A ‘super’ underdog story

Jeff Gates - The Madison Press

‘Foles’ Gold.

From the earliest days of David vs. Goliath, it is always heartwarming to hear about how the little guys (both literally and figuratively in the listed example) defeat the big guys.

Sports has lent itself to that premise — counting on the public to embrace the non-favorite.

Some of the best movies of all time have us cheering loud for those feel-good stories; whether it is undersized Rudy making a tackle for the ages, overmatched Daniel Larusso besting the bad guys on one leg in Karate Kid or patriotic Rocky Balboa avenging Apollo Creed’s death by thumping hulking Soviet Ivan Drago in the best sequel of the series.

For those of us deemed ‘middle age,’ dodgeball was a staple of gym class. Whether we witnessed someone getting pummeled (or in my case, often being the pummelee), it was great to see the underdog rise above as Average Joe’s did against the Globo Gym Purple Cobras.

In real sports as well, by nature I think we tend to remember those ‘David vs. Goliath’ moments where teams/athletes with seemingly no chance chalk one up for the underdog.

Central Ohio’s Buster Douglas defeating the unbeatable Mike Tyson in the ring in 1990.

Diminutive Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Bill Mazerowski punched his ticket to Cooperstown with a dramatic seventh game, ninth inning World Series-winning walk-off homer against the legendary New York Yankees 30 years earlier.

The nation believed in miracles as soon as the USA hockey team defeated the then-Soviet squad in the semifinals of the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid.

Who can forget the endearing image of North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano scampering around the court looking for someone to hug after his Wolfpack inexplicably beat the Houston ‘Phi Slamma Jamma’ Cougars for the 1983 championship as Lorenzo Charles put down the just-short Dereck Whittenburg three-point attempt?

And what was better than 1-AA Appalachian State ruling the Big House by beating the team up north on their own gridiron turf in 2007?

Will this year’s Super Bowl have a similar Cinderella story?

Nick Foles, a journeyman signal-caller who was thrust into the starting role a few months ago due to a season-ending knee injury to the Eagles’ sophomore sensation Carson Wentz, is definitely the unknown commodity when comparing the quarterbacks of the upcoming Super Bowl.

A third round pick in 2012 out of the University of Arizona by the cheesesteak city, Foles’ claim to fame before arriving in the National Football League was that he broke all of the records previously held by eventual Hall of Famer Drew Brees at the high school where they each quarterbacked.

Thrust into the starting role due to injured starter Michael Vick in the 2013 season, Foles is the only quarterback in NFL history to combine seven touchdowns, 400-plus yards through the air, and a perfect passer rating as he did in a game against the Oakland Raiders that season.

After that year, Foles wallowed in mediocrity as he bounced between the Chiefs and the Rams before gravitating back to Philadelphia.

Ironically, Foles’ counterpart in the Super Bowl this year may very well be the ultimate underdog story. Drafted in the sixth round, Tom Brady got his job in a Super Bowl season when veteran Drew Bledsoe got injured. Brady rallied the Patriots to victory in the big game against the heavily-favored then-Saint Louis Rams.

Five rings later, Brady is looking to add to his legend, as Foles tries to do what the Patriots quarterback did himself almost two decades ago.

For Philly fans — there is no need to fear, Nick Foles is here.

Although he does not have the speed of lightning, roar of thunder, nor does he fight all who rob or plunder, the Philadelphia quarterback is what many like to rally around — the underdog.

Of course, if the Eagles quarterback leads them to victory, it probably won’t be considered one of biblical proportions.

I think the rock-slinging David still has that title sewed up.


Jeff Gates

The Madison Press

Jeff Gates has been a free-lance writer for The Madison Press since 1996.

Jeff Gates has been a free-lance writer for The Madison Press since 1996.