The Inside Story on Carson Wentz’s Recent Bull Session
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - In the end, the Eagles were never going to win when it came to Carson Wentz and the recently-arranged media bull session to further discuss an explosive PhillyVoice.com article which quoted anonymous sources using some incendiary language to describe the usually unassailable now fourth-year quarterback.
In the spirit of full disclosure and an effort to stay above the fray let's get a few things straight starting with the fact that Wentz is what he appears to be, a genuinely good guy who is well-liked by the vast majority of his peers and the reporters who cover him on a daily basis, including this one. The second part of this is that the Eagles have every right in the offseason to choose who is given access to the quarterback.
That said, as the vice president of the Philadelphia-area chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America, I received more than a few complaints about who the organization allowed into the NovaCare Complex to talk with Wentz.
After reaching out to multiple sources at the meeting some believed Wentz chose the scribes but the real intent was getting a wide-ranging, on-the-record talk without the usual messiness of an Eagles press-conference scrum where all the shouting and agendas water down any potential message.
Personally, I did not receive an invite and like any other reporter would have liked one even though I was in Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII at the time and couldn't have participated anyway.
Here's where things get a little sticky. The perception from outside the walls from some heavy hitters who weren't privy to the Eagles' decision-making was that the organization was cherry-picking reporters who they believed they could either control or count on spinning any information garnered in a positive light.
In at least one case the latter is true because one scribe invited is consistently and reliably about Kumbaya moments. However, another is among the most dogged and never going to carry the water for any organization. False equivalencies are easy to make, though, and anyone in the public sphere should understand perception, fair or not, is often greater than reality and the perception here in many quarters from both reporters and civilians is that the Eagles are spinning, not clearing the air.
The clearest argument against that is that Eagles.com was not invited and there were no off-limit topics according to reporters on the scene. Meanwhile, the transcript provided indicates the reporters who were there did their jobs effectively.
Wentz is not keeping score although he certainly covets positive relationships with area reporters. And that's a very good thing because you could have added insecure to the original accusations in the one-sided PhillyVoice piece like “selfish,” “uncompromising,” and “egotistical” if it was concerned about the vessels delivering his words.
The Eagles picked a small group based on things like outlet size and competency and ran it by Wentz. Maybe the proper way to handle it was for Wentz to pick one reporter for an exclusive or open up to all the regular reporters around the team, including the author of what many who ignore context described as a hit piece, Joe Santoliquito.
Ultimately Wentz got what he wanted off his chest and the discussion was a wide-ranging one which hit all the relevant points. The unneeded distraction that came with it could have been avoided but the unintended consequence of that would have been far less revealing.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen