Steve Foley – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Jesuit High School/Tulane University/NFL
A star quarterback at both Jesuit High School and Tulane University (1972-74), Steve Foley successfully made the transition to defensive back in the professional ranks and had a 12-year career, including a pair of Super Bowl appearances with the Denver Broncos.
At Jesuit, Foley lettered in track and football. In 1971, Foley led the Blue Jays to an 8-3 record and earned all-district honors.
“I did get to play in two Super Bowls,” Foley said at a 2016 event at Jesuit. “It didn’t start there, it really started right here [at Jesuit]. These are the formative years. [In 1971], we did lose in the state playoffs to the eventual state championship team. But it was the start for me of not quitting, of really dedicating myself.”
Foley established the Green Wave record for total offense while leading the team to two winning seasons, including a 9-3 year in 1973 that culminated with a trip to the Asto-Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston, Texas, just the second boiwl trip for Tulane in 33 years.
Foley earned team MVP honors as a junior in 1973 after leading the team in both passing and rushing yards. He ran for a pair of touchdowns in the season opener against Boston College, broke a 72-yard scoring run against VMI, threw the winning pass with nine seconds left to defeat Duke and scampered for 181 yards – the most ever by a Tulane quarterback – against Vanderbilt to clinch a bid in the Asto-Bluebonnet Bowl.
However, the biggest win of 1973, and one of the most memorable in Tulane history was a 14-0 thumping of arch-rival and then-No. 8 LSU in the season finale. A beyond-capacity crowd of 86,598 fans at old Tulane Stadium were on hand to witness the Green Wave’s first win over the Tigers since 1948.
In 1974, Foley led the Greenies to a red-hot 5-0 start, but a broken foot in game six of the season against Georgia Tech kept him out until the final two games of the season when he saw reserve duty.
The New Orleans native set Tulane career records for total yards (3,482 – 1,308 rushing and 2,174 passing) and lowest percentage of passes intercepted, both in a season (five of 147 passes in 1973) and for a career (14 of 343 passes).
Following his Tulane career, Foley was selected in the eighth round of the 1975 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, but spent the 1975 season working on the transition from quarterback to defensive back with the Jacksonville Express of the now-defunct World Football League.
He joined the Broncos for the 1976 season and became a mainstay in the defensive backfield where he saw time as both a cornerback and a safety, becoming the Broncos’ all-time interception leader (still No. 1 as of 2017) with 44 while helping lead Denver to a pair of Super Bowl appearances. He was a starter in Super Bowl XII (following the 1977 season) against the Dallas Cowboys at the Louisiana Superdome in his hometown of New Orleans.
“We beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (in the playoffs) in the midst of their dynasty,” Foley told the Denver Post in 2009. “We beat the Raiders when they were considered to be as good a team as there was in football. When we went to the Super Bowl to play Dallas, we felt like we would win.”
He also saw action in Super Bowl XXI (following the 1986 season) against the New York Giants – that would be his final career game.
Foley scored two touchdowns in his career, both of which came in 1984, and both of which were key contributions to Broncos’ victories. He tallied a 40-yard interception return touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks on December 15, but his 22-yard fumble return touchdown against the Green Bay Packers on October 15 was truly memorable. The game is known as “the Snow Bowl” in Broncos’ lore due to an October blizzard.
“We kicked off to them,” Foley recalled to the Post. “They ran a sweep and fumbled the ball. I picked it up and ran for a touchdown. We kicked off to them again and the same thing happened. I thought, ‘This can’t be possible.’ Louie Wright beat me to the ball and ran it in for another touchdown. We scored two touchdowns in 14 seconds.”
“That was about as close to sandlot football as you could get,” Foley said of the Snow Bowl. “It was as if a bunch of kids were playing in a huge snowstorm. Everyone around the country thought that all it did was snow in Denver.”
Born November 11, 1953, Foley was inducted into the Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.