Jalen Hurts is on his way to becoming a face of the NFL — on and off the field | FOX Sports

Jalen Hurts is on his way to becoming a face of the NFL — on and off the field

PHOENIX — Not everything Nick Sirianni says completely hits the spot, though his intentions are typically good.

There have been times when the Philadelphia Eagles head coach’s comments and stories have been taken the wrong way, usually because he gets so wrapped up in his theme that the telling of it becomes a little muddled.

Recently, when comparing his quarterback — Jalen Hurts — to Michael Jordan, Sirianni caused a few eyebrows to be raised. Others, more familiar with the coach’s foibles and occasional bouts of hyperbole, thought it was just Nick being Nick.

But Sirianni knew exactly what he was saying and meant something very specific by it. Ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl clash with the Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday at 6:30 ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app), Sirianni does indeed see Hurts as a footballing Jordan in the making.

With Tom Brady having announced his retirement, it is fair to say that Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes now stands on an island as the primary face of the NFL. In Sirianni’s view — and yes, he’s biased but he also knows his player better than anyone — Hurts has an opportunity to join Mahomes on that pedestal as a crossover superstar in the Jordanesque mold.

“I am really inspired by somebody like Michael Jordan and his will to win,” Sirianni said this week. “That what I’m really saying when I compare — it’s the will to win of Jalen Hurts … and of Jordan. 

“Jordan is the greatest of all time. Jalen — I don’t know what his ceiling is because he just keeps setting the  standard in what the ceiling can be. Guys in my experience that love football, that are tough, that put in the work every single day with the work ethic he has? They reach their ceiling. I just don’t know what that ceiling is.

“I just see that he would be a great role model for people to look up to because of the way he works. How much football means to him, all those different things. What I think is so special about this week is that the two guys who played the hardest position in all of sports at the highest level are playing in the Super Bowl.”

Philly fans hope we don’t find out about Hurts’ ceiling for a while. Either way, it is feasible to see a situation whereby a Super Bowl ring elevates him to true stardom, after only his third season in the league and with all the much-told struggles — like being benched in the national championship game — behind him.

He has style, no question, and the extravagant purple jacket he wore after the NFC Championship victory over the San Francisco 49ers set the younger crowd chattering away with delight on social as much as his on-field performance has.

Hurts has a personality type that plays well for this generation, too; cool, confident and often understated, during a time when a touch of affected cynicism is often perceived as wisdom.

He has some swagger, but he has earned it. According to his teammates, no one works harder. Scratch that — to a man, they say that not only is he the hardest toiler in the current squad, but they’ve never seen anyone across their career who puts in more effort.

“Off the field, he is a guy who is just insanely obsessed with his craft,” Eagles receiver A.J. Brown said. “He wants to be great, he put in the time. I like to say he puts the lights on and off in the building, that’s everything you need to know about how serious he is. He gets there before me, and I get there early.”

“Absolutely,” said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, when asked if he sees Hurts becoming one of the faces of the league. Cox saw Nick Foles win a title as Eagles quarterback, with thanks to a great team around him, five years ago. Almost certainly, that will always remain the highlight of Foles’ career. For Hurts, even a Sunday victory might not be the pinnacle.

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“He’s proved to the world what he can do and what kind of player he can be,” Cox added. “What kind of leader he can be. Jalen is a natural-born leader. He never gets too high, never gets too low, never gets out of character. He’s always positive.”

The search is on, in many ways, for the players who will define the league in years to come. Brady is gone, bound for the commentary booth in 2024. Aaron Rodgers will figure out his whole deal during a bout of blackout meditation, apparently. Josh Allen and Joe Burrow are trying to work their way to Mahomes’ level, both in terms of consistency and relevancy.

According to FOX analyst, Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, who has gotten to know Hurts this season, there are few players better suited to becoming one of football’s figureheads.

“A new player, a 24-year-old QB out of a city that is hard-nosed,” Strahan told me on Tuesday. “I had a chance to spend some time with him a few weeks ago and I walked out of the room a big fan. This is a guy who could so easily have quit. People react to him and gravitate towards him. 

“Look where he is right now. Definitely a face of the league.”

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

This content was originally published here.

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