PHILADELPHIA—Most Philadelphia Eagles football fans wouldn't associate Carson Wentz with the word controversial.
But on Twitter, where even the most innocuous message doesn't go unpunished, Wentz managed to rile up a small number of his 670,000 followers after simply wishing his dog Mama Henley a happy birthday. Wentz is the Eagles' second-year quarterback from North Dakota State University who was having an MVP-type season before a knee injury sidelined him for the season.
"Happy 5th Birthday to Mama Henley!" Wentz tweeted. "We've been through a lot in 5 years. Best dog and hunting buddy I could ask for!"
Along with the happy birthday message, Wentz shared two pictures of the golden retriever—one of the dog as a puppy, and another standing behind a row of dead geese following a hunting trip. Wentz grew up in Bismarck, N.D., where he developed his passion for hunting.
At first glance, the response to Wentz's message doesn't seem heated, with many fans replying with photos of their own dogs, usually sporting Eagles wear.
But a handful of followers were critical of the photo.
Later, Wentz responded to the critics.
"Two of the main things I tweet about are Jesus and hunting. That's what I'm passionate about and that won't ever change!" Wentz wrote. "When you love something, you talk about it! Stay convicted about it and don't worry what others think!"
It wasn't the first time Wentz has riled up his Twitter followers. Following the mass shooting in Las Vegas that claimed the lives of nearly five dozen concertgoers, Wentz drew ire from some followers by invoking his religion and offering his prayers following the tragedy.
In an interview with Philadelphia Daily News reporter Jeff McLane, Wentz was candid about using his platform to spread God's word, despite knowing that being vocal about his faith could be a divisive issue for some fans.
"You're always walking that fine line, without a doubt," Wentz said. "I always tell people, for example, 'If you love your job, you love your wife, you love what you do, you're going to talk about it. Well, I love Jesus.' That's what I love, so I'm going to talk about it. But I'm not going to force it down your throat either."