Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles revealed how close he came to retiring after the low point in his career on July 27, 2016.
He had just been released by the St Louis Rams and had lost his love of football.
Foles was less than three years removed from a remarkable season in which he led the Eagles to an NFC East title by throwing for 2,891 yards with 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He struggled in 2014 and was traded to the Rams in 2015, where he was unable to resurrect his career. He was ready to give up and retire at the age of 27.
"To wake up and not want to throw the football, I just didn't have that joy. It was scary to me," Foles said Monday during Super Bowl LII Opening Night at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. "Growing up in Texas, I always played football since I was a kid. It was tough, but going through it was the greatest thing in the world."
Foles said his faith in God and some advice from his wife and parents helped him pick up the phone and "take a step of faith" to call former Eagles coach Andy Reid.
"I knew for me to have the biggest growth as a person was to take that step and call him," Foles said. "I ended up signing with Kansas City, playing for him that year. The fourth day of training camp, that morning I woke up and the joy had come back. The emotions were unreal.
"I feel like we as people, we go through that, but we're afraid to talk about it. I'm not afraid to talk about it because I wouldn't be the person I am today. I'm a father now and I can share this with my daughter when she grows up.
"It makes this moment even more surreal because every moment I get to play this game is a gift."
"I woke up and I just didn't have that joy."@NFoles_9 reflects on a tough part of his career, where time away from the game helped bring his love for football back. Simply amazing.-- NFL (@NFL) January 30, 2018
Now back with the Eagles, Foles finds himself as the starting quarterback in the Super Bowl - where he will face off against one of his boyhood idols in New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
"Being in this moment, you really get to soak it all in, take it all in and be grateful," Foles said.
Foles had signed with the Eagles last March as a backup to second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. When Wentz was lost for the season on December 10 with a torn ACL late in a 43-35 win over the Rams, Foles became the starter. He threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.
"His confidence over the last couple of weeks has really taken off," Eagles tight end Zach Ertz said of Foles. "His ability to never get too focused on the bad plays has carried him this far. He's an extremely confident player and we love playing with him."
Watching Foles take the team to the Super Bowl has not been easy for Wentz. He called the last two months "an emotional whirlwind" and said he would use his season-ending ACL injury as a learning experience.
"Wanting to be out there is definitely tough, but I get over it," Wentz said, adding he tries to be an extra set of eyes for Foles.
"I'm stoked for Nick," Wentz told NFL Network. "Given the career he's had, the ups and downs of it and given that he was so close to retiring, him and I talked last week just how crazy this really is. Now he's going to be starting in the Super Bowl. It's kind of crazy how it's all unfolded."