Why Quarterback Jalen Hurts is Adversity’s Worst Nightmare.

Jalen Hurts has never shrunk in the face of adversity. That is not his game.

It isn’t who he is.

As Hurts stood amid a whirlwind tsunami of red and white confetti after the Eagles’ loss in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium, this wasn’t the first adversity that Jalen had experienced on a football field. He didn’t hang his head or leave in dejection.

He wanted to remember what it was like to reach the pinnacle game of the NFL. He tried to absorb the admiration and exuberance displayed from the Kansas City sideline. He wanted to remember this feeling of agony in defeat.

That way, he could utilize it as motivation. That way, he would be driven never to feel it again.

Jalen Hurts knows that rejection always opens a door for redemption. He learned it first on the plains of Texas.

It’s tough to be the son of a football coach. It is even harder to play for him.

As a 6 foot 1, 212-pound quarterback, he was the son of a coach. Before he ended up on the football gridiron, Hurts had other athletic talents.

Many high school athletes are multi-sport, like Jalen. Almost none of them are powerlifters. As a sophomore in high school, he powerlifted 500 pounds, becoming a regional finalist in the 198-pound weight class.

As a junior at Channelview High School in Texas, Jalen won the job to be the starter for his father as a quarterback on the football team for the Channelview Falcons. He never looked back.

In October of 2014, the Channelview Falcons were trailing North Shore 48–42 with time for only one more play. With the clock showing zeros, Jalen threw up a 36-yard pass that was complete from a deflection for the game-winning touchdown.

In his senior season, he passed for over 2,300 yards and 26 touchdowns, paired with nearly 1,400 yards rushing with 25 touchdowns, and took the Channelview Falcons to the Texas State College Football Playoffs.

Defense coordinators from around Texas tried everything to stop him. They spied him with a linebacker, called blitzes from every part of the defense, and wanted to keep him in the pocket to force his arm to beat them. They sent free rushers from what seemed like all over the dry Texas landscape to keep him off balance. Nothing worked.

Texas A&M did everything possible to try to recruit him. Jalen, however, had a different vision for himself. He ended up at one of the best programs in all of college football at Alabama and into the tutelage of legendary coach Nick Saban.

In just his second game as a red-shirt freshman, he became the starter. It was the first time that this had happened in Tuscaloosa in 32 years. Hurts didn’t just start the season; he excelled, leading Alabama to an undefeated regular season and beating the University of Washington in the Peach Bowl 24–7. In the CFP Championship Game, Alabama would come up short, losing to Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers 35–31.

In 2017, Hurts was back to the CFP Championship Game again after leading the Tide to an 11–1 regular season. Against the Georgia Bulldogs, he looked unsettled in the first half both on the ground and through the air. At halftime, down 13–0 to Georgia, Saban replaced Hurts with true freshman Tua Tagovailoa. In the second half of that game, Hurts supported Tagovailoa during every timeout and defensive possession. Jalen smiled postgame, right after the Alabama freshman caught a game-winning 41-yard touchdown.

That freshman was Eagles receiver DeVonta Smith.

Adversity often builds character. It really builds character in athletes. Publicly, Jalen never showed any falter in his dedication or positive attitude, even after Tua was named the starter in 2018.

Jalen stayed patient. He worked hard in practice. He waited for his turn.

When Tagovailoa went down with an injury against Louisville the following year, Hurts was ready to come in. For the rest of the season, the combination of the two quarterbacks took Alabama back to the CFP Championship Game once again.

After graduation, Jalen transferred to the University of Oklahoma. In one season with the Sooners, Hurts threw for 3,851 passing yards and 32 touchdowns on their way to a Big 12 Championship and earned a spot in the College Football playoff.

Many were surprised when the Eagles drafted Jalen Hurts 53rd overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Perhaps the two most surprised people were Jalen Hurts and Carson Wentz. In Philadelphia, Wentz was already the starter.

Jalen Hurts knew difficult situations; he had seen them before.

Just as he did at Alabama, Jalen worked hard in practice. He waited. He learned all that he could.

When asked about the surprise of being selected by the Philadelphia Eagles, he quoted scripture, John 13:7:

“You may not know now, but later you’ll understand.”

When Carson Wentz was benched against Green Bay in 2020, Hurts was ready. He had prepared for this moment. The following week against the New Orleans Saints, Jalen would lead the Eagles to his first victory as a starting quarterback.

Not many people could stay calm and focused when giving remarks after receiving a $255 million contract extension for five years. But there he was in his Eagles green suit, focused.

Back at State Farm Stadium, Jalen walked into his press conference with his head held high and humbled.

“You either win, or you learn,” he said.

With the Eagles, no doubt that he will do plenty of both. Just don’t expect much emotion from him.
Or any at all.

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