of us ask God for signs, we ask God, ‘Hey, please just put it on the wall, like, I want to know,’ but that’s not how it works,” he said.
“He’s not always going to do that,” Foles continued. “He was shaping me. He was bringing me down to my knees. …
“At that moment, through that prayer, He said, ‘Hey, just take a step of faith. You’re either going to stop playing the game of football and you’re going to go onto a different area of your life and I’m going to be with you, I’m going to be the most important thing in your life, or you’re going to step back into football and you’re going to continue to play and I’m going to be with you every step of the way and you’re going to play to glorify me.'”
Foles also read 2 Corinthians 12:9 (“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”) and explained that the Bible verse was key in his decision not to retire.
After deciding to keep playing football, Foles signed a two-year contract with the team that drafted him, the Eagles, to back up Wentz, another Christian who has spoken publicly about his faith.
Ironically, just when Foles had made peace with his role as a backup, he has been presented with the biggest opportunity of his career to make his mark on NFL history. The Eagles finished the season atop the NFC with a 13-3 record. They have all the pieces in place to make a run at the Super Bowl.
For that to happen, Foles will need to be in top form from the start, as they’ll face a gauntlet of tough NFC games to reach the Super Bowl.
Philadelphia’s playoff campaign begins Saturday against the Atlanta Falcons, who are hungry to avenge last season’s embarrassing Super Bowl meltdown.
Foles told reporters Wednesday he knows it will be a challenge but he’ll just trust his instincts.
“There’s a reason I’ve been able to do what I’ve been able to do, and a big part of that’s my teammates, my coaches, but when I play my best, when I’m most comfortable, I just go out there and play,” he said.
YouVersion uploaded the Foles video in August. The full version is available on YouTube.
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