Jaguars' new quarterback opens up about family and faith

Nick Foles talks about medical condition his wife, Tori, has had to overcome

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars have a new quarterback in Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles, whose story is just as inspiring off the field as it is on the field.

Nick seems like he has it all. He just signed a four-year, $88 million contract with $50.125 million in guarantees. But that doesn't mean life has always been easy for him and his family.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Nick opened up about an almost debilitating medical condition his wife, Tori, has had to overcome.

When he took the podium, essentially introducing himself to a new city, he was very upfront about a personal and family struggle, specifically concerning his wife.

"Most importantly, I want to thank my wife, Tori. She has been there with me every step of the way. Once again, we have gone through so much. We’ve gone through so much from her getting sick in 2013 and her battle every single day," he said. "She still battles every day with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome."

The short name for the condition is POTS, which causes the nervous system to malfunction and can be disabling. 

Dr. Kalina M. Sanders of Baptist Medical explained on The Morning Show that the nerves that connect the brain to the spinal cord and communicate with all the body's organ systems are affected for those with POTS. The condition affects 1-3 million people in the U.S.

WATCH: How does POTS affect your life?

"Their heart rate jumps up significantly and because of that, they don't get oxygenation to their brain, so they develop symptoms like dizziness, light-headedness. They may feel weak," Sanders explained. “It's an over-exaggerated response of the heart rate to position changes, going from sitting to lying to a standing position.”

She said the symptoms are similar to some anxiety conditions, which makes POTS difficult to diagnose.

Sanders said POTS does not have a cure, but patients are often encouraged to eat a high-salt diet and make sure they're getting enough fluids. They can also be trained on how to change positions in a way that can avoid prompting symptoms.

She pointed out that the condition is cyclical.

“There are days when the symptoms are much more severe and it prohibits a person from getting out of the bed even. And then they can have days where they can actually function and look beautiful, like she does," Sanders said, referring to Tori, who was by her husband's side as they walked onto TIAA Bank Field with his new No. 7 jersey under the scoreboard welcoming his family.

Nick Foles and wife, Tori, on field

Nick recounted Thursday that he and Tori decided to get married while they were dealing with her illness in Arizona.

"We went to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, spent a lot of time with the dysautonomia doctors and that’s where we eventually got engaged," Nick said. "A couple months later, two days after she was in ER, we went to the courthouse and got married. We had to sit down for it."

Nick also opened up about his faith that he has relied on through his family's difficult journey. He's an outspoken Christian who’s enrolled at Liberty University and when he hangs up his cleats, he plans to head to the pulpit and become a minister.

"Everything I do is to glorify God.  And with that, it’s really just being who I am. Genuinely, in my heart, it’s always about relationships," he said. "It’s genuinely I just want to get to know my teammates and care for them. That’s what’s made the game for me so much fun."

Jaguars representatives told News4Jax Tori is just as open about her medical history and will likely be willing to speak about it publicly. But for now, Nick said his family is focused on finding a new house and getting their young daughter, Lily, into a new school. They are also bringing a dog, a Goldendoodle named Henry, to Jacksonville with them. 

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