Philadephia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts is the ultimate underdog

Kendal Manns, Editor-in-Chief

The story of Philadelphia Eagles’ star quarterback Jalen Hurts is one of beating the odds, overcoming shortcomings and being authentically yourself despite what others say about you.
Hurts started his collegiate career in 2016 at the University of Alabama as a fourth string freshman behind three higher rated quarterbacks after being ranked 192 in his recruiting class. After telling Mike Locksley, then offensive analyst for the Tide, in a March practice, “I’m gonna make every one of them (the quarterbacks in front of him) transfer,” and he did just that.
After proving himself as a capable starter, Hurts again found himself in the midst of adversity as Alabama head coach Nick Saban benched the struggling Hurts in the 2018 national championship game versus the University of Georgia for the young up-and-coming Tua Tagovailoa. Instead of sulking or being upset (like pretty much anyone else would have been), he praised Tagovailoa, who led the team to the championship.
“I knew he was gonna step in and do his thing,” Hurts said in his postgame on-field interview. “We have a lot of guys in the QB room that play really well, he just stepped in and did his thing … did his thing for the team … He’s good for stuff like this and he has the ‘it’ factor. I’m so happy for him and so happy for the team.”
These comments gave an in-depth look into his character. Being genuinely happy for someone, especially in an arena of competition, that has outdone you is not an easy thing to do. It takes even more to grow from a situation like this.
Hurts went on to transfer to the University of Oklahoma. This was no simple transfer either. He balled out and became a Heisman finalist. From the collegiate arena to the pros, Hurts was drafted by Eagles with a surprising second round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. With a proven Carson Wentz already in place for the franchise, Hurts again dealt with adversity. Hurts was criticized mightily for his throwing ability and received the “he should switch positions” criticisms as well. While Wentz’s play continued to decline, Hurts continued to work on his craft.
Wentz was traded within two seasons which made room for Hurts to take the reins. The criticism did not stop there as his ability was still in question and his job security was consistently up in the air. With fans calling for his benching and noncommittal decisions from his coaches, Hurts’ support system started to fade.
But much like his time at Alabama, Hurts kept working. Fast forward to the 2022-23 NFL season and the Philadelphia Eagles are one of the best teams in the league with a 14-3 record led by Hurts’ MVP runner-up season which took them to the super bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs. Despite losing to the Chiefs 38-35, Hurts played pretty well.
A few months later Hurts signed a five-year contract extension worth a whopping $255 million with $110 million fully guaranteed, making him the highest-paid player in NFL history. Oh and he did all of this before he turned 25-years-old.
This story is incredible, especially in such a short amount of time. The true amount of adversity that Hurts has had to overcome in his life is far too much to cover in a single editorial, but it speaks to Hurts’ heart and resolve.
Hurts has been one of my favorite players since that moment after that national championship game. One of the beautiful things about sports is the opportunity to beat the odds and prove your doubters and the numbers wrong by putting in the work and staying composed. Hurts could have quit and thrown in the towel at Alabama. He could have fed into what his critics said in his first few seasons with the Eagles. He even could have sulked at the podium after losing the superbowl. Instead, he continued to show he is wise beyond his years.
“It’s a very tough feeling, but I know the direction is to rise and that will be the M.O. going forward, that will be the mentality going forward. That is the mentality,” Hurts said. “I think the beautiful part about it is everyone experiences different pains, everyone experiences different agonies of life, but you decide if you want to learn from it. You decide if you want that to be a teachable moment. I know I do.”
Hurts, his mindset, his story and his work ethic are inspiring to so many. Oftentimes, especially in this generation, everyone is in a rush to get to their end goal. Because of this many people obsess over the end goal, instead of falling in love with the process. That process is what makes us great. It has truly been a pleasure to watch Hurts’ rise from college to the superbowl and I cannot wait to see what is next for him. The best part about Hurts’ story is that it is still being written.