At this point, it’s pretty obvious that Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles is the hero Philadelphia has always deserved but never really had.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock since January, you know he led the city to its first Super Bowl victory this year, against the Patriots. Even though he’s been hanging out on the sidelines for most of the Eagles’ current season, it’s clear now after he saved the Eagles’ bid for the playoffs that he’s back where he’s supposed to be -- saving Philly from itself when we need it most, including Sunday’s 30-32 win against the Houston Texans.
Was there any other Philadelphian in history who was better at handling clutch situations? Here are a couple of other times in Philly history that Nick Foles’ crisis-handling skills probably would’ve come in handy.
The British capture of Philadelphia
A long time ago — 1777 — Gen. George Washington led an army of 11,000 into a battle at Brandywine Creek against a British-Hessian army of 15,000. Washington’s army, outnumbered and outmatched by the British, was driven to disarray and forced to retreat to Chester.
That loss led the Continental Congress to abandon the city for Lancaster and later, York. The British marched into Philadelphia unopposed in September and stationed 9,000 troops in Germantown, forcing Washington and his army to camp at Valley Forge.
Washington was obviously a good general, because we wound up winning the Revolutionary War, but if Foles had been alive then, he probably would’ve done a pretty respectable job as well. Just sayin’.
The Philadelphia nativist riots in 1844
In 1844, Philly dealt with a series of riots that were the result of rising anti-Catholic sentiment as more Irish Catholic immigrants moved to the city. Nativist groups had been spreading a rumor five months before the riots that Catholics were trying to remove the Bible from public schools.
Eventually, the tension erupted in Kensington in May during a nativist rally that resulted in the destruction of two Catholic churches. The government brought in militia that killed and wounded hundreds in nativist mobs.
The riots eventually forced the city’s police agencies to make significant reforms and fueled criticism of the nativist movement. Philly’s always been a city where people aren’t shy to express their political sentiments, but maybe Foles could have brokered a deal between the two sides with his almost impossibly diplomatic demeanor.
The Great Depression
Philly, like most major American cities, was hit hard by the Great Depression. Between 1929 and 1933, factory payrolls fell by 60 percent, and unemployment peaked in 1933. Bummer.
What made things worse was that Philadelphia’s mayor at the time, J. Hampton Moore, blamed laziness and wastefulness for the economic disaster and claimed there was no starvation in the city. He wound up firing 3,500 city workers, cutting people’s pay, and forcing unpaid vacations. That did wind up saving Philadelphia millions of dollars, but it made many people understandably angry.
I know Foles’ specialty is being able to throw a football 49 yards down the field to Alshon Jeffery while being taken to the ground, but maybe Moore could’ve used some of his level-headed leadership during the crisis.
The 2003 NFC championship game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Eagles fans, you know how painful this loss was.
Even before the Eagles played the Bucs, people were celebrating the victory. They had good reason to. The Eagles had thrashed the Bucs previously, and before the season, Tampa Bay had never won a game played in conditions below 40 degrees.
But Eagles fans watched what should’ve been their ticket to Super Bowl XXXVII slip away as the Bucs humiliated the Birds with a 27-10 victory. Though the Eagles eventually won the Super Bowl, 2003 was yet another year when they really could have gone and won it all.
Where were you when we needed you, Nick Foles? Being only 14 is simply not a good enough excuse. Oh, well. You’re here now, and that’s what matters.