CARSON WENTZ IS PROJECTING CONFIDENCE THAT THE NFL WILL PULL OFF THE 2020 SEASON
Judging by his demeaner when he spoke to the media on Thursday, Eagles Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Wentz wants to show leadership qualities, while at the same time show some personality to Eagles Nation.
In the past he has not always done that. By not showing a a lighter side of himself to fans, reporters and to his own teammates, he has left himself open for people to take shots at him.
But Wentz plopped down in front of the zoom camera with about 40 reporters looking on and looked genuinely happy to be there.
He could see everyone, kidded some media types about their looks and gave, for the most part, answers that did not sound like it was from the company party line playbook.
In a time of coronavirus doom and gloom, Wentz was upbeat, but honest.
“Obviously, I'm very well aware of the circumstances, we're all living in,” Wentz said. “It's unfortunate, and you know when this thing first hit back in March, no one really knew what the season would look like. There's a lot of conversations both from the ownership, and just amongst players on how this would even look."
The fifth-year quarterback continued.
“And so, throughout the whole time, I mean I think everyone's got in the back of their mind…wondering, what does that look like for me safety-wise? What does that look like for my family safety-wise? I was no different. I think definitely about the health and safety of my family is different for, I think, a lot of guys that maybe are single or don't have kids or wives. So, I definitely had to take all those factors in, but you know I feel safe here.”
Wentz was asked if he thought about opting out like dozens of NFL players have chosen to do.
Per the agreement between the NFL and NFLPA, players had until August 3 to opt out.
Those who opt out for medical reasons because they are at high risk to contract COVID-19 will receive $350,000 for the season, and those who opt out voluntarily will receive $150,000 for the season.
Wentz said he and his wife thought about it, but decided as a family to play.
“You know, I know, you never know how this is going to fully unfold, but I feel safe here,” Wentz said. “It was something that my wife and I talked a lot about, and prayed a lot about and we feel good with our decisions. But at the same time, I completely respect the guys that did decide to opt out for personal reasons, family reasons, health reasons.
“You know, like Marquise (Goodwin), I talked to him the other day. I fully respect his decision, obviously I'm bummed that I'm not going to be able to play with him, but fully respect those guys’ decisions, I do for a number of reasons.”
Wentz was asked about his role expanding as a leader on the team, now that veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins has move on. Jenkins thrived in that roll for years. Will he jump at the chance to fill that void?
“I think that role, kind of evolves over the course of anyone's career,” Wentz said. “You know obviously as a quarterback you're always thrust into leadership. But I think the vocal side of that leadership role comes with time. For me, this is going into my fifth year, which still seems crazy to say it's my fifth year, I definitely feel like a veteran now, but so those things kind of just come with age and experience. Then you lose a guy like Malcolm…who is very, very much a big voice for our team, you know, in the locker room and you know everyone had a lot of respect for him.
"So, I know there'll be a lot of guys that are very passionate about a lot of different things, and are able to articulate, and be the Eagles and be who we are and represent that. I look forward to be one of those one of those guys as well.”
Wentz was asked if he really believes the NFL will have a full season. The NBA, NHL and MLS have had solid starts because their leagues are working in bubbles. These leagues also have much smaller rosters.
Major League Baseball is not conducting its business in a protective bubble. There have been outbreaks of the virus and lapses of discipline. There is a chance the MLB season could get called off soon.
The Birds franchise quarterback is staying upbeat and positive.
“For me, I like to look at it as the glass half full,” Wentz said. “So, I'm optimistic that we can execute all the protocols, guys can stay safe, guys can stay healthy. But I'm also not an idiot. No, you just don't fully know how everything's going to unfold so until something changes, I'm going be here. I'm going to be working. I'm going to be ready to go, just like all my teammates.”
We’ll see. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii