Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie stepped to the podium on Monday evening at the NovaCare Complex to address a throng of media and to discuss the contract extension for quarterback Carson Wentz and expressed the feeling for the entire organization, the City of Philadelphia, and the fan base.
"I couldn't be more pleased that Carson is going to be our quarterback for many more years," Lurie said. "It goes without saying what we think about Carson. It started on Day 1 when we first met in Fargo (North Dakota) … incredibly impressive from Day 1 and every moment he's been with us at the Eagles has just reinforced everything we expected and much more."
When Lurie was finished, he and Wentz embraced. A warm, meaningful hug. Something that went beyond the workplace relationship. Lurie was deeply invested in the 2016 Quarterback Search, when he and Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson and members of his coaching staff crisscrossed the country working out and meeting the much-hyped quarterback class of that year.
The Eagles fell in love with Wentz. After the Los Angeles Rams selected Jared Goff No. 1 overall in that draft, the Eagles gladly picked Wentz and whooped it up in the Draft Room of the NovaCare Complex because they knew that a franchise that had been drooping in the latter days of the Chip Kelly era suddenly had a franchise quarterback around whom to build.
We're in the fourth season with Wentz at the quarterback position and he's never looked better than he has this spring. He's ripped physically and he's positively focused mentally. He's got a terrific cast of playmakers around him and a terrific coaching staff working with him and a supportive organization beside him. Wentz knows that the path to success is to learn from the past, focus on the present, and look forward to the future.
"I don't really want to reflect too much on a lot of that in the sense of, I'm just excited about the future," Wentz said when asked to name some highs and lows from his first three Eagles seasons. "Obviously, there have been a lot of things that have transpired over the last couple of years to get us to this moment, but at the same time we realize we have something special right now, something special for the future here, and this team is looking really good out there in OTAs and I'm looking forward to minicamp.
"We have a talented group and hopefully we can do something special again."
The idea that Wentz would have to deal with added "pressure" has been largely debunked because, in reality, nobody or nothing can put more pressure on Wentz than he puts on himself. He's a demanding player, putting himself first in line. Wentz admitted that the journey from North Dakota to a long-term and lucrative contract is "surreal" and a "whirlwind," but the football side of it remains the same: Wentz is the first one in the building and the last one to leave, and when you work that hard, everything else falls into place.
All that has kept Wentz from annual Pro Bowls and MVP talk has been injuries the last two seasons, but we've been over that before. Wentz promises that he's taken a macro approach to do what he can to stay healthy – from changing his diet to tweaking his workout plan to doing the little things on the field to avoid the physical part of the game.
The contract is an investment the Eagles are making in Wentz and that Wentz is making in the Eagles and it works for everybody. On Monday, four days after news of the contract extension emerged, Wentz spoke to the media about it.
He talked with the mass group for about 12 minutes and then did some one-on-one talks with the Eagles and various networks. The tone was the same: Upbeat and hopeful for sustained greatness. Money isn't going to change Wentz. The pressure to perform isn't going to change. He's a young veteran who is the leader of this franchise, just as he's been, really, since that April night when the Eagles called his name and Roseman asked, "Are you ready to be an Eagle?"
"I love being here and I love this organization," Wentz said. "I'm excited about what we have and where this team is going. I wanted to be here for a long time so this is a part of that. Now it's about going out on the field and improving every day. That's my goal. Just keep working hard and improving every day."
"Whether it's leadership, poise, the desire to be really, really good – if not great – attention to detail, smart, the face of the franchise in so many ways, it's how you draw it up," Lurie said. "Our goals are to win really big, and to do that at its best you have a quarterback who wants it really badly and Carson, in every way, wants it badly."
"It's a great day for the Eagles."
Yes, it is. These days don't happen often, when the franchise player and the franchise are aligned for a long-term deal that makes sense for everyone. Wentz had his moment, smiled his smiles, and said everything right. You know, though, that inside he was just itching for it all to end and for minicamp to start. He wants to be on the football field every day, in every way, and with minicamp starting Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex, he and the Eagles will take another step forward in the quest to be the best in 2019.