After losing his starting job to Case Keenum in 2015, Nick Foles, then a member of the St. Louis Rams, almost quit football.
Former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky doesn’t doubt that for a second.
“I totally understood it,” Orlovsky said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I’m sure people probably thought, ‘Yeah, right.’ But I get it. I wish people could understand how difficult it is to be a backup. There’s great things to it, obviously. There’s a lot of pros to it. But it’s incredibly difficult. You literally prepare like everybody else on the team – if not greater than them because you get no reps during the week, so you have to dive into your mental preparation even deeper. You do it just as much as the starting quarterback, but then you never get the opportunity to apply it. You just continue this vicious cycle of banging your head against the wall (preparing) during the week, and then you have no opportunity to reap the benefits of your work. You’re just doing it and doing it and doing it, and then at any moment, you need to be ready to go play.”
And play at a high level.
“There’s no drop-off,” said Orlovsky, who spent more than a decade in the league. “There’s no, ‘Hey, let’s cut him a break because he didn’t get reps this week.’ You have to go play and play at a high level. That’s the expectation by your teammates and your coaches and your fans. That’s why not a lot of guys can do it for a long time because it takes such a special skill to be able to go do it.”
Foles, of course, didn’t quit football. He stayed in the NFL.
And now he’s starting a Super Bowl.
“For Foles to kind of hang in there and go through a little bit of a roller-coaster ride and bounce around a team or two and then, bang, this opportunity comes and he’s ready for it – and not only is he ready for it, but he’s taking advantage of it and enjoying it and soaking it all in, it’s really, really special,” Orlovsky said. “That’s such an undervalued characteristic. It’s such an under-appreciated thing. People just expect, ‘Well, go in there and play.’ It’s really difficult to do that. Nick Foles probably hasn’t had more than a handful of reps all season with guys that are actually on the field playing with him, and now he’s in the Super Bowl with those guys. So it’s just a testament to him and his character and his focus and his ability to kind of pick up on the fly and go. It’s an awesome story when it comes to guys like me who were backups for the great majority (of their careers).”