How Nick Foles chose football (with assist to LeBron)

How Nick Foles chose football (with assist to LeBron)
July 22, 2014, 8:00 am
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Nick Foles loved playing baseball, basketball, football and was in karate growing up in Austin, Texas. (USA Today Images)

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They're fun, I've played them at times, but I always would have rather been out there doing something.
—Nick Foles on playing video games as a kid

This is the third installment of a five-part series that will run this week taking an in-depth look at the life of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. Part I, on Foles' heroes -- his mom and dad -- ran Sunday and Part II on the women in his life, his mom and wife.

Before he was a record-setting quarterback, a Pro Bowl MVP, a starter for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, Nick Foles was just a normal kid that loved playing baseball, basketball and football.

And just about any other sport you can think of.

“I was always outside doing something,” Foles said. “When I talk to kids these days there's so many X-Boxes, so many gadgets, there's always something else. I mean we did that, but honestly, we were always outside doing something. Causing havoc, playing backyard football, riding bikes.

“When I go back to my hometown in Austin, you don't see all of that anymore because the big thing is virtual video games. They're fun, I've played them at times, but I always would have rather been out there doing something.”

Foles, like his dad, Larry, was a terrific baseball player as a kid, and he was even better at basketball. He was one of those kids who could do anything. You name the sport. He could have played college hoops at the Division 1 level, and he probably would have been pretty good at it.

Fortunately for the Eagles, Foles pursued football. He went 8-2 last year after replacing an injured Michael Vick, leading the Eagles to a 7-1 record the second half of the season and a playoff berth before going to the Pro Bowl and earning MVP honors.

But long before he settled on football, young Foles was into baseball more than anything.

“Yeah, I was a big baseball player,” he said. “In middle school I gave it up. I decided to play year-round and it was just too much for me. At that time I was doing baseball, basketball, football, karate. And my heart was in football and basketball, which it still is.”

Foles said he loved playing hoops and even made varsity in high school as a freshman.

“Basketball I love just as much as football,” he said. “It’s just that I decided to go this route and I’ve put more time into football since high school, so football’s gone better. I can still play basketball. I just never really got better. I just go out there and wing it.”

A coaching switch on the basketball staff before his junior year at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, ultimately pointed him to football.

“I had great head coaches all in high school, but my high school head coach for basketball ended up leaving after my sophomore year,” he said. “So it was just one of those things where the JV coach was my coach and I really liked him. But the coach that I had really bonded with as a freshman had left, so I was like, ‘All right.’

“It sort of messed with me a little bit. And then I don’t know, I think my junior year I had a good year of varsity football, and I was like, ‘All right, I think I can do this thing.’ And senior year I had a really good year, went to the state championship.

“I think I committed to Arizona State after my junior year, so at that point I came to the realization that I looked at LeBron James and was like, ‘I don’t think I can do that. But I think I can throw a football.’

“So I had to keep it real with myself. I knew I could play college basketball and hopefully be a good player. But if I wanted to go on to the next level, it would have had to have been a miracle.”

Point guard ... quarterback ... Long before the Eagles drafted Foles, he knew he wanted to be the guy running the offense.

No matter what sport.

“I really wanted to have the ball in my hands,” he said. “My mom gave the picture to some news site where they put it up, and the picture’s everywhere, but the second day [after] I was born, my dad put a football in my hand.

“So I guess it was just sort of writing on the wall then through all the ups and downs. I just always liked playing quarterback.

“When I played basketball, the last-second shot, my team always wanted to get me the ball. The coach knew I wanted it, but the team, we would draw up a play so I would shoot it. And I just liked having my hands on the ball when it was crunch time and I had to make a decision.

“Ever since I started playing football I wanted to be a quarterback. I was a quarterback. My first year of flag football I actually sat the bench and didn’t play so that really was tough. But then after that I really never let it go.”

Part I: Foles' success comes from heroes: Mom and Dad

Part II: Women in Nick Foles' life keep him humble

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