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How The Quarterbacks From The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles Compare

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Sunday's Super Bowl has one big mismatch - the quarterbacks. On the defending champion, New England Patriots, you have Tom Brady. On the short list of all-time greatest quarterbacks, he is also obscenely rich and husband to Gisele Bundchen, one of the most famous supermodels in the world. The Philadelphia Eagles have Nick Foles. A sportswriter once described him as, quote, "contrite, non-charismatic, cautious, churchgoing." Personality aside, Foles was playing backup quarterback only two months ago. Before signing with the Eagles this season, he was considering retiring.

So is it as big a mismatch as that might sound? Well for more on that, we turn to Bob Ford. He is sports columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Hello, there.

BOB FORD: Hello, Mary Louise, great to be with you.

KELLY: Great to have you with us. Who is Nick Foles? Tell us a little bit about him.

FORD: Well, up to this point, he's been sort of a quarterback that's bounced around a little bit - really didn't have a great career. In some ways, he doesn't have a past. In some ways, he might not have a future after this game. So this is really his moment. And whether he's going to be remembered or not is going to be largely accountable to what happens in the game on Sunday. So that's quite a spot he's in.

KELLY: You're saying potentially he could win the Super Bowl as quarterback for the Eagles, and you're not sure he has a future in the sport?

FORD: Well, I think he has a future as a backup again. I think the Eagles are very much committed to keeping Carson Wentz as their young, up-and-coming quarterback. And he'll get the job back once he recovers from surgery. And Nick Foles will return to his role in the shadows.

KELLY: Now he is known for having had one magic year. He killed it in 2013. He was playing for the Eagles. What happened?

FORD: Well, they had a new coach that year, Chip Kelly. And Chip Kelly brought a lot of different methods to the game. And it took a little bit of time for the defenses around the league to catch up with what those were - and catch up they did. But in the interim, as you said, Nick Foles won 8 out of 10 games. He threw 27 touchdowns - only two interceptions. It was magical. But I also think that was a bit of a mirage given what came afterward.

KELLY: And what came afterward?

FORD: Well, the next season they didn't do quite as well. Nick broke his collarbone. He got traded to the St. Louis Rams. He was a disaster there. And he rebounded as a backup last year in Kansas City before coming back to Philadelphia. So at 29, having had contemplated retirement, he was probably just going to be a career guy who stood on the sideline in a baseball hat and clapped his hands until Carson Wentz got hurt.

KELLY: Wow, and here he is in the Super Bowl on Sunday. Well, let me ask you this. Does he enjoy the advantage of being the underdog? I mean, the expectations are low compared to what Tom Brady is up against.

FORD: Well, I think Nick is used to being the underdog. He was, you know, lightly recruited for college. He was certainly lightly thought of coming out of college. He was only a third round pick of the Eagles. No one has ever been overwhelmed by his athleticism. So I think for Nick being an underdog, this is nothing new. And the fact that he's an underdog in the Super Bowl to Tom Brady is not only a comfortable place for him, but it's expected.

KELLY: How have fans in Philadelphia taken to him?

FORD: Well, it's a little like finding out that your garage mechanic can also do open heart surgery if you really needed him to...

(LAUGHTER)

FORD: ...Because they didn't think all that much of Nick when he came back. And they love, love, love Carson Wentz. So when Carson Wentz tore his knee ligament, was lost for the season, there was certainly a sense of, OK, it's not about this season anymore. We're just going to build for the future. And then all of a sudden, Nick Foles won two playoff games. And here they are in the Super Bowl. And as I said, it's unexpected. But for a town that has not had all that many championships recently, they'll take any shot they can get.

KELLY: And what do you think? How big a shot is it? Can he and the Eagles beat Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday?

FORD: Let me put it this way. The hardest thing about winning the Super Bowl, Mary Louise, is getting into it. Once you're in it, you have a puncher's chance. I think if they played this game ten times, the Patriots would win seven. But they're only going to play at once, so it could it could be one of those three. So they certainly have a chance. Funny things happen in this game. The ball bounces around funny. And, yeah, they certainly have a chance.

KELLY: Bob Ford, thanks very much.

FORD: Mary Louise, my pleasure.

KELLY: Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer talking about Nick Foles, quarterback for the Eagles, and what kind of shot he has at a Super Bowl ring come Sunday.

(SOUNDBITE OF SOUTHERN CREEK PLAYERS' "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.