I’ve got four words of advice for Carson Wentz critics: Shut the $#@&*% up!
Pardon me for losing my cool. But as L’Affaire Carson drags into its third week – still filling newspaper columns and talk-radio shows – it must be said. This is the longest-running story about nothing since Seinfeld left the air two decades ago.
Last week, Wentz held his media redemption tour, acting contrite while admitting, at one point, that he wasn’t really sure what he was apologizing for. Was it being brusque with assistant coaches? Alienating a teammate or two? Pushing for input to design his own offense?
And, of course, each syllable he uttered was then parsed more thoroughly than the State of the Union. Some spinmeisters came away concluding that Wentz’s words validated the original item of trash journalism that put him on the defensive. Not hardly, to my ears.
Young Carson’s biggest sin remains that he’s not Nick Foles. He didn’t lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl title last February or give fans that late-season thrill ride this season. St. Nick did that, with help this December from a rejuvenated defense. Soon, Foles will be leaving, either by trade or (more likely) free agency.
That’s going to be a sad day for fans. And, in this odd world, it creates the need for a bad guy on whom we can place blame. Enter, Carson Wentz. Nicest fall guy you’ve ever met.
I don’t buy the canard that Philadelphia fans run our great players out-of-town. Donovan McNabb played 11 years in green while hearing every bit of criticism aimed his way. Randall Cunningham scrambled for 11 as well; Eric Lindros’ divorce was with management, not the people filling the seats in his No. 88 jersey.
So Wentz, I believe, will be here for the long-term – even if a rogue reporter uncovers the next blockbuster of him being snippy with a gas-station attendant or failing to properly dispose of his recyclables.
The irony, of course, is that Wentz is a nice guy. He is charitable, outgoing, and empathetic. He’s not called “Ginger Jesus” for nothing. I’ve seen him at the NovaCare Center, chatting up low-level Eagles employees whom few players even give a nod to. A few kind words from the star quarterback make these people’s day.
But even if we take the fish-wrapper news at face value – that Wentz can be headstrong, selfish, egotistic – is that really a problem? That he bullied rookie offensive coordinator Mike Groh? Most great quarterbacks, from Marino to Roethlisberger to, yep, Brady, have clashed with coaches and even had a bit of General Patton in them.
None of this can dispel false narratives – the newest being that Wentz is an inefficient quarterback who ignores his wide receivers and can’t beat a good team. As the saying goes, a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.
My WIP colleague Reuben Frank wrote a terrific column for NBC Sports Philadelphia the other day, dispelling 10 myths that seek to argue Foles is better than Wentz. Through stats (also known as “facts”) Frank laid out how Carson is better at throwing deep, avoiding turnovers and winning games late.
I still believe Wentz will be one of the NFL’s best for years to come. I’ll always appreciate Foles, salute him and root for him (well . . . not if he ends up on the Redskins). But Carson’s the future.
The anti-Wentz sentiment, still breathing from one shoddy piece of journalism, has to stop. I’ll scream it from the top of the Comcast Center if I have to.