Carson Wentz is a fierce competitor. He can also be disingenuous.
After Wentz was traded from the Indianapolis Colts to the Washington Commanders after just one season, he knew he would be facing the Philadelphia Eagles, the team that originally drafted him, twice a year.
Wentz, who is with his third team in three years, will be playing his former Eagles coach, Doug Pederson, now the Jacksonville Jaguars head coach, his most previous team, the Colts, and the Eagles twice.
Though Wentz tried to play down his Week 10 Monday Night Football visit on November 14 when the Eagles host the Commanders in primetime at 8:15 p.m. ET. on the NFL Network last Thursday.
“I know that’ll be a big game. A lot of emotions,” Wentz said. “I’m sure fans will eat that one up and it’ll be fun — make for a good storyline. But at the end of the day, it’s going to be just another ballgame. It’s going to be a huge divisional game for us when that one comes. So, I’m excited for it, but at the same time, I’m trying not to get too excited for that one, because, again, it’s just football. Can’t press. Can’t do too much.”
Lincoln Financial Field does not possess the coddling ambience the insane denizens of the 700 level had Veterans Stadium for opposing players and fans, but that night it may feel like the old Vet when Wentz visits.
Wentz will elicit some splattering of applause. But the overwhelming response will be negative. Wentz arrived in Philadelphia trumpeted as the next coming of Norm Van Brocklin (right down to the No. 11) and by the time he left was more reviled than Chip Kelly by the fanbase.
So, when Wentz said visiting the Eagles, “it’s going to be just another ballgame,” do you really believe him?
You probably don’t.
Unfortunately for Wentz, more Eagles fans will remember his last season, going 4-11-1, with many of the reporting things about bubbling to the surface, than when he went 11-2 and threw 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions in 2017, getting the Eagles to the Super Bowl.
If the Commanders win on Nov. 14, and if cameras are allowed in the Washington post-game dressing room, you will see an exuberant Wentz, much like when Donovan McNabb beat the Eagles, 17-12, on Oct. 3, 2010, and said, “Everyone makes mistakes in their lifetime, and they (the Eagles) made one last year.”
Wentz, in some ways, felt betrayed by the Eagles in his last season when they drafted his eventual successor in Jalen Hurts, who was drafted by general manager Howie Roseman strictly as insurance—not to supersede Wentz. The Eagles, in turn, felt betrayed by Wentz, after they went out of their way to award him with a handsome hefty four-year, $128 million contract extension, accommodate him by firing Pederson and catering to his every whim in his first four seasons there, by asking to be traded.
On Sunday, September 25, in Week 3, when the Eagles visit Washington, there is going to be a lot of under-the-table fist pumping on both sides.
On Monday night, November 14, ESPN cameras will certainly catch stuffed Wentz dolls being hung in effigy at tailgates, and frothing Eagles’ burning their $25 Eagles No. 11 Wentz jerseys purchased on eBay.
If the Eagles win Nov. 17, the high fives in the Eagles’ owners’ box will come with a little more impact. If the Commanders win, Wentz may not be able to hide from the unbridled feeling he will have by sticking to a fanbase he felt stuck it to him—regardless of what he may say publicly about Eagles’ fan support.
His aw-shucks, overgrown-Opie-from-Mayberry routine has been exposed. It played well and converted many in the local and national media into Wentz fanboys. Beneath that, there’s some “Cut-throat Carson” to him. He has to be. He wouldn’t be a viable NFL quarterback if he wasn’t. That’s been his problem—a reluctance to show it, instead of cowering in adverse situations. So, when Wentz says, “it’s going to be just another ballgame,” don’t believe it. Wentz will take great joy in stomping on Eagles’ fans Nov. 14, regardless of anything he says publicly.
It’s NOT going to be just another ballgame. Not to Wentz. Not to the Eagles. Not to the media covering the game. And certainly not to Eagles’ fans, who will take great joy themselves in seeing “Commander Carson” fall again.
The big problem potentially facing the Eagles and everyone else in the NFC East is, will he?
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.