Eagles Rookie Carson Wentz Talks Redhead Stereotypes, Philly Fans, and QB Sleeves

Philly's newest QB is getting adjusted to his new city.

Not Available Lead
Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

Not Available Lead

The Philadelphia Eagles have never won a Super Bowl.

I know this because, as an Eagles fan, anyone who has ever celebrated a Dez Bryant touchdown, an improbable Eli Manning comeback, or purchased an unlicensed Kirk Cousins “You Like That!?” T-shirt in the FedEx Field parking lot reminds me of the fact regularly. And the worst part? To this day, there exists not a single satisfying comeback for “Your team has zero Super Bowls.”

Carson Wentz hopes to change that, although it’ll be anything but easy. The No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, Wentz now has to carry the weight of millions of Lombardi-less Eagles fans on his shoulders to go along with the thousands of fans already there from his home state of North Dakota. To add to the pressure, he also has to battle media and armchair critics who question his resume and skillset as a small school FCS quarterback. (Being a five-time NCAA FCS national champion and two-time NCAA Division I Championship Game Most Outstanding Player isn’t enough for some people.)

Still, Carson seems as prepared for the challenge as anyone possibly could be. Speaking to Complex courtesy of Tide, the 23-year-old signal caller out of North Dakota State opened up about the feeling of getting drafted, his sleeve length preference, getting booed in the Philly airport, following in Andy Dalton’s red-haired footsteps, and whether he can help the Eagles overcome a colossally-damning statistic about Philadelphia’s lack of a home field advantage.

(This interview has been edited and condensed.)

.@TideNFL, Tonight's a celebration, tomorrow the real work begins. #OurColors #FlyEaglesFly #ad pic.twitter.com/JIr3TwpDno

— Carson Wentz (@cj_wentz) April 29, 2016

First of all can you just tell me a little bit about your work with Tide and the #OurColors program?
Yeah, so going into the draft I was able to team up with Tide, the keeper of every team’s colors, and it was really cool. Obviously team colors are really important, especially the Eagles green because it’s a different green and it’s just really cool to be able to team with Tide the #OurColors campaign. Tide is who we trust the most to keep our team colors and to keep them looking good.

I saw the first picture of you wearing the Eagles uniform and couldn’t help but notice that you elected for the tight jersey over having the looser jersey with the sleeves. Why is that?
[Laughs.] Um, well for one I didn’t really have a choice right away they just gave me that, so I still gotta make a decision on how I want my sleeves to look. But I’ll probably have them similar to what they were in college. Not long sleeves but maybe not what’s in that picture. I don’t know. But we’ll see. Honestly I’m not overly concerned with the look of the sleeves I just want them to be functional. 

What does that function mean? I’ve never played quarterback, is there a legit feel difference for having long sleeves versus having something that’s more snug?
Sometimes there can be. I’ve only been exposed to a couple of different ones but those tight ones can sometimes restrict your arm motion a little bit. I don’t know, I think some guys like ‘em. I gotta try ‘em on a little bit, like I said, I’m not committed to anything yet.

So we’re sleeves TBD right now I take it.
Exactly. Exactly right.

I do have a little chip on my shoulder. I want to make a name for this state.

You had a little back-and-forth with Jahlil Okafor of the Sixers on Twitter. Did you guys ever have the chance to get that cheesesteak?
[Laughs.] Not yet, no. I was only out there for about a day, so when I get back out there I’m sure we’ll connect. It was funny because I tweeted back at him like, “Who’s buyin’?” and then all of a sudden a million fans are like, “I’ll buy it! I’ll buy it! We’ll buy it, Carson! Come here we’ll buy it!” and it was kinda funny. So we’ll see what happens with that.

It’s funny, too, because I saw [on Twitter] there was speculation like, “Did he get a cheesesteak? Where was it from?” and I heard a rumor that you got it from Jim’s which is a spot I love. Is that true?
Yeah, that’s what they had brought into the Novacare Complex there and it was really good. Really good. Especially a really good start to my time in Philly, it was ready when I got there. 

I hate to harp on the cheesesteak thing but I ask because as someone from the area I always felt it was a bit...overhyped? To make it such a big deal...like it’s a good sandwich but—it’s a sandwich. What was your opinion?
Honestly I’ve always loved cheesesteaks. They’re kind of my go-to when there’s nothing else to have at restaurants but obviously it’s a little different when you’re out in Philly and have an authentic Philly cheesesteak. I’m gonna try some more but I think it was off to a good start, that’s for sure.

Wanted to get your opinion, I saw the video...what was your initial reaction to that jerk at the airport who booed you for the autograph thing?
[Laughs.] Um, I guess I was—I mean you saw the video. I was smiling, laughing the whole time. We had places to be and we were told to just keep walking because we had to get to the facility and say hi to my new team and all of the other fun stuff so, no, I thought it was funny just to see that and how it all transpired. It kinda just is what it is. 

You’ve spoken and actually written about North Dakota quite a bit recently, about the positives and some of the things that it’s prepared you for. But wanted to get your take on some of the negatives of being from North Dakota. The state has a smaller population than Columbus, Ohio. There have to be some drawbacks.
I mean, I think the biggest one is just the size and how that affects you as far as being recruited and everything. You’re not as well-known. It’s harder, everyone knocks the level of competition and this and that, so that’s probably just one thing. But like myself and other guys have shown—it can be done. I just think it’s just a little tougher to get noticed and everything coming out of high school. 

That’s interesting, too. When you go to bed at night, are you really concerned with that idea? Do you really have that chip on your shoulder or is it just gonna be business as usual?
I do have a little chip on my shoulder. I want to make a name for this state. I want to represent this state well so that's kinda the chip on my shoulder in that regard. Anytime I hear or see anything negative, it’s just like, “Boom, there’s a little more motivation.” And that kinda comes with having that little chip on my shoulder, but it’s not my only source of motivation by any means.

What’s the weirdest redhead stereotype you’ve had to deal with?
Ah, that’s a good question. Redhead stereotypes...heck, I don’t even know. There’s a lot of ‘em, but...I don’t know. You stumped me there.

[Laughs.] People always point out that someone’s a redhead; no one ever does that for people who have like, brown hair. 
Yeah, I dunno other than having like pasty skin and rockin' sunscreen every time it’s like sunny at all, but that’s all I got for you on that one. 

Well I appreciate it. In that respect is Andy Dalton somewhat of a trailblazer for you since he kinda got a lot of these questions ahead of time. Like, is Andy Dalton the redhead Jackie Robinson?
Aw, heck, I’m sure there’s been more but, you know, obviously that’s the one right now coming out that everyone’s like, “Hey, look, it’s Andy Dalton again.” I dunno, it’s kinda all in fun and games so it is what it is.

Favorite food?

Favorite movie?
Dark Knight.

Favorite formation?
Probably just the Power I.

Favorite band?
Probably Jason Aldean.

That was your walk-out music, too, wasn’t it?
Yeah, when they said we had a walk-up song that one came right into mind. Perfect fitting. It was pretty cool, you know? Honestly, in that surreal moment, I could hear it playing so that song will have a different meaning in my life.  

I imagine that’s sort of a weird stop in time moment when your arm is around the commissioner, you hear that song in the background, and you’re like, “I’ve made it” in a sense, right?
Yeah. It really is kind of like, “This is real.” Like, “This is the moment.” It’s now on from one part to the next but it’s like this is the pinnacle of part one, you know? Now it’s onto part two, the next level, but it was pretty cool. Pretty special moment.

I know you’re more of a country fan than a rap fan, but do you have a favorite rapper?
I really don’t. Let me think. I used to listen to it as a kid but I’m a country, Christian...I listen to a little bit of everything but I don’t have a go-to rapper at this point.

You’ll have to get one. I know if you talk to Jordan Matthews he’s gonna tell you Kanye West. So that would be my advice: Hit up Jordan Matthews.
Interesting. I’ll make him like country hopefully. 

I wanna end on this, and I know you’re a bright guy so maybe this’ll give a little clarity to what people mean when they say “passionate” Philly fans. The “passionate” thing always seemed so vague to me. 

The site CrossingBroad.com pulled together some numbers from sports-reference.com and came to a realization concerning the home field advantage in Philadelphia. They looked at the Home Field Advantage Percentage of every team in every city in the four major sports over the last 10 years. Of the 30 NBA teams, 30 NHL teams, 30 MLB teams, and 32 NFL teams, Philadelphia ranked dead last in terms of Home Field Advantage Percentage in every single one. The weirdest part was that no other city had all their teams in the top five, or in the bottom five, or in the middle. There was no other correlation across the country or Canada besides Philly, and Philly was last in every single one. The Eagles, in fact, were the only team in North America with a negative Home Advantage Percentage, meaning that they played worse in front of their own fans than they played on the road. The rough odds of this happening are 800,000-to-1, so to me that screams it’s not a fluke. I know everyone says “Oh the fans are passionate,” but hearing that this crazy statistical anomaly is happening where there’s obviously something going on with the fans or the atmosphere—I just want to get your initial reaction to that.
Honestly, it’s surprising. I thought you were gonna go the other way with that, not dead last. Um, heck, I guess I don’t know what to make of it. I haven’t played in the Linc yet so I’ll have to wait and see and get my own sense. Maybe if you ask me in a year or two I’ll have a better sense of it once I’m around that area but, heck, that’s pretty surprising. And usually not a good thing so we’ll flip that around at least for the Eagles. 

I hope so. I know rabid fans normally end up as positives for a team because other teams don’t wanna play there and other fans don’t wanna come there, but [in Philadelphia] a lot of it seems to be the pressure that the fans put on the players, just in terms of how much of their own lives are gripped up with the team. And it seemed to actually have an affect on the outcome of the games over the last 10 years.
It’s interesting. That’s really interesting. We’re gonna turn that around, though.

I think we’re gonna turn that around. I have a lot of faith in you as a quarterback because I saw a lot of your YouTube clips which is the silliest thing to make a judgment off of but I'm comfortable doing that.

Carson, thank you so much for your time, man. Best of luck going forward and hopefully I get the chance to talk to you a year or two down the road when we have a Super Bowl. 
Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Latest in Sports