Eagles

Carson Wentz walks fine line between loving Jesus and not being preachy

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Carson Wentz walks fine line between loving Jesus and not being preachy

Carson Wentz wants everybody to know just how important Jesus is in his life. How important religion is in his life.
 
At the same time, he doesn't want to come across as preachy or proselytizing.
 
Good luck sorting all that out.
 
Wentz has actually walked that tight-rope the past year just as adroitly as he avoided trouble in the pocket.
 
He's made it clear what he believes and what it means to him, and he's done it in a way that seems natural and organic.
 
"You're always walking that fine line, without a doubt," he said. "I always tell people, for example, if you love your job, you love your wife, you love what you do, you're going to talk about it. Well, I love Jesus. That's what I love, so I'm going to talk about it.
 
"But I'm not going to force it down your throat, either. So it's definitely a fine line that I'm constantly trying to walk, and at the end of the day, just kind of how I live and what I'm about and hopefully can kind of speak through. If that makes sense.”
 
Wentz is no religious zealot. Anything but. Ask him about his faith, ask him about a particular biblical verse, ask him about his relationship with Jesus, and he's happy to chat. For hours.
 
And it's not unusual for a biblical passage or a reference to Jesus to come up in one of Wentz's press conferences. That's who he is. He's just being himself.
 
But he's no proselytizer.
 
And he said he's constantly trying to balance answering questions honestly with making sure he doesn't come across as preachy.
 
Heady stuff for a 24-year-old kid from North Dakota.
 
"I never want to be the guy who's beating people over the head with the Bible," Wentz said recently. "That's not what I'm about. That's not really what Christianity is about.
 
"Christianity is all about love and showing that love and that kindness and that grace."
 
Wentz has clearly thought this through. He understands that as the starting quarterback for a team in the sixth-largest city in the country — and a city that's gone 56 years without an NFL championship and eight years without even a playoff win and is starving for a franchise quarterback — he's an instant celebrity and someone whose words carry a ton of weight.
 
He takes that responsibility seriously. He said he's heard some criticisms of his openness discussing religion, but he said it won't change who he is or what he says.
 
“I have seen [negative] things here and there," he said. "It is what it is. Again, but they're still reading it, they're still following me. They're still hearing what I believe to be true so it's a fine line.
 
"Without a doubt, I want to use my platform to make a difference [in] peoples' lives."
 
Look at Wentz's Twitter account (@cj_wentz), and about half of his posts or retweets are religious in nature.
 
Others concern such hotly controversial topics as his dogs, his love of hunting and fishing, various charities (including his own) and well wishes to current and former teammates.
 
"Going and speaking at events or even social media can be very impactful in what you share, what you post," he said. "Some people that don't like that stuff, maybe they shouldn't follow me on social media. But that's just what I'm about.”
 
Wentz's own AO1 Foundation, launched earlier this year, seems overtly religious, with a mission statement to "demonstrate the love of God by providing opportunities and support for the less fortunate and those in need."
 
But the three disparate main objectives of the charity — to provide shelter, food and education for underprivileged youth; to provide hunting opportunities for disabled people; to provide service dogs to those who need them — are objectives that anybody can appreciate and admire, regardless of their faith.
 
It's not common for a 24-year-old who hasn't even started his second season in the NFL to have the wherewithal to start a foundation.
 
But as we're all learning, Wentz is not your typical 24-year-old.
 
"Coming into the league, my agents and stuff told me most guys will wait four or five years to do their foundation if they want, and I was like, ‘OK,’ so I took their advice, thought about it, but I’m like, 'I have no idea in four or five years where I’m going to be," Wentz said.
 
"God-willing, I’m still playing this game, hopefully still here and everything, but you just never know. You’re not promised tomorrow, so I just said, why wait? Why wait to make a difference and help out?
 
"It's something I’m very passionate about. I realize I have a platform for more than just winning football games. I want to make a difference all over the country, all over the world.
 
"Even if it’s just a little bit here and there and just help give people and kids hope, that’s what it’s all about.”

Carson Wentz fought back against jealousy toward Nick Foles

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Carson Wentz fought back against jealousy toward Nick Foles

Was he jealous? Was he envious of Nick Foles? Carson Wentz doesn’t exactly say yes. But he doesn’t say no, either.

“You’ve got to fight that, you’ve got to fight that,” Wentz said Tuesday.

“It’s human nature to want to be on that podium and be the guy. You grow up wanting to be there, but not being able to be up there, there’s nobody I’d rather have up there than Nick.”

Wentz may have been the most valuable player in the NFL, but Foles, his close friend and teammate, is the one with a Super Bowl MVP trophy.

Wentz did everything he could to support Foles once he suffered a season-ending knee injury in early December. And Foles has spoken several times about what a good teammate Wentz was.

But after leading the Eagles to a 10-2 record with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions, it wasn’t the easiest thing to watch his backup achieve football immortality with a record-setting run through the postseason.

“It was pretty different but pretty special,” Wentz said. “We’ve become so close ever since he first got here. Developed a real friendship, a real relationship, more than just a working relationship, a true friendship between me and him — and Nate (Sudfeld) as well. So to go through that experience last year was pretty cool.”

For now, Foles is back with the Eagles, and depending on how fast Wentz recovers from his injury (see story), he will either begin the season backing up Wentz or starting until Wentz is ready.

This is unprecedented stuff. No quarterback has ever been a Super Bowl MVP and then been a backup on the same team the next year.

Without the right two guys, it wouldn’t work. It couldn’t work.

But Zach Ertz, who is close to both Foles and Wentz, said their unique relationship makes it possible.

“First and foremost, they have an amazing relationship with one another, and I think their faith is part of their relationship,” he said.

“They’re able to step back and just focus on the team. Both guys have no egos, especially Nick. That guy is as cool as they come. He’s a phenomenal teammate, I think everyone saw that come out last year, his ability even at the beginning of the year, what he was able to do with Carson, kind of helping him out.

“When Carson was playing, Nick would be a sounding board. So the dynamic really hasn’t changed in that regard. Even when Nick was playing, Carson did the same thing for him. So that relationship started to grow last year, and I’m assuming it’s going to be the same.”

Foles has made it clear he wants to be a starter (see story), so this could be a difficult situation. But it won’t be, Ertz promises.

“Nick is not a guy that’s going to demand anything,” he said. “Obviously, he could do some things in the best interests of his career down the road, but right now I mean the guy loves being in Philadelphia and I think he’s really having fun in playing football with this team.”

Zach Ertz missing Brent Celek as he takes his leadership role

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Zach Ertz missing Brent Celek as he takes his leadership role

There was a noticeable difference in the NovaCare Complex when Zach Ertz arrived on Monday for the first day of the Eagles’ offseason workout program. 

No Brent Celek. 

Celek, the 11-year pro, was cut earlier this offseason after a tremendous career with the Eagles. For the first time in Ertz’s six-year career, Celek won’t be around. 

And weirdly, Ertz will now assume Celek’s old role as the veteran leader in the Eagles’ tight end room. 

“It’s tough, obviously,” Ertz said on Tuesday. “He was the guy that when they brought me in, he was the guy, the veteran tight end in Philadelphia. He was the guy everyone knew about. And he didn’t treat me as a guy who was a competitor to him; he treated me as the guy who could help him further his career, where he didn’t have to take every snap. So it’s tough. That guy has been with me from the beginning, pretty much taught me how to be a pro in Philadelphia. 

“Even a couple years back, when the playing time began to increase in my way, he let me kind of take on a leadership role. He wasn’t overbearing by any means. He kind of let me lead in my own way. Even though he was the leader of the room, per se, he let me lead and slowly earn more of a leadership role in our room. He kind of set me up for this moment. I owe a lot of my success to Brent, the way he was a dominant blocking tight end, I was able to learn from that for a lot of years. I’m extremely thankful for him.”

While Ertz learned how to be a pro from Celek, he always tried to become a top-notch tight end like the Cowboys’ Jason Witten. He’s long admired his game. While some would argue Ertz finally had a breakout season in 2017, his last three years have been elite. Since 2015, he has 227 catches for 2,493 yards and 14 touchdowns. The only other TEs to put up those numbers or better over that span are Travis Kelce and Delanie Walker. And in 2017, Ertz did something Celek never did: he made a Pro Bowl. 

Celek was released and Trey Burton signed a lucrative deal to become the top tight end in Chicago, so Ertz is the only player left from last year’s tight end room. The Eagles brought in Richard Rodgers as a free agent and have a few younger prospects already on the expanded roster, but the Eagles’ brass has commented about how good of a tight end draft this is, so it would make sense if they add one later this month. 

If the Eagles do draft a tight end, the 27-year-old Ertz is going to try to be a strong veteran presence for the young player … kind of like what Celek was for him. 

“I told the guys the other day, I’m here to help however I can, whether that be talking football or just allowing them to watch how I approach things,” Ertz said. “I kind of was able to learn from Brent how to treat young tight ends coming in, young players coming in, so that’s one of the things that he kind of told me as he was leaving: that I kind of set the blueprint for your success. He didn’t say that verbally, but that’s how I took it. I want to repeat that for whoever comes in.”

Celek is gone, but through Ertz, his impact is still going to be felt in the NovaCare Complex for years to come.