On the shelf of Carson Wentz’s corner stall in the Eagles’ locker room, he has a few books placed neatly, vertically, with their spines showing.
One of the books is Nick Foles’ memoir, “Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure, and Overcoming the Odds."
For Wentz, the book is probably just a reminder of a good friend, from whom he learned a great deal. But, for me, when I saw the book last week, it was a reminder that even though Foles is now in Jacksonville, he left an irreplaceable legacy and an unfathomable shadow behind for the real franchise quarterback.
Somehow, Wentz now finds himself simultaneously in the spotlight without having ever left Foles’ shadow.
Fans fell in love with Foles. The Eagles’ locker room fell in love with Foles. He’s a special guy who did really special things in an Eagles uniform. But as I wrote immediately after the Eagles signed Wentz Thursday to a four-year extension worth $128 million, they were never going to change direction. As fun as that debate was for sports talk radio, the Eagles were always all-in on Wentz. But that fact that it was even a conversation for fans shows how much work Wentz has to do to create a legacy that will end those comparisons to Foles.
Think about this: If Nick Foles didn’t exist, would as many fans have trepidation about signing Carson Wentz to that big deal?
Sure, there would still be questions about his health; I get that. But if Wentz had played as well as he did in 2017 and to a lesser degree in 2018 and, say, Chase Daniel took over and the Eagles didn’t go further, it would be a no-brainer that Wentz was the long-term solution. But, now, everything we see, we see through Foles-colored glasses.
In a way, I think it’s a good thing for Wentz that Foles is out of town. The shadow is still there — there’s a freaking statue outside the stadium, for goodness sake — but it’s a little fainter without No. 9 around every day. Still, Wentz knows he’ll be judged against Foles’ success.
After last season ended, I asked Wentz about the pressure Foles’ success will put on him and he was well aware it could add some.
“It could," he said. "Without a doubt. You look at that and you could say it could put more pressure. I mean, you can say coming into the season there was more pressure. But I do everything I can to block that stuff out.”
We all know what it will take. Wentz will need to get another ring. But this is as good a time as any to remind everyone that he already has one that he deserves. The Eagles were 11-2 with Wentz at QB in 2017 and he’s a big part of the reason the Eagles got the top seed and homefield advantage. Let’s not kid ourselves: Without him, there wouldn’t have been a parade.
What’s left for Wentz is to stay healthy, play in the postseason and be the guy on the field leading the Eagles to a win in the big game. That’s a tall order. But if he does it, something tells me there will be more room outside the Linc for a new statue and maybe room on Wentz’s bookshelf for a book of his own.
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