Despite several NFL teams cancelling practice on Thursday to focus and discuss racial and social injustices, the Eagles’ day went on as scheduled. However, it wasn’t totally business as usual. Carson Wentz spoke to the media on Thursday after practice, but the franchise quarterback didn’t want to talk much about football, and rather asked to stay on the topic of social justice.
Head coach Doug Pederson took time Wednesday evening to open the floor for the team to discuss the police shooting of Jacob Blake and their feelings about social injustice, and ended up cancelling the remainder of scheduled meetings to continue those conversations.
Wentz didn’t want to get into the exact specifics of those conversations, but said that a lot of guys, including himself, have heavy hearts about the situation. He noted that a lot of the guys in the locker room are showing empathy, and a lot of the guys have been personally hurt or affected, so the open dialogue is healthy.
The QB mentioned that they always talk about family and talk about being a brotherhood, but they have to establish that it isn’t just football, and a true brotherhood is caring for each others families and friends as true brothers.
“Understanding each other’s perspectives is a great place to start.”
On his journey to learn about social injustice
Wentz was asked about how his understanding of social issues has evolved this offseason, and the quarterback admitted that it wasn’t something he previously paid much attention to.
“A lot of learning. A lot of conviction on my heart, honestly. Growing up in North Dakota and — I’m sure a lot you heard my statements after the George Floyd murder — it’s something that’s kind of new. It’s something I’ve chosen to overlook, and look past, because when i went to high school, I think I had just a couple black classmates, and it’s something that was so foreign to me.
So really, this offseason, I took a real look into showing empathy, and understanding what has it been like to be a black man in this world, in this country. Not just in today’s world, but going back 400 years to now and how we got to this point.
It’s been being educated a lot, and looking at it through a different lens for me. Because a lot of things I’ve learned — by no means do I have all the answers, or have it all figured out — it’s really heavy on my heart, and on the hearts of a lot of guys in the locker room.”
Wentz said that he’s growing up, and can no longer say he’s just a kid from North Dakota. He’s a man of Christ, and tries to live by his example, which is to run to those oppressed and hurting. For him, it’s how he can be a helping hand, show empathy, and reach out to those hurting. The QB said he doesn’t have all the answers or solutions, but he has a voice that can share, and ears that can listen when there’s hurt going on.
Later, the QB was asked about signing a petition to end qualified immunity, and Wentz wanted to open with the fact that he has a lot of respect for the police. But, if there’s even one bad officer, that’s too many — likening it to having one bad pilot and the plane going down. He supports more education and training, because at the end of the day, they are carrying weapons and are in life and death situations.
He also explained that in some of these situations, the victims may have been doing something wrong, but they shouldn’t have to die on the street because of it.
On taking action and fan opinions
He went on to talk about actionable items, and how they’re constantly talking about things they can do. Wentz noted that there are so many layers to the social problems, and they are so ingrained in the culture. They talk about how they can’t fix all the issues, but maybe it’s getting out into the community, or financially supporting an area, or even bringing light to a particular topic that needs to have a voice.
“It is something that we want to see real change. I know the NBA, and everyone’s using their platform to create that change. And some fans might not like it, but at the end of the day, there’s a hurting community, and we want to reach out and respond to that.”
Wentz was also asked about fans who think athletes should just stick to sports. He said that everybody has their opinion, but that includes athletes who have a unique platform and a voice to speak for communities who are oppressed.
“I think for guys to sit back and not speak out, it would probably come across as insensitive and not caring about this world.”
He noted that they just can’t sit by and stay idle, and by addressing things publicly and creating some of those conversations and education, people can begin healing and create the change in the country that is needed.