A strange Monday morning Super Bowl image
What a strange image. Patriots fans, cover your eyes.
It wasn’t Tom Brady up on the stage at the usual morning after Super Bowl MVP and winning coach press conference.
What would you have said if we told you back in,say, early November that Eagles Nick Foles would be the MVP of Super Bowl LII? He was still a backup at that time with a potential season MVP, Carson Wentz, playing in front of him.
How about Doug Pederson outcoaching Bill Belichick? Last year Philly fans were ready to take up a collection after a not-that-bad 7-9 rookie head coaching season to get Pederson out of town.
Not now. And with Wentz set to come back from knee surgery by camp, would there be a QB controversy, as was asked at the end of Monday’s press conference? “I knew I couldn’t get off this stage without that question,” Pederson said with a grin. “We’re just going to enjoy this moment. …I’m happy for Nick, I’m happy for the team.”
Masterfully handled. Meanwhile, Foles is just the opposite of Brady in a lot of ways, although he’s personable, likeable, polite, pretty much like TB12. But there were no released mini-films on the internet about Foles. He has no training guru or doesn’t have a business in Philly called NF9. He’s just a regular guy who now has one Super Bowl ring compared to Brady’s five. Not that either style is good or bad, it’s just the way it is.
Really, if Brady couldn’t win, Foles is a guy you’d root for.
“The last couple of weeks, it was just a team thing,” Foles said Monday when accepting the MVP award from Goodell. “We just kept working, kept game planning, I kept talking to Doug about what I liked. All the coaching staff kept building around what we were doing. It wasn’t necessarily me but it was everyone around me that did an amazing job.”
Foles was on the football scrap heap a couple of years ago. But he wasn’t the typical QB who just handed the ball off, threw short and stayed out of trouble. Pederson put the offense in his hands after Wentz went down.
“We knew in the building we were going to be OK with him,” Pederson said. “We just needed time.”
They got it. Foles came alive in the playoffs. Brady had the performance of a lifetime – 505 yards passing — but he couldn’t cover for a leaky defense and in the end, when he needed them the most, his offensive linemen let him down on a painful strip sack.
“I’m really just enjoying the moment, staying in the moment,” he said, adding that he’s been strengthened by his past failures.
“Failure’s a part of life,” he said. “It’s a part of building character and growing. Without failure, who would you be? I wouldn’t be up here if I hadn’t fallen down many times, made mistakes. We all are human, we all have weaknesses.”
“Nick doesn’t change,” Pederson said. “He’s just a better quarterback today. He’s a smarter quarterback today. He’s a veteran quarterback today.”
As for Pederson, his aggressiveness was just what was needed to beat the Patriots. He went for it on fourth down on the go-ahead, game-winning drive. He went for it on fourth down with a trick play and a crucial touchdown. He pushed and pushed and knocked the Patriots off their throne. He fostered an atmosphere of unselfishness. He wasn’t stubborn when it came to incorporating plays that his new starting quarterback liked. He won the Super Bowl once as a player, ironically as Brett Favre’s backup when the Packers beat the Bill Parcells Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. “I think it’s just a little more special waking up (Monday) knowing you accomplished something you set out to in April.”
“I’m not perfect, I’m not Superman,” Foles said. “We may have just won the Super Bowl but we have daily struggles, I have daily struggles. …When you have struggles in your life, that’s just an opportunity for your character to grow.”
Oh he grew, and so did his coach. We thought the coach and the quarterback might hold the Eagles back against the Patriots.
Turns out they were just what Philly needed.
Tom King can be reached at 594-1251, firstname.lastname@example.org., or @Telegraph_TomK.