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Michael Vick and Nick Foles say that their battle to be the Eagles' starting quarterback has made their friendship tighter. (AP)
Everybody is turning this into Michael Vick vs. Nick Foles. Everybody but Vick and Foles.
This isn’t something that they’ve conjured up for show. It’s not something they say because it sounds good.
Vick and Foles are genuinely very close, and they really do support each other as much as any two teammates and friends can.
And when they say they hope the other one does well, they truly mean it.
“We’ve just been friends since we’ve been here,” Foles said Tuesday. “You just have to put your egos aside in this situation and any situation.
“I was raised to always, whoever you’re going against, cheer ‘em on. Try to make ’em better. You’ve got to play your best when you’re out there, but it’s a team sport. It’s not an individual sport. It’s not someone trying to get the glory.
“We want this team to be successful, so for us to be most successful, we have to support each other, and it’s been great just growing into that. All the quarterbacks have supported each other. It was that way during OTAs, it was that way during camp and it’s still that way. It’s pretty special.”
Vick is the 33-year-old veteran who’s started more games than all but six quarterbacks in Eagles history.
Foles is the 24-year-old second-year pro who’s trying to win his job.
And the more heated their competition has become, the closer they’ve become.
“I think our battle over the summer really strengthened our bond, and even throughout that battle we still helped one another,” Vick said.
“One of the things I’ve learned, when I see somebody making a mistake and not doing the right thing, even when we’re in a competition, I’m still going to try to help them. That’s just how much I believe in myself.”
Vick hasn’t played since the first half of the Giants game. Foles has played at a very high level since and is expected to make a second straight start Sunday, when the Eagles and Cowboys meet at the Linc.
Who starts when Vick is healthy? Kelly isn’t tipping his hand, but whatever happens, it sure seems like Foles and Vick aren’t going to let it affect their relationship.
Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has seen plenty of quarterback battles over the years, and he said it’s crucial that everybody involved stays supportive and positive.
Because the alternative leads to a fractured locker room, it leads to ill will, it leads to jealousy and invariably it leads to a beaten team.
“It’s hugely important,” Shurmur said. “Because really, everyone in those rooms, they all want to win football games and if you didn’t want to be out there, then there’d be something wrong with you. But when you’re not out there, that’s the piece that’s professional.
“You just get yourself ready to go and you know you’re one ankle injury away from playing, and you’re pulling for the other guy because it’s your teammate and he’s helping you win ballgames, and that’s the healthy part of that relationship.
“You’d like to be able to name a starter and play all the way through the season with him, but we’re finding now that that’s not usually the case. In fact, it’s more the norm where you’re playing one, two or three guys throughout the year, and they’ve all got to help you win games, and that’s why that relationship is so important.”
Foles and Vick have been through a lot. Foles replaced an injured Vick last year and played fairly well, and then Vick finished out last season when Foles was hurt.
When Chip Kelly was hired, he immediately announced the two would split practice reps throughout the offseason, and he didn’t name a starter until after the second preseason game.
Now Vick is hurt again, Foles is playing at a very high level, and the future of the Eagles’ QB position remains a mystery.
“When your No. 1 quarterback goes down, there's a very big drop-off,” Kelly said. “And there was no drop-off for us at all [on Sunday].”
So they both wait.
Vick isn’t signed beyond this year, so he faces an uncertain future here. Foles is signed for another two years, but there’s still a chance the Eagles will draft a quarterback in the first round, so he too faces an uncertain future.
We don’t know who the QB will be tomorrow, but we do know whoever it is has the support of the very person he’s competing with.
“If anything, we’ve grown together throughout this whole thing,” Foles said. “The most important thing here is the team success and what happens with the team, and that’s what we both agree on, and we’re both going to support each other no matter what happens, and that’s what’s pretty great about playing for this organization and the people around it.
“Everybody supports each other. There’s always going to be competition. You’re going to push each other. But as long as it’s constructive and it makes you better and it makes the team better, that’s what’s important.”