It’s a question that has been picking up steam in recent months: Should the Eagles retire the No. 9 worn by Nick Foles? The whole idea sounds kind of ludicrous at first, but consider that only a handful of Super Bowl MVPs haven’t been honored in that way — and eight of them don’t qualify because they are still playing.
Foles, a true rags-to-riches story stolen from a Disney plot, would probably never want all the pomp and circumstance associated with such a ceremony. Then again, he kind of earned it with his play in Super Bowl LII. The former backup quarterback-turned-hero delivered the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl victory. Let that sink in. Many Eagles quarterbacks have tried — Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, etc. — but Foles actually did it. With all the humility of a street vendor in Philadelphia’s Italian Market.
“I’m not Superman. I might be in the NFL, I might have just won a Super Bowl, but, hey, we still have daily struggles, I still have daily struggles,” Foles told reporters after winning Super Bowl LII. “And that’s where my faith comes in, that’s where my family comes in. I think when you look at a struggle in your life, just know that’s just an opportunity for your character to grow. And that’s just been the message. Simple. If something’s going on in your life and you’re struggling, embrace it. Because you’re growing.”
Put that on a bumper sticker. Foles is a living legend in Philadelphia and should be treated as such. Heck, he already has a statue outside Lincoln Finacial Field, courtesy of Bud Light. Why not just raise that No. 9 into the rafters? It’s not normal for teams to retire the numbers of players not destined for Canton, yet somehow the Eagles were convinced to honor Donovan McNabb. (Although McNabb seems to think he deserves a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame). It’s all semantics, lost in translation, then forged in bronze.
Point is, Foles is a white whale — the ultimate exception to the rule. If his play on the field wasn’t reason enough to encase No. 9 in glass, then his off-the-field attributes should be. Cliche or not, Foles is a natural leader who brings unassuming confidence to the huddle. It’s something his new teammates in Jacksonville are learning in real time.
“The thing I love about this year is it really comes down to Nick Foles,” Jaguars defensive tackle Calais Campbell told Ian Rapoport. “He’s a guy who’s over 30, has a lot of experience, won a Super Bowl MVP, but really what he brings is that confidence. He’s a natural leader. When he breaks the team huddle at the end of practice, you can see guys really hear him and that’s so important. Obviously what he can do throwing the ball is great, but what he does for the actual overall team, giving us more confidence and belief
Many fans live in a stats bubble. And Foles has that argument won, too. In six playoff starts, he has thrown for 1,633 yards and 11 touchdowns with a 68.1% completion percentage. He is the only quarterback to catch a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl, and his 98.8 playoff passer rating is the sixth-best in NFL history. That’s the definition of clutch.
Back to the issue of retiring his jersey number. The nay-sayers will argue that lesser Super Bowl MVPs, guys like Joe Flacco and Deion Branch and Larry Brown and Dexter Jackson, will never see their names in lights. Fair enough. But those mere mortals never called the Philly Special, on fourth-and-one from the 1-yard line, to break a 57-year curse.
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