It was a Super Bowl for the ages this past February.
With Tom Brady and the New England Patriots set to defend their crown against the Carson Wentz-less Philadelphia Eagles, many expected to see a lopsided Pats victory in Super Bowl 52. But lo and behold, a banged-up, resilient, God-fearing group of young men from Philadelphia walked away with the Vince Lombardi Trophy as league champions.
It was anything but a typical season for the Eagles. After bouncing back from a 2016 campaign that saw the team from Pennsylvania finish the year 7-9, this past season’s squad clinched their division with a win against the St. Louis Rams. However, it was that game in which star quarterback Carson Wentz went down with a torn ACL.
Although many believed all hope was lost after Philadelphia’s 25-year-old quarterback — the second overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft — suffered his injury, backup QB Nick Foles took the reins and helped guide the Eagles to their first Super Bowl, and first championship since 1960, with a 41-33 victory over the Patriots from US Bank Stadium in Minnesota.
It was Foles’ faith in the Lord that helped the 29-year-old keep his head above the water after being cut by the Rams in 2016. He came back to Philly for his second stint — this time as a backup — but stepped up to the plate and delivered mightily in quite possibly the most important moment of this life, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to both throw for and receive a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
Finishing Super Bowl 52 with three touchdown passes, a touchdown reception, 373 yards, a 78 percent completion rate, and the Super Bowl MVP trophy capped off what was a brilliant comeback for the Austin, Texas native — one that was charged by his Christian faith.
After the game, Foles met with the media and dropped a bomb in the form of this viral quote.
“I think the big thing is not to be afraid to fail,” the Super Bowl champion said. “I think in our society today, Instagram and Twitter are highlight reels; they’re all the good things. But when you fail, or when you have a rough day and you look at that, your life doesn’t seem as good, and you think you’re failing. You know, failure is a part of life. That’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 thousands of times, made mistakes. We all are human, we all have weaknesses.”
“Hey, we might have just won the Super Bowl, but we still have daily struggles. I still have daily struggles, and that’s where my faith comes in — that’s where my family comes in. So when you look at a struggle in your life, just know that that’s just opportunity for your character to grow. If something’s going on in your life and you’re struggling, embrace it, because you’re growing.”
After being cut from the Rams, Foles did not act in a vengeful or angry manner, but took the demotion in stride, learning from the experience through help from God.
“I kept reading Scripture, I kept praying, and I just kept talking to God,” Foles said shortly after signing with the Eagles. “Through that prayer, God told me to just take a step of faith. You’re either going to stop playing the game of football and you’re going to go on to a different area of your life and I’m going to be with you, or you’re going to step back into football and you’re going to continue to play, and I’m going to be with you every step of the way, and you’re going to play to glorify me.”
Playing to glorify God is nothing new for members of the of the Philadelphia Eagles, as Zach Ertz, Jordan Hicks, Chris Maragos, Trey Burton (recently signed by Chicago), Jordan Matthews (most recently with Buffalo), Torrey Smith (recently traded to Carolina) and starting quarterback Carson Wentz are all very vocal and evangelical Christians.
“The seeds were sown a long time ago, as I’ve been able to prepare myself for this week by burying myself deep in the word, growing in my faith, and obviously having teammates push me each and every day,” said Ertz, days before his Super Bowl-winning touchdown. “It’s huge that I am able to be accountable to them, and they’re able to be accountable to me too. We’re never going to let each other slip. And that’s why I love being on this team and being around those kind of guys.”
Although only able to lead from the sidelines in the playoffs, starting quarterback Carson Wentz is also able to lead the team spiritually, an additional role he thoroughly enjoys.
“Every Monday night we have ‘couples Bible study’, while every Thursday night we have ‘team Bible study’,” Wentz said. “Then on Saturday night — the night before the game — we just get together and pray, and just kind of talk through the Word and go over what we have been reading, learning, and what we are struggling with. We just try to keep it real with each other.”
Known to the world primarily as a professional football player, Wentz has other hopes in mind.
“I think the biggest thing that we are challenging each other with is to not lose sight of the bigger picture,” he said. “Wins or losses, highs or lows — with everything that comes with this game, it can become so easy to take your eyes off the ultimate prize. And that prize is living for the Lord.”