Jace Frederick / St. Paul Pioneer Press
BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—As a junior in Austin, Texas, Nick Foles took the field as Westlake High School's starting varsity quarterback. The movie 'Friday Night Lights,' portrays Texas high school football pretty accurately—the atmosphere anyway, with the bright lights and thousands of people in the stands—according to Foles. But what Foles, who will start for Philadelphia in Super Bowl LII on Sunday, Feb. 4, distinctly remembers back then is looking up into those stands and picking out his great grandma, who was 98 years old, making it to the game to watch him play.
MINNEAPOLIS — It was one of the first stops they had to make in Minnesota. Joanne Stoltz, Ann Quinn and Eileen Stenel went to Nicollet Mall, specifically to find the Mary Tyler Moore statue. They had to dress her in Eagles garb. It was a fun measure of payback to Vikings' fans, who came to Philadelphia two weeks earlier and dressed the Rocky statue in Stefon Diggs' gear.
Alshon Jeffery guaranteed a Super Bowl victory in front of a group of reporters back in January — when he was with the Bears. Nearly 13 months later, that guarantee is one win from coming to fruition — with the Eagles. Two months after his guarantee, Jeffery signed a one-year, $14 million deal in free agency with Philadelphia. He and the Eagles will play New England in Super Bowl LII on Sunday. Regardless of who his original prophecy was referring to, Jeffery is close to fulfilling it.
MINNEAPOLIS — It was roughly 17 years ago that Michele Tafoya, a native Californian, went for a run. That's when, in her mind, the sideline reporter for NBC's "Sunday Night Football" truly became One of Us. "I remember going out and I'm like, 'I'm running in 18 degrees, I have clearly turned the corner,' " Tafoya said. "I have gloves on and I'm running. ... I went home and I texted my mom, 'I am now Minnesotan, there's just no way around it.' "
ST. PAUL—No, Nick Foles has not read Tom Brady's new "cookbook." "I'm sure it's a great book," the Eagles quarterback said. "I have not read it, though. Not yet." Guillermo Rodriguez, a TV personality best known for his work on Jimmy Kimmel Live, walked around Xcel Energy Center on Monday night, Jan. 29, to ask anybody and everybody about TB12—the Patriots quarterback's book about Brady's "holistic approach to achieving and sustaining peak performance."
At 6 a.m. Friday, Jan. 26, a slew of Timberwolves players poured into a San Francisco gym. Six hours earlier, the team had just arrived at its hotel following a defeat at the hands of Golden State—Minnesota's second loss in as many nights at the end of a six-day road trip. But this early-morning workout had nothing to do with the previous night's result or the Wolves' losing streak. It wasn't some Tom Thibodeau method of torture. The players on hand were there by choice and were there for a reason.
MINNEAPOLIS — When the wins came, the individual honors would follow. That's the pitch Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau has made for the better part of two years now, as young, talented players such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins put up big numbers but didn't get much recognition for it. Despite his sensational individual statistics last season, Towns missed the all-star game and wasn't named All-NBA.
New Orleans players didn't hide their feelings on social media Sunday night, Jan. 21. While the Vikings were busy getting blitzed by Philadelphia, several Saints took to Twitter and made it clear they felt they would have given the Eagles a better bout. "Man we would have put up a better fight," Saints rookie Justin Hardee said.
PHILADELPHIA—The Vikings were favored to beat the Eagles on their home field Sunday night, Jan. 21, but it's easy to imagine a few ways in which Minnesota could lose. Maybe Case Keenum would throw a costly interception. Maybe a Vikings running back would lose an untimely fumble. Or maybe Kai Forbath would blow a crucial kick. The one certainty, though, was the Vikings defense. That unit would perform. It would keep the Vikings in any game. It always has. All season, that unit was invincible, untouchable, unbeatable.
MINNEAPOLIS — Tom Thibodeau has been quick to point to one stat all season long: the Timberwolves' offensive rating. It's one of Minnesota's most prolific numbers. Currently, the Wolves are averaging 110.5 points per 100 possessions, fourth best in the NBA. "Offensively we have a lot of things that we can do," Thibodeau said. "We've scored a lot all year. It's maybe not the way some people think you should do it, but I think it's the smart way to do it."