This year, there would be no storybook ending for the Philadelphia Eagles.
At least, not if that ending included quarterback Nick Foles, who again had taken over for injured starter Carson Wentz late in the season, leading the Eagles in 2018to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Because even though the Eagles jumped out to a surprising 14-0 lead over the heavily favored New Orleans Saints in yesterday's NFL divisional playoff game, they would go on to lose by a final score of 20-14.
But with just two minutes to go in the game, it looked like things might end much differently.
Despite being unable to get much going in the second half, Foles and the Eagles' offense found themselves deep in Saints' territory, poised to retake the lead on a final drive. Foles dropped back and threw a bullet to one of his favorite targets, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Except the ball sailed right through Jeffery's hands and was intercepted by Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, in effect sealing the game.
Jeffery dropped to the ground, devastated.
But then, just a few minutes later, this happened:
Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles consoles WR Alshon Jeffery after 4th quarter interception. According to Jeffery, Foles "told me he loved playing with me and we wouldn't have won a Super Bowl without me."-- Justin Bariso (@JustinJBariso) January 14, 2019
Now that's leadership.#Eagles #NickFoles #AlshonJeffery #leadership #EQ pic.twitter.com/V4mBtP2ZuV
Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles consoles WR Alshon Jeffery after 4th quarter interception. According to Jeffery, Foles "told me he loved playing with me and we wouldn't have won a Super Bowl without me."
Now that's what true leadership looks like.
In good times, in bad times
Jeffery hadn't dropped a pass all game. In fact, Jeffery has never dropped a pass in the postseason.
No matter how skilled you are at your profession, you--and your teammates--will make mistakes. That's life, and it doesn't matter if you work for a professional sports team or a fast-food restaurant.
But here's the thing: It's how you deal with those mistakes that will define the type of influence you have on the people you work with.
When you lead a team, you're in a unique position to help your people recover. If you keep your own failures in mind, it's easier to use words to encourage and build up than to dishearten and tear down. When you choose to focus on the positive, or simply remind others that everyone has a bad day, you become a powerful force for good.
Foles knows this better than anyone. Just last week against the Chicago Bears, Foles committed his own major mistakes, including two early interceptions. He credited his defensive teammates for helping to keep the Eagles in the game.
"They just kept coming and telling us: 'We got you. We got you. We're going to get you the ball back,'" said Foles. "That's what this team is about."
It's this type of trust, this type of belief, that allowed Foles to perform at the level he has.
And now it was time for Foles to pay it forward.
"I do know that we went out there and gave it everything we had tonight," Foles went on to tell reporters. "And that's where everyone's got to keep their heads held high."
"Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. But ultimately, if you give it everything you have, that's what it's all about."
Kudos to the Eagles for a great season--and for showing us how trust, grit, and belief in your teammates can help build the strongest of relationships.
On second thought, it may have been a storybook ending after all.