In Week 3 of the 2016 NFL season, Carson Wentz and the 2-0 Eagles defeated the 2-0 Pittsburgh Steelers. Having been in the seats my family has held since the birds played at Franklin Field, I had seen enough. I was all in on Carson Wentz.
At this point in my life, I had only worshipped at the alter of Brian Dawkins and Chase Utley. I hadn’t yet found my next hero. The messiah meant to save the city of Philadelphia from an eternity of agony and heartbreak that seemed inevitable was still out there somewhere. It felt like I had found him in the shape of a 6’5″ duck hunter from North Dakota.
He was finally here. A leader, tough as nails, strong arm, prototype size, built to compete. I remember reading about how his then girlfriend getting mad at him because he was watching film while at dinner with her. What a football guy move. I was in love.
And that’s before 2017.
When Wentz offered his game check to Jake Elliot for hitting a 61-yard field goal, it seemed obvious. This was a man I could wager my entire heart and soul on and at the very least, he would not only be a competent franchise quarterback, but a good person and member of the Philadelphia community for at least the next decade.
When the ESPN feature about Carson and the Dutch Destroyer was played before MNF at the linc against Washington, I remember crying and texting me mom, “Can anyone prove to me that Carson Wentz is not Jesus Christ.”
That story, followed up by one of his best career games in which I fell off my dorm room bed in excitement twice, dazzled by his escapability and poise and elated at the notion of finally having a quarterback I could rely on to compete for championships for the foreseeable future sealed the deal. Through his faith, words, charities, and electrifying quarterback play he was going to unite the people Philadelphia and make a winner out of a town that has always best identified with losers.
At the time I would have given my life for the man. Then he walked off the field in Los Angeles on a torn ACL.
Of course, the Carsonless Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl. While some had made the argument that the team needed to stick with the literal Super Bowl MVP moving forward, an argument that in hindsight almost feels obvious, I ardently defended Wentz’s honor to anyone and everyone that dared so much as point out a flaw in him. I continued to do so until this season.
Through the poor performances in 2018 prior to his season ending back injury, through the first story that called his character and leadership into question, through every debate about what it meant to be injury prone, and finally, through a mind-numbingly terrible loss on Sunday Night Football to the Dallas Cowboys in 2019, I defended him with my very existence. This summer my friend claimed Derek Carr was better than him and I damn near lost my mind.
Never have I been made to look and feel so foolish. Now, you may be thinking, “Perhaps it is your fault for investing so much of your time and energy into someone who does not know or care about you at all” and you would be right. My response to that is that I am clearly a huge loser desperately seeking happiness in the successes and accomplishments of others.
It’s not just that his quality of play has dropped so significantly below anyone’s most pessimistic dreams. His character does not even resemble what I had believed it was. Over the past four months, we have learned that Carson Wentz is nothing more than a spineless, arrogant, selfish coward incapable of recognizing that anything could possibly be his own fault.
When the Jeff McLane article detailing Wentz’s 2020 season and the behind the scenes factors that may have contributed to his fall from glory, it became obvious that he isn’t, and probably had never been the savior I romanticized him to be. Nor is he even actually good at football.
When you hand someone the keys to your heart, you expect them to respect your vulnerability and handle it with care. Carson has opted to whine and make excuses for himself about an organization that, while run poorly and has constructed an admittedly horrendous supporting cast, has held him with kid gloves since the day he was drafted. To see him act like such a little baby while also being completely unaware of just how miserable his play has been is just heartbreaking
At times this season it felt like Carson Wentz had never watched a football game. The mistakes he was making were the exact types of plays that singlehandedly cost teams games. There are a myriad of reasons the Eagles are currently in the dire position that they’re in, but even mediocre quarterback play this season probably would have landed them atop the NFC East. That Wentz had the fucking balls to complain about being benched to the owner of the team makes me sick to my stomach.
The bottom line is that I, along with so many Philadelphians bet it all on Carson Wentz. When I was a kid, I didn’t understand that god-like figures such as Dawkins and Utley were still just people. I saw them as something more. The difference with Wentz is that I saw him as a hero BECAUSE of his humanity. I felt his character along with his talent was going to bring an era of winning upon a city whose culture is built on losing, and I spent 4.5 years of my life defending him against anyone who thought differently.
He may as well have taken a dump in my shoes and spit on my face. Carson Wentz has betrayed me and he doesn’t even know me. That’s hard to do.
It’s seeming like the Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles have chosen Wentz over Pederson and are looking to keep him as the cornerstone of the franchise, which sucks. If that happens, I will boo him harder than I have ever booed a current Philadelphia athlete.
Booing is not about poor play alone. If you suck at football there’s a good chance that’s not even your fault. For example, booing the Phillies bullpen in 2020 would have been stupid. It”s not their fault that they stink. I’m sure they’re doing their best, but it’s Klentak’s fault that they’re even on the team, not theirs.
The difference with Wentz is that this isn’t about just his play. His stubbornness and complete douchebaggery seemingly got a Super Bowl winning head coach fired, turned many in the locker room against him, and ultimately will cost the Eagles a metric fuck ton of cap space over the next couple years at best and four years at worst.
Wentz has taught me a very important lesson. I will never again in my life put so much of myself into a single athlete. I can’t keep turning to these grown men, who are literally strangers, to somehow save me from my day to day struggles. Maybe that’s part of growing up, but it’s a lesson I didn’t want to be taught so harshly.