FARGO — The $128 million contract extension that Carson Wentz signed with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month includes a signing bonus of $16.3 million with an annual base salary of $21 million by 2024. Put it this way: There are a lot of zeros in the deal.
There are other numbers to consider, like the 4.0 grade-point average he had at North Dakota State. And the number of former Bison players who returned to Newman Outdoor Field on Wednesday to take part in Wentz’s AO1 Foundation Charity Softball Game.
That was 29, many of them former teammates of Wentz’s. New contract. Old allegiance to the alma mater. In Fargo, nothing has changed.
“I could see how it could change a person for sure,” Wentz said of the lucrative four-year contract extension. “But for me, nothing is going to change. It’s one of those things; it’s part of the game. It’s extremely humbling to have an organization back me and support me that way both on the field and financially from that standpoint. But my approach to the game, who I am as a person, nothing is going to change.”
Wentz said he has hopes the game that pitted the Offense vs. the Defense will become an annual event. Funds raised from the event will go to his AO1 Foundation that supports three different ministries.
For the estimated 5,000 fans on a beautiful night, it was a chance to see a lot of NFL players, both current and former, trying to play a game that involves a ball and a bat.
“Carson is kind of the poster child right now and that’s really a good thing with everything that he’s doing and all the positive influence that he brings,” said former Bison linebacker Nick DeLuca. “Putting this stuff together is awesome and as former teammates we love it getting together.”
Wednesday’s festivities included an 11-player home run derby. A portable fence, averaging about 300 feet deep, was installed and the star of the show was Esley Thorton, who demonstrated once again why he was one of the best all-around athletes on his Bison teams. The quarterback-turned-linebacker beat out former wide receiver Ryan Smith in a two-player finals.
There was plenty of offense vs. defense smack talk since the minute the players got to the park.
“The skill positions are on offense,” Wentz said before the game. “I fully expect it to be a lot of fun but the offense should win handily.”
It didn't start out that way. The Defense took a 10-1 lead, but the fourth quarter belonged to the Offense in a 21-16 win.
Wentz was right at the end of a long day. His morning started with kids. Lots of them. He was answering a question from a reporter when about 250 kids sitting in the nearby Dacotah Field stands on the NDSU campus started chanting his name. He stopped his answer, looked over and joked about the distraction.
Wentz can walk into an NFL stadium of 70,000 and not let it bother him. But an assembly of boys and girls at the Sanford Power Football Camp on Wednesday morning?
That’s another story.
“Kids from back home will for sure do that, no doubt,” Wentz said. “Seeing all the No. 11 jerseys, both the Eagles and NDSU, it’s super humbling.”
Wentz started off a full day of events going back to his roots, saying he was once one of those kids in the stands growing up in Bismarck. The camp reached its 250-kid cap not long after Sanford put the entry form online. The Bison football coaches handled different stations with Wentz walking around to each one giving his encouragement and input.
“It’s just always humbling for me to be back here,” Wentz said. “I was just that kid growing up here with big dreams and big aspirations. Now I’m on the other side. Just dream big and it should be a fun day.”
The former players could attest to that.