You have to give Carson Wentz a tremendous amount of credit for one thing.
He took what was essentially a one-sided, agenda-driven hit piece and instead of dismissing it, he decided to learn from it.
Wentz could have lashed out at the writer of the recent PhillyVoice piece. He could have lashed out at his anonymous teammates.
Nobody would have blamed him.
Instead, he made up his mind to confront himself honestly and take steps to become a better person and teammate.
"I know I'm not perfect," he said in a recent interview with half a dozen Eagles beat writers. "I know I have flaws. So I'm not going to sit here and say it was inaccurate and completely made up. I'm not going to do that."
Wentz said that while some anecdotes in the PhillyVoice story were factually inaccurate (see story), there's some truth in the characterizations of him as aloof, stubborn and selfish.
That's probably true of every NFL quarterback to an extent, but Wentz thought it was important to take whatever strands of truth were in the piece and grow from them.
I'll be straight up," Wentz said. "It hasn't been the easiest last year for me on the physical level, just battling the injuries, but then just personally going through it, sitting on the sideline and then playing and then sitting on the sideline again. So I realize like I maybe wasn't the greatest teammate at times because I was emotionally kind of all over the place. To the outside world, I probably didn't show it much. But internally, I mean, you're definitely fighting some sort of emotions. So there's things to learn just about how to handle myself in certain situations.
The reality is that all successful quarterbacks — all successful people — are probably hard-headed, want to do things their way and aren't universally liked.
The challenge for Wentz has been to determine whether his personality really is an issue in the locker room.
"It's never fun to read, but to an extent, you look at it and (think), '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."
It's important to note that the Carson Wentz who went 4-6 this past year while dealing with a balky knee and a broken bone in his back is the same guy who was worshipped in the locker room during his record-setting MVP-caliber 2017 season.
The number of teammates who came out in support of Wentz following the story's appearance speaks volumes.
And still, Wentz is mature enough to sort through all of this to figure out how it can make him a better person, a better teammate.
But during this conversation (see full transcript) we can't lose sight of just how successful Wentz has been:
• He's one of only six quarterbacks in NFL history with consecutive seasons of 20 or more TDs and single-digit interceptions.
• He's one of eight QBs in NFL history with back-to-back seasons with a passer rating over 100.
• His 70 touchdown passes are 5th-most in NFL history by a quarterback in his first 40 games. And none of the QBs with more has fewer interceptions.
So if he really does have some character flaws, they sure haven't limited him a whole lot.
Wentz said the reality is that he is who he is, and that's not going to change.
I'm 26 years old," he said. "My personality, to some extent, ain't going to change. 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 shovey and humble. And (learning to) walk that line. Definitely learning to navigate that 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.
It would be impossible to find any NFL player that's liked by all 52 of his teammates. That's just the reality of 53 personalities in one room.
Wentz is a proven leader, overwhelmingly popular in the Eagles' locker room and one of the most promising young quarterbacks in the NFL.
And if he's got some things to work on? Join the club. So do all of us.
The fact that he recognizes this and accepts it says a lot about what kind of leader he really is.
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