The rookie quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles decided this holiday season he wanted to help protect the people who protect him.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz went big this Christmas, buying each of his offensive linemen a personalized Beretta shotgun. Each player's number is engraved on the butt of the gun.
“This is an awesome gun. I’m excited about it,” said offensive lineman Allen Barbre, who is also a hunter. “I don’t know if I’ll shoot it, though. It’s pretty nice.”
Barbre told reporters the model is a Beretta Silver Pigeon, which usually retails for $2,000.
Eagles offensive lineman Brandon Brooks told ESPN, "I like to go clay shooting and stuff. All I’ve got is a home defense tactical shotgun, short-barrel, so I was looking for one of these.”
Wentz, an avid hunter, has a strong affinity for firearms. When he got the phone call that he would become the new Eagles starting quarterback, he was in the middle of a cornfield hunting geese. More recently, over the team's Christmas break, he took a hunting trip to New Jersey with Los Angeles Angels baseball player Mike Trout.
The players are waiting in anticipation for their presents to be delivered while the engraving is finished. Wentz sent them all a text message with a picture of the guns, letting them know they will have one more Christmas gift to open soon.
Rookie lineman Isaac Seumalo told ESPN, "I haven't really held a gun or anything before."
"But I'm more than thankful for it. It looks sweet. Carson said he'd teach me how to use it and all that good stuff."
Anti-gun activists are already creating an uproar about the gifts, expressing concern that NFL teams have been marred by a handful of players who have run into problems with the law. Just this year, linebacker Nigel Bradham was arrested when he went through airport security with a loaded gun. In November, wide receiver Josh Huff was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon.
Executive director of CeasefirePA Shira Goodman told reporters, “Wentz is a hunter and there have been a lot of stories about that, but there have also been a lot of stories how NFL players have got in trouble with their guns."
"This is certainly an interesting and unusual gift, I’ve heard of quarterbacks buying their offensive line ATVs or steak dinners… Putting locks on these guns will make them safer," she added.
There has been no word on whether the players will take Goodman's unsolicited advice.