Jalen Hurts reflects on journey after lifting Eagles to Super Bowl

PHILADELPHIA -- When asked about the climb from four-win team to NFC champions since the time he was drafted, quarterback Jalen Hurts pointed out that his arrival in Philly wasn't exactly universally welcomed at the time.

"My first year here [people] probably didn't even want [me drafted] here. It was probably one of those things. But it always handles itself," he said following Philadelphia's 31-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game Sunday. "It was a big surprise to many. My favorite [Bible] verse, I went through a lot of stuff in college and it kind of stuck with me, John 13:7: 'You may not know now but later you'll understand.' Hopefully people understand."

The selection of Hurts with the 53rd overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft caught many off guard, mainly because the team had just handed Carson Wentz a four-year, $128 million contract extension 10 months prior. Eagles management intended on Hurts being a solid backup and insurance option.

But Wentz struggled in 2020, was benched in favor of Hurts for the last four games, and was traded to the Indianapolis Colts that offseason after his relationship with the team eroded.

Hurts led the Eagles to the playoffs in his first year as a full-time starter in 2021, and he followed that up with an MVP-level campaign this season, helping Philadelphia to a 14-3 regular-season record and, now, a spot in Super Bowl LVII.

Hurts, 24, has one year left on his rookie deal. He is now eligible for a contract extension.

"All I know is, and this is a fact: He's about to get paid!" left tackle Jordan Mailata said. "Oh, my god. Pay the man!

"Second year as a full-year starter, and he's taking us to the Super Bowl? Set I don't know how many records. All I know is, that man is one of the hardest workers I've ever seen in my life."

Hurts quickly exchanged his NFC champions T-shirt for a purple suit and sunglasses as the on-field celebration spilled into the locker room. He wore his championship hat slightly off-center as he puffed on a cigar and posed for pictures with teammates and coaches before heading to the interview room to address reporters.

"I don't really know how to feel, to be honest," he said. "You work really hard to put yourself in this position and I'm forever grateful. Only God knows the things that each individual on this team has been able to overcome for us to come together as a team and do something special as a group. That's what means the most. I always want to go out there and give my best regardless of what's going on because I don't want to let down the guy next to me. That makes us all go harder.

"I know I've been through a lot personally, but I don't want to steer away from the direction of how good this team has been at playing together, being together, and challenging one another. When we experience some painful times and some tough times, we always found a way to overcome. You want to be going into a situation like this, and we have a chance to go out there and win it all, so we want to prepare to go do that."