Philadelphia Magazine commissioned Buzz Bissinger to do an in-depth profile on Nick Foles. It turns out Buzz did this in-depth profile about Foles, his childhood and his experiences in the NFL without talking to Foles' parents nor Nick Foles himself. I'm not exactly sure how this works, but it seems hard to do an in-depth profile without access to three major players that can give the story depth. Obviously an in-depth profile can be done without access to the subject, but without access to the subject's immediate family and rely entirely on those who knew Foles in high school? Not college, high school. Sort of seems like this was a project better left uncompleted. Who better to give Nick Foles' story depth than he and his family? Still, Buzz pushed on and continued the story. Why did Buzz Bissinger write this story? "Friday Night Lights" of course. "Friday Night Lights" is a book based in Texas and Nick Foles is from Texas. Buzz is like that one-hit wonder band that goes up on stage in a club and talks about the one hit they had and how it opened so many doors, despite the fact the band is onstage in a club playing to 200 people at the current time. Anyway, here are my favorite parts of this in-depth profile of Nick Foles...an in-depth profile written without the whole "depth" thing that seems so crucial. Bissinger pays in kind and tries to provide as little depth in his analysis of Foles as a person and football player.
In a school of remarkable achievement and affluence, Nick Foles
perfectly fit the Westlake socioeconomic profile and was its BMOC. He
was the quarterback of its football team, the Chaparrals, on their way
to the Texas state championship game in the highest 5-A classification.
He was equally gifted in basketball; he’d started as a freshman. His
girlfriend, Lauren Farmer, was a standout cheerleader and homecoming
By the way, most of this profile could be summed up by simply having Buzz Bissinger write, "Nick Foles isn't like most other quarterbacks in the NFL who grew up as the star of his football team. He's not flashy, doesn't enjoy the spotlight and comes off as boring."
If Buzz did this then it would sum up about 1000 words into just one sentence. Also, a lot of this reads as, "This one guy who played football in high school with Foles said..."
But Foles pawed around the edges. The only middle he was interested in was a football huddle,
(groans in pain at this last half-sentence)
and even there, he led by the example of his toughness and arm, which gave receivers chest bruises.
Apparently the chest pads in Texas are really shitty.
The truth was, Nick Foles was something of a nerd, a guy who hung around
with a small posse of mostly non-football nerds — eggheads, kids who
would go on to careers in finance and private equity and engineering.
I find it interesting that someone who goes into engineering, private equity and finance would be called a "nerd" by Buzz. So does Buzz consider a nerd to be someone who doesn't play sports? Otherwise, a person can go into finance and not really be a nerd. It's clear Buzz doesn't know too many people in these professions or he would realize these aren't careers for eggheads or non-football nerds.
“Dude, come on, you’re the quarterback, go out and have some fun,” high-school teammate Matt Nader pleaded with him, fruitlessly.
I feel like quotes from high school teammates that Foles probably can't remember too well at this point really gives this story little depth. These aren't quotes from Foles' teammates who played with him in college, but played with him in high school. People change from high school to their mid-20's. Not that this should stop Buzz from just assuming Foles is the exact same now as he was in high school of course. This article has to be written, potential accuracy be damned. Buzz needs the cash.
He was the kid you wanted dating your daughter, because he would have
her home at 9:30 after you said 10. He was socially awkward, with a
naive and goofy sense of humor. He dressed as if he had never seen
clothes before. His hair was oddly styled in an ersatz pageboy, curling
below his ears like a drainage ditch and covering his forehead in uneven
wisps, thin grime on a windshield. His face was a cup of Napoleon
Dynamite and a tablespoon of golly-gee-willikers and a teaspoon of Gomer
He was boring. Rinse, repeat a few times in this column. You get the point that Buzz keeps repeating.
He tried at school, and even took Latin.
What a nerd! Foles seems like such a nerd to Buzz that he's surprised Foles didn't try to have a career outside of sports like all the other nerds did.
During his senior spring-break trip to Mexico, while most everyone else
spent the afternoon recovering from drinking, he jogged, because there
was nothing for him to recover from. He threw a football around with a
kid from the Austin area. When Nick asked the kid to name his favorite
player, he said, “Nick Foles!” But the kid didn’t recognize that he was
having a catch with the actual Nick Foles. And Nick Foles was too
reticent to tell him.
One more time...this is early in this in-depth profile and Buzz is already restating what he's already said, just using a different example. It's that kind of article. Foles can be boring and non-flashy. We get it. It's not a character flaw.
But he is still quiet. He still leads by example. He still plays video
games. He still wears the hair suit of humility. He still pathologically
refuses to do anything that draws attention to him. It’s admirable.
Actually, it’s boring. It’s unrealistic and annoying now,
self-subsumption as a form of conceit.
And of course Buzz knows this expert analysis of Foles as a person from the zero hours he spent with him in writing this story. But hey, a few guys Foles knew in high school and wanted to have their names in print agreed, so it must be true, right?
I asked Nick Foles for an interview for this story. My request was
rejected. According to his agent, Justin Schulman, Foles doesn’t want to
do anything at this point that highlights his success and not the team
collectively. Uh, it’s a little late for that, son, given that you’re
the hottest-rising quarterback in the NFL. You are the attention draw.
Yeah, Nick Foles. You have no right to pick and choose which interviews you are going to do. You are a star and are up for public consumption no matter whether you like it or not. Along with that, you have to do every single interview or else the author of that interview will take offense and do a hack-job based on second-hand sources who knew you almost a decade ago. Hey, you are the one that caused this mess by existing, so don't blame Buzz.
I was asked to do the story because of the enormous common bond that Foles and I share: Texas high-school football.
Yes, this enormous bond is based on the fact Buzz wrote a book one time about high school football in Texas, a book which came out LONG before Foles played football in Texas. If that's an enormous bond then I have an enormous bond with Jason Schmidt because one time I saw him in a mall in Atlanta. We were both shopping there.
He’s defined by it, and I memorialized it in the book Friday Night Lights.
The request for his time went from a couple of days to a couple of
hours anywhere in the country. This story isn’t about wrenching
sensitive secrets. It’s obvious and legitimate.
This story is about being able to call Foles "boring" without actually spending time with Foles. After all, Buzz can write an article where a bunch of people who used to know Foles call him boring and the author calls Foles boring too despite never having spent time with him. It's lazy in a "I need to write this article and I'll be damned if anything will stop me, such as the information I have about the subject may not be entirely accurate" way.
Is he capable of leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl one day? Was the
2013 season aberrant? How will he handle the pressure? Fans need to try
to figure out what ticks inside him to remotely know any of the answers.
This profile was crucial to the Eagles winning the Super Bowl this year. Congratulations Nick Foles, you have just cost your team the Super Bowl by not being interviewed by Buzz Bissinger. Your insistence on focusing on the team has now cost your team. Your fans don't understand you, so that means you can't win a Super Bowl.
Instead, what has emerged is a one-dimensional choirboy caricature
reflective of a player and a team and a league terrified of
Seems fair. If a three-dimensional profile isn't possible, just print a one-dimensional profile. I mean, Buzz needs the money and Philadelphia Magazine wouldn't mind the publicity. It's not Buzz's fault this profile is one-dimensional, he was forced to write it rather than realize it is unfair to write a one-dimensional profile and not make cash as a result. Money over Foles.
Foles is selling himself, and being sold by the born-again Eagles, as
the anti-DeSean: contrite, non-charismatic, cautious, churchgoing,
Caucasian. The perfect poster boy for Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and
commissioner Roger Goodell’s vision of a new NFL theme park where
players have no discernible personality and the Twitter account is laced
with Glories to God.
If true, this is horrific. Athletes who are quiet and don't try to draw attention to themselves? It's the end of sports.
I don’t believe this is all there is to Nick Foles. I definitely don’t
believe it after spending extensive time in Austin talking to teammates
and coaches and parents in the roots of Texas and high-school football
that so define him.
Buzz spent EXTENSIVE time in Austin talking to people who don't really know Foles all that well now. He could have spent 10 years in Austin and if he didn't talk to Foles or Foles' family then he's only getting second-hand information about Foles by only speaking with Foles' high school teammates.
TO KNOW NICK FOLES, you go back to the base.
Or you could interview him in order to know him. If that's not possible, then you don't really know Nick Foles.
Which means going to the community that encompasses Westlake High
School. Its predominant zip code, 78746, is an Austin equivalent of Beverly Hills, 90210. Its population of some 27,000 is small and homogeneous and oppressively white...The median house value in 2011, $610,800, is roughly five times the
Texas average. The median family income of $167,295 is almost three
times the state norm. There are 82 families who own five or more
vehicles, and 1,251 who live in homes with five or more bedrooms.
Buzz spent extensive time on Wikipedia finding these statistics.
Foles didn’t have a single black teammate when he played his senior season in 2006.
Nick Foles is racist like Riley Cooper! No wonder Cooper had such a great 2013 season, he had a fellow racist throwing him the football.
This says nothing about his or anyone else’s racial attitudes. It does
say that Foles grew up in a bubble of entitlement and shockingly narrow
I guess it would be too much for Buzz to acknowledge Foles doesn't have a bubble of entitlement. That's not part of this profile. It's too neutral-y to fit into what Buzz has written.
A large number of students at Westlake are the sons and daughters of
lawyers and doctors and high-tech capitalists and private equity
managers and business executives.
It's a city of nerds.
No one will ever say that Nick Foles is snotty. But he is obviously white,
Very observant of you, Buzz! Maybe you didn't need to actually interview Nick Foles to see what makes him tick. You obviously have insights into him like this one.
His high-school teammate Matt Nader tells me that the best way to assess
the rising fortunes of the Foles family was by observing the
improvements made to their house over the years.
Matt Nader also said, "You are going to use my name in this profile, right?"
Currently assessed at $1.5 million, it was hardly a rancher when the
Foles family bought it in the late ’90s. But over the years, the
basement was finished and a new garage was put in, according to Travis
County appraisal records. Then came the uncovered deck and a first-floor
porch almost the entire length of the house.
Buzz also spent extensive time at the Register of Deeds and the permits office researching this information. No matter what you think about Nick Foles, Buzz Bissinger has uncovered the secret of the Foles family increasing the value of their house, which was to constantly improve the curb appeal of it. Investigative reporting at it's best. So when did the Foles family plant new flowers in their garden? I wonder how this reflected their socio-economic standing through the years? Was it a two-car or three-car garage and did the family have a riding mower? HOW OFTEN WAS THE MOWER'S BLADE SHARPENED?
It was Larry, better than any coach or recruiter or pro scout, who knew
how good Nick could be if he was pushed. So Larry pushed, perhaps
because his whole life has been about pushing. He was the kind of parent
who tried to make not only every practice at Westlake High, but also
every junior-high practice.
It seems Buzz spent some time at the "Bill Simmons School of Unnecessary Italics."
Raised in Petal, Mississippi, Larry Foles had nothing growing up. He told hiladelphia Daily News
Eagles beat reporter Les Bowen (Larry Foles and his wife, Melissa, also
declined to be interviewed for this story) that his parents split when
he was 13, prompting him to drop out of high school and move to Oregon
in the early ’60s to work manual labor for 90 cents an hour. He returned
to Mississippi and became the general manger of a Shoney’s.
Is the Hiladelphia Daily News a cheap knock-off of the Philadelphia Daily News? Apparently Buzz was so busy researching land records and interviewing that a friend of Foles' father he didn't have time to write a "P." There's only so much extensive work Buzz can do. Something has to suffer.
When Nick signed a letter of intent with Arizona State University before
his senior season, it was Larry who made initial contact with the
school, as opposed to the other way around. When Nick decommitted from
Arizona State and went to Michigan State University in 2007, Larry got
an apartment in East Lansing. When Nick was deciding whether to leave
Michigan State after a year, it was Larry who became his spokesman.
In an age where "family friends" and "advisors" help a college athlete make decisions, it's not so bad that Larry Foles helped make decisions for his son is it?
Hager did manage to corrupt Foles just a bit, late in their senior
year: Foles conducted an ultimately losing battle with cognac and
vermouth and ended up facedown on the carpet, mumbling incoherently to
his girlfriend on his cellphone.
It seems doubtful it has happened since.
Which is a shame.
I would have absolutely no idea why this is a shame. Nick Foles chooses not to drink. It's his decision. Whether he drinks or not has no bearing on his ability as a quarterback. Fail by Bissinger.
THE GREATEST ATHLETES all have arrogance; no matter how thick the playbook of humility, it still seeps through
Really? Tim Duncan. Derek Jeter. Tony Gwynn. I can go on.
You can see it and you can feel it. Except with Foles.
This is a lie, right? Buzz didn't see or feel it with Foles, mostly because he didn't interview him at all for this profile.
Michael Vick is a great guy. It was an extraordinary team effort. The offensive line deserves all the credit.
Give it a little bit of a rest, kid.
Yeah, stop being unselfish so Buzz has a more interesting article to write. It's your obligation as an NFL star to give Buzz something interesting to write about.
But there’s still an aura of softness about him, no fire. Maybe it’s the
hee-haw face. Maybe it’s the stream of selfless platitudes about
others. Maybe it’s that at 25, he’s still very much a boy among men with
the Eagles, with no interest in the extracurricular world of clubbing.
There's something wrong with Nick Foles because he doesn't meet Buzz Bissinger's idea of what a great quarterback should be. The problem with Foles is he can't meet Buzz's expectations. Based on Buzz's extensive research, this is a problem with Foles and not with Buzz himself.
Or maybe it’s the reality that if he fails in football, he has the
likely cushion of going into an enormously successful family business.
It’s the intangible hunger factor that appears to be missing.
From earlier in this article:
His son has inherited his relentless work ethic; during June and July,
when Westlake players work out on their own, it isn’t unusual for them
to hit the weight room. Teammates watched agape as Nick Foles toiled in
an hours-long regimen of throwing and running in the lugubrious Texas
Nobody can deny Nick Foles’s toughness, at six-foot-five and 240 pounds.
He played the last 12 games of his senior year at Westlake High with a
torn labrum in his throwing shoulder without telling anyone or
complaining about the pain.
Yeah Buzz, about that...
I'm sure Foles has worked his whole life as a quarterback not caring whether he actually made it or not to the NFL, because there's always the option of going into a different business. I'm sure that's a logical conclusion to be made here.
Teammates remember him being hurt a lot of the time. “What’s the deal
with Foles?” was the sentiment of wide receiver Staton Jobe. “Is he
going to be injured his whole career?”
Well yeah, because he's soft.
Foles broke the career passing-yardage record at Westlake held by Drew
Brees, throwing for 5,658 yards. But he wasn’t a hot recruit. The rap
was that he was too slow, a system quarterback in a school that has
produced nine quarterbacks who have gone on to play that position in
college football since 1992 — at best, he was a backup.
So it absolutely makes sense that Arizona State recruited him and then he ended up at Michigan State. Who has ever heard of those schools?
Duke made an offer, which back then was slightly better than being
chosen last in a pickup game. Texas El Paso sought him out, which was
the Gulag. The major Texas schools weren’t interested.
What an embarrassment to only have two D-1 schools interested in you. Who would want to play at a D-1 school? Interesting how these two schools were the only ones interested in Foles, except he ended up at Arizona State magically.
Signing with Arizona State became a mess when the coach who wanted him,
Dirk Koetter, was fired and replaced by Dennis Erickson, who in turn was
so impressed by Foles that he went out and recruited another
I love how Buzz writes, "...he wasn't a hot recruit" and then it's like, "Well, after he ended up at Arizona State..." I am under the impression Arizona State is a pretty good school for football.
Also, college coaches recruit multiple quarterbacks in one recruiting class all the time. This isn't college basketball where a player can be recruited over in his own class. It's completely conceivable that Dennis Erickson loved Foles, but he wanted to recruit another quarterback for that class. This happens very, very frequently.
After walking away from Arizona State, Foles signed late in the
recruiting season with Michigan State. He got into the first game of the
season in 2007, and that was all.
Foles continued his trend over loserdom by appearing in a game as a freshmen, which obviously happens all the time.
He was competing with Kirk Cousins (a redshirt) and Brian Hoyer, both future pros.
Using Bissinger logic, the fact Michigan State signed Foles meant they didn't think highly of Kirk Cousins. I think you can see how stupid this logic is.
Foles transferred to Arizona. He battled with Matt Scott for the
starting job and lost it, until Scott played poorly and Foles got his
chance. The team went to two consecutive bowl games under Foles, in 2009
and 2010. His senior year was a team disaster. He put up great numbers,
throwing for 4,334 yards and 28 touchdowns. But Arizona won only four
Mostly due to Foles' lack of toughness and the fact he always had the fallback of working for his dad...obviously.
The newest rap was that Foles had played in a gimmicky offense with few
sophisticated reads. But he was named to the Senior Bowl and, in his
typical pattern, was so lackluster in practices that several draft
experts showered praise instead on Brandon Weeden.
This is the same Brandon Weeden that was drafted in the first round. I feel like this deserves a mention since Buzz seems to indicate draft experts showering praise on Weeden was unusual or indicative of Foles being terrible.
Foles then played, with the best performance of any quarterback, and was
thought to be a possible first-round pick. Then he made the single
worst mistake of his career. He entered the NFL combine.
Among quarterbacks entering the draft in 2012, Robert Griffin III ran
the 40-yard dash in 4.41, Russell Wilson in 4.55, Andrew Luck in 4.67
and Ryan Tannehill in 4.62. Foles’s time was 5.14 seconds — the worst of
the quarterbacks who entered. Pro Football Weekly called him a
“lumbering pocket passer” who gets “panicked in the pocket” and said he
“is consistently off the mark” and “is not an inspiring field general,”
on a par with former fifth-round pick John Skelton of the Arizona
This analysis of Foles also mentioned he may need time to adjust to the NFL game, which turned out to be true. This of course doesn't help push the narrative Buzz wants pushed so it gets left out.
Foles still doesn’t inspire full faith among fans. He shouldn’t.
One-year wonders in professional sports form an endless chain. He was
unknown last year, and the unknown is often a player’s best asset until
it becomes known.
Of course on the flip side of this, Buzz criticized Foles not giving his time for an interview by stating,
Uh, it’s a little late for that, son, given that you’re the hottest-rising quarterback in the NFL. You are the attention draw.
So Buzz seems to be confused as to whether Foles is an unknown and should be doubted or he is the hottest rising quarterback in the NFL. I guess it can be both, but it's interesting how Foles becomes a potential one year wonder when Buzz isn't arguing about Foles' obligation to do this interview.
When Chip Kelly talks about Foles as the franchise quarterback, it
always feels like he’s lying, because he’s both good at it and a smug
I don't think Kelly should be worshiped in some circles like he is, but I think this is a bit judgmental.
Foles isn’t a pressure quarterback. He lost the state championship in
high school, lost both of his bowl games, and looked confused in the
second half of the loss to the New Orleans Saints in last year’s
And of course it's all Foles' fault his team lost these games.
In 17 pro starts, he’s thrown only one game-winning touchdown pass in
the fourth quarter or overtime. (Compare that to Andrew Luck, who threw
six in his first two seasons.) Sometimes he just flings it up there in
the hope that someone is around to catch it, although without DeSean
Jackson, that’s become far less likely. The Eagles also played a weak
schedule last year.
Along with the in-depth profile of Foles, we get this in-depth analysis of Foles from Buzz. I wonder how many times Foles has had the opportunity to throw a game-winning touchdown pass in the NFL? Not that his ability to throw a game-winning touchdown pass should matter in a dick-measuring contest completely reliant on opportunities to throw a game-winning touchdown pass of course.
A&M scored early in the game to take a 7-0 lead. Westlake came back
with a 16-play drive that consumed roughly seven minutes. As Paul Nader
and Barbara Bergin — he a nephrologist, she an orthopedic surgeon —
Both nerds in the mind of Buzz Bissinger.
Foles and Nader came off the field. Nader went to the bench with the
other offensive linemen. Offensive line coach Steve Ramsey came over to
critique what had gone right and what had gone wrong during the drive.
An ice towel was placed on the back of Nader’s neck. He suddenly fell
and landed on his back with his cleats still propped up on the bench. It
was so bizarre that Hager thought he was joking and told him to get the
Larry and Melissa Foles were there. They watched, like their son. A
whisper shuddered through the sidelines that Matt Nader was dead.
By some miracle, Westlake carried an automated external defibrillator
to games. There was no state requirement at the time to have it on the
field; it had been given as a gift. It had never been used — another
piece of equipment lugged around by the trainers. But it was charged and
ready to go.
There came a pulse.
He came to consciousness. An hour later at the hospital, there was
nothing wrong with Nader. He was fully alert. It all seemed so freakish
and unreal. Except that he would never play another down of football. He
had gone through ventricular fibrillation, a condition in which the
heart stops pumping blood. While there was no certainty it would happen
again, the risk was too great.
I'm really glad Matt Nader is okay, but this story doesn't serve a purpose other than to reinforce what was already known about Nick Foles. He's a nice guy and treats others kindly. This is the sort of story that gets told to Buzz Bissinger through his interview process and he knows he needs it somewhere in the story, so he shoehorns it in wherever possible as tangentially related to Nick Foles.
So maybe Nick Foles doesn’t have the edge of Peyton Manning. Or the
come-from-behind fearlessness of Tom Brady. Or the gravitas of Drew
Brees. Or the feet of Russell Wilson, or Colin Kaepernick, or …
He carries with him the fragility embedded into everything. The dividing line you never know.
And again, Buzz knows this by interviewing people who used to know Foles well in high school and not by actually having spent time with Foles. I know these sorts of profiles happen all the time, but in a situation where the author is imparting characteristics onto his subject he finds to be true, it usually helps to actually interview the subject as confirmation these characteristics are indeed true.
But unless he stops being chickenshit and goes into the middle, he will
never guide the Eagles to the place that only tantalizes us.
I can go on, these are a short list of boring quarterbacks who won a Super Bowl. These are quarterbacks who won a Super Bowl without being flashy or trying to gain the spotlight from his teammates. It's not an all-inclusive list. Basically, I have no fucking idea what Buzz Bissinger is talking about.
We are tired, Nick. We are already dependent on you. So man up to be the man.
So as soon as Foles puts himself before the team then the Eagles can win a Super Bowl? Unfortunately history has shown this assertion to be incorrect.
Sidle up to a bar on the road and order a slug of single malt, not a
double shot of milk. It’s okay to address LeSean McCoy as “Shady”
instead of “Sir Shady.” Don’t ever publicly say again that your favorite
movie is The Lion King.
If there were a list of "Non-relevant items as to whether Nick Foles will ever win a Super Bowl" these three items would lead the list.
Acolytes get to heaven. Strut gets you to the Super Bowl.
As seen by the list above, this is absolutely untrue. Strut doesn't get you to the Super Bowl. Playing the quarterback position well does get you to the Super Bowl and Nick Foles played the quarterback position well last year. Maybe next time when ascribing personal characteristics to a subject during an in-depth profile it would help to talk to that subject or his parents. You know, it seems less bullshitty and a little bit more like any negative comments aren't only made out of frustration the subject wouldn't grant you an interview.