In a city with statues for a fictional boxer (Rocky), an anonymous punter and even a National Anthem singer (Kate Smith) it is obvious there is space for some winners.
And in a city with zero Super Bowl titles in 52 years, it goes without saying that there is room at the sports complex in South Philly for an Eagles championship statue.
It stands to logic that whomever quarterbacks the Eagles to a Super Bowl could be immortalized in bronze and steel. And if the Eagles beat the Patriots Sunday, that means Nick Foles.
In the shadow of Carson Wentz — clearly the future of the franchise win or lose in Minnesota this weekend — Foles came to the Eagles to start his second stint as a mentor and back up to the second-year Pro Bowler.
Foles had his chance in Philly, and had one of the better seasons in NFL history throwing 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions before he was traded for Sam Bradford over a season later. After struggling in St. Louis Foles famously mulled retirement before returning to back up the Chiefs and later the Eagles.
Foles played in parts of four regular season games this season after Wentz went down — playing awfully against the Raiders and Cowboys — before barely holding his own against the Falcons in the divisional game. And then, he threw for 352 yard and three touchdowns in an NFC title dismantling of the Vikings and their top-ranked defense.
“I just told him I was so proud of him and the way he played tonight,” head coach Doug Pederson said after the win last week, “and the way he’s played the last couple weeks, the last month, and couldn’t be happier for him. I just told him how proud I am of him and I loved him.”
Foles has already become a Philadelphia legend. If he wins, he’ll immediately be placed in Philly lore alongside Julius Erving and Chase Utley, and ahead of Ron Jaworski.
“It’s right there. We have a chance to be legendary,” Brent Celek, tight end and the longest tenured Eagles’ player said last week. “We’ll be legends. I don’t know how else to say it. This city will love us.”
In technicality, nine back up quarterbacks have won Super Bowl titles. Five of these — Tom Brady, Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, Kurt Warner and Jim Plunkett went on to become starters with Hall of Fame resumes. The other four, Earl Morrall, Doug Williams, Jeff Hostetler and Trent Dilfer, were one-hit wonders. Foles’ case is unique, as he is unlikely to be starting for the Eagles next season. So what will his legacy be?
Foles is under contract for one season after this one, and could be important early in the season as Wentz rehabs and returns from torn ACL and LCL injuries. But Foles — if he does become the first Eagles’ quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl, will be valuable and if Wentz is healthy, may fetch a high price in the trade market midseason in 2018.
“Nick is a great player who has proven himself in this league,” Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor said. “He’s a Pro Bowler. Nick has done his job and one thing about it is that we have a great coaching staff and great players around Nick and we have a great player in Nick who’s going to go out there, grind and prepare to finish the job.”