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.”

Eagles reportedly 'intend to sign' running back Jay Ajayi

Eagles reportedly 'intend to sign' running back Jay Ajayi

Jay Ajayi was indeed in the NovaCare Complex on Friday morning for a workout and it apparently went well. 

According to a report, the Eagles “intend to sign” Ajayi. 

Not sure what kind of negotiations are going on for a running back coming off an ACL surgery with already questionable knees, who was available in mid-November, but apparently, those negotiations are ongoing. I’d imagine it won’t take long for Ajayi to sign. 

On Friday morning, we learned why the Eagles were interested in Ajayi. Darren Sproles is out for the year and Jordan Howard has a stinger and hasn’t yet been cleared for contact.

That left Miles Sanders and Boston Scott as the only healthy running backs on the roster. Sanders is the only healthy running back from the original 53-man roster. 

Earlier this morning, Pederson confirmed that Ajayi was in the building. 

“We'll see where he’s at physically, see where he is health-wise,” he said.

Apparently, Ajayi’s knee checked out. 

It’s hard to believe, but Ajayi is still just 26. He’s coming off an ACL tear last season and he already had issues with his knees, which is the easiest explanation for why he’s unsigned in November. 

Because during his career, Ajayi has been a really good player. He has a career yards-per-carry average of 4.5 and was very good for the Eagles during their Super Bowl run in 2017 and even the first quarter of the 2018 season. 

During last season, Ajayi wasn’t shy about how important the contract season was for him. He wanted to earn a big contract somewhere, but that was derailed by the ACL injury. 

The Eagles initially picked up Ajayi for a fourth-round pick at the 2017 trade deadline. Before that deal, there were questions about Ajayi’s locker room presence, but he ended up being a great fit in Philly and helped seal a Super Bowl title. 

It’s also important to remember that Ajayi hasn’t played in over a year. He tore his ACL on Oct. 7 last season. He probably won’t be able to carry a heavy workload early or perhaps ever again, but the Eagles obviously think he might have something left. 

Out for the year, Darren Sproles a reminder that sentimentality has no place in NFL

Out for the year, Darren Sproles a reminder that sentimentality has no place in NFL

Darren Sproles’ season and possibly his career are ending in a way he desperately wanted to avoid. 

On the shelf. 

The Eagles announced on Friday that their 36-year-old running back/returner suffered a torn right hip flexor and is done for the season. It seems likely this is an unfortunate end to what was a remarkable career. 

It’s also the latest reminder that sentimentally truly has no place in a sport as barbaric and cruel as football. 

The Eagles fell into that trap when they brought back Sproles in July. And, as clichéd as it is, Father Time is still undefeated. 

The fact is, that after Sproles struggled to stay on the field in 2017 and 2018, the Eagles should have been a little more wary about bringing him back to do it again in 2019. They never were. And in his final three NFL seasons, Sproles missed a total of 36 regular season and playoff games. 

But Doug Pederson is loyal. Sometimes, he’s loyal to a fault. 

And Sproles didn’t want his career to end on a bad note, not after 2017, not after 2018. Pederson never wavered either; if Sproles wanted to return, he’d have a spot for him. 

Really, Sproles is just one piece of an even bigger problem from this offseason. The Eagles were relying on Sproles (age 36), DeSean Jackson (age 32) and Jason Peters (age 37). Sproles and Jackson have now had major injuries and Peters has missed the last month after getting a knee scope. 

Sure, it’s easier to find the problem in hindsight. But even back then, it was fair to question moves to bring in/back older players. 

“I would do it again. I would do it again,” Pederson said on Friday morning. “With all three of those guys, I would do it again. These are great players and these are great leaders, these are great teammates. Been a part of this organization for a long time, so I would make the same decision again. I think you can’t go into it blind, obviously. We know where they are in their careers, as we talked about, and that’s something you have to consider.”

Earlier this season, Sproles eclipsed Tim Brown to move into fifth place all-time in NFL all-purpose yards. It was something he cared about.  

1. Jerry Rice: 23,546
2. Brian Mitchell: 23,330
3. Walter Payton: 21,803
4. Emmitt Smith: 21, 564
5. Darren Sproles: 19,696

That’s some impressive company for Sproles, who had a tremendous career, especially for a guy who stands at 5-foot-6. He was one of the most electric players in the league from the moment he was drafted in 2005. 

And he was great in Philadelphia. He made his only three Pro Bowls with the Eagles in 2014, 2015 and 2016. But since then, injuries took over and his age didn’t help. 

Sproles had an all-time great career. He and the Eagles just tried to hold on to it for a little too long. 

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