Jets QB Foley set for takeoff Football: The team has always liked quarterback Glenn Foley's fiery, go-for-broke style of play. This season, his first as the opening-week starter, he's being counted on for a lot more.

September 10, 1998|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

If Glenn Foley has yet to arrive as an established NFL quarterback, he certainly has taken a huge step in that direction. Just ask San Francisco quarterback Steve Young, the man with Hall of Fame credentials who remains one of the league's premier passers.

After watching Foley play the game of his five-year career in last week's season opener, in which Foley hit 30 of 58 passes for 415 yards and three touchdowns to keep the New York Jets close in a 36-30 overtime loss to the 49ers, Young sought out Foley on the field at 3COM Park.

"He really hadn't seen me play before in person, and he said he was surprised," Foley said of Young. "He congratulated me on that and said I was a good player."

The number of Foley believers are growing. Since he came out of Boston College as a seventh-round draft pick in 1994, Foley has attracted praise because of his fiery personality, not to mention his gunslinging tendency to go for the big play at any time.

Four years of grooming have taught Foley, 6 feet 2, 220 pounds, to cut down on the glaring mistakes that often hinder young quarterbacks. Although he still locks onto a primary receiver or throws carelessly into coverage at times, he has tamed the wild streak in his game enough to enjoy the good graces of Jets coach Bill Parcells. For now.

Four years in the media spotlight of New York have taught Foley plenty about dealing with pressure. As a backup, he watched the media roast starter Neil O'Donnell during the former Terp's ups and downs in 1996 and 1997.

Now, it's Foley who's under scrutiny, after he held off former Ravens quarterback Vinny Testaverde in a preseason battle for the starting job. The major question about Foley, who leads the Jets in their home opener against the Ravens on Sunday, has been whether he can stay healthy. Last season, after winning the job from O'Donnell, Foley injured his left knee Nov. 17 and didn't return. In 1995, he suffered a dislocated shoulder.

"With Coach Parcells, there's pressure to perform every day in practice. There's nothing not to like [about the media pressure]. It's all positive to me," Foley said.

"If you're doing well, you're going to be a fan favorite. If you're not, you're going to get booed right out of town. I wouldn't want it any other way."

Foley is fast becoming a favorite of his teammates, who voted him as a team captain. Parcells, who replaced O'Donnell with Foley midway through 1997, has always liked his fiesty brand of leadership.

"Glenn gets you motivated," receiver Wayne Chrebet said. "You listen to him in the huddle, taking control, and he shows he's a true leader. At crunch time, he is the guy we can go to."

Foley, who came off the bench last year to lead the Jets to an overtime victory over the Ravens -- a game in which he took a vicious shot from linebacker Peter Boulware that eventually was worth a $7,500 fine -- forced overtime as a starter in last week's opener.

Besides throwing only one interception in 58 attempts against San Francisco, Foley converted six third-down opportunities. He also guided New York 60 yards in 12 plays in the final 1: 26 to a field goal that forced the extra period. The Jets lost when Garrison Hearst ran 96 yards for a touchdown.

"He was pretty excited about what was going on, and he was up to the task," Jets center Kevin Mawae said. "There were a lot of third downs and fourth downs, and the fact that he got them says a lot about his poise."

Foley struggled badly in last month's 33-0 preseason loss to the Ravens, although he played with the second team in the second half that day. And the Ravens aren't likely to find a passer feeling too good about his last game, come Sunday's kickoff.

"It was a lot of fun, as exciting a game as I've ever played in," Foley said. "But it's a game you have to win. We lost, so we all failed."

Pub Date: 9/10/98

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