Reading between the lines: Carson Wentz’s gritty love letter to Eagles fans

Carson Wentz, or his public relations handlers and paid ghostwriters at The Players’ Tribune, wrote an op-ed on Monday about North Dakota football. The story, titled, “How We Play Football in North Dakota” might as well have been called, “Dear Philly: You’re going to love me.”

Just look at how the article starts:

You don’t get through winters with an average temperature of 12.8° without being a certain kind of tough — the cracked-skin-dried-blood kind of tough.

That toughness comes in handy in a place like North Dakota. You see, up there, jamming your numb fingers against someone’s ice-cold helmet happens every practice. Getting decked on the cement-like dirt is just how a play ends.

And here’s the thing: I love it.

Cut to the Rocky-esque punching of meats and we have ourselves a bona fide Philadelphia hero, folks.

This article is dripping with so much guile and moxie and frost-brewed toughness that it’s almost hard to believe any of it is true. Which is precisely why Eagles fans are going to love it, and love him.

Because in North Dakota, we don’t care for flash or dazzle. That’s not our game. We don’t do things the fanciest way. We do them the right way.

Oh my word! If this guy were old enough he’d be running in Tuesday’s Presidential primary…and he’d totally win. By Thursday night the E-A-G-L-E-S chants are going to be spelled W-E-N-T-Z with an audible exclamation point as the final letter. (Note: I would have said “squeal” but that surely isn’t tough enough for North Dakota.)

Wentz addressed the perceived lack of competition playing collegiate football at North Dakota State and the repeated questions he has to answer during this “very public job interview” by spinning the query to fit his narrative.

But if you get to know me, you’ll understand that being from North Dakota isn’t a disadvantage. Not even close. In fact, having been raised in North Dakota is probably one of my greatest strengths.

Only, that’s not the issue anyone has brought up about him. Nobody is concerned that Wentz is from North Dakota, they’re (rightly) concerned that playing at North Dakota State limited his exposure to top-level college talent. To NFL talent.

Nobody is denying that NDSU is a phenomenal FCS football school. Their five-consecutive national titles and five players on NFL rosters in 2015 prove that playing in North Dakota can be a positive. But the question is more about the teams Wentz was playing against, not the location of those contests. When Wentz offers, “Let me tell you right now — football is football, no matter if it’s played in the Rose Bowl or on a dusty field in Bismarck,” he’s not wrong. Only, yes, he is kind of wrong.

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Jed Jacobsohn/The Players' Tribune

The warm southern states may produce the most NFL talent because they have the best football players, and going up against them week in and week out would have prepared him better for the NFL. That’s not to say Wentz isn’t prepared to become the franchise quarterback of the Eagles. It’s just to say if he was facing Alabama and LSU defenses every Saturday, a lot of us would feel more confident drafting him than watching him beat Northern Iowa and Montana.

And yet, he has pride in where he is from. Philly people, more than anyone, should find nobility in that. And this:

Since I was a kid, I’ve had the mentality that if you’re going to tackle me … well, I’m going to make sure it hurts. …And contact was always my favorite part of the game — still is.

Let’s just put him in the concussion protocol right now, why don’t we?

(Not so fun fact: No Eagles quarterback has started more than 14 games since Donovan McNabb in 2008, the only season in the last 12 in which the starter played in every game.)

Wentz’s hard sell to Philly fans continued with his love of all sports. Really he just loves to compete, see, and he was less concerned with winning Super Bowls and more concerned with beating his brother Zach. (Note: The Eagles probably just traded their 2018 first round pick for the rights to Zach Wentz.)

I never quit trying to replace him as our household’s best athlete, even if it meant begging him for rematches constantly. Some of my competitiveness is God-given — but a whole lot of it was developed during weekend wiffle ball games with big bro.

Big bro. We’ve got a potential Nickname Alert here!

Wentz was a scrawny kid in high school—he self lists at 5’8″, 124 as a freshman—and he played anywhere the coaches would let him. Eventually, he said, as he hit his growth spurt, they put him a quarterback. That’s PR spin for “yes, I haven’t been a quarterback all that long, but I swear that can be a positive.”

He then talked about how he grew up a Vikings fan, but he loved Brett Favre, which really means he was a horrible Vikings fan. He’s also a horrible writer, or at least whoever wrote this for him is. Want proof? How ’bout the use of this tired, old cliché to explain Favre and, by comparison, himself:

He wasn’t out there to manage the game. He was a gunslinger. The guy flat out made plays. That’s the quarterback that I wanted to be.

Come to think of it, maybe that makes him a great writer. A great, gunslingin’, flat-out play-making writer. And quarterback.

As his career moved from high school to college, Wentz talked about how he surrounded himself with winners. Let’s not make a Philly comparison there. Let’s slowly back way…

Wentz ended his official introduction into the NFL, and presumably Philadelphia, by talking about his preparation for the “next level”, explaining that the speed will be an adjustment for everyone, even those coming from the SEC (false), before ending his essay by explaining, “I still approach the game of football the same way I did when I was a 5′ 8″ beanstalk flying around the field in Bismarck.

“The difference now is that I’m 6′ 5″, 237 pounds, and have been carefully developed into one of the best football prospects in America.”

Carefully developed. Just like this message. Read it, Eagles fans. Feel it. Embrace it. Because it, like Wentz, was created exclusively for you.

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