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Rising star Foles works to stay grounded

Nick Foles met a woman who worked for his father long before Larry Foles sold his restaurant empire for $59 million. She reminded Nick that Larry, the owner, would put on an apron and do whatever menial tasks were needed - from cleaning the dishes to filling in for an absent employee.

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. (Ron Tarver/Staff Photographer)
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. (Ron Tarver/Staff Photographer)Read more

Nick Foles met a woman who worked for his father long before Larry Foles sold his restaurant empire for $59 million. She reminded Nick that Larry, the owner, would put on an apron and do whatever menial tasks were needed - from cleaning the dishes to filling in for an absent employee.

Foles enjoys this anecdote because of the reverence he maintains for his father. But the Eagles quarterback also took a lesson from it: Don't forget where you started.

So Foles, the 25-year-old Pro Bowl selection whose 27 touchdowns against only two interceptions last season marked the best-ever ratio for an NFL quarterback, laughs at the question of how he has changed since his sterling 2013 campaign. His offseason included marriage, frequent encounters with fame, and the burden of expectations that comes with being the starting quarterback. To manage all this, he's like his father wearing an apron.

"I want to remember my core values," Foles said.

The Eagles reinforced their confidence in Foles during the offseason, leading up to the opening of training camp at the NovaCare Complex on Saturday. Some of it was with words - general manger Howie Roseman provided hearty public support for Foles in February. Some of it was with actions - the Eagles passed on Johnny Manziel in the first round of the NFL draft in May.

Foles similarly has embraced his role as a burgeoning face of the franchise, even if he prefers relative anonymity. His off-field interests often focus on his family and his faith, and Foles is not so much boring as he is simple.

TMZ would have a difficult time tracking Foles' whereabouts. His dalliances with trouble come on crime dramas he watches - he's a sucker for CSI. He enjoys a glass of wine or beer after work, but by his own admission his vice is showing his frustration after a wayward strike on the golf course.

His typical non-football day includes a morning workout; lunch with his wife, Tori; time with family or 18 holes; and dinner with Tori. They often cook together - pasta with sausage and veggies, chicken, steak, or taco salad. Then they play cards as a nightcap, varying between "Palace" and "Speed."

"That gets intense," Foles said.

Tori played volleyball at Arizona and understands the life of an athlete. Her brother, Evan Moore, played tight end for the Eagles in 2012. She was the first person Foles met when he transferred to Arizona, although they did not start dating until after college and lived apart until their offseason engagement and marriage.

During his first two seasons in Philadelphia, Foles often was reluctant to discuss personal matters. But he now beams when describing married life and the role Tori plays in preserving the normalcy that Foles craves. Her presence in Philadelphia could be the biggest difference for Foles this season.

"When I'm done here, I go home and I spend time with Tori and I get away from this," Foles said. "That has helped me keep my sanity. That juices me to come back the next day and get after it, because I'm not taking it home with me."

The sanity is important, because Foles is no longer anonymous. He's not entirely free of obligations off the field - the quarterback has endorsements and even attended Super Bowl week for promotional purposes. But he has become adept at saying no, and he has accepted the reality that quarterbacking in Philadelphia requires a certain social responsibility.

"I'm more noticeable in public, for sure," Foles said. "I think that would be the big thing, so you would have more people coming up to you wanting pictures or autographs, which is fine. I'm my natural self in those instances."

Foles' stardom emerged from the blind side, even if he does not see himself as an overnight sensation. One week last autumn, Foles recovered from a concussion after the worst performance of his career and faced the possibility that he might not start another game in an Eagles uniform. The next week, he threw seven touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders and began an improbable march to the postseason and potential stardom.

"All those throws that happened last year, the TDs, whatever, it does absolutely nothing," Foles said. "It probably hurts me more now than it did last year because I did it, so now you've got to do it even better.

"In my mind, I want to do even better. But I know in reality some things can happen. There could be a game where I throw two interceptions. I threw two interceptions all last season and it's like, 'Oh, gosh.' But that happens."

Teammates and coaches gush about how grounded Foles has remained. Coach Chip Kelly said that the approach Foles takes is that "he's never going to arrive." So there is no "cruise control," and Foles barely even acknowledges the season he had in 2013.

Foles used to live with Eagles reserve quarterback G.J. Kinne, who grew up in Texas at the same time as Foles. They watched high school film from almost a decade ago, and Foles said he did not even remember making the throws. He watched a play fake that he swears he cannot execute now. His explanation for what he characterizes as "amnesia" is the necessity for a quarterback to have a short memory.

He'll save nostalgia for fatherhood. Foles has work to do to try to follow his 2013 season, and he is approaching it the way his father did when wearing an apron and cleaning the dishes.

"Our team isn't measured by my 27-2," Foles said. "Can I be a good-enough leader to where I can make these guys better players around me to where it makes the team better and we win? Now, I might not ever reach those [statistics] again. . . . I hope I do. I want to get better and I want to be a better player. But if you're just looking primarily at statistics, you might not ever."