BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — In a few days, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles will play in the biggest football game on Earth.
So let's talk a little about basketball.
As a kid, Foles loved that sport just as much and he was just as good at it. He made the varsity team as a freshman and was getting serious looks as a potential college hoops player. He would have played at a Division I university if he wanted to, but decided to stick with football instead.
“I think I committed to Arizona State after my junior year," Foles said in this 2014 story from Reuben Frank, "so at that point I came to the realization that I looked at LeBron James and was like, ‘I don’t think I can do that. But I think I can throw a football.’"
Foles obviously made a good decision. He eventually went to Arizona, became a third-round pick, and although he hit some road bumps in recent years, he's going to start in the Super Bowl on Sunday night in Minneapolis.
OK, so great history lesson. Why are we bringing up Foles' basketball past when he's going to play in the Super Bowl in a matter of days?
Well, thanks for asking. It's because of the run-pass option. The Eagles have been using more and more of these RPOs in the weeks since Foles took over for injured Carson Wentz. They're types of plays Foles excelled at running under Chip Kelly and they require instincts and reacting. Those seem like the same skills Foles needed to play hoops.
If you're still not sold on reading a story about basketball during Super Bowl week, blame Frank Reich.
"If you're around Nick, you know Nick is a great basketball player," the Eagles' offensive coordinator said earlier this month. "He's a point guard. If he was playing basketball on the street, he's going to wheel and deal the ball. He's the guy out there. He can throw it behind his back with accuracy. He can give you the no-look pass. He can be looking one way and hit a guy. He has that knack and feel, and that's a little bit of the RPO game. I think he's very comfortable with that."
Foles said the key to the Eagles' RPO game isn't that hard to figure out. They just want to disguise what they're doing as much as possible. The idea is to make every look they give the defense to look the same before adding wrinkles.
The execution on those plays needs to be perfect because there's just not much room for error.
And then it of course helps to have a quarterback who seems to have a knack for them.
"Anytime you've played different sports, for me it's always been basketball, that's an instinctual sport," Foles said last week. "You're dribbling the ball, you're passing, you're doing that stuff. I'm sure that's helped me along the lines of my football instincts."
It's been a long time since Foles has played competitive basketball. He actually stopped playing high school hoops before his junior year after a coaching switch at the school and since then has thrown his focus into football.
Foles graduated from high school in 2007, so we're talking well over a decade since Foles played in a basketball game that counted. Since then he's played college football, been drafted, became a starter, got traded, demoted, nearly retired and will now start in the Super Bowl.
There are a few things he still keeps from those basketball days. Maybe one of them will help him in the biggest pressure game in the world.
“When I played basketball, the last-second shot, my team always wanted to get me the ball," Foles said back in 2014. "The coach knew I wanted it, but the team, we would draw up a play so I would shoot it. And I just liked having my hands on the ball when it was crunch time and I had to make a decision."