Remembering that time Foles was a Hall of Famer

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Remembering that time Foles was a Hall of Famer

What does Brent Celek remember about the last time Nick Foles faced the Oakland Raiders?

"I remember, I think I had the first touchdown," Celek said, "and then there were six more after that."

Good memory.

Foles has faced the Raiders just once in his career and put together a historic game. Back on Nov. 3, 2013, during his first stint with the Eagles, Foles threw seven touchdown passes, tying the NFL record. He's one of eight players to ever throw seven in one game. His cleats and jersey from that 49-20 win are hanging in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

As Foles gets set to face the Raiders on Monday night for the first time since that incredible game, all those memories have come flooding back.

"I remember that year as our team was just trying to figure out our identity at that point," Foles said. "We had had ups and downs and we were just trying to put it all together. I look back at that day as a day we put everything together. And sort of that 'ah ha' moment, we can do this. We know who we are. We know we can be explosive and we just sort of took off at that point."

Coming into that game at O.co Coliseum in early November, the Eagles had lost their previous two games and had scored a combined 10 points in them. The team was 3-5 and the first year under Chip Kelly had started going the wrong way.

Then everything clicked.

Foles hit Celek for his first touchdown pass with 5:18 left in the first quarter. Then he hit Riley Cooper twice and Zach Ertz once before the half ended. Foles added three more touchdown passes in the third quarter.

"It was Foles, the receivers, some great play calls," center Jason Kelce said. "It was a combination of a lot of things going really, really well. He would have ended up setting the NFL record if we kept him in, but we ended up pulling him."

The Eagles pulled Foles from the game with just under 9 1/2 minutes to play in the fourth quarter and put Matt Barkley in. The score at the time was 49-13. Foles had two drives — both three-and-outs — after his record-tying seventh touchdown pass.

Cooper had five catches for 139 yards and three touchdowns. DeSean Jackson had five for 150 and a touchdown. LeSean McCoy had four for 36 and a touchdown. Ertz had five for 42 and a touchdown and Celek had three for 27 and a touchdown. Ertz's 15-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter was actually the first of his career.

Foles didn't have his second-career four-touchdown game until last week, when the Eagles beat the Giants. With that game, Foles became second on the all-time Eagles' list of QBs with four-touchdown, zero-interception games. Donovan McNabb had eight.

There are less than a dozen Eagles still on the team from that 2013 season and Foles' amazing 27-touchdown, two-interception season.

That seven-touchdown game is still what everyone remembers from that year.

"It was my rookie year, a long time ago," Lane Johnson said. "But it was probably one of the funnest games I've had. Having a good game that game and being a part of Nick's legacy, it was awesome."

NFL players, including Malcolm Jenkins, respond to Trump’s request

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NFL players, including Malcolm Jenkins, respond to Trump’s request

You might remember earlier this month, when President Donald Trump acknowledged one of the reasons some NFL players have been demonstrating during the national anthem and asked for suggestions for names of people to pardon (see story).

As a reminder, this is what Trump said back on June 8: 

“I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that’s what they’re protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system,” Trump said. “And I understand that. And I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated — friends of theirs or people that they know about — and I’m going to take a look at those applications. And if I find, and my committee finds that they are unfairly treated, then we will pardon them or at least let them out (of prison).”

Players — at least the Players Coalition, including Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins — responded to that request from the president today in an op-ed in the New York Times

The main idea of the op-ed was that the President’s power to pardon people can certainly help, but it doesn’t change the criminal justice system or help combat systemic racism. 

Here’s part of the op-ed, penned by Jenkins, Doug Baldwin, Anquan Boldin and Benjamin Watson, four members of the Players Coalition made up of NFL players: 

President Trump recently made an offer to National Football League players like us who are committed to protesting injustice. Instead of protesting, he suggested, we should give him names of people we believe were ‘unfairly treated by the justice system.’ If he agrees they were treated unfairly, he said, he will pardon them.

To be sure, the president’s clemency power can be a valuable tool for redressing injustice. Just look at Alice Johnson, age 63, who was serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug conviction until her sentence was commuted by President Trump. He should be commended for using his clemency power in that case.

But a handful of pardons will not address the sort of systemic injustice that N.F.L. players have been protesting. These are problems that our government has created, many of which occur at the local level. If President Trump thinks he can end these injustices if we deliver him a few names, he hasn’t been listening to us.

That’s just a very small part of the full op-ed. To read the whole thing, click here

The rest of the piece gets into more specific instances where the players think the criminal justice system should be overhauled and ask the president to use his power to help change it. 

An interesting note toward the bottom of the piece tells Trump, “Our being professional athletes has nothing to do with our commitment to fighting injustice. We are citizens who embrace the values of empathy, integrity and justice, and we will fight for what we believe is right.”

While that might be true, these players have a platform because of their ability on the football field. One they’re using to try to make positive changes in the country. 

Several players, including Eagles defensive end Chris Long and former Eagles receiver Torrey Smith, along with Jenkins, also posted video responses to Trump’s request: 

More on the Eagles

Nick Foles is a legend, but Eagles still need Carson Wentz

Nick Foles is a legend, but Eagles still need Carson Wentz

I’ve heard this a lot over the last few months: The Eagles won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles. 

It’s a very true statement, but still has flaws. 

And before we get too far into this, I want to offer a disclaimer. What Foles did in last year’s playoffs was incredible. He’ll go down as an all-time great Eagle and deserves all the credit in the world for getting it done and becoming the Super Bowl MVP. 

But the problem with “The Eagles won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles” is two-fold. 

First, it neglects the incredible contributions Carson Wentz made to winning that Super Bowl by playing at an MVP level before going down in December. 

Second, it makes it seem like it's a real possibility the Eagles could repeat with Foles, even if Wentz doesn’t return to form. 

This is going to seem obvious, but apparently, it’s not: the Eagles need Wentz. 

Let’s start with the first of those two points. Because of how amazing Foles was in the playoffs, it’s easy to forget just how good Wentz was in 13 starts. He wasn’t just good, he was MVP-of-the-league good. A little while back, Reuben Frank dove back into some incredible Wentz stats (see story).

Now, we’ll never know if Wentz would have been able to pull off the kind of magic Foles did in the playoffs the same way we’ll never know if Foles would have been able to lead the Eagles to an 11-2 record through 13 games. But, at least for me, I have an easier time believing that Wentz could have lived up to Foles’ level of play than Foles’ playing at an MVP level through most of the regular season. 

Sure, Foles dunked in the playoffs, but Wentz provided the alley-oop. Wentz was the biggest part of the reason the Eagles won the NFC East. He was the reason they were able to overcome so many injuries to not only get a first-round bye, but to also earn homefield advantage in the playoffs. Imagine what happens if the Eagles have to play a wildcard game or have to travel to Atlanta or Minnesota. If the Eagles don’t have that bye week, can Brandon Graham heal in time for that wild-card game? Maybe not. 

So maybe they still make it through the playoffs, but Wentz definitely made the road much easier. 

The second part of this might be hard to swallow after Foles has been called the greatest insurance policy in the NFL for months. That’s pretty true as well. As far as backup quarterbacks go, having a Super Bowl MVP is pretty good. 

But there’s a reason the Eagles view Wentz, not Foles, as their future. There’s a reason that before the Super Bowl, when the team took a team photo, Wentz was the only player not in position by jersey number. He instead was in the direct center, as the face of the franchise. He’s special. 

Last week, I was on Philly Sports Talk and guest co-host Danny Pommells suggested that Foles start the opener because of the fear of rushing Wentz back too soon. I understood the point, but disagreed. In this league, there aren’t any easy games; there’s no time to wait for a healthy player to get healthy. Because if Wentz gets cleared by doctors, there’s no decision to make. He’s still the starter because he’s the better player. 

And that isn’t a shot on Foles, saying that one of the best quarterbacks in the league — a guy who could go down as an all-time great — is better than him. It’s just the truth. Although, it seems recently we’ve been blinded by the bling of 219 diamonds in a Super Bowl ring.