Eagles’ Wentz: Could have been better teammate
PHILADELPHIA — Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz refuted multiple details in a story critical of him published last month by Philly Voice but did not dismiss the story outright, acknowledging that he could have been a better teammate as he navigated a trying year professionally.
“I know who I am, first of all. I know how I carry myself. I know I’m not perfect. I know I have flaws,” he said during a sit-down interview with a small group of reporters at the Eagles’ practice facility recently. “So I’m not going to sit here and say it was inaccurate and completely made up. I’m not going to do that. But at the end of the day, I will say our locker room is really close. If there were guys that had issues, in hindsight, I wish we could have just talked about them. But, again, I don’t know how that all happened and everything with that.”
Wentz was described as “egotistical,” “selfish” and “uncompromising” in the story, which cited more than a half-dozen players and other sources, all of whom were quoted anonymously. He was accused of playing favorites and resisting certain concepts because he viewed them as “[Nick] Foles stuff.”
Wentz said he was caught off guard by the report.
“It kind of came out of nowhere,” he said. “I was literally eating breakfast with my wife, and [a member of the Eagles media relations staff] texted me. Literally, we do, like, quiet time in the morning. We eat breakfast and then I go sit on the couch. So I’m about to go read my Bible and then I get that text and now I’m reading this.”
Wentz said he didn’t really sense the friction internally described in the piece, but he didn’t dismiss the notion out of hand.
“It’s never fun to read, but to an extent, you look at it and be like, ‘Well, if someone did have this perception of me, why? What have I done wrong? What can I get better at?'” he said. “I realize I have my shortcomings. Yes, I can be selfish. I think we all have selfishness inside of us. There’s human elements to that, that I really look at and say, ‘Well, I can get better.'”
A host of teammates spoke out on social media in defense of Wentz, while a senior team official described the QB as a “good person” with “great character” to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.
“Story has no legs,” the official added.
Wentz said he initially tried to “play detective” to figure out who may have contributed to the story before deciding it ultimately didn’t matter.
“I’ll learn from it and we’ll all learn that A, things shouldn’t kind of come out the way it did, and B, the pieces that I can learn from it and be a better teammate and player and all that stuff I will grow from,” he said. “But other than that, just turn the page.”
There were specific details inside the Philly Voice story that Wentz disputed. Asked about the notion that he was “once verbally attacked by a highly respected teammate for not being ‘a team guy,'” Wentz said, “I didn’t know what that was. I will say I didn’t know what that was about.”
While conceding he and Foles, the Eagles’ backup quarterback, see the game differently to a degree and like different concepts, he flatly denied being resistant to running plays that might be associated with being “Foles stuff.” He also pushed back on the charge he “bullied” offensive coordinator Mike Groh.
“Groh and I talked to each other that day when it came out, and I think we all know that never took place,” Wentz said. “I even go back to the year before with Frank [Reich], I know Frank has gone and said that he and I used to have these competitive arguments, but they’re healthy. That stuff happens. That’s, I think, what good football teams have, the ability to respectfully do that and kind of be stubborn and those things. It was the same way with Groh. In my opinion, he is a very good football mind, and in my opinion, I feel like I have something to contribute, too, so I thought we had some really healthy dialogue. To say, quote, ‘bullied him,’ I’d say that’s kind of disrespectful to Groh. I don’t think anyone bullies Coach Groh.”
Wentz acknowledged he “maybe wasn’t the greatest teammate at times” over the past year because he was “emotionally kind of all over the place” as he battled multiple injuries, worked separately from the group while he rehabbed and had to watch team success from the sideline.
“You go through the [ACL] injury, and you’re just 100 percent determined to get back, that’s, like, what my mind is on. And looking back, were there things that maybe I neglected as a teammate and as a friend because I was just so determined and that’s all that mattered?” Wentz said.
While looking to grow as a teammate, Wentz said he’s not about to drastically change his approach.
“I’m 26 years old; my personality, to some extent, ain’t going to change,” he said. “What’s gotten me here, what’s gotten me successful, I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, now I’m going to have this free-spirited, Cali-guy vibe.’ That’s just not going to change.
“Any time you’re a Type A guy, there’s a fine line between being pushy and shove-y and humble and humility and walking that line. Definitely learning to navigate that always and never trying to look down on anybody or make it seem like I’m better than anybody. But at the same time, as a Type A, so to speak, confident person that’s confident in off-the-field things and then on the field with what we like, that’s not going to change. That’s not going to go anywhere. I think that’s something that is a positive if used correctly.”