JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- They wore his old jersey. They made worshipful signs. They brought love and good will down I-95. They had come to see their Super Bowl Saint.
A handful of fans showed up Tuesday at the Ravens’ practice facility in Owings Mills, Md., and even more came to M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday night, all to see their favorite player:
Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles.
The Jags and Ravens held joint practices Monday and Tuesday last week in advance of their preseason game Thursday. Foles was 750 miles north of his new city in Florida, but he was only about 110 miles southwest of the place that will forever welcome him home.
“That’s just sort of how it is,” Foles said Monday after practice in Jacksonville, where the Jags will host the Eagles in their second preseason game. “They travel everywhere. They’re all over the place. When we were in Baltimore, there were a lot of my old Eagles jerseys in the stands and a lot of signs.”
Was it embarrassing? After all, the Ravens are Lamar Jackson’s team.
“It’s very humbling,” Foles admitted. “I’ve said, [Philadelphia] is an emotional place to me.”
Philly fans don’t just travel everywhere; they are everywhere. There were of green-and-white No. 9s at several of the Jaguars’ open practices, too. Foles had no idea how much winning Super Bowl LII meant to so many people in so many places.
“It was cool to see that we were able, when I was there, to impact a community,” Foles said.
The story is a fairy tale come to life.
Injured starter Carson Wentz blew out his knee late in the 2017 season. Foles, two years after contemplating early retirement, took over and led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl championship.
Wentz was injured again in 2018. Foles led the Eagles to a playoff win at Chicago before losing at New Orleans.
Despite Foles’ big-game performances the Eagles chose to extend Wentz’s contract and let Foles pursue free agency in March. Foles signed a four-year, $88 million contract with the Jaguars.
Foles did not play Thursday in Baltimore, and it sounds as if he might not play here on Thursday, either. The Jaguars have been decimated by front-line injuries, and coach Doug Marrone is leery of putting his franchise QB in peril.
That might disappoint former teammates like defensive end Brandon Graham, who teased that he hoped to “touch” Foles a little bit Thursday night: "Let him know we miss him.” It certainly will disappoint the Eagles fans expected to attend the game.
Foles, in his eighth training camp, seems indifferent: