Larry and Melissa Foles had planned to attend the Washington game anyway; now they apparently will watch their son launch what fans hope will be a long, successful reign as the Birds' starter, against Robert Griffin III.
Larry Foles said Wednesday he feels his 23-year-old son is "ready for any challenge."
"He's one of the most earnest, humble, good people in the world," Larry Foles said. "He understands adversity, and he understands the patience to get through it. He really understands, we talk about it all the time, the Philly fans. He said, 'Dad, they're tough. They're going to let you have it. But, boy I tell you, if you do well, they're going to cheer you on like crazy.' I said, 'are you ready?' He said, 'I'm ready for it, I really am. I love fans like that.' "
Larry's favorite Nick Foles moment this season came when the Eagles played at Arizona. Nick had mentored a group of four kids when he played at the University of Arizona. He then stayed in touch and arranged for all of them to attend the Eagles-Cardinals game.
"He really is mature beyond his age," said Larry, who was forced into maturity himself.
Larry Foles grew up in Petal, Miss., near Hattiesburg. His parents split when he was 13 and he said he didn't have a steady home until he dropped out of school and struck out on his own after his junior year. An aunt from Oregon told him manual labor jobs that were playing 35 cents an hour in Mississippi in the 1960s were paying 90 cents an hour out west, so he moved. "It was true! I held two jobs, made twice as much money," Foles recalled Wednesday.
Eventually Foles moved back to Mississippi and managed a Shoney's in Hattiesburg, then another in Jackson. Through that he met a guy who owned several eateries, and went to work for him. He found a niche opening restaurants. Foles moved to Austin in 1973, never left. Success followed, for a while.
"I got the taste of entrepreneurship," Foles said. He opened his very own place for the first time in 1981.
Larry married Melissa, 14 years younger, who not only had graduated from high school, she'd needed only 3 years to get a marketing degree from the University of Texas. But the stock market crash of 1987 wiped out the Foles family. Melissa went to work in marketing. Larry collected unemployment. He joked to her that maybe he could make muffins and sell them on the corner. At one point, he says, she told him he might think about getting the muffin pan ready.
"She was our lifeline for 2 years," Larry said.
In 1989, the same year Nick was born, Larry hit upon a Southwestern concept place called Z'Tejas, which he opened with friend Paul Fleming, the "P.F." in P.F. Chang's. Larry was rolling again.
In the Austin Chronicle, reviewer Melanie Haupt recently wrote that Foles and Villavoso "have a knack for dropping anchor on a trend right at its zenith, with Austin as the proving ground-cum-launch pad for concepts slated to go national."
But though Nick and his two younger sisters, Lacey and Katie, never knew the kind of daily struggle Larry experienced growing up, Larry said they grew up understanding hard work.
"He saw me working 80, 100 hours a week when he was little," Larry Foles said of Nick. "He never took it for granted."
The restaurant business and football aren't all that different, Larry said.
"I think it's the same as coaching. You assemble good people . . . we value every position in the restaurant. Our key person is our dishwasher," he said. "We go in and constantly evaluate. If it's off, we'll go in and bring it back. The worst thing you can do is drift in anything. If you allow people to drift, you're actually training 'em to do a bad job.
"We take care of people. [In last year's sale], five or six [employees] became instant millionaires . . . [the secret is] taking care of people, appreciating people."
Larry said when they most recently spoke about this weekend, he guessed Nick was excited. He said Nick told him he thought of it more this way: "It's time for me to do my part, do everything I can to lift this team."
Larry Foles said Nick wants badly to help the 3-6 Eagles salvage their season, to help Reid and Vick.
"His respect for Michael Vick is off the charts," Foles said.
Indeed, Nick told reporters Wednesday that Vick is "one of the toughest guys I've ever seen . . . He wants to win so badly, and he fights. He fights, he gets up, and I respect him for that, and I always will."
Nick talked about playing within himself, within the offense. Asked what he liked and didn't like about his relief appearance Sunday, after Vick went down, Foles said he thought the important thing was "just going in there and being able to play fast . . . don't be afraid to make mistakes. If I do make a mistake, keep firing it . . . You have to keep playing. You can't let the last play beat you."
Andy Reid said Jason Avant (hamstring) and Chris Polk (toe) are out for this week . . . Reid said Michael Vick's concussion headaches "have subsided quite a little bit."