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‘Nick is the real deal’: The Christian faith of Super Bowl MVP quarterback Nick Foles

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles gestures after throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery against the New England Patriots during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl game on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Nick Foles might need to put his post-football plans on hold for a while.

The Super Bowl LII MVP said in the week leading up to the game that he would like to be a pastor to high school students after his football career. He’s even taken online graduate classes at Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity.

“It’s on my heart,” the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback told the Associated Press. “I took a leap of faith last year and signed up to take classes at seminary. I wanted to continue to learn and challenge my faith. It’s a challenge because you are writing papers that are biblically correct. You want to impact people’s hearts.”

He led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory Sunday with a 41-33 win over the New England Patriots.

“Unbelievable. All glory to God,” Foles said during the trophy presentation and MVP ceremony, while holding his baby daughter, Lily.

Foles is among several Eagles players and coaches who are Christians.

In a tough sports town, baptisms and Bible studies fuel many of the Eagles’ stars

“Nick is the real deal — an authentic Christian who has a contagious love for Christ and for others,” Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich told The Washington Post in a text message.

Foles’s up-and-down career in the NFL, which included him considering retirement, has prepared him to discuss adversity and character building for a Christian audience. In a video on the YouVersion Bible app, he slipped into preacher mode by reading and explaining 2 Corinthians 12:9.

“This verse has brought so much meaning to my heart and in my life,” he says, later adding, “Everyone feels weak at some time in our lives, but we have to realize when we’re going through that, God’s shaping our hearts and allowing us to grow to become who he created us truly to be.”

He said the week of the Super Bowl that he envisions ministering to students because he understands the temptation with social media and the Internet.

“It’s something I want to do,” he said in an AP story. “I can’t play football forever. I’ve been blessed with an amazing platform, and it’s just a door God has opened, but I still have a lot of school left and a long journey.”

Carson Wentz, the Eagles’ injured starting quarterback, posted an Instagram picture with Foles before the game, writing, “God’s writing an unbelievable story and he’s getting all the glory!”

After the game, Wentz posted on Instagram a shot of him and Foles with the Lombardi Trophy, saying, “All glory to God!”

Foles’s social media also has focused on his faith. In his Twitter bio, he describes himself first as a “believer in Jesus Christ.” He’s not prolific on Twitter, but last summer retweeted author John Piper quoting Colossians 2:13, “He forgave us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us. This he nailed to the cross.”

Foles told the media after the Super Bowl: “I wouldn’t be out here without God, without Jesus in my life. I can tell you that first and foremost. I don’t have the strength to come out here and play this game like that. That’s an everyday walk. We have struggles as people. That’s just been my rock, and my family.”

On Sunday, Liberty’s Freedom Tower, home to the School of Divinity, was lighted up in green in Foles’s honor. The school notes that he took online classes in the offseason, although he was not enrolled during the season.

Liberty President Jerry Falwell tweeted after the game: “Congratulations to Liberty student @NFoles_9 on an incredible performance tonight and on becoming the first @LibertyU student to quarterback a winning @SuperBowl team! Amazing job by @Eagles! Great game and a real testament to the character and perseverance of the Eagles team!”