Carson Wentz selected second overall by the Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz

Philadelphia Gets a Winner in Wentz: Former Bison Quarterback the New Face for One of Most Recognized Franchises in the NFL

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Not everyone was smiles when the Philadelphia Eagles selected North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. While Bison and Eagles fans celebrated the dawn of the “Wentz- era” in the City of Brotherly Love, one guy sat in his corner sulking, threatening to take his proverbial ball and go home. Sam Bradford, the Eagles starting quarterback – for the time being – has dropped off the grid since Wentz became the face of the franchise.

“I have not spoken to Sam and not reached out to him,” said Howie Roseman, the Eagles vice president of football operations, during an interview with ESPN’s Mike & Mike the Tuesday following the draft. Tom Condon, Bradford’s agent, confirmed that Bradford wants out of Philadelphia. Condon told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio that, “It’s his right to demand a trade and he wants to be traded.” Poor, poor Sam Bradford. The newest patron saint of cry babies, who inked a two-year deal in March with $22 million guaranteed, wants the Eagles quarterback job handed to him on a gilded plate, thank you very much.

 

Before arriving in Philadelphia via trade last season from the then-St. Louis Rams, who have since moved to Los Angeles, Bradford’s professional career was best characterized as a mixed bag of injury-plagued uncertainty. After missing most of 2013 and all of 2014 with knee injuries, Bradford missed time in his first season with the Eagles due to a shoulder injury and concussion. Now, it’s Bradford’s bruised ego that is keeping him on the sidelines. If Wentz has anything to say about it, that’s where Bradford will stay, at least in Philadelphia.

As Bradford is busy demanding a trade and skipping the Eagle’s offseason activities, Wentz, on the other hand, just like his career at NDSU, is embracing the chance to compete for the starting job. “It’s something that’s out of my control entirely, so I’m gonna just come in and earn the respect of my teammates and compete and, you know, learn,” explained Wentz during an introductory press conference in Philadelphia a day after the draft. You have to wonder, as Bradford pouts and Wentz talks about earning his teammate’s respect, who is the veteran and who is the rookie?

This stark difference tells you all that you need to know about why the Eagles drafted Wentz despite investing $22 million in Bradford less than two months ago. In a matter of days, Wentz has distinguished himself from Bradford before taking an NFL snap. Although the Eagles decision to trade the farm to acquire Wentz will ultimately be judged by his on-the-field performance, you can understand why the Eagles mortgaged their future on the young signal caller who hails from Bismarck, N.D.. As far as leadership skills, character and leading a team – the intangibles possessed in spades by great quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, etc. – Wentz is the winner compared to Bradford the whiner.

Carson Wentz and Roger Goodell on NFL Draft stage in Chicago

Next to American politics, the NFL is one of the most dog-eat-dog businesses in the world for bare-knuckled, bruising competition. Keep in mind, Eagles fans once booed Santa Clause. Their fan base is so “passionate,” the team had a court and jail inside their old stadium, Veterans Stadium, to arrest and try fans for offenses committed during the game. Seriously.

Wentz has proved undaunted, ready to get to work to win over his teammates and the famously discontent fan base. “I know they’re real passionate and they want to win,” said Wentz, who came back after missing eight games with a broken wrist to lead the Bison to their fifth straight FCS national championship in January. “And I’m the same way. I think I’ll fit in fine,” Wentz said, before adding this note to Eagles fans. “I’m bringing it. They’re getting a passionate player themselves. It’s going to be fun … It’s an exciting time. I’m pumped to be an Eagle and ready to go to work.”

This is what helped convince the Philadelphia brass that Wentz was worth the risk and their jobs. “The kid bleeds winning,” said Eagles coach Doug Pederson, a former NFL quarterback who, along with his staff, has earned a reputation for developing quarterbacks. “He’s a blue-collar guy with an incredible work ethic and passion. He really fits what we want to do here.” One of Wentz’s biggest supporters, the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, who chronicled Wentz’s rise from NDSU quarterback to heralded pro prospect to the face of one of the NFL’s most recognizable franchises, says it’s that passion that separates Wentz and will allow him to handle the high-pressure cauldron that is Philadelphia.

“I do think he can handle it,” said Mayock of Wentz’s transition from Fargo to Philadelphia. If you recall, Mayock broadcasted Wentz’s pro day live for the NFL Network from the Fargodome and called Fargo his favorite pro day stop in the last ten years. “I’ve gotten to know this kid a little bit. More than I typically get to know a kid, which makes me more confident in my quarterback evaluation. So let’s forget about all the physical traits and go straight to the intangibles. He’s intelligent, he’s got a great work ethic and he loves the game of football. If you’re talking about having passion and being the face of a franchise, this is the kid.”

Mayock is absolutely right. Those of us in North Dakota who have watched Wentz – or, more appropriately, “Carson,” as most folks refer to him in these parts – are nodding our heads in agreement. See, we’ve gotten to know this kid from NDSU a little bit too, and we know this. Years from now, and after a Super Bowl title (or two), many will say the Eagles were geniuses for trading up to get Wentz. Back in his home state, we’ll be saying the same thing we’re saying now – the Eagles got a winner, a guy they can be proud to call one of their own, just like those of us in North Dakota. Everyone up for the kickoff, from Fargo to Philadelphia, the march is on!

Philadelphia Gets a Winner in Wentz: Former Bison Quarterback the New Face for One of Most Recognized Franchises in the NFL
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