Sports Spectrum Weekly

Colts QB Carson Wentz, coach Frank Reich bonded immediately over Scripture

Ahead of the 2016 NFL Draft, Frank Reich took a flight to Fargo, North Dakota. Then the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, Reich wanted to get a first-hand look at their potential first-round draft pick — North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz.

They rode around campus together, and in that first meeting, Reich wanted to know more about Wentz’s faith in Jesus. He began quoting a verse when Wentz interrupted him.

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“He just kind of looked at me sideways and then handed me his phone,” Reich said in a video produced by the Indianapolis Colts, to whom Wentz was traded in February, and of whom Reich is now the head coach. “I’m like, what are you handing me your phone for?”

Wentz’s phone background displayed the same verse Reich was reciting to him — 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

It was a moment that to this day gives them both chills.

“There’s a lot of Bible verses out there, and there’s a lot of really good ones,” Reich said. “The fact that our first connection, we hit on that note, I think it meant a little something to both of us.”

It meant enough to the Eagles that they selected Wentz with the second overall pick that year, making him the highest quarterback from a Football Championship Subdivision school to be drafted.

“I appreciate the way, how he was handling the questions about how important his faith is to him,” Reich said. “I just thought he handled it the right way.”

Wentz and Reich won a Super Bowl together in 2017, a year in which Wentz was in the discussion for Most Valuable Player honors until he suffered a torn ACL in Week 14.

This past season, Wentz was benched in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts and it became clear that Philadelphia was prepared to move on from Wentz. Meanwhile in Indianapolis, where Reich took over in 2018, the Colts found themselves in need of a quarterback once Phillip Rivers announced his retirement.

Though “things started to go south” for Wentz in Philadelphia, as Reich put it, the Colts still felt it might be a long shot to land him. But about a month prior to the trade happening, the wheels began to turn.

It took a while, but the Colts ultimately got their guy. Both Reich and Wentz had come full circle with their relationship that started over a shared connection over a Bible verse.

“It’s crazy circumstances that here we are working together again and I’m pretty fired up about it,” Wentz said.

For Wentz, he’s back in the Midwest and his wife, Madison, is back closer to her Kentucky roots. “Excitement” was the word he said he keeps going back to when describing his emotions about the trade.

The video shows Wentz and his wife, along with their infant daughter, Hadley, on a plane to Indianapolis. On that flight, Wentz and his wife prayed to thank God and seek obedience through this career change.

He also expressed his desire to immediately get plugged into the community and start making a difference, something Wentz has been doing ever since he joined the NFL. Along with Wentz’s brother, Zach, Wentz and his wife operate the Audience of One Foundation. AO1, as he calls it, operates a food truck in the Philadelphia area that gives free food to anybody and everybody, and they also share the Gospel. Their ministry also serves in North Dakota and helps kids through illnesses while getting them outdoors doing recreational activities — another way to share the Gospel.

“We’ve heard great things about the [Indianapolis] community,” Wentz said in the video. “Great places to raise a family and all those things, so we’re excited for that. Excited just to be involved and invested in the community, get to know some people and hopefully put on a good show for the Colts fans.”

Colts General Manager Chris Ballard said when Reich — who played 14 years as a quarterback in the NFL — has a conviction about a quarterback, he trusts him. It’s a deep conviction about Wentz, Reich said, as both a player and a person.

“It’s just a natural fit in so many ways,” Reich said. “I know Carson. I know Indianapolis. This just feels right to me.”

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