McMullen: Eagles Hoping to Turn the Page on Manufactured Controversy
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - At Carson Wentz's recent media sitdown, the embattled quarterback admitted his first reaction to the PhillyVoice.com article that cited certain anonymous teammates calling the typically beyond reproach fourth-year player as “selfish,” “uncompromising,” and “egotistical” was a lot like the average fan.
Who exactly took the organization's dirty laundry outside of the gates of the NovaCare Complex and onto the streets of South Philadelphia?
In the case of most that meant culling Twitter for the host of teammates and coaches defending Wentz and somehow equating that with under-oath testimony. For Wentz, it meant a very short time of dreaming about being the lead in Season 4 of "True Detective" before realizing his position as the on-field leader of the team and the face of the franchise requires far more than blame and prosecution of the "offenders."
It means understanding the 65 or 75 players Wentz is going to share a locker room with each and every year are going to look at things from different perspectives. A different camera means a different lens and the human condition says that, gasp, not everyone is going to like everyone else.
"Initially, I’m like trying to figure out who could it have been. In your mind, you play detective," Wentz admitted. "But then you’re like, ‘Does it really matter?’ If there were issues, I think if someone did say those things, they’re probably like, ‘Yeah, maybe that’s not how it should have came out.’ You know what I mean? I think if that was said, they probably realize as a teammate and as a family, we usually handle things in-house."
Recently the Eagles added another piece to their communications department and are attempting to be more proactive when it comes to outreach, communication and even access for reporters.
Time will tell how that all shakes out but the organization does seem savvier when it comes to steering the ship, whether that's encouraging players at the Pro Bowl to speak out on defense of Carson, as outside sources have claimed, or perhaps getting Wentz and receiver Alshon Jeffery, a player those amateur detectives have called a person of interest together at the recent Philadelphia 76ers-Los Angeles Lakers game.
The harmony portrayed is somewhat manufactured but then again so is the disharmony.
Those focused on the negative adjectives from Joe Santoliquito's expose rarely balance that out with the context of the positives ones from the same piece like “incredibly hard-working,” “determined,” and “highly intelligent.”
Like most star QBs in this league, Wentz does help drive the show at the NovaCare Complex, described as right there with the more-tenured Jason Peters and Malcolm Jenkins as the most powerful voice in the locker room by more than one teammate. He craves autonomy and the more he gets, the more he wants.
So what's your prism? That can certainly be spun as selfish to those who want to take that path but you can also put many of the best in the game's history in the same column, including Tom Brady, he of the nine Super Bowl appearances and six Lombardi Trophies.
What Wentz ultimately learned here is that in a locker room filled with those 65 to 75 people, not everyone is going to get along but even the ones who are grated by a Type-A personality acknowledge that Wentz is smart, works incredibly hard and is intelligent.
The sooner you reach the point where the understanding is there that not everyone is going to like you no matter how good a guy you are, the sooner you can go about doing your job in the best way possible.
"I’m kind of like it doesn’t even matter," Wentz insisted. "I’ll learn from it and we’ll all learn that, (A) things shouldn’t kind of come out the way it did, and (B) the pieces that I can learn from it and be a better teammate and player and all that stuff I will grow from. But other than that, just turn the page."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen