Dear Roker Report,
Modern sports heroes are hard to come by in football. Agents and egos make the notion of the modern sport hero a faraway concept that seems from the past.
Kevin Philips, Jimmy Montgomery and Johnny Cochrane are heroes to the red and white faithful. Jack Rodwell, Didier Ndong and David Moyes are not.
As the rot goes away and we allow Mr. Donald to reorganize the club, we need to look for a hero. They still exist.
Nicholas Edward Foles is an American football quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.
If you know anything about Philadelphia, their fans are a lot like Sunderland fans. Loyal, determined and no time for nonsense. Prima donna sports figures rarely succeed in finding their way into the hearts of her fans. Philadelphia may have baseball, hockey and basketball teams but their fans live and die for the Eagles. The Eagles were a team that had never won a modern-day championship, constantly frustrating a team that bled green and white.
Foles played his first game in 2012 after the starter left with an injury. He played for the Eagles for some time and as it often happens he was traded to a new team. After stints with the St. Louis Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs, Foles returned to the Eagles in 2017 as backup. At some point during Foles’ transition from team-to-team in the NFL, the quarterback lost his passion for the game and contemplated retirement. However, the story does not end with a washed-up player collecting his remaining few checks and silently fading into obscurity.
In late 2017, after the Eagles starter was injured late in the regular season, Foles got the nod. The pundits and odds makers gave the Eagles no chance to win with a has been quarterback at the helm. He miraculously led the Eagles to the franchise’s third Super Bowl appearance. The Eagles defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII for their first Super Bowl title, and Foles was named the game’s MVP. He came home a hero.
After the victory, the offers to change teams came flooding into the club. Suddenly Foles was a wanted man – a veteran who may help a club to their Super Bowl victory. Foles, and everyone else, knew he would return to his role as a backup player only to watch the game from the sidelines, ready in case of an injury to the starter. The starter was many years his junior and the club had invested millions in their future. Nick Foles remains on the Philadelphia roster. He does not complain or demand. He simply goes about his business.
Nick Foles has character. He came back to the Eagles to be a backup despite being able to have an offer of other teams, he waited for his time to shine and he capitalized on it, and afterwards has stuck with Philadelphia. Foles knows he is a hero. Foles knows what passionate fans mean to a player and vice-versa.
Eagles fans are Eagles fans because they’re genuine,” Foles said. “They have the reputation because that’s what’s in their heart, and that’s why we love them. We understand where they come from, we understand their passion, we understand why they love the Eagles. It’s [because] their father loved the Eagles, their mother loved the Eagles, their grandfather loved the Eagles, so you understand the passion.”
Foles knows the ups and downs of a career but he also understands fans, personal character and what it means to be a hero for a City. Foles could live one hundred more years and he will never pay for a beer or a meal in Philadelphia. For decades to come, you will see Foles replica jerseys on the streets. He will be treated like royalty until he breathes his last breath.
Sunderland could use a hero like Foles, they exist. Maybe just maybe we have one on the roster already.
Editor’s Note [JN]: Nice little anecdote, John. I agree, the club has been crying out for a hero since Jermain Defoe left and took essentially all hope out of Wearside with him down to the south coast. The fans need reinvigorated, and hopefully this year numerous players will step-up to the plate. Last time we found ourselves in this tier, it launched the career of a certain Marco Gabbiadini and set-up the G-Force. With any luck, history will repeat itself.