Tom Brady has done it all in the NFL and Super Bowl 52 will be his eighth time in the big game and a chance to win a sixth championship ring. For Nick Foles, the path to becoming a Super Bowl starter was much different.
Foles, 29, was a backup for the Philadelphia Eagles until Carson Wentz tore his ACL in December, forcing the Eagles to turn to plan B. Foles made three regular season starts and did enough to lead Philadelphia to wins over the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs.
In Brady’s previous seven Super Bowls, he faced Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme, Donovan McNabb, Eli Manning (twice), Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan. Foles is the first of Brady’s opponents to step in and get to the Super Bowl as a backup; something that — drumroll please — Brady did way back in 2001.
There’s a tremendous difference between the NFL careers of Brady and Foles, but let’s break it all down:
At 40 years old, the Patriots quarterback has seen it all. He’s started in 251 regular season games, 36 playoff games and is about to play in his eighth Super Bowl.
He’s smashed all of the postseason records for quarterbacks and is chasing down most of the regular season records too. Plain and simple: Brady is the greatest ever. The experience factor is decidedly in his favor and it’s one of the biggest reasons why trying to beat the Patriots seems like a hopeless venture.
While he doesn’t have nearly the résumé of Brady, Foles has some experience that the Patriots quarterback doesn’t. Foles has been on his third NFL roster, Brady has spent his entire career with the Patriots. Foles is playing for his fourth head coach, Brady has been with Belichick the whole time.
Will Foles’ experience bouncing between rosters help in Super Bowl 52? Probably not.
Foles has started 39 career games and the Super Bowl will be his fourth postseason start.
He’s fourth all-time in regular season passing yards with 66,159 and third in touchdowns with 488. Considering the way he looked in 2017 at age 40, there’s reason to think he has enough gas in the tank to continue his climb and knock off a couple more spots in both categories before he retires.
But there’s no more climbing when it comes to postseason accolades. Brady dominates every major statistical category and already owns the record for Super Bowl wins with five — topping Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana, who had four each.
In his previous seven trips to the Super Bowl, Brady has 2,071 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. Kurt Warner is second in Super Bowl passing yards with just 1,156, meaning Brady will likely double the field in Super Bowl 52.
It really isn’t fair to compare the stats of a 29-year-old quarterback who has spent much of his career as a backup to the stats of the GOAT, so let’s keep it in the present. He made just three regular season starts in 2017 and finished the year with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
He really stepped his game up in the playoffs, though, with three touchdowns, no interceptions and an exceptional 122.1 passer rating.
In his best moments, Foles has been excellent. He finished the 2013 season with 27 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 119.2 rating — the third-best mark in NFL history and higher than any rating Brady has ever put up in a season.
But in his worst moments, Foles is incapable of leading a team to points. In 11 games with the Rams in 2015, he finished with seven touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and a 69.0 passer rating.
He has a reputation for saving the Patriots money and letting the team spend its money on other players, but make no mistake: Brady has made a ton of money in the NFL.
After 18 seasons, his career earnings from the Patriots total close to $200 million and he has another $15 million headed his way in both 2018 and 2019 so long as he continues playing.
Forbes also estimated that Brady makes about $8 million in endorsements annually with brands like Under Armour, Aston Martin, and UGG Boots leading the way.
After three years with the Eagles on a rookie contract, Foles was traded to the Rams and received a two-year extension. It didn’t work out and Foles has been living the short-term contract life of a journeyman quarterback.
He hasn’t racked up the earnings of a franchise quarterback, but his nearly $20 million in earnings certainly isn’t bad. Foles signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Eagles and will make $4 million in 2018 with a $3 million roster bonus if he’s still on the team for another year.
Foles will almost definitely never make the endorsement money that Brady has, but leading the Eagles to a win over the Patriots would likely mean more big pay days are on the way for the quarterback before all is said and done.