Jalen Hurts: ‘I didn’t walk through that fire just to smell the smoke’

Jalen Hurts2


The Maxwell Football Club named Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts as the winner of the 64th Bert Bell Professional Player of the Year Award on Jan. 25.  Four days later, the Eagles defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-7 in the NFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl LVII. Philadelphia lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 38-35 on Feb. 12 in the NFL championship game for the 2022 season, even though Hurts passed for 304 yards and one touchdown and ran for 70 yards and three touchdowns.

Hurts referred to the Super Bowl loss when closing his acceptance speech for the Bert Bell Award on Thursday night at the Maxwell Football Club National Awards Gala at the Mohegan Pennsylvania Resort in Wilkes-Barre.  “Y’all don’t get used to that other thing we did,” Hurts said. “We plan on finishing moving forward. I know y’all love the game, but I love it a lot, and I’m never, ever satisfied. I know (Eagles) coach (Nick) Sirianni, everyone in that building, we’re all looking forward to what’s to come.”  Someone in the audience said loudly: “Only the beginning.”

Hurts identified the speaker as he continued without missing a beat.  “It’s only the beginning, like mom said,” Hurts said. “It’s only the beginning, but I know I didn’t walk through that fire just to smell the smoke.”  In his second season as the Eagles’ starter, the former Alabama standout became the first quarterback in NFL history to have a passing-efficiency rating of at least 100 while also running for at least 10 touchdowns.

In 15 regular-season games in 2022, Hurts completed 306-of-460 passes for 3,701 yards with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions for a passer rating of 101.5 and ran for 760 yards and 13 touchdowns on 165 carries.  “I try and treat this game like I treat my lady,” Hurts said on Thursday night. “I try and treat it with a lot of care, a lot of love, being mindful of it and always moving with integrity in what I do.”

Hurts became the fourth player with Alabama football roots to win the Bert Bell Award, following Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler (Foley, Alabama) in 1976, Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander (Alabama) in 2005 and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (Auburn) in 2015.

“It means everything to me,” Hurts said. “You put so much work in to, obviously, being able to display your ability to go out there and play for a city like Philadelphia. To be accepting an award for NFL Player of the Year is a testament to my teammates, the people around me, my foundation, my parents, everyone.”

Alabama outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. accepted the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation’s best defensive player at the awards gala.  In another Crimson Tide connection, North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye received the Maxwell Football Club’s Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award.


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