Nick Foles’ text to Andy Reid in July 2016 was supposed to end his football career.
After a dismal season with the Rams, Foles had lost his love of the game and asked for his release from the organization, which had just drafted Jared Goff with the No. 1 pick. Other teams inquired about signing the former Pro Bowl quarterback, including Reid, who was looking for a backup to Alex Smith with the Chiefs.
But Foles, who spent his rookie season with the Eagles under Reid, had made up his mind.
In a McDonald’s parking lot, on the way to a camping trip in the Sierra Nevada, Foles texted Reid to tell him he was hanging up his cleats. Foles then texted his wife, Tori, to tell her the final decision on a topic they had long been discussing. And he powered down his phone for the weekend trip.
That, of course, wasn’t that.
As Foles told in his 2018 book, “Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure and Overcoming the Odds,” he returned home to a four-page letter from Tori suggesting he give football one more season. Two nights later, after coming to an impasse in their discussions, they prayed.
“From a human perspective, I don’t want to play football anymore,” he prayed. “But I also know this is about more than what I want. I need to trust you with all I have.”
In that time of reflection, Foles decided to continue playing.
The story of Foles’ return to football is one of several in the book, co-written with author Joshua Cooley, that give insight into what makes the new Bears quarterback tick. The Bears acquired Foles from the Jaguars for a fourth-round pick earlier this month.
The book was released just months after Foles led the 2017 Eagles on their improbable run to the franchise’s first Super Bowl championship, and it has a fair amount of football play-by-play for Eagles fans wanting to relive that fairy tale. But for Bears fans looking for some light reading in an odd time without live sports, Foles’ story also details the challenges he has faced during a wild eight-year NFL career.
In the book, Foles gets right to the heart of the questions that even now linger as he comes to Chicago to compete with or replace 2017 No. 2 pick Mitch Trubisky. Foles lists the many labels he has been given.
“I’m able to light up a scoreboard. I’m a game manager,” he writes. “I’m a building block. I’m a stopgap. I’m a franchise quarterback. I’m an insurance policy. I’m a Pro Bowl MVP. I’m a career second-stringer. I’m dependable. I’m a fluke. I’m a Super Bowl MVP. I’m trade bait.”
Foles, 31, has been all of those things. The book doesn’t provide the answer to which one he will be in Chicago after signing a big contract with the Jaguars and then losing all four games he played with them in 2019. Instead his story is about how he came to grips with the highs and lows of his life and career with the guidance of his faith and family.
He is candid about the most challenging moments, including during his second season with the Eagles in 2013, when he replaced the injured Michael Vick.
Foles had the season of his career, throwing 27 touchdown passes and just two interceptions in 10 starts. But while he was earning a Pro Bowl invitation on the field, Tori, then his girlfriend, became ill with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a blood-flow disorder that was at times debilitating. Foles struggled with being away from her and wondered if playing football was what he was supposed to be doing.
Foles prayed before a Week 9 game against the Raiders for a sign he was on the right path — and courage if he was not. He threw for 406 yards and seven touchdowns in that game.
A little more than a year later, after he broke his left collarbone midway through the 2014 season, the next big obstacle came calling. Eagles coach Chip Kelly informed Foles during a brief phone call he was being traded to the Rams.
“When I saw that the call had lasted only a minute, I was really shaken,” Foles writes. “I’m a pretty relational guy, and the fact that I’d been cut loose so quickly and without warning was difficult to absorb. You give everything you have to your team, you struggle through adversity, you work hard to come back from trials on and off the field, and then, in less time than it takes to order a pizza, your coach tells you that you’ve been traded.”
His career took a dive with the Rams during the 2015 season, when Case Keenum eventually replaced him. A brief foray into retirement followed. But after a season with the Chiefs, in which he rediscovered his love of the game under Reid and then-co-offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, Foles was back with the Eagles in 2017.
Foles knew he was going to be the backup to Carson Wentz when he re-signed, but he was honest about the difficulties of stepping into that role. He often had to walk by the 2013 Pro Bowl photo of himself hanging in the Eagles training facility.
A coffee connoisseur — his go-to drink is Bulletproof butter coffee — Foles became the team’s barista each morning to remind himself “that the best way to lead is to serve.”
“For me, this fight would be a season-long inner conflict with my pride,” Foles writes.
About half of the book is spent on the 2017 season as Foles suddenly was thrust back into the spotlight when Wentz injured his left knee in December. He properly captures the wackiness of his run from backup to Super Bowl MVP.
After the game in which Wentz was hurt, Foles went out to lunch with his family at a burrito joint and heard a fan tell another, “I guess we’ll just have to wait another year for the Super Bowl.” Weeks later, after the Eagles beat the Vikings in the NFC championship game, Foles had an uninterrupted dinner out with his family, only to have the entire restaurant give him a standing ovation as he walked out.
The Super Bowl narration includes how he turned down every marketing opportunity leading up to the game for fear it might affect his play. He drew inspiration in the days before from the Bible’s Book of Psalms, many of which have been linked to King David, of David and Goliath.
He spends pages on the retelling of the “Philly Special” play, the touchdown pass from Trey Burton to Foles. He writes of the memories of holding his 7-month-old daughter during the Super Bowl celebration, predicting that in the future he’ll tell her, “The real trophy in my arms that night was you.” And he talks about feeling slightly guilty about accepting the MVP award because his teammates and coaches did so much to help him.
As he wraps up the book, Foles is preparing to be the backup again to Wentz for the 2018 season, a role change he calls “a tangible reminder that we are called to humility and to a life of service.”
As he ruminates about his story, he wonders if readers might see “a person like yourself — someone who struggles daily. Someone who doesn’t have all the answers. Someone who has failed many times and says, ‘Failing is okay. But what am I supposed to learn from it?’ “
Likewise, Bears fans aren’t likely to find their answers about whether Foles, coming off the down year in Jacksonville, is what the team needs at quarterback. But they’ll find a player who has been through the extremes of a career and has been able to pick himself back up from failure.
His next chapter awaits.
©2020 Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.