"The first time I signed with the Eagles, they picked me."

"The second time I signed with the Eagles, I picked them."

Those two sentences offer a slight glimpse into Nick Foles's beautiful, heartfelt thank you letter to the city of Philadelphia, which he published yesterday on The Player's Tribune.

Of course, no one can blame Foles for leaving Philly. Not even die-hard Eagles fans.

Yes, Foles helped deliver the only Super Bowl victory ever to the city of Philadelphia. Yes, he delivered one of the most spectacular Super Bowl performances of all time--while facing the NFL's version of Goliath, the New England Patriots--earning him MVP honors. 

And yes, he dutifully and flawlessly stepped into the role of team leader two years in a row when starting quarterback Carson Wentz down with season-ending injuries.

But despite all the heroics and clutch performances, the Eagles made it clear that Foles would continue to remain a backup to Wentz, their quarterback of the future.

So now, Foles joins the Jacksonville Jaguars with a new contract worth at least $88 million over the next four years (and up $102 million with incentives). Foles also joins his former quarterbacks coach with the Eagles, John DeFilippo--who is now the Jaguars' offensive coordinator.

But Foles will forever be linked to the city of Philadelphia, and he knows it.

Foles was a perfect symbol of Philadelphia: a working class guy who did his job well, but with humility and grace. Foles was quick to acknowledge his mistakes and defer credit to his teammates.

I highly recommend reading Foles's farewell to Philly in its entirety. It's a perfect example of emotionally intelligent leadership, and illustrates why fans and teammates loved Foles.

Here are a few highlights that show what makes this letter so great:

It's authentic.

Foles says for that second stint with the Eagles, when he signed as a free agent, he had some good options. But he signed with Philadelphia for more than the fact that he loved the franchise. 

"I love Philadelphia as a city," Foles wrote.

Foles goes on to explain that he and his wife were expecting their first child, and that "this was much more than an X's-and-O's decision."

"It was a decision about what city our daughter was going to spend her first years in, and have her first memories in, and call her hometown. And there's just something about it... but my heart said Philly."

Yes, Foles is a great quarterback--but he's a dad and family man first. 

That authenticity, that ability to keep it real, is just one reason why so many find Foles relatable and accessible. 

It thanks those in thankless jobs.

Yes, Foles thanked the usual people, including his coaches and teammates. 

But he also thanked persons many would never think about, like:

  • The trainers;
  • the video crew; 
  • the equipment staff; 
  • the head of security; 
  • the chefs;
  • the massage therapists;
  • the janitors.

Foles even thanked former Eagles coach Chip Kelly, who traded him back in 2015.

"Without that challenge in my life, I wouldn't be the player I am today," Foles wrote.

Learning to appreciate everyone for their contributions--even those who others take for granted or even your critics--that's emotional intelligence.

It feels like family.

Last but not least, Foles thanks the fans.

He relates stories of how Philly natives shared personal stories, like "about how their father, or father's father, or mother, or mother's mother, cried tears of happiness after the game."

"It's family," writes Foles.

"Philadelphia, thank you for welcoming me into yours. You will forever be a part of mine."

It's for these reasons that Foles's teammates, and the whole city, and Eagles fans everywhere, loved him. 

It's why they played their butts off for him, why we rooted louder for him.

And it's why, even though we hate to see him go, we wish him well.

Because you always root for family.

Published on: Mar 14, 2019
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.