Carson Wentz sat down with a small group of reporters recently to address a story by PhillyVoice that described him as "egotistical" and "selfish" through anonymous player and league sources. Here's how that conversation went:
At what point did you hear about the story that PhillyVoice did and what was your initial reaction?
"I heard it that morning. [A member of the Eagles media relations staff] actually sent it over to me and I was, like, I just read it and I was a little confused, I guess. It’s never obviously fun to read your name being thrown around like that, but at the end of the day, try not to stress about it too much and let the media or the perception of others dictate who I am. I know who I am, first of all. I know how I carry myself. I know I’m not perfect. 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. But at the end of the day, I will say our locker room is really close. If there were guys that had issues, in hindsight, I wish we could have just talked about them. But, again, I don’t know how that all happened and everything with that. Again, it’s never fun to read, but to an extent, you look at it and be like, ‘Well, if someone did have this perception of me, why? What have I done wrong? What can I get better at?' I realize I have my shortcomings. Yes, I can be selfish. I think we all have selfishness inside of us. There’s human elements to that, that I really look at and say, ‘Well, I can get better.’ I always say I can be better on the field, off the field, how I carry myself. But I didn’t want to make it bigger than ... I think everyone probably ran with it different ways and I just kind of said, ‘Look, I’m just going to live my life out here and I’m going to let that kind of shape out how it may.’ Honestly, I haven’t really read what’s been happening since. Again, it’s not fun to read, but you try to take what you can from it and be better, I guess."
Have you encountered any friction in the locker room or sentiment that would suggest what came up in that story?
"Not really. Not to get into details about the story or the things that were in that, but no. I hadn’t felt that way. Again, I think every guy in that locker room would say we have a very close locker room. I think everyone can be honest with each other, hold each other accountable, does this and that. And if we have an issue, usually we resolve it as brothers, as the family that we are. It’s why I think myself and a handful of other guys were just confused that it came out like that. If there were problems, we just usually handle it and it doesn’t come out the way that did."
Did it bother you more because of that, if these are teammates that are saying these things about you?
"I think it bothers me more because of that and not because it’s me. But if that was about another teammate. In all of our opinion in that locker room, anything that might have friction in the locker room, doesn’t need to come out through the media. It should stay in-house. We should be able to handle that stuff in the locker room ourselves."
I know you said you kind of block it out, but it is sort of human nature, you read stuff about yourself. Did it affect your mood the rest of the day, did you turn your phone off? What was the rest of the day after you read it like?
"Without a doubt, you read it and you’re frustrated. Because you’re like, ‘What?’ It kind of came out of nowhere. It was just a regular offseason, I was literally eating breakfast with my wife and [the Eagles staffer] texted me. Literally, we do, like, quiet time in the morning. We eat breakfast and then I go sit on the couch. So I’m about to go read my Bible and then I get that text and now I’m reading this. I was going to read my Bible and now I’m reading this. It kind of changed my attitude a little bit, but just talking to some teammates that talked to me about it and tried to just figure out why and what can we do to resolve it. But then at the end of the day, I was just like, I went to bed and just got on with the next day. I don’t turn on the radio. I don’t read the papers. I’ve been off Twitter for a while other than posting tweets, so I try not to let that tie me down. But again, the real element of it, just learning. If there is truth in this, where can I improve as a teammate and as a player and all that?"
How are you planning on handling it, or how have you been handling it, to discover whether there was truth and if so how to resolve those issues with whoever may have had a problem?
"Initially, I’m like trying to figure out who could it have been. In your mind, you play detective. But then you’re like, ‘Does it really matter?’ If there were issues, I think if someone did say those things, they’re probably like, ‘Yeah, maybe that’s not how it should have came out.’ You know what I mean? I think if that was said, they probably realize as a teammate and as a family, we usually handle things in-house, like I said. And so, I’m kind of like it doesn’t even matter. I’ll learn from it and we’ll all learn that, (A) things shouldn’t kind of come out the way it did, and (B) the pieces that I can learn from it and be a better teammate and player and all that stuff I will grow from. But other than that, just turn the page."
There was one thing from the story that said a highly respected player called you out for not being a team player. Did that happen?
"To go off of what I was saying earlier, I’m not really gonna get into specifics about some of those stories, but I didn’t know what that was. I will say I didn’t know what that was about."
You said you looked at some of the things and thought are there things you could do differently. What did you come out with? Was some of it truthful? Are there things to work on?
"Some of the selfishness and that stuff, well yeah, I’ll be the first to admit I can be selfish. We’re all kind of stubborn in our own right to liking certain plays or liking certain things our way. So in my mind, I’m like, ‘OK, am I ever over the top with that? Like, can I be better? 'Kind of still be stubborn but with humility more. And just little things like that. But at the same time, just how I treat my teammates, all those things, it just caused me to kind of reflect. I’ll be straight up. 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 as you guys would probably expect. So there’s things to learn just about how to handle myself in certain situations. But nothing really specific from that, other than what I just shared.
It seems the context, fair or unfair, is comparing you to Nick [Foles]. And no matter what happens with Nick, I gotta imagine that won’t go away. How do you plan on dealing with that because I imagine that shadow, that comparison, will exist?
"Again, it’s something there’s nothing you can do about it. For one, I love Nick. Nick and I are great friends and strong believers and we have the same values and everything. We’ll be the first to say that we are different. Like how we go about our days. I’ve learned some things from him. I know he’s learned some things from me. But we’d be the first to say our personalities are kind of different. But that’s why I think we're such good friends to some extent as well. And so, that’s off-topic a little bit, but that stuff, I can’t worry about that. That so-called shadow or whatever you want to call it, I can’t let that bother me. I know what I’m capable of on the field. I know what I’ve done in the past, and I know where I envision this team going. And so, I don’t really worry about what’s happened in the past -- the shadow, the pressure, the stress. There’s plenty of it. Whether that’s from living in 'that shadow' or whatever, there’s plenty of stress and pressure here that you try and block out as much as you can."
How much did the uniqueness of the situation of the past year and difficulty of the situation of the past year affect your approach to the game or your teammates in the locker room?
"That’s a good question and it’s kind of multilayered a little bit. Just because, you know, you go through the first injury, and you’re just 100 percent determined to get back, that’s like why my mind is on, and looking back were there things that maybe I neglected as a teammate and as a friend because I was just so determined and that’s all that mattered. It was tough because any time you’re hurt you’re really not with the team as much, you’re in the training room more or at practice. You guys saw me in the spring, I was on the other field doing conditioning or sprints or whatever I was working on, so like kind of just have this element of [being] separate a little bit, so there are just elements of that as far as being a teammate that you get so focused on just getting the knee right or getting back that you can miss out on the human side of things and the personal side of being a teammate and being around your brothers and spending time and all that, so there’s that element that I definitely kind of look back on like, ‘Were there moments or were there opportunities that I just kind of neglected because I put just wanting to get healthy first?’ And so there’s things that you look back and you’re like, ‘OK, that’s something I can’t lose sight of,’ whether you’re going through an injury or you’re 100 percent healthy. Like just being the same person. I’m going to always strive to be the best I can be on the field but just not letting the kind of circumstances change like my attitude, if that makes sense a little bit? It's kind of to some extent learning just how to handle the different levels of adversity and pressure that come with it. And not let it shake me to some extent and change my approach more than anything."
How about on the field? Trying to reassert yourself back into the fray? Did it affect your approach?
"I don’t think so and I don’t think it will. The one thing that even going back for as long as I can remember, when I get the ball in my hand and I’m on the field, nothing else really matters. We’re just playing ball. So like on the field I never really felt added pressure to perform or that sort of thing. However big the circumstance or situation is, I never really let it change me, so I guess to answer your question like coming back it was like, no, I wasn’t really trying to prove to anyone that I was back, I was just happy to be playing again and be out there again so that’s something that I don’t really worry about, going forward, to reassert myself with those things. I’ll just play ball and let that kind of handle itself."
You’ve never really been criticized before, so this is something new for you. How difficult is that?
"That’s a good question. I think one thing you do think of is coming for the draft, everything’s picked apart. You’re criticized, you’re pumped up, everyone is ripping through you, the good, the bad, the ugly, and so just knowing kind of where I’ve grown up and to some extent you’re right. In college, criticized, never was necessarily, but maybe just looked down upon. That was something coming out, I felt like I had to prove people wrong and that sort of thing. And so I’ve just kind of learned to not worry about other peoples’ perceptions or others’ perspective and really what matters is (A) I know what my identity is in Christ first and I’ve got to always keep that in perspective first and foremost and then (B) be a good teammate, being around my brothers and not worrying about the fans and everybody else because you’re never going to make everyone happy and that’s just exhausting trying to [do]."
"I think it was awesome for Nick to show there wasn't a fluke. Nick's a heck of a player. But at the same time, there's the real emotions that, again the same thing, I want to be out there. Here we are again, and when I went down we were losing, and here we're winning. There's all those real emotions that you've got to battle." Carson Wentz on watching the Eagles rally behind Nick Foles
In the story, it said you bullied Mike Groh and resisted running Foles' stuff in the offense? Are either of those accurate?
"The fact of bullying Mike Groh ... Groh and I talked to each other that day when it came out, and I think we all know that never took place. I even go back to the year before with Frank [Reich]. I know Frank has gone and said that he and I used to have these competitive arguments, but they’re healthy. That stuff happens. That’s, I think, what good football teams have, the ability to respectfully do that and kind of be stubborn and those things. It was the same way with Groh. In my opinion, he is a very good football mind and in my opinion, I feel like I have something to contribute, too, so I thought we had some really healthy dialogue. To say, ‘bullied him,’ I’d say that’s kind of disrespectful to Groh. I don’t think anyone bullies Coach Groh. And then (B) I think we have a great relationship and it’s just going to keep getting better. That line, I was kind of blown away with what that would have meant.
"And then the idea of running Foles’ stuff, we both see the game differently to some extent. But to say I was resistant to running his stuff and then vice versa, there’s so many things to the X’s and O’s of the game, to just say a blanket statement like that just doesn’t necessarily do it justice. We both like different concepts, but overall, we’re running similar stuff. And we kind of base it off what’s the defense giving us. ... It’s such a blanket statement that there’s too many intricacies to that that don’t necessarily apply.”
But you never said, "I’m not running X?"
Frank Reich basically said last year you were stubborn, and he wasn't saying it as a jab at you. He was saying, this is the way the relationship is. Can you provide some examples of how those play out?
"Not to get into specifics, but there’s plenty of times throughout the week where, like each coach is responsible for certain parts of the game plan, and then I’ll watch film and I’ll bring a play. So it’s third down, I’ll bring it to the coach who works on the third down stuff. I’ll bring up a play and then I’ll try to get it installed, for example, and there’s different level to (A, getting it in the game plan, obviously Doug [Pederson]'s got to sign off on it at the end of the day. Maybe I’ll show some film, ‘This is why I think it will work,’ and then they’ll show, ‘But what if we get this. This is why it doesn’t work.’ Stuff like that. You can do that for every single play. It’s kind of this, you want to be on the same page with the coaches, and at the end of the day, on game day, you usually are, but throughout the week there’s those little things like, ‘I’m not feeling that play, Coach. This is what they’re showing coverage-wise in this situation, I don’t see it.’ So, sometimes, we’ll take that play out or we’ll talk through it. And you could view those as arguments, but really I think it’s just for the betterment of the team.
"We know we’re actually getting somewhere and it’s productive and I think it’s really healthy, and I think the coaches would say the same thing."
On whether his Type-A personality can be a good thing for a quarterback and something he doesn't want to lose?
"Yeah, I think for one, I’m 26 years old; 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. So to answer your question, I think you’re to some extent correct. The Type-A mindset -- there’s things to learn, there’s a fine line. Any time you’re a Type-A guy, there’s a fine line between being pushy and shovey and humble and humility and walking that line. Definitely learning to navigate that always 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, yes.”
What did you make of the way the season unfolded, when you went down with the injury and Nick came in and the offense picked up and went on a roll? How did you process that, what did you make of it, what did you learn from it?
"Obviously, it was frustrating watching, Again, that’s the No. 1 thing I remember the last two years was watching from the sidelines isn’t fun. I want to do everything I can to be healthy, to stay healthy, and not have to do that again. I thought the offense, Iz thought it was great. I was ecstatic to see the guys kind of rally. I think it was awesome for Nick to show there wasn’t a fluke. Nick's a heck of a player. But at the same time, there’s the real emotions that, again the same thing, I want to be out there. Here we are again, and when I went down we were losing, and here we’re winning. There’s all those real emotions that you’ve got to battle. But at the end of the day, I thought it was just really cool to see the team from where we were and how we rallied together to get to where we finished. I thought it was cool to see."
Why did it happen that way?
"I don’t know. I think you look back throughout the season, and we’re going to say this every single year, why did we lose that one game? Well, one play, two plays. There’s little plays throughout the year. I don’t want to sound like a broken record. There’s just little things, misexecution on the offensive side of the ball, defense, special teams. All little things that can culminate. And so we were right there in all those other games. We just didn’t finish. We put it together late in the year, and it’s hard to say exactly why. But we kind of rally around each other and found a way to win, which we really weren’t doing early in the year. Hard to say ... exactly why.”
What happens now? How’s your back? What’s your timetable?
"It’s getting better. It’s getting better. Any time you have a broken bone, you can’t really rush anything. Even though it is a stress fracture, it’s different. But it’s still fractured. So just trying to progress on pace. So come spring, hopefully we’re out there, we’re working and we never look back. And just keep progressing to the season. And I’m excited. I’m excited to put all this behind me, the injuries, and then do everything I can to just be healthy, stay healthy, and get back on this driver’s seat. I’m excited for where this team’s heading."
How about the knee? Did you feel back all the way [in 2018] or is that still a process?
"It’s a process. As far as injury prevention, I felt great. I didn’t feel -- I felt confident, all those things -- but as far as being explosive and all those things, I never quite, and I’m not going to use it as an excuse by any means, but I watched the tape from two years ago, you watch last year, you can see I wasn’t quite there as far as mobility stuff. And that’s something I’ll keep working through. And everyone kind of says it’s an 18-month, two-year thing to get really feeling strong again and back to normal. It’s getting better. It’s going to keep getting better. And I don’t think we’ll worry about hopefully either of these injuries going forward."