IT SUITS the Legend of Carson Wentz that he finished his career a bone-tough winner.
It suits King Howie that he will have at least one bone-tough winner in his stable of quarterbacks.
Wentz broke his right wrist on the second drive of North Dakota State's sixth game of the season. He ignored the pain, taped the wrist and finished the game.
Four days later, he underwent surgery to repair the wrist. Best-case scenario: He could return if the Bison went deep into the playoffs.
Wentz's stock had been rising since his junior season, when he led NDSU to its fourth straight FCS (formerly I-AA) title. He had little to gain by trying to come back, and so much more to lose. What could he prove in another second-tier playoff? A bad fall, one rap against a helmet and, poof, there goes his chance to be a first-round pick; no trip to Chicago, bro-hug from the commissioner, no ugly baseball cap.
In fact, Wentz had every reason to remove himself from the team, to drop out of school, to work on his body and his arm and prepare to impress NFL scouts during their late-winter inspections. UCLA linebacker Myles Jack did that in October, after he suffered a knee injury. Heck, so did UCLA guard Alex Redmond, who wasn't even hurt when he quit the team just days before UCLA played in the Foster Farms Bowl.
This day and age, a fella's got to look out for his own best interests, right? Accept a scholarship or sign a contract - who says you have to honor that commitment?
Wentz says, that's who.
Wentz stayed at NDSU. He attended classes and practices, and he mentored backup quarterback Easton Stick, a redshirt freshman, without mercy. In Wentz's eight weeks of healing, NDSU trudged all the way to the national championship game.
Wentz was cleared to play the week of the game. He went 16-for-29 for 197 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions. More telling: He ran nine times for 79 yards and two more touchdowns, exposing that wrist and his future with every stride.
NDSU blew out Jacksonville, 37-10.
Howie Roseman was in love.
Roseman, the Eagles' reascended personnel chief, traded the farm to move up twice - from 13th to eighth, then to second - and used that gilded pick to draft Wentz, who is so raw, he probably won't play in the NFL for at least a full season. Roseman was asked directly to compare Wentz's commitment to his team with Sam Bradford's current commitment to the Eagles.
Bradford, who signed a two-year, $35 million extension in March, inexplicably left voluntary workouts and demanded a trade, abandoning the team as it begins to learn new coach Doug Pederson's offense.
Bradford's betrayal of the organization stands in stark contrast to the loyalty Wentz showed NDSU.
"You're talking about a blue-collar quarterback. This guy has an incredible work ethic. Incredible passion," Roseman said of Wentz. "He fits into the personality of this city. When he plays, he plays with that passion. He takes the city and the team on his back. That's what he'll do the minute he steps in here. All of us, when we're around him, we want to be around him more, because he has that energy and desire to be great. And to win."
Asked whether he would trade Bradford, Roseman said, "No."
Roseman and Pederson both reiterated that Bradford will be their starter this season.
Why? Because a trade is unfeasible. The Eagles expect to compete for a playoff spot this season. Bradford was the biggest piece of that short-term plan. At this point, he cannot be replaced.
His current displeasure can only be seen as an affectation. His agreement to a short-term deal after declining longer-term offers over the past year underlined his wariness of committing to the unsettled Eagles' front office for too long. It also forced the Birds to draft a quarterback to be groomed as his replacement.
Finally, a trade also accelerates Bradford's $11 million signing bonus to this year's salary cap. So, unless he wants to take a year or two off and return the Eagles' money, it seems he'll be back . . . for better or worse.
"Whenever he comes back, we'll welcome him with open arms," Roseman said.
You wonder. You wonder how the locker room will respond to Bradford's abandonment, after he's made $100 million and never sniffed a playoff game.
You wonder how much of a leader Bradford can be, having played with house money his entire career. Meanwhile, two lockers away will stand a 6-5, 237-pound redhead who risked everything to play one last second-tier college game.
"That's how I am as a competitor," Wentz said. "I had guys (pulling) me both ways. I gave too much effort and over 4 1/2 years of my life to that program. I wanted to go out the right way. I'm fortunate that I did."
Maybe Bradford is smart to run away from this kid. Maybe Bradford sees something in Wentz he knows he lacks himself.
"This kid bleeds winning," Pederson said.
Bradford is 25-37-1 in five NFL seasons.
"One player can change your team," Roseman said.
He wasn't talking about Sam Bradford.