There were many doubters.
Was Jalen Hurts, who had been an elite player at every level since he was a preteen in Houston, TX, built to be a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback when then Philadelphia Eagles rookie head coach Nick Sirianni named him the team’s starter a little over two weeks before the opening of the regular season—just his second in the NFL?
Was Hurts accurate enough to be an effective passer? Could he proficiently identify complex coverages and shifts by defenses in pre-snap reads and adjust his offense accordingly? Could he be more than a stereotypical running quarterback?
There were other questions about his unproven skill set when the former college star, first for Alabama and then Oklahoma, was drafted by the Eagles in the second round with the 53rd overall pick in 2020, the fifth of 13 quarterbacks taken in that class. But Sirianni, who has been masterful in piloting the Eagles, saw something that those who were myopic did not. Skeptics still remain, even after Hurts drove the Eagles to a 14-3 regular season record and the No. 1 seed in the National Football Conference, passing for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushing for 760 yards and 13 more touchdowns. That comes with playing the most highly scrutinized position in sports.
However, nonbelief has been negated by appreciable results. The 24-year-old Hurts has been one of the best players in the league this season and can cap off an All-Pro campaign with a victory over the American Football Conference’s Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12. The Eagles moved one win away from a league title by imposing their will on the San Francisco 49ers in a 31-7 win in the NFC Championship Game last Sunday in Philadelphia.
“I know it was a big surprise to many, but my favorite verse, I went through a lot of stuff in college, and it kind of stuck with me, John 13:7,” Hurts said after a tidy 121 yards passing, 39 rushing yards, and one touchdown against the formidable 49ers defense. “‘You may not know now, but later you will understand.’ Hopefully people understand,” he added.
What they should understand is Hurts is resilient and steadfast. His relentless work ethic married to his physical ability is only surpassed by superlative leadership skills and an insatiable hunger to master the cerebral nuances of the game.”We’ve got new moments,” Hurts philosophically intoned. “New moments and new times. I think my character, I have been raised to be who I am. And I think as the times change, character doesn’t. So I always try to never get too high, never get too low. I always give my best.”
The Eagles-Chiefs matchup will have two Black starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl for the first time in its 57-game history with the presumptive 2022 league MVP Patrick Mahomes trying to win his second in three tries. Mahomes and the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV in 2020 and lost to Tom Brady—who announced his permanent retirement from playing the NFL on Wednesday—and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV a year later.