Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and other players knelt in prayer after an NFL game in Philadelphia. The Eagles have a close-knit group of players that even veterans say is the closest they’ve ever seen in a locker room. Faith binds them together.
PHILADELPHIA – Seventy-two-year-old Susan Collesidis never was a football fan until she heard Carson Wentz talk about his faith.
Then she was hooked on the Philadelphia Eagles.
When Wentz found out his newest fan was fighting an advanced stage of cancer, he sent her an encouraging message with inspirational Bible verses.
“How much joy I get from watching him and his team play supernatural football every week,” she said after reading it.
Two weeks later, Collesidis lost her battle with cancer the night before Thanksgiving.
“The message meant so much to Susan because she admired Carson as a person and believer more than a football player,” son-in-law Doug Horton said. “He’s the reason she started caring about sports, and she couldn’t wait to watch the Eagles every week.”
Wentz isn’t playing in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots because he tore his ACL in Week 14. But backup quarterback Nick Foles also is a “brother in Christ” and one of the leaders in a locker room filled with guys who have formed a strong bond because of their faith.
“It truly is a brotherhood,” Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz said. “Those guys are holding me accountable. Off the field, I’m holding them accountable. We truly care about each other, we truly care about the growth that each individual has in the word, as believers, as well as friends and family..’’
Christian players openly expressing their faith is nothing new in the NFL: Reggie White, Kurt Warner, Tim Tebow, Ray Lewis and Russell Wilson among many others. But these Eagles are an unusually close-knit group.
“There is a stronger connection here,” said defensive end Steven Means, who played for three other teams. “It’s another level because we push each other in certain areas that we are flawed at and open ourselves up to each other. We text each other throughout the day making sure that everybody is on the right path and doing the right thing.”
Wentz has received criticism from some media and fans because he openly talked about his faith on social media.
He wasn’t deterred.
“Jesus was persecuted everywhere he went,” Wentz said. “So if Jesus, who is our ultimate example, endured that, then I can endure a couple tweets. I can endure a little riffraff here and there.”