Eagles

Eagles

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.”