From Fargo to Philly

Carson Wentz. The number two overall draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. A rookie head coach paired with a rookie quarterback. Promoted to starting quarterback eight days before the season started.  A rookie playing for a storied NFL team in a passionate football city. Starter at quarterback for two NCAA FCS National Championships and possesses five national championship rings.

Back in 2016, Carson traveled home to North Dakota to spend time enjoying his passions and visiting communities. Here is a look back at our first conversation with Carson about his life in the NFL, North Dakota, and comments about the future.

Since being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in April, Carson has called the City of Brotherly Love his 2nd home.

“It’s a special place. There’s good restaurants, there’s Flyers games, 76ers games, Phillies games, and it’s just a really cool area. You’re so close to everything. You’re an hour away from the shore, an hour and a half away from New York City, about two hours from Washington D.C.”

Now, 1,406 miles east of his previous home, Fargo, ND, Carson is fitting in better than ever, due to the same work ethic and passions that made him successful and a fan favorite at North Dakota State University.

“This Eagle’s organization from top down, ever since I got here, you can tell there is something special going on here. The players have really bought in. The players are believing in each other, believing in themselves, and it’s a lot of fun when you play that way.”

Not only has Carson continued his midwestern work ethic, he’s stayed grounded due to his faith and a belief in his team.  Being a leader of a high profiled NFC offense has to be an intimidating task.

“Not everyone is out there for themselves, they’re there for the guy next to them. The coaches have been doing a tremendous job of instilling confidence in us, and getting us going and in the right positions, and so, as a team collectively, we are playing some good football right now.”

Philadelphia fans need no introduction.  Passionate.  Hard working.  Knowledgeable.  Die-hard.  Tell us about your Philadelphia fan experience?

“I think everyone in the community is really excited about the team and the direction we are going. We had an open practice; it was one of our first practices, and a receiver dropped a ball and he got booed. It was a practice you know, and it was just one of those things;  it shows how passionate they are and how bad they want to win.”

Carson transferred his hot-hand at NDSU to the NFL, and Philadelphia fans appreciate it. Even if they all didn’t initially agree with the decision to trade-away draft picks, they are excited about the ‘Wentzwagon’!

“Obviously, with the success we’ve had so far, there’s been a lot of positive feedback and a lot of positive experiences with the fans.

Part II: North Dakota – “My getaway place”

Carson grew up hunting and embracing the outdoors as a way of life. It’s only ironic he received the phone call that changed his life during one of his hunts.  

“Honestly the hunt was pretty slow, there weren’t many birds flying, and then I got a phone call as we were in the field, and I answered it. I got out of my blind, walked away, came back, and  told my brother and my dad, ‘we should probably pack up and go.’”

In that instance, his life changed forever.  

“We were with a couple other guys; I didn’t want to break the news, so we packed up. We only ended up shooting one bird. It wasn’t a great morning for hunting, but I left and I was obviously really excited. It was pretty surprising for me and really for everybody on the team, but I was really excited for my opportunity, and it made the hunt worth it, that’s for sure.”

Hunting pheasants, deer, and waterfowl in the midwest has a great reputation, how does Philly compare?

“The deer aren’t quite as big, that’s one of the big things. There’s not much for pheasant hunting there, so I haven’t been able to go too much. It’s still hunting, it’s still just being out in the woods or out in nature, whatever it may be. There’s something peaceful about that especially during a busy football season with all the craziness going on. There’s just something about going out and being peaceful and quiet, and so I’ve still enjoyed that.”

Being a hunter requires determination and the belief that you will succeed. Walking two miles for a pheasant, waking up at 4 a.m. for a duck, or scouting the same deer for three months…some would call it insanity, but we call it hunting.    

“I’m always the optimist. I’m always thinking we’re going to shoot this 30 point buck, or we’re going to shoot our limit of geese. I’m always thinking those things. And let’s be real – it’s hunting, it’s never like that.

Expectations today are at an all time high; in our professional lives, personal lives, through our passions. How do you stay humble and optimistic when hunts haven’t gone exactly as planned?

“It’s just something about the excitement that goes with hunting, the optimism, the fun and the joy, of being with my brother, my dad or with our buddies. Just the camaraderie that hunting brings about, it’s something special.”

In college, as you thought about your future career, what did your “8 to 5” job look like after graduation? Was football part of your plan?

“Yeah, obviously my “8 to 5” job is a little different than that. It’s awesome. It’s something that I’m truly passionate about, so when you wake up in the morning and you’re going to do something you love, it’s just a game changer. You don’t dread getting up at five in the morning, when that’s the case. You don’t dread those things, you don’t dread those long days. I’m very fortunate, very fortunate, not many people get this opportunity so I’m having a lot of fun with it.”

Part III: The Future – “Why can’t I?”

Unable to predict the future two months ago he was projected to sit on the sidelines, for most of his rookie NFL season. Do you have any goals or dreams, outside of football, that you are looking forward to chasing in 2017?

“What it looks like, I don’t know yet, but I’m trying to be a positive impact and get involved – that’s the biggest thing. Last off season there wasn’t really an off season; there wasn’t a lot of time to come back and help out. But I think in this off season one thing I would really like to do is come back home to North Dakota and see what kind of impact I can make on the kids here.”

Kids and young adults are studying your techniques and trying to ‘be like Carson’, what do you say to the young football player or college athlete as they hone in on their passion?  

“I think the biggest thing is you have to believe in yourself. There’s going to be lots of people that tell you you’re the best or tell you you can’t make it. It all starts with believing in yourself, and that just comes with confidence. “

It’s no secret your faith plays a large role in your life, how has your faith anchored your mindset through ups and downs?

“For me, a big part of it was my faith. I just always believed, ‘why can’t I, why can’t I do these things?’ and I just always believed in myself and that’s really taken me a long way. So I always tell everybody, ‘don’t have doubts just put your best foot forward, if you fail just get back up and do it again. Really believing in yourself and having that confidence will really take you places.’”

“This Eagle’s organization from top down…you can tell there is something special going on here.”

Fast forward to 2018: Carson is a Bert Bell Award winner, second-team All-Pro, a Pro Bowl selection and a Super Bowl champion, all in the 2017 NFL season. Combine those accolades with a couple NFL records and Carson has had a great start to his career with many more milestones to come!

One thing is clear after spending time with Carson, he is a man rich with passion. Passion for his home state of North Dakota, his faith, for his fans, his team in Philadelphia, for the sport of football, and the great outdoors.

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