PHILADELPHIA — Man, Nick Foles must brew one serious cup of coffee.
For all he did for the Philadelphia Eagles — and he did a lot, including help deliver the city its first Super Bowl title — players and coaches often go to his barista expertise when asked for a favorite memory of Foles. Those memories were shared this week, with the Eagles set to play Foles’ new team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, in preseason game No. 2 on Thursday (7 p.m. ET).
“Well, there’s definitely a lot of coffee around the room, which Nick played a big part in,” quarterbacks coach Press Taylor joked when asked how Foles left his imprint.
“I always credit Nick for getting me into liking coffee,” Carson Wentz said. “Nick was always making coffee every morning, and I was never a big coffee guy, and then I tried the stuff he makes. [His brand is Bulletproof Coffee, for the record.] I credit Nick for getting me into coffee a little bit.”
Foles’ presence is still very much felt at Eagles headquarters, well beyond the quality of coffee bean he left behind.
As you enter the Eagles’ training camp welcome area, just a stone’s throw from the practice fields at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia, there’s a giant chalkboard that asks visitors for their favorite NFL memories. Every day, the board gets filled up, and every night, it’s wiped clean for the next day’s attendees. Without fail, Foles gobbles up a bulk of the real estate.
“You want Philly Philly?” one entry reads, citing the conversation between Foles and coach Doug Pederson before the Philly Special play in Super Bowl LII. (Just down the block at Lincoln Financial Field, there’s a bronze statue of Foles and Pederson, commemorating that moment in a more permanent way.)
“Touching Nick Foles’ hand,” reads another.
“Miss U Nick,” another fan wrote, skipping the purpose of the exercise to show Foles love.
Once you make it through the gate and to the practice fields, there’s a double-door entryway to the facility about 50 yards to your left. Walk in, and you’ll find a slab of wall dedicated to the Super Bowl victory, with a life-size image of Foles next to the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer from Feb. 5, 2018, with the headline “AT LAST!” above a picture of Foles hoisting the Lombardi Trophy as green-and-white confetti rains down on him and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie.
Take your second left, and you’ll wind your way to the front entry, where that Lombardi Trophy sits alone inside a glass case by the receptionist desk.
Some of his influence on the state of the organization is less obvious. Wentz credits Foles and his laid-back style for adding a dose of chill to his Type-A way of attacking his craft.
“One of my favorite things about Nick is just his personality. It’s been documented the way we see the game and the way we approach life. We’re very similar but in some respects very different,” Wentz said. “Just to see his approach to the game and how it is a little different than mine and find a happy medium. I think I definitely saw some good things in how he prepared.”
Foles is partly responsible for the current composition of the QB room, as he helped convince Cody Kessler to join the Eagles. Foles and Kessler were briefly teammates in Jacksonville before Kessler was released in May. During that time, Foles’ praise for the Eagles organization resonated and influenced Kessler’s decision to make Philly his next home once he became a free agent.
“A couple weeks with Nick, and the way he spoke of this place was something that jumped off to me and really stood out,” Kessler said. “And everything he said was true: This place has been awesome.”
“I just picked up and learned so much from him,” Sudfeld said. “What I loved about him, he was just unashamedly himself. He knew who he was. He was a great presence in the locker room, really cared about everybody, and obviously was really successful. He’s a special guy.
“It was just a friendly, family atmosphere the last couple years, and I think we’ve continued to do that.”
There were new discoveries unearthed this week as Eagles players told their tales. Did you know Foles was planning to retire after the 2017 season due to elbow issues that preseason? True story, according to defensive end Brandon Graham.
“He was just saying that pushing through some of the injuries that he had, that it was a little much,” Graham said. “Now it’s like, ‘Man, look at him now.’ He won the Super Bowl, got him a nice fat contract and is leading a great organization in Jacksonville.”
Taylor noted that the slate is wiped clean in the quarterback room each season — changes to personnel or not — allowing for a new identity to take hold. The same is true for the team overall. Believing that big things lie ahead in 2019, the Eagles are positioned with eyes forward and focused on Wentz, the unquestioned leader of the offense.
But Thursday will be an opportunity to catch up and celebrate old times with Foles — even if he doesn’t play in the game — who has helped shape the organization in ways both big and small.
“I’m excited for him because that’s big for Nick and his family,” Graham said of the four-year, $88 million contract he signed in Jacksonville this offseason. “He worked his butt off. The thing about it, he kept his head down and kept working and waited for his moment to happen. … If he wasn’t ready, we would have never been where we were at.
“I’m just excited for him and excited to get to see him this week.”