Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles enters Super Bowl LII on Sunday with a rare opportunity to cash in on his unlikely rise from forgotten backup to key cog in a championship offense – but he may not have long to capitalize.
Thrust into the starting lineup after franchise quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a devastating knee injury in Week 14, Foles guided the Eagles to a Super Bowl clash with the reigning NFL champion New England Patriots. With a strong performance in front of more than 100 million television viewers, Foles could attract instant attention from corporate sponsors – only to return to the bench next season, when Wentz, the face of the Eagles franchise, returns from his injury.
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“While Foles is leading the Eagles into the Super Bowl under odd circumstances, the reality is that if he turns in a dramatic, game-winning performance that delivers the first-ever title in franchise history in what might be a record-setting Super Bowl from a viewership standpoint, the attention this accomplishment brings will have Madison Avenue calling,” said Shawn McBride, an executive vice president at Ketchum Sports and Entertainment.
Attention from national sponsors would be a first for Foles, who has maintained a relatively low profile since entering the NFL in 2012. After a strong start to his career fizzled under former Eagles coach Chip Kelly, Foles turned in middling performances in stints with the St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs before returning to the Eagles to serve as Wentz’s backup on a two-year, $11 million contract.
Foles has earned roughly $20 million in salary during his six seasons in the NFL, but little in terms of marketing opportunities. That could change if he leads the Eagles to a win against the Patriots and future Hall of Famers like Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. Few backup quarterbacks have entered the lineup so late in the season and made it to a championship, let alone won a title.
“I haven’t even had time to really comprehend what is going on, to be honest,” Foles told ESPN after the Eagles’ dominant victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game. “I don’t know if I ever will. When I was up on that stage, that’s something you dream about as a kid.”
While Foles remains under contract with the Eagles next season, his return to the bench isn’t guaranteed. Wentz’s recovery from knee surgery could drag into the early part of next season and allow Foles to hold onto the starting job for a bit longer. Regardless of Sunday’s outcome, Foles has earned a sterling reputation among local fans.
“Obviously, if he becomes the Eagles’ first Super Bowl-winning quarterback on Sunday, he’d have a lot of local [sponsorship] opportunities this spring and summer that he could take advantage of, and perhaps he will, given that he might not even be starting next season,” said Jonathan Jensen, a sports marketing expert and assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
A Super Bowl win could also draw attention from other quarterback-hungry teams and land Foles in a new market as a starter next season.
“While it might seem that him starting for another team next season would be a deterrent to brands considering him as an ambassador, it actually might have minimal affect from a national advertising standpoint, because the brands would be more focused on Foles’s profile in the aftermath of Super Bowl LII than which team he is playing for during the 2018 season,” McBride said.
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