|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)|
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People have been trying to define me throughout my entire career.
I'm the guy. I'm not the guy.
I'm mechanically sound. I'm too slow.
I'm able to light up a scoreboard. I'm a game manager.
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.
I've been overlooked, praised, questioned, lauded, labeled, celebrated, and derided — sometimes all in the span of a single week.
That's life in the NFL.
From the moment you enter the league, everyone wants to slap a label on you — some tidy description of what they think you bring to the game. And more often than not, that tag sticks with you, regardless of whether it's accurate.
Most recently, I've worn the label backup, which, unfortunately, is fraught with negative connotations. Nobody aspires to be a backup. And although I take great pride in the supporting roles I've played in both Philadelphia and Kansas City, part of me still cringes every time I hear myself described that way. Not only is it limiting and one-dimensional, it doesn't come close to describing who I really am.
It took me years to separate Nick Foles the person from Nick Foles the football player. It was a long and, at times, painful process — in fact, I still struggle with it. But making that distinction has completely transformed my heart, my career, my perspective, and my life.
The journey hasn't always been easy, and I've made a lot of mistakes and missteps along the way. But looking back, I can honestly say that I wouldn't change a thing. Because at the end of the day, the lessons I've learned from my failures, struggles, and weaknesses have made me who I am today.
For me, the road to the Super Bowl started — quite literally — the day I was born. I had barely even opened my eyes when my dad wedged a toy football into my pudgy little hand and snapped a photo ... because that's what Texas dads do.
I grew up in Austin, home of the Longhorns, deep in the heart of the most football-crazed state in America. Come fall, at high schools all across the state, those Friday-night lights shine big and bright over packed-to-capacity, multimillion-dollar stadiums that would make even a few NFL teams green with envy. And when I say "packed to capacity," I'm talking anywhere from ten to twenty thousand rabid high school football fans, cheering, screaming, praying, and loving on their teams ... because that's what Texans do.
I played high school ball at Westlake. By Texas standards, our stadium was on the modest side, seating just over ten thousand.
Before I got there, another Texas native, Drew Brees, led the Chaparrals to a perfect 16–0 record and a state championship, and he set records for passing yards and touchdowns that stood for almost a decade. Drew was already a Pro Bowl player in his third season with the Chargers by the time I was taking snaps at Westlake, but his legend loomed large.
I was a multisport athlete, lettering in both football and basketball. And I don't like to brag, but at six foot five, my shadow loomed about six inches larger than his on the basketball court.
I played power forward on the varsity team for three years, and while I was no LeBron, I could hold my own. I was tall and lanky, and I had a decent vertical leap and a pretty good shot. I was a lot faster and more explosive on the court than I was on the football field.
I earned an MVP and all-district honors in basketball my sophomore and junior years, and I even received a scholarship offer from a Division I school. But as much as I loved the game, deep down I knew I had a better chance of making it to the next level in football.
My football coaches, however, weren't sure I was tough enough to make it at first.
During my junior and senior seasons, I led Westlake to the 2006 Division 1 state championship game and broke the record for career passing yards (5,658) and touchdowns (56). But playing two high-impact sports takes a toll on the body, and I was almost always fighting off some kind of injury. The worst one happened my senior year. We had just closed out a long, grueling season where I'd thrown for nearly 3,300 yards, and six days later I had to play in a basketball tournament.
Early in the football season, I'd torn my labrum three-quarters of the way around, and I played a dozen more games with the injury. Needless to say, my right arm was shot. Because of the quick turnaround time, the coach had planned to rest me for the first couple of games. Then a couple of our guys got hurt, and he had no choice but to put me in.
I started off strong. I made a few jump shots and even managed a couple of dunks. Then, in the middle of a behind-the-back pass, my right shoulder completely gave out. The pain was excruciating. I doubled over, and when I glanced down, I saw that my right arm was just hanging there like a limp noodle. I looked at the bench and, with my good arm, motioned to Coach Faulkner to take me out of the game.
That torn labrum really knocked me for a loop. Not only did it cost me my final basketball season at Westlake, but it set me way back in my preparation for my first year of college football.
Still, I figured if Drew could come back from his injury to play at an elite level, so could I ... because that's what Texans do.
It was months before I could even pick up a football, but I knuckled down and powered through my rehab exercises. That spring, at my senior awards banquet, the same coaches who had questioned my ability to make it at the varsity level told a packed auditorium that I was one of the toughest players they'd ever seen — not because of what I'd done on the field, but because of the way I'd fought back from my injuries.
Something else had happened while I was recovering from my shoulder surgery. Midway through my junior year, I was recruited by Dirk Koetter at Arizona State, and I made a verbal commitment to play football there.
I felt a real connection to Coach Koetter, and I thought the offensive scheme Roy Wittke was running under him would be a great fit for me and my "air it out" style of play. I liked the idea of going to school in a place with no real winter, and I had family in the Phoenix area. It seemed like a perfect fit. Then, right around the time we were getting ready for the state championship game, Coach Koetter was fired. As is often the case, his entire coaching staff went with him.
Even though my scholarship offer was still intact, the relational connection I had committed to wasn't.
I've always been a relational guy. Football is football. You can play anywhere. For me, it's the people I'm playing for and with that make all the difference.
After I had my surgery, I met with Coach Koetter's replacement, Dennis Erickson, who had come over from the University of Idaho. He made it clear that there was still a place for me at ASU, but I just didn't feel the same connection to the program that I'd felt with Coach Koetter. So that February, I officially decommitted from Arizona State and signed on to play at Michigan State under Mark Dantonio.
Mark is a great guy and a fantastic coach. I assured him that I was going to do everything in my power to be game ready come September. I continued to rehab my shoulder, and by the time I left Austin, even though I was nowhere near 100 percent, I was ready to take the Big Ten by storm. I was young and confident, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Shoulder reconstruction was like a walk in the park compared to my first year in East Lansing.
That first Michigan winter hit me like a snow shovel. For that matter, so did the Big Ten coverage packages.
I pored over my playbook and tried to soak up as much information as possible, but the leap from high school to college ball was a lot more intense than I'd expected.
At quarterback meetings, Kirk Cousins, Connor Dixon, Brian Hoyer, John Van Dam, and I would sit and watch film, and Dave Warner, the quarterbacks coach, would look at me and say, "Foles, what coverage is this?"
I had no idea.
"Cover three?" I'd guess.
"Wrong," he'd shoot back. "It's cover one."
It's not that I hadn't seen coverage packages before. We ran schemes at Westlake just like everyone else. But I tended to play more by instinct. The more I struggled in meetings, the less confident I felt. And as a quarterback, once you lose your confidence, it's over.
And man, did my confidence take a hit across the board. Not only was I still recovering from shoulder surgery, but I was also more than a thousand miles away from home in a completely foreign environment. I had no family around me and not a single Texan in sight, and I had no idea what I was doing in position meetings. On top of all that, I was fighting for second string.
I only saw the field once that season, in a game against Alabama–Birmingham. Considering my arm wasn't quite 100 percent, I fared pretty well, completing five of eight passes for 57 yards, but make no mistake, I was still the low man on the totem pole.
Making matters worse, my high school sweetheart and I had broken up, and every time I logged on to Facebook, all I saw were pictures of my friends back home — smiling, suntanned, and having the time of their lives at Texas A&M, Baylor, UT, and TCU. Meanwhile, I was grinding it out in the weight room, on the practice field, and in the classroom from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., all the while trying to figure out how to survive my first bone-chilling Midwestern winter.
At one point I called home, ready to throw in the towel. "Dad, I can't do this."
My dad is a tough guy. He never graduated from high school. His parents split up when he was young, so he had to help raise his brother and sisters. He has worked hard his entire life, and as far as I know, he hasn't complained once. In short, he's not a quitter.
So when I told him I didn't think I could hack it, he said, "Stick it out through the spring. If you still don't want to be there, you can transfer. But if you walk away from MSU one season after decommitting to Arizona State, you run the risk of never playing football again."
I was quiet for a minute, letting his words sink in.
"Okay," I told him. "I'll stick it out through the spring."
Things didn't get any better. In fact, they got worse.
Within a span of a few weeks that year, both of my grandmothers passed away. Losing a loved one would have been difficult enough if I'd been surrounded by family and friends, but going through it alone on top of everything else I was dealing with put me over the emotional edge. One night I was sitting in my truck, and I broke down crying.
I grew up in a Christian home, and my mom, in particular, is a really strong Christian — always helping people, putting others first, and never seeking attention for herself. We went to church as a family most weeks, but to be perfectly honest, most Sundays it was all I could do to stay awake. I knew who Jesus was, but I had never made the kind of commitment that my mom had.
Among other things, Mom was a real prayer warrior. Whenever she was struggling, she would pray to God for strength and guidance and for his will to be done. And no matter what happened — good or bad — she found peace in that.
So that day I followed her example. "God," I prayed, "I don't have any strength left. I don't have any confidence left. I have no clue why I'm in Michigan right now, but I have to believe I'm here for a purpose. I believe you have a plan for me. I trust you more than I trust myself, so I'm giving everything over to you. I can't do this on my own."
It probably wasn't the most eloquent prayer ever uttered, but it was sincere.
The next day I dug out the little travel Bible my mom had given me. Even though I'd had it for years, it still looked brand new. I started carrying it with me everywhere and read it whenever I had a few free minutes. By the time second-semester finals rolled around, that little Bible was as dog-eared, underlined, highlighted, and note-filled as my literature textbook.
I didn't understand everything I was reading, but just knowing that I wasn't alone — that God had a plan for my life, even if it wasn't clear to me yet — changed my perspective immeasurably.
I started praying for guidance about my future. Was I supposed to stay at Michigan State, or did God have something else in mind for me? As much as I tried, I just didn't feel settled there. I loved playing for Coach Dantonio, and I genuinely cared about all the guys on the team, but I felt like a fish out of water. If I was going to have any shot at being the kind of student athlete I believed I had the potential to be, I couldn't see it happening in Michigan. I had to get back to an environment I was comfortable in — somewhere I belonged. I needed the heat. I needed the sun. I needed to be around other Texas boys.
My dad's warning still echoed in my head, and that semester I had plenty of sleepless nights worrying that he was right. Without a doubt, it would be a risky move to walk away from MSU. But I'd been praying about it for months, and eventually I knew what I had to do. By the time I sat down to talk to Coach Dantonio, I felt genuine peace about my decision.
Looking back, it would be easy to characterize that year in Michigan as a failure. I was hurt and homesick, and I didn't see much playing time. When it came to my confidence level, I'd never been lower. But truth be told, that was actually one of the best years of my life. There were a lot of bumps along the way, and those experiences exposed some of the weaknesses in my character. But those challenges also put me in a position to grow in my faith, which in turn made me stronger and more confident than I ever would have been had I not gone through those tough times.
When I walked away from Michigan State, I had no doubt that God had a plan for my life. Now I just needed to figure out what it was.
TURNING UP THE HEAT
As soon as I got home, I started reaching out to all the colleges that had expressed an interest in me before I committed to ASU, but this time I limited my search to schools closer to home. These weren't big universities — they were small local colleges. I didn't care where I ended up as long as it was close to home and I got a chance to play.
Things didn't start off well. One school told me I was too big; another told me I wasn't their type.
Just as I was starting to get a little panicky, I got a text from Sonny Dykes. Sonny had recruited me when he was at Texas Tech, and now he was working as offensive coordinator under Mike Stoops at the University of Arizona.
The good news was they were interested in me. The bad news was they were all out of scholarships.
I wasn't in a spot to be choosy, so I decided to take a leap of faith and join the team as a walk-on. Granted, Tucson wasn't exactly next door, but I'd spent enough time in Arizona to know that I liked it. It also didn't hurt that I'd been a huge fan of Arizona's basketball team when I was growing up. Their football program hadn't made me an offer when I was in high school, but given my current situation, I decided not to hold that against them.
By the time training camp rolled around, my shoulder had completely healed, and my passing strength was back to 100 percent. It felt great being back out on the field with the sun beating down, hitting receivers in stride twenty-five, thirty-five, fifty yards downfield. There was no doubt about it: I definitely wasn't in Michigan anymore.
About a week into training camp, Coach Stoops called me over to the sideline. "Just so you know," he said with a smile, "you will be getting a scholarship come January."
I was ecstatic. It had been a tough road, but things were finally starting to turn around.
That's when I got blindsided.
I was walking up the stairs to get my sports physical at the McKale Memorial Center when the most beautiful woman I'd ever laid eyes on walked out of the weight room.
She had gorgeous brown eyes and long, dark-brown hair that was pulled back in a ponytail. She had an athletic build, and she was wearing a gray University of Arizona volleyball T-shirt. But it wasn't just her physical appearance that caught my attention. It was the way she walked, the way she carried herself. That confidence, combined with her looks — well, she took my breath away.
I didn't know who she was, but I was determined to find out.
As soon as my physical was over, I called my dad.
"Dad," I blurted out, "I just saw the most gorgeous girl I've ever seen in my life." I leaned against the cinder block wall, an enormous smile spread across my face. "I think I'm going to be okay here."
And you know what? I was.
I redshirted my first year, then took over for Matt Scott midseason in 2009. I had a pretty decent year, throwing for 2,486 yards and nineteen touchdowns, which was good enough to guarantee me the starting position in 2010.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Believe It"
Copyright © 2018 Nick Foles.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Defining Moments 1
2 It's Not Easy Being Green 10
3 Chipping Away 35
4 Blindsided 51
5 St. Louis Blues 65
6 Into The Wilderness 77
7 Chief Concern 91
8 Baby Steps 109
9 The Start of Something Special 117
10 Thirteen and Three 133
11 Home-Field Advantage 149
12 The Waiting Game 165
13 Feeling Super 181
14 Phinally 199
15 Be Still and Know 215
16 Don't Call Me Superman 225