Nick Foles strolled up to the microphone in the Eagles’ auditorium Wednesday afternoon wearing camouflaged tan and green FiveFingers shoes that did anything but blend in.
Despite his wife’s better judgment, he wore them to work Wednesday simply because they’re comfortable. A bunch of people on the internet laughed at them and at him for wearing them below his cuffed pant legs. Foles will not care.
In a social media age where so many are worried about image and their highlight reel, as Foles called it the day after the Super Bowl, Foles is singular in this context. He’s a former Super Bowl MVP, who once thought about retiring, who was the quarterback for the “next 1,000 years,” who became a backup, a starter and then a backup again, who took over for his injured teammate last week and has unintentionally stirred up a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia this week because he might be in the midst of saving the Eagles season … again. But he doesn’t care about any of that.
He’s comfortable in his skin.
Comfortable enough to wear shoes with individual rubber cubbies for each of his toes.
Part of the reason Foles might seem so comfortable and relaxed is that he’s been through this before, and he’s learned from his mistakes. When Carson Wentz went down last season, Foles admitted Wednesday, he tried to be perfect. He put too much pressure on himself. When he was able to take a step back and figure out what worked for him, he was able to play loose and react on his way to becoming the Super Bowl MVP.
There are lessons he can take from last year’s experience, but there’s no sense of deja vu.
“No, it’s different. It’s a different moment,” Foles said. “If you start thinking that way, you’re going to get lost in it all. It’s a totally different scenario. Last year, we were one of the top teams in the NFL. This year, we’re fighting, we’re fighting to get into the hunt. We’re in the moment, but we have to fight.”
Foles is devoid of ego as much as his shoes are devoid of fashion sense. It’s one of his most endearing qualities. It’s why his teammates love him. And it’s why, when he said Wednesday that he was really hoping Wentz would stay healthy and continue to play, everyone believed him.
He didn’t develop an ego after taking down Tom Brady and the Patriots, but it would be foolish to think everything remained the same. It’s been a unique situation all season, as Foles took a backseat to Wentz when the franchise quarterback was ready to return in Week 3. Foles said he put a lot of pressure on himself earlier this season after winning the Super Bowl, admitting there were nerves involved because of the newness of the circumstances.
Even though last year was a different situation, those experiences have informed the way Foles is dealing with the situation this year, taking over with three games to go.
I’m definitely more comfortable now. The success, I wouldn’t say I lean on ‘oh man, I did this, this is why I can do it.’ Because I also say because I’ve done those things doesn’t mean anything when I step on the field the next time. Because we’ve seen plenty of players have amazing games and then they have one bad game and they keep going. It doesn’t matter. Every time you step on the field, it’s a new game. The most important thing was leaning on my past experiences. And throughout the week, honing in on those. And realizing this emotion, I’ve felt before and this is what I did to handle it, as opposed to being in the first time and not really knowing. I wasn’t in uncharted waters last week as opposed to before, when I was trying to figure it out.
We saw Wentz, fractured back and all, on the sideline Sunday, taking over a new role with Foles as the starter. The three quarterbacks, including Nate Sudfeld, sometimes come off as nauseously loving and close, but they’re not without their squabbles. Sudfeld said they have brother-like relationships; they’ll sometimes fight or bicker — it’s not all kumbaya — but it’s always done from a place of love.
Which is why Sudfeld made sure to give this answer while Foles was in earshot Wednesday. Sudfeld was asked which NBA player he’d compare Foles to: “Who’s, like, the worst player?”
Eventually, little brother gave a real answer. He said Magic Johnson, an answer Foles seemed happy enough with.
But Magic Johnson had flash. Magic Johnson was the distributor for the Showtime Lakers; he was the epitome of cool. Magic Johnson would never be caught dead wearing shoes with individual toes.
Foles has, though. And that’s kind of what makes him so special.
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