clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Stefen Wisniewski’s words speak volumes

New, comments

Not impressed.

NFL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Words, words, words.

Character is often revealed in the wake of failure, more so than success. Every week, this is shown to be true in locker rooms in the bowels of football stadiums. Grown men walk on to grass fields expecting the best, but one group of men walks away staring frustration in the face, and only a shower and a group of short, cloying reporters awaits.

The Eagles lost to Washington on Sunday, and their rookie lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai struggled mightily. Carson Wentz made a few mistakes late in the game, and Fletcher Cox likely cost the team four points.

And yet the most telling words to trickle out of the visiting locker room at FedEx Field didn’t come from any of those three.

Wentz stood at a podium and took ownership of his mistakes, like holding on to the ball too long for two straight plays during a drive in which the Eagles needed to score to tie the game. “I’ve got to get the ball out,” Wentz said, according to the Inquirer’s Zach Berman. “I can’t take those sacks. That’s definitely on me.”

Cox sang a similar tune at his locker, where he wrested with the same mistake for the second week in a row: a penalty flag thrown because he too aggressively took down the opposing quarterback, breaking a rule. “It’s the second week in a row for me to do really dumb shit like that,” Cox said, according to the Daily News’ Les Bowen.

There are two schools of response here.

Wentz, a rookie and the face of the Eagles’ franchise, takes the media-trained honesty approach. He summarizes what he did wrong, and explains that the blame rests on his shoulders instead of publicly blasting an offensive line that stood weak in front of him all afternoon. It doesn’t matter how he feels; this is what he says to the public. This is what the team sees him telling the public.

Cox, a seasoned star and a fan favorite, opted for the more-believable but less-palatable-for-PR honesty approach. He swears. He sounds disappointed in himself. He, too, owns the mistake instead of shouting out referees, who have stung the Eagles with 27 penalties over the last two games. Again, it doesn’t matter how Cox feels. This is what he presents to the public, for the team.

Which is why it’s so jarring, then, to hear how Stefen Wisniewski postured after Sunday’s game.

Wisniewski, of course, is dealing with the fact that Vaitai got the nod over him. Vaitai struggled Sunday, so reporters went to Wisniewski, eager to see if he had a take on the rookie’s ugly start. Instead of backing the rookie, his teammate, he continued his campaign of self-serving quotes.

What does he think the coaches will do heading into next week? Will he talk to them about what needs to change?

“They are smart,” Wisniewski said of the coaches, according to NJ.com's Eliot Shorr-Parks. “They'll watch the tape and make a decision. I don't think they need my input.”

That’s an interesting way to answer that question. He could have said the coaches would talk to Vaitai about what went well, what didn’t, and how to fix things. He could have talked about how it was just one game. He could have — and, probably, should have — delivered a litany of player-speak cliches, all designed to placate fan bases and teammates in times of failure.

He chose to help himself.

Wisniewski said “he was told” Vaitai had been practicing really well, as if he was unable to see for himself the work Vaitai was doing when the two practice together all week. He could have backed the rookie, who’s probably hurting after the first game of his professional career, something he’s been working towards his entire life, didn’t go as planned.

He chose to help himself.

Fans normally form opinions of players based on two things: playing ability, and attitude. What they present the public with. Carson Wentz is a team-first guy. Fletcher Cox is as well.

Wisniewski is making it clear his first priority is himself. Which, of course, is completely his choice.

Maybe I’m wrong about the people of Philadelphia, but that doesn’t seem like something Eagles fans will flock to.

Because he had a chance to ingratiate himself with teammates and with fans by stepping to bat for Vaitai.

Instead, he said he’s “hoping to get a shot eventually.”

He chose to help himself.