There might not be a more recognizable quarterback in the NFL than Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts. His meteoric rise to stardom has put Philly on the map, as he led the Eagles to Super Bowl LVII agains the Kansas City Chiefs last season and the No. 5 seed in the NFC of the 2023 playoffs.
Before he was orchestrating the "Tush Push," Hurts was just a kid from Channelview, Texas, where his dad, Averion, was his high school football coach. The two of them, along with the support of Hurts' mother, Pamela, wound up being a pretty good pairing. Hurts started at Alabama under Nick Saban before transferring to Oklahoma, where he finished second in Heisman Trophy voting in 2019 to LSU's Joe Burrow.
Hurts has always been appreciative of his parents. So much so that he even lived with them during his rookie season with the Eagles at one point. And while the 25-year-old dual-threat quarterback has been doubted at every stop in his career, the family in Hurts' corner never wavered in supporting their son.
Jalen Hurts Saved Money By Living With His Parents
Before Hurts signed a $255 million contract in 2023, he at one point was a rookie living with his parents.
Hurts told GQ that when he returned home to Texas he lived with Pamela and his grandmother. He also detailed other ways he saved money in his early NFL years, like by eating at home and by hiring a financial advisor.
"I stay at Mama's house. My mom and my grandma, they won't let me stay anywhere else," he said.
"I didn't buy a house or anything when I got drafted because it was just me. I didn't need this big place just for myself."
The Hurts Family's Support Has Been Constant
When we knew him as Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, he seemed untouchable. His first action came against the USC Trojans in 2016, when Hurts finished the game 6-of-11 for 118 passing yards and two touchdowns passes, plus 32 rushing yards and two more scores in the season opener. The next week, Hurts became the first true freshman to start at quarterback in Nick Saban's coaching career.
Hurts won SEC Offensive Player of the Year, was a Freshman All-American, and never looked back. Flash forward to the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship. Facing the nation's sixth-ranked defense in the Georgia Bulldogs, Alabama trailed 13-0 at halftime. In an unprecedented gamble, Saban plugged highly-touted freshman Tua Tagovailoa in as the team's starting quarterback for the second half.
Prior to that, Hurts accounted for 2,935 yards of total offense, 25 total touchdowns and threw just one interception on the season. It wasn't enough for a kid who was 26-2 as Alabama's starter. Tagovailoa's toss to win that title game ascended him over Hurts the following season, and a comeback performance by Hurts to win the 2018 SEC Championship Game was the last glimpse Alabama Crimson Tide fans would get.
Hurts took over the Oklahoma Sooners as a graduate transfer, going off in his senior season for 5,149 total yards, 32 touchdown passes, 20 rushing touchdowns and a second-place finish in the Heisman Trophy voting behind LSU's Joe Burrow.
Being a high school football coach's son fields its own set of challenges, but for Hurts, playing for his father Averion Hurts, who is still the head coach of Channelview High School outside Houston, bred a stone-cold winner. Between his junior and senior years leading the Falcons, Hurts accounted for 8,425 total yards and 91 total touchdowns, winning Texas District 21-6A MVP honors both seasons.
Averion and Pamela Had His Back During Alabama QB Battle
Averion knows what it takes to succeed as a football player at the collegiate level. The elder Hurts attended Howard Payne University as a football and track star on scholarship, graduating in 1990 with a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing.
Suffice to say, his dad's tutelage made the U.S. Army All-American one of the most-coveted players in the nation. Averion's guidance stuck with his son, even though he believed Jalen was "miscast in the Alabama offense." Hours after winning that national championship game at Alabama, Hurts' focus was on being benched. He recalled crying in his parents' hotel room along with older brother Averion — he played quarterback at Texas Southern — and younger sister Kynnedy. Hurts said he looked up at his dad and asked, "What are we going to do now?"
Averion looked back at his son and said, "We are going to fight." Dad wasn't the only one speaking out to defend his son.
As a quarterback battle hovered over 'Bama football ahead of the 2018 season, Jalen's mother Pamela Hurts backed up her son. Hurts received backlash for speaking to the media at the University of Alabama's Fan Day that year, suggesting a lack of communication from the coaching staff about his role and feelings ahead of, ultimately, losing his starting job.
Jalen's mom took to Facebook to defend his comments:
"When has Jalen ever spoken to media about anything other than the team? When has he ever whined, pouted or talk about what "y'all" don't know takes place behind the scenes? There's a reason why players aren't allowed to speak to the media. Jalen spoke his truth, finally, after 3 years of being compliant and controlled. You have no idea what is and has been going on— and most likely, never will."
Once again, people were doubting Jalen Hurts ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft. Some believed he should change positions, while others didn't think he could translate to the NFL as a passer. But knowing all he's been through, there wasn't a single shred of doubt that Jalen was ready for the next challenge.
"Keep your circle small," Hurts said, recalling his dad's advice prior to the Peach Bowl his freshman season. "The bigger you get, the smaller your circle should be."
Compete. Keep faith. Finish.
It's in Jalen Hurts' DNA, and his parents reminded him of that at every turn from Houston to Tuscaloosa to Norman and now Philadelphia.
Averion Was Proud of His Son's Super Bowl Berth
For Hurts, getting his football team to the NFC Championship wasn't good enough. While the world celebrated the "Kelce Bowl," where Travis Kelce and Jason Kelce became the first brothers to play against each other in the Super Bowl, Hurts nearly took down Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. But there was more to this game than numbers and rings, as Hurts and Mahomes became the first Black quarterbacks to face off in a Super Bowl.
Hurts' dad spoke on the impact of his son's Super Bowl LVII berth, saying, "I think it's huge. We understand how it was and how it's been for a long time and the narratives that used to be out there on what African Americans could do at the quarterback position. He is a very driven, very determined person. Whatever he sets his mind to, he locks in on it and he goes for it. He's very steadfast in what he believes in and he doesn't allow any outside factors to deter him."
Happy Black History Month!
Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes are the first black QBs to meet in a Super Bowl. A proud moment for Jalen Hurts? father:
— Chancellor Johnson (@ChancellorTV) February 1, 2023
For someone who played football under coaches like his father, Nick Saban and Andy Reid, it's clear why Hurts' football career has been an ESPN 30 for 30 in the making.
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