Five years after: Should Eagles retire Foles’ No. 9?

Posted on June 7, 2022

Five years ago, the Eagles were maneuvering through the offseason, tinkering and preparing for training camp. 

The Super Bowl championship season is five years ago. Where did the time go, right?

  • Is it too soon to think about how the Eagles should honor players from that life-changing team?
  • Is the team thinking about retiring any of the uniform numbers from that team?
  • How about Nick Foles’ Eagles jersey?
  • Does he deserve the uniform ceremony, his name in lights, his jersey number up on the Linc wall?

Of course, he does.


Eagles fans agree

I can’t imagine many Eagles fans disagree, either. There might be some purists who will argue that he doesn’t have the statistics or that he doesn’t have the longevity in an Eagles uniform.

You actually can make a more compelling case to *not* retire Foles’ number than you can to retire it.

Foles played in 40 regular-season games for the Eagles and six playoff games. Obviously, not long enough for a traditional jersey-retiring recipient.

Foles might be only the fifth-best quarterback in recent Eagles history. Can you retire the jersey of a player who might have been only the fifth-best at his position?

Foles has shown himself to be, really, a career back-up, a journeyman. You could argue he wasn’t as good as recent Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham and maybe Michael Vick in an Eagles uniform. Only McNabb has his number retired from that group.

Foles’ stats are ho-hum.

  • In five seasons with the Eagles, Foles started 32 regular-season games.
  • He had a 21-11 record. He completed 748-of-1,189 passes (62.9 percent), for 8,703 yards, 58 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and a passer rating of 92.3.
  • Foles is 4-2 in playoff games — three of the victories in the 2017 playoffs.
  • Foles and the Eagles beat Atlanta, Minnesota and New England.
  • He also beat Chicago in the 2018 playoffs in the double-doink game before losing to New Orleans, the game when a dropped pass by Alshon Jeffery killed a late, potentially game-winning Eagles drive.

All of the stats and logic and sound reasoning mean nothing in this race to Foles’ immortality.

Only two stats matter for Nick Foles, Eagles:

  1. 28-of-43 passes for 373 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. One pass caught for one yard and one touchdown. Those would be his numbers in Super Bowl 52.
  2. Eagles 41, Patriots 33.

If the Eagles retire No. 9, it will be based, solely, on one game on one glorious night in Minneapolis in February 2018. And how about this: If the Eagles retire Foles’ number based on one game, what about Carson Wentz? Without his 11-3, 2017 season, the Eagles don’t get home-field advantage and probably don’t even sniff the Super Bowl.

So, expect the Eagles to do the right thing when Foles’ career is complete. You can’t really retire a number when he’s still active in the league, right? Foles is on Indianapolis’ roster, ostensibly backing up Matt Ryan.

Heck, Foles might be back on the Eagles’ roster again. Solid backup quarterbacks are a valuable commodity.

The Eagles will begin their 89th season in 2022. In that time, they have retired only nine numbers — so they’re not giving the honor away like bobble-heads.

The retired numbers:

  1. Donovan McNabb (5)
  2. Steve Van Buren (15)
  3. Brian Dawkins (20)
  4. Tom Brookshier (40)
  5. Pete Retzlaff (44)
  6. Chuck Bednarik (60)
  7. Al Wistert (70)
  8. Reggie White (92)
  9. Jerome Brown (99)

No one from the 2017 Super Bowl team has had their number retired. There are excellent candidates besides Foles.

I’ll give you six: center Jason Kelce, left offensive tackle Jason Peters, tight end Zach Ertz, guard Brandon Brooks, right offensive tackle Lane Johnson and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.

Some of those players will have their numbers retired. The Eagles have been tight about retiring jerseys but they never had a Super Bowl championship before.

Kelce and Peters might be locks to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday. Brooks, too. Gotta figure they are locks to have their jerseys retired.

The Eagles have four uniform numbers that are not in use and we wonder if the team has bigger plans for those numbers.

  • No. 9 — Foles (last used in 2018)
  • No. 12 — Cunningham (last used in 1995)
  • No. 25 — LeSean McCoy (last used in 2014)
  • No. 87 — Brent Celek (last used in 2017)

I can see Foles’ and Randall’s numbers being retired. McCoy and Celek were outstanding players but their careers don’t rise to the level of having their numbers retired.

Four teams have more numbers retired than the Eagles (9): Bears and Giants (14), 49ers (12) and Chiefs (10).

The Cowboys have never retired a uniform number but they have taken No. 8 (Troy Aikman), 12 (Roger Staubach) and 22 (Emmitt Smith) out of circulation.

No matter what, Foles won’t be denied. There is a statue at Lincoln Financial Field of him and coach Doug Pederson calling the “Philly Special” play. Raising No. 9 to the rafters should be obvious.

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Chuck Bausman

Chuck Bausman is an Eagles writer for Chuck formerly was the Executive Sports Editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and the Executive Sports Editor of the Courier-Post in South Jersey. He learned how to cuss by watching Philly sports.

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