Tampa Special? How Nick Foles nearly became a Buccaneers quarterback

PHILADELPHIA -- Crazy to think how a single choice at a crossroad led to the "Philly Special," a Super Bowl Bowl MVP and an avalanche of Philadelphia sports history, and how none of it would have unfolded in the same fashion if Nick Foles had gone left instead of right. Or, more accurately, south instead of north.

The Philadelphia Eagles play at the Tampa Bay Bucs on Sunday. In a parallel universe, Foles would be coming out of the tunnel wearing pewter and red rather than midnight green.

A free agent heading into the 2017 season, Foles had narrowed his decision down to the Eagles and Bucs. Philly was releasing Chase Daniel and needed a No. 2 to Carson Wentz, and Tampa was looking for a backup to Jameis Winston after Mike Glennon signed a three-year, $45 million deal with the Chicago Bears.

"It was close," said Foles, who will start against Tampa on Sunday while Wentz continues to heal up from multi-ligament knee injury. "We were in discussions."

Foles has a history with Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter. He committed to play for him at Arizona State when Foles was a junior in high school, but Koetter was fired that year, setting the wheels in motion for him to join the NFL ranks. Koetter was looking to make the union finally happen in the pros.

"We were excited about bringing Nick to ASU to play for us there," Koetter said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work out. I guess it's worked out OK on both ends. But, shoot, I loved Nick as a high school player and his athleticism not only as a football player but as a basketball player. I've followed his career closely ever since and at one point actually tried to get him come down here. But again, that's worked out well for him, and we did great by getting [Ryan Fitzpatrick] so it worked out well for both sides."

Foles' wife, Tori, was pregnant with their daughter, Lily during free agency. Their affection for and familiarity with the city of Philadelphia from Foles' first time with the Eagles proved to be the tiebreaker.

"We thought really long and hard, but ultimately we decided that Philly was our home once before and we loved it, we loved the people here, we loved the city," Foles said. "And what better place to be when we bring our daughter into the world? So that was the big decision."

As Koetter said, it worked out for both parties. Fitzpatrick is off to a hot start -- he threw four touchdowns in an opening-day win over the New Orleans Saints -- and Foles, well, Foles is an icon for helping to deliver Philly its first-ever Lombardi Trophy.

As interesting as it is from the outside to think about what might have been -- or not been -- if Foles and his family chose differently, the 29-year-old QB says he hasn't spent much time on it.

"Once we decided to go here, you're obviously grateful for the teams that you talk with and you go through the business part with, but I was grateful to be here and just focused on being in Philly," he said, "and being a daddy and all that comes with it."