PHILADELPHIA — Even now, more than a week after it was reported that Carson Wentz was being traded to Indianapolis, the shock lingers in many sections of the Eagles' fan base, especially for Eagles superfan Giovanni Hamilton.
Hamilton feels the pain differently than most attempting to accept the reality that Wentz no longer plays for his favorite team.
Perhaps you recall that Giovanni and Wentz shared an impactful moment on the sidelines during Philadelphia’s 2019 training camp when Wentz bent over the wheelchair-bound Giovanni and the two shared a fist bump and some words.
Giovanni referred to Wentz as his hero and the two embraced. That’s a moment he will never forget and forever connected the now-13-year-old to the former Eagles quarterback.
“My sister is standing on the left side of me, and [Wentz] is coming from the left side,” Giovanni told SI.com's Eagle Maven. “[Wentz] stopping at her before gave me a second to realize like, oh my God, I’m going to meet Carson Wentz.”
Upon hearing the news Wentz was traded to the Colts, Giovanni took to social media immediately to let the quarterback know his allegiance to him won’t waiver.
Wentz heard Giovanni's message loud and clear.
The former Eagles quarterback reached out to his biggest fan to assure him that, even though the uniform will be changing, Wentz still wants Giovanni to be his No.1 supporter.
Through Wentz’s AO1 Foundation, the quarterback surprised Giovanni via a Zoom meeting.
“I was talking to Mr. Steve (Glasser) of the AO1 Foundation and Zach (Wentz’s brother). We were talking about how I became an Eagles fan. I told them I was born into it, and right there at that moment, Carson Wentz pops up with his family, and it was amazing,” said Giovanni.
Wentz values the loyalty Giovanni has shown him since Philadelphia drafted the quarterback. Despite him leaving the Eagles, the quarterback wants to keep his biggest supporter by his side.
Wentz invited Giovanni to come to his AO1 camp this summer in addition to flying him and his family in for a Colts game with on-the-field access for the upcoming 2021 season.
Of course, Wentz offered to send Giovanni an Indianapolis Colts jersey of his as well.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that hard for me [to continue rooting for Wentz despite him not being an Eagle] because of my love for football and my love for the sport,” Giovanni explained. “I think now I have an AFC team and an NFC team. If the Eagles have a bad year this year, and the Colts are in [the playoffs], of course, I’m going to root for them."
Giovanni suffers from a rare condition called Schwartz-Jampel Syndrome. After enduring 17 grueling surgeries, the things in life that bring Giovanni such joy are football and the Philadelphia Eagles.
What sparked the 13-year-old’s love for the Eagles was when Wentz arrived in Philadelphia in 2016. Many times Giovanni has cited Wentz as his hero, and their connection goes beyond the football field.
Wentz himself let Giovanni know that his kind words and constant support helped guided him through 2020's struggles.
"It was very surprising. Having [Wentz's] whole family there, like his wife, was getting emotional when they were talking about me helping them through the year. You go out there, and you see these big football players, but you can relate to them," Giovanni said. "It was really cool to have [Wentz] relate to me. It was amazing."
No matter the color of the cape, even if it’s blue and white instead of midnight green, Wentz will always be a hero in the eyes of Giovanni.
"Knowing that Carson Wentz cares for Giovanni the same way Giovanni cares about him means everything to us," Shannon Algarin, Giovanni's mother, told Eagle Maven. "Football has always been our family's coping mechanism through all of Giovanni’s medical procedures. Everything has always felt so out of our control when Giovanni’s going through surgery or a medical issue. Still, we can always come together as a family and cheer on our favorite football team.
"In the off-season, we will rewatch Super Bowl 52 or rewatch the Super Bowl blu-ray. And all those times watching football together, Giovanni became very inspired by Carson Wentz. Giovanni values his work ethic and the way he works to return to the field stronger after an injury. For a child to have someone to look up to that sort of gets how he feels going through surgeries, everything. Giovanni’s friends can’t really understand because they are just kids, but the football players do understand in some way. I think that is why Giovanni fights so hard like Carson Wentz to rehab and get back to feeling normal when he needs a surgery. And for Carson Wentz to take 10 minutes out of his day to say hello to Giovanni was motivating not just for Giovanni, but our whole family, too. Carson is an amazing man, and my son couldn’t have a better role model."
The heart-warming gesture from the quarterback to ensure his biggest fan knows he genuinely cares about him is nothing short of magnificent. The surprise of opening up a zoom meeting to seeing your hero appear on the screen is something Giovanni will never forget.
Wentz’s career in Philadelphia may be over, but his impact will always be felt. He’ll always be an Eagle and a hero in the eyes of Giovanni.
"I'm really happy to have the closure that I have now [with Wentz leaving]. I'm glad he still appreciates me being his number one fan," Giovanni said.
Wentz got his change of scenery, but his biggest fan and supporter will always be right in the heart of Philadelphia.
Listen to Giovanni Hamilton on his podcast Philly Sports with Giovanni featured on Eagles Brawl. The show is available on every podcast platform.
Conor Myles is a contributor for Sports Illustrated’s Eagle Maven. Listen to Conor and Ed on Eagles Brawl available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and RADIO.com. Reach Conor at ConorMylesSI@gmail.com or Twitter: @ConorMylesNFL
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.