3 NFL teams in 7 years is not what Wentz had in mind, but he's adjusting
Former Bison quarterback said first non-COVID 19 offseason is big on and off the field
FARGO — The NFL career of Carson Wentz perhaps started at Mezzaluna restaurant in downtown Fargo when executives from the Philadelphia Eagles and Wentz had dinner. It turned into the former North Dakota State quarterback being the second overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Therein, also, started the rollercoaster. Great games and solid seasons were mixed in with injuries and ill-advised throws that led to a trade to Indianapolis.
“You come in and you think you have it all mapped out and you think you have everything in control,” Wentz said. “You learn quickly you don’t, especially in this business world.”
Wentz is back in Fargo this week to spearhead his annual AO1 Charity Softball Game on Tuesday night at Newman Outdoor Field.
A year ago at this game, he was looking forward to a fresh start with the Colts. That turned out to be a pit stop, the season ending with a thud in a loss to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars that kept the Colts out of the playoffs.
What started as a promising rebirth to Wentz’s career ended with a trade to the Washington Commanders.
Now entering his seventh year in the NFL, it’s another adjustment for Wentz. What once looked to be a long-term career with the Eagles is now three franchises in seven years.
“It is a lot, especially with every move we have a new look to the family,” said Wentz, referring to his wife and two young daughters. “It’s tough on my wife and the kids but they do a tremendous job of adjusting and being flexible. It’s not how you foresee things, but you make the most of it. It’s still a blessing to play this game and play the game that I love that I dreamed of playing since I was a kid, and god-willing play at a high level and hopefully keep playing for a while.”
The fact being with the Colts less than a year, a team that reunited Wentz with his quarterback coach at Philadelphia, Frank Reich, was unexpected. His numbers were good: He completed 322 of 516 passes for 27 touchdowns against 7 interceptions. But other factors were less-than-smooth such as Wentz taking heat publicly from Colts owner Jim Irsay.
It’s now the second go-around for starting over. So far, so good, Wentz said, and helping matters is the first offseason since the end of 2019 where COVID-19 protocols haven’t been an issue.
The Commanders had a nine-week camp for players that finished almost two weeks ago. It was just as valuable on the field as it was off.
“I haven’t had an offseason to just be around the guys,” he said. “Not only learning the playbook in practice, but also going to dinner with the guys and their wives and getting to know their families. Even to just sit in the cafeteria and talk with the guys for an hour, those little things I’ve been missing during OTAs have been a lot of fun.”
Wentz has even taken to golf in the last year, in part, to do something to take his mind away from football.
“I have a lot of fun, but I’m not very good yet,” he said. “I did it just sparingly as a kid. Now I have a blast doing it, playing with these guys, as a way to escape but still compete. I had to realize I’m not going to be on the PGA Tour ever and accept that I’m never going to be a scratch golfer and I’ve had more fun since I changed that mindset.”
How not very good yet, is he? He can break 100 on a tough course. He’s already played the famed Congressional Country Club located outside of Washington, D.C.
“I can also go over 100 if it’s a rough, windy day,” Wentz said. “You never know.”
One thing that is in the know: this coming season with the Commanders is a big one for Wentz.
“I know there are a lot of outside expectations, noise, pressure, whatever you want to call it,” he said. “It will be fun to be back in the NFC East. It’s big because it’s the next one and I always feel like I have a lot of expectations for myself and the outside noise comes with the territory obviously, but I’m excited for it.”