Wentz has been hurt before. His team still won the national championship.
FARGO—The Philadelphia Eagles won a football game Sunday, Dec. 10. They also clinched a division title, their first since 2013. For all intents and purposes, the Eagles (11-2) are in the driver's seat in the NFC, well on their way to a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That's the good.
The bad? Well, their driver is out for the season.
Eagles quarterback and MVP candidate Carson Wentz suffered a torn ACL in his left knee after making a diving effort for a touchdown late in the third quarter during Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson confirmed the news during a press conference Monday afternoon, Dec. 12.
Unlike many other NFL-related ACL tears, Wentz' was not an obvious tear. He even went on to stay in the game, running four more plays after the injury, including throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Video later showed Wentz' left knee buckling ever-so-slightly as he attempted to walk back to the sidelines. Minutes later, cameras showed Wentz walking on his own power to the locker room. Fear among Eagles fans began to set in. A fear similar to what North Dakota State University fans felt when Wentz suffered a broken bone in his throwing wrist during a game against the University of South Dakota Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015.
The injury to Wentz' wrist happened after he landed on it wrong. Initially, the NDSU training staff thought it was only a sprain, so they taped up the wrist and Wentz went on to play the entire second half. USD beat NDSU in that game 24-21.
Wentz had surgery on his wrist four days after the game. NDSU head coach Chris Klieman set a recovery timetable for Wentz of six to eight weeks, leaving not only a massive blow to the Bison football team, but also Wentz' NFL draft stock.
The Bison still had five games remaining on their regular-season schedule after Wentz' injury, meaning they'd have to make the FCS playoffs and likely the FCS championship game to even have a shot at seeing Wentz suit up in Bison green and gold again.
The Bison ran the table with redshirt freshman Easton Stick under center, setting up a national championship matchup in Frisco, Texas, with No.1-seeded Jacksonville State. Wentz' glorious NDSU career, as it turned out, still needed its storybook ending.
Eight weeks after Wentz underwent surgery to repair the broken bone in his throwing wrist, Klieman made the official announcement that his quarterback would return to start in the FCS national title game. A day before the game, no less.
"It was a long and frustrating process, to say the least," Wentz told the media during a title-game news conference Friday, Jan. 9, 2016. "There were a lot of doctors' appointments, a lot of things I didn't want to hear."
"The biggest thing is being hit right away," Wentz said of the upcoming game. "For me it's almost that first-game feel again. I feel like I've been out a whole year, and it's a short one-game season."
Jacksonville State head coach John Grass had told the media reportedly several times during the week leading up to the championship game that he expected Wentz to play and that the news "did not surprise him."
The news that Wentz was returning was not surprising to Bison fans, either.
As the story goes, Wentz led the Bison to a fifth straight FCS national championship, completing 16 of 29 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 79 yards and two scores and was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
"You can tell he totally cares about this program," Bison wide receiver Zach Vraa said of Wentz after the game. "Now to see him come out in this game just showed the team and everybody else what we can overcome."
Philly fans: you can overcome this, too.
On a chilly Monday, Dec. 11, morning in Philadelphia, a Philadelphia Daily News paper carrier delivered much more than a newspaper to the doorsteps of Eagles fans. The carrier delivered an unintentional punch to the proverbial gut.
"COST an ARM & A LEG," the cover reads, accompanied by a photo of Wentz lying in the end zone shortly after suffering the would-be season-ending knee injury.
"WENTZ'S SEASON IN JEOPARDY," read the cover of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's sports cover Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, the day after it was announced Wentz broke a bone in his throwing wrist.
Comparing the two injuries is absurd. One is the knee, the other was the wrist. One was a Division I-AA game, the other is a potential Super Bowl game. One injury lasted six to eight weeks, the other is expected to take six to eight months.
While the similarities in the injuries Wentz suffered with the Bison and with the Eagles are few and far between, Eagles fans should, as the popular saying goes, "keep calm and ... ask a Bison fan."
Because if any group of people know the strength, resiliency and competitive fire that resides in Carson Wentz, it's Bison nation.
He's proven it once, and he'll prove it again.
Afterall, that's what being "North Dakota-tough" is all about.