I remember being in my college house back in 2016, prepping for a night of stupid fun and watching the NFL Draft on a TV in a friend’s bedroom. The Eagles had traded up in the draft to grab Carson Wentz, a guy I had never seen play a full game of football before. I was apprehensive about grabbing a small-school quarterback, but on the heels of the wretched Chip Kelly era, I was giddy for any sliver of hope.
Wentz is now gone, having been shipped to the Colts after five seasons of high highs and low lows in Philadelphia, but the Wentz era should be remember as one of great promise that was ultimately fulfilled, but not necessarily in the way we all imagined.
Wentz dazzled in the first few games of his NFL career in 2016. The city felt electric as the Birds got off to a 3-0 start and it felt like the next dozen years of my life would be spent watching this dude from North Dakota lead the team on playoff run after playoff run.
2017 was when all of our wildest dreams came true. He looked to be a league MVP. In a twist of fate that stays with me every single day, I made a solo trip to Los Angeles to see the Eagles take on the Rams at the historic L.A. Coliseum. The Eagles were 10-2 heading into that game against the Rams, a true test against another playoff squad on the way to a championship that we so deserved.
Wentz, as we all know, suffered a torn ACL after throwing four touchdown passes that day, effectively ending our Super Bowl hopes before they even fully crystalized. I remember walking out of the Coliseum. Reports already stated that Wentz’s injury was of the season-ending variety. The place was packed with Eagles fans who were all screaming and cheering after clinching the NFC East. I was dead quiet. Emotionless. Their ignorance was bliss. They hadn’t yet realized that everything had come crashing down upon us.
Then Nick Foles happened.
The shadow of Foles’ legendary accomplishments were impossible to outrun, which isn’t an indictment of Wentz as much as it is a statement about the magnitude of Foles’ playoff heroics. Wentz is a human after all, as we all are. It would be impossible to not let that hit you in the guts. When another season ended early due to injury for Wentz and Foles won in the playoffs once again, I’m sure those feelings became even harder to handle.
2019 was going to be the turning point, right? After a gutsy end-of-the-year stretch that allowed Wentz to carry a lackluster Eagles squad to the playoffs, a concussion on a dirty hit from Jadeveon Clowney knocked him out of his first postseason game before it even truly started.
That concussion was the beginning of the end. It was another sickening “what-if” that coupled with the many others in Wentz’s shorter-than-expected tenure with the Birds.
Then came the Jalen Hurts.
Then came the disastrous 2020 performance.
Then came the benching.
It’s over. It should be over. I’ve long maintained a separation is best for both parties and I was more than ready to move forward to the next phase of my life as an Eagles fan. Everything was broken. I couldn’t wait for this to happen. He was bad last year! Really bad! We can admit everything turned to hell and a restart was in order.
Wanting Wentz gone doesn’t kill the memories I have of him watching his first touchdown of his career in person, of the triumphs of his 2017 season, and the indisputable part he played in bringing the city its first-ever Super Bowl win.
Wentz’s time in Philly brought everything I ever wanted from the Eagles to fruition. As the Eagles shifted towards a championship team, I grew up, got my shit together, became an adult, and started living life.
Wentz’s arrival in Philly zapped me with some vivacity that was desperately needed. His departure will be debated for years to come, but his importance to bringing this franchise to the Promised Land never should be.