He tried. Oh, how he tried. It didn't matter. Howie Roseman never had a chance.
No matter how often Roseman attempted to steer the conversation toward the new guy, the questions kept boomeranging back to the disgruntled incumbent quarterback. There was no escaping it.
Not long after the Eagles selected Carson Wentz with the second overall pick on Thursday evening, Roseman and Doug Pederson strode into the NovaCare Complex auditorium. They looked pleased. They were decidedly less enthusiastic about the way the press conference unfolded. While they tried to pump up Wentz, Roseman seemed deflated by countless questions about Sam Bradford and the Eagles' quickly deteriorating relationship with him.
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About midway through a session that lasted more than 16 minutes, Roseman was asked whether the Eagles were "disappointed in Sam's reaction or his agent's reaction" to the team trading up to secure Wentz. Roseman's frustration was evident.
"I think first of all, this is about Carson today," Roseman said. "We just picked the kid second overall, and that's where our focus is: the fact that we got Carson Wentz."
Naturally the media assembly backed off and only asked about Wentz after that.
Nah. Just kidding. We bludgeoned Roseman and Pederson with lots more Bradford/palace intrigue questions. Because of course we did. Had to happen. It's the biggest story in the city right now, and Roseman helped create it. He made a smart move by trading up for Wentz (see story), but in the process he also seeded a situation that quickly mushroomed into a massive ongoing drama.
Wentz was asked about Bradford a few times during Thursday's conference call. Friday's in-person session was more about him and less about the in-house competition, but the issue probably isn't disappearing for a while - not with Bradford and his agent digging in for a protracted fight. For his part, Wentz said all the right things, but he admitted he wasn't sure how it will go when he finally meets the guy whose job he's trying to take (see story). Probably won't be awkward at all. Just hugs and high fives.
"I think we're both professionals now, and it'll just be - it'll be what it is," Wentz said. "I won't make it bigger than it needs to be. I'm just going to go in there and focus on what I can control and learning as much ball as quickly as I can."
It's going to be fascinating to see how all this plays out. According to ESPN, Bradford stopped "answering calls and texts" from the organization because he's reportedly "upset with [the] team for making moves to draft [a quarterback]." There are no shortage of hot takes on the matter. The predominant position by fire-breathing fans and media members seems to be pretty clearly anti-Bradford. On the WIP morning show the other day, callers and hosts tossed around words like "wimp" and crybaby." One person advised Bradford to "grow a pair." Another hissed "suck it up, buttercup." There were pleas to bench Bradford despite what the Eagles are paying him. One particularly unhinged and confused fellow implored the Eagles to punish Bradford by sticking him on the practice squad. Sadly and surprisingly, no one suggested they stuff him into a large cannon and fire him off into the distance without a net. An opportunity missed. There's always next week.
Oh, and if you're brave enough, and if your computer has some sort of flame suppression system, search Sam Bradford on Twitter. It's quite an experience. Maybe have a fire extinguisher handy just in case.
This isn't going away anytime soon - not while Roseman is running the team and Bradford is stomping his feet and pouting in public. Bradford has vowed not to appear at any of the voluntary workouts. The mandatory sessions are where this gets (more) interesting. If Bradford doesn't report, how will the Eagles' handle it? How long can he reasonably stiff-arm the organization? Will the Eagles eventually cater to his demands and unload him? And if not, if the Eagles refuse the trade request and Bradford finally returns to the team, how will that work? What kind of relationship can he possibly have with his two main bosses - not to mention his new understudy - after he and his agent flipped four fingers at the Eagles?
The irony here is that both camps probably need each other. In a vacuum where hurt feelings and egos and the accrued ill will don't exist, the Eagles represent a good opportunity for Bradford next year. Starting job. Weak division. Chance to make the playoffs. And the Eagles could certainly use Bradford's help. Making the postseason would take some (but certainly not all) of the sting out of not having a first-round pick next offseason. Alas, that's a dreamy hypothetical that does not exist. The reality is something else - something that's going to linger for a while and make things messy for Roseman and the Eagles.