If nothing else, the remarkable PhillyVoice story by Joe Santoliquito that painted Carson Wentz as a selfish, petulant hothead certainly provided a distraction from the officiating controversies in Sunday’s NFL conference championship games.
It was remarkable for its timing — a week after the Eagles' season ended, and on a holiday morning. It was remarkable for its allegations — several teammates and other sources, all unnamed, voicing different degrees of dissatisfaction with The Chosen One.
We’re not saying it was inaccurate. Just incomplete, and sensationalized.
It also was remarkable for what it lacked.
Journalistically, there is little reason to question the veracity of the comments nor the method by which they were gathered. Santoliquito has been a solid journalist in Philadelphia for years; in fact, he has been employed by this company.
However, journalistically, balance and fairness are lacking in the story. Intentionally.
The story was published Monday morning. An Eagles source said the site left a voicemail just minutes before it was posted. Santoliquito admitted Monday afternoon that he left a voicemail just 40 minutes before it was published, then wrote in the story that the Eagles did not reply to his voicemail.
This not only is unacceptable, but seeking comment in this manner was unnecessary. He could have spoken to the team and Wentz several times during his reporting process.
Santoliquito wrote, and told me Monday, that he spent “two months” mining sources and gathering information. Wentz, Foles, and their teammates were available last Monday. Santoliquito was there. Head coach Doug Pederson and general manager Howie Roseman were available Tuesday.
None of them was asked to comment on the characterizations.
Santoliquito said he wasn’t finished with his reporting on the story until last Monday night, which was after Wentz spoke. He said he did not attend the Pederson/Roseman press conference on Tuesday. That doesn’t matter. That was almost a week before the story ran. It is simply unacceptable to not give the principals reasonable time to respond.
Santoliquito now realizes this:
“I should have,” Santoliquito told me.
When contacted by the Inquirer and Daily News on Monday, the Eagles declined to comment.
The rest of the story seems ... overblown. Not false. Not inaccurate. Just overblown.
Yes, Wentz can be prickly. Team sources told the Inquirer and Daily News for months that they had been concerned with his demeanor, especially while he was sidelined by a knee injury he suffered in Game 13 of the 2017 season. Those concerns lessened this season, even after he was sidelined with back injury, also after Game 13.
Yes, Wentz can be stubborn, and he can be headstrong, and he can be a control freak. He has resisted suggestions from Pederson and former offensive coordinator Frank Reich that he alter his sometimes-reckless style of play. This is well-documented.
He can be dismissive, but to describe him as selfish is probably inaccurate; he is more self-reliant, and that can be an obstacle. He also is 26. Frankly, it describes the millennial archetype.
The story gave the impression of an arrogant semi-diva who isn’t as humble as he seems to be. Well, that sounds a lot like Tom Brady.
Pretty sure Eagles fans wouldn’t mind if Wentz turned into Tom Brady.
If any of that bothers anyone — and it probably shouldn’t — then the real issue does not concern what Wentz is, which — even according to this story — would be a relatively typical franchise quarterback. Rather, it concerns what Wentz isn’t.
Wentz isn’t Nick Foles. He also isn’t perfect. (Neither is Foles.)
Wentz is no messiah, despite that “Ginger Jesus” nickname.
He’s just a pretty good dude, who does pretty good things both on the field and off it, at a pretty young age. He’s massively talented, he’s a good teammate, he’s a committed professional, and he appears to be a very good citizen.
Does that mean every teammate will agree with and endorse every decision he makes on the field? Does that mean every coach and every member of the support staff will get along with him? Does that mean he will have a unanimous caucus throughout the franchise for the entire time he plays in the NFL? Of course not.
Were there times this season when Wentz favored Zach Ertz, consciously or otherwise? Absolutely. So what? All great quarterbacks have favorites. Besides, the connection worked.
Pederson admitted that he simplified the offense three times — after the Game 10 loss at New Orleans, during the Game 11 win against the Giants, and after the Game 13 loss — while Wentz was running it, or was expected to run it (he did not play after Game 13). This isn’t news. It’s recorded history.
The story also implies that Foles never argues with his coaches. And that is absurd.
Tweets from Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Ertz, and Nate Sudfeld quickly defended Wentz.
All of that support might make Wentz feel better; however, while his teammates might offer their personal perspectives, those perspectives should not diminish the perspectives of other teammates and team sources.
Wentz will always try to play, even if he is hurt. He’s a warrior.
He will always try to run the plays he wants to run, even if his coaches or teammates don’t agree. He will always do what he thinks is best.
And he might be not always be right. And he might not always be nice.
He might even be a little jealous of Foles, now a Philly demigod.
He might think his ideas are better than Pederson’s, forever this town’s preeminent football genius.
But Wentz’s intentions will always be pure. He will always want to win, and he will always do everything he can to that end.
That doesn’t make him controversial, or detrimental.