McMullen: Experience Backs up Eagles’ Lesson to Wentz
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - No matter the differences we may have due to race, religion, gender, ancestry or sexuality, we can all rest assured that we have at least one thing in common: we don't know what we don't know.
That thesis is usually proven in our twenties where anyone who has actually lived through them can tell you the same story. Nowhere in the trajectory of life were we more sure that we knew it all and yet every single one of us figured out just how laughably wrong we really were.
It's called experience and it's always gained on a sliding scale but no matter how grounded, mature and worldly you are at 25, you will always figure out more and more as the pages on the calendar turn.
George Bernard Shaw is often credited with coining the phrase "youth is wasted on the young" for obvious reasons: it would be nice to go through life with one's physical and mental peaks matching up. Instead, we are sharpest between the ears long after our physical skills have begun their inevitable decline, perhaps the cruelest irony of all.
Carson Wentz is about as mature as a 25-year-old gets, especially one put on a pedestal for his athletic gifts, and the Eagles' superstar quarterback really believes he understands his success better than people who have played and coached the game for very long periods of time.
In Wentz's case, it's not arrogance, it's his experience -- something which is ever evolving and decided to teach him a lesson on Dec. 10 in Los Angeles.
From Wentz's standpoint, his athleticism, mobility and recklessness playing the quarterback position were major reasons he got to where he is, a superstar on the cusp of joining the truly elite signal callers in the NFL.
Having gone through the wars a time or two, his coach Doug Pederson, as well as former offensive coordinator Frank Reich and ex-QB coach John DeFilippo, had been preaching to Wentz since the day he showed up at the NovaCare Complex about taking better care of himself on the field.
Reich, now the head coach in Indianapolis, created a few waves recently when discussing his once-prized pupil at the NFL's annual meeting.
"It definitely went in one ear and out the other early on," Reich told Jeff McLane of Philly.com. "It didn't go exactly like this, but this is just made up to protect the innocent or protect the guilty, however you say it. We would say to him, 'Hey, you just need to kind of back off on some of this tackling stuff.'
"And he didn't quite say it like this, but it was essentially, 'No. I'm not backing off. This is me. This is how I play.'"
A few in the national media latched on to this but to those in Philadelphia, it was a rerun, the 15th time you've seen the same "Seinfeld" episode: the now-cliched football mentality of the best ability is availability.
The difference for Wentz is the empirical evidence (his torn ACL and LCL against the Rams) now backs up the lessons that those stuffy old professorial types were trying to teach in the first place.
The next validation will come with the bulky knee brace Wentz will be forced to wear for months even after he is medically cleared to return, an encumbrance that will be a constant reminder of schooling ignored.
"I'm going to sit down and talk to him," Pederson said. "Longevity is everything in this business. Learn from the best. Learn from Tom Brady, who got hurt early in his career. And learn from guys that have done that and yet still went on to have great careers and long careers."
Wentz almost surely will learn from this because nothing hammers home a lesson better than a bad experience.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen