Fish ‘n Chips is a little bit later than usual this week. That’s because my lockout from PhillyPhanatics.com ended Sunday, just in time for me to appear on our weekly Internet Blog Talk Radio show (Sunday, 6:30 p.m.) and write the Eagles-Giants game story. I think that, like the replacement referees, Loud Marv’s inauspicious debut as a columnist hastened my return. Sorry for the delay.
One thing was certainly evident Sunday night. Eagles fans still love Brian Dawkins.
From the retirement of his jersey more than two hours before the start of the Eagles-Giants game to his surprising “Wolverine” entrance before the game to the halftime ceremony, Eagles fans showed Dawkins their love.
Actually, the preceding paragraph isn’t entirely accurate. It should read that Eagles fans and Brian Dawkins showed their love for each other.
Dawkins embodied what Philadelphia fans revere in an athlete. He worked hard, he was tough and he was genuine. When Dawkins spoke about the game, he spoke from his heart. There was never any implication that he was measuring his words or trying to create a sound bite. He was simply honest.
Not only did he embody what fans admire, but he also the personified what we want to see from the Eagles. He was spirited, emotional and got the job done.
Dawkins’ spirit was contagious. He inspired his teammates and he inspired fans.
Few athletes have embraced the fans as Dawkins has done. Not surprisingly, the love and respect was reciprocal. He was perfect for the Eagles and perfect for Philadelphia.
Congratulations to Dawkins on the retirement of his number 20. Let’s hope there’s another ceremony in Canton, Ohio, a few years down the road.
TIME OF KNEED: The often-injured Andrew Bynum is sidelined for the start of 76ers training camp with a bone bruise on his right knee. That’s not a positive sign for the Sixers’ biggest, literally and figuratively, offseason acquisition.
I don’t want to hear that it’s not serious. When the key to taking the step up to the next level is injured before he plays a game, that’s not a positive sign.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: The longer the NFL used replacement officials, the better the bargaining position of the locked out officials became. If the replacement refs had worked a few more games, the locked out officials may have received a bonus to return.
The final straw was the Monday night debacle involving the Packers and Seahawks. But there were many more calls that affected the outcomes of games. The difference in the Packers-Seahawks game was it occurred before a national television audience and the mistake came on the game’s final play.
It’s good to have the old referees back. Even if you boo them, they know that – deep down – you really love them.
SENSE OF URGENCY: I’ve written previous columns about my frustration that there seemed to be no sense of urgency in the NFL and NHL labor negotiations. The sense of urgency hit the NFL when the work of the replacement officials put the integrity of the league at stake. I wish there was a similar sense of urgency at the NHL bargaining table. Instead, it appears we’re creeping closer to the inevitable announcement of canceled regular-season games.
AMERICAN MADE: The American League has provided most of the drama down the final stretch of the regular season. The National League’s excitement has been reserved for the battle for the second wild card berth – unless the Braves close in on the Nationals this weekend. By contrast, two of the AL’s divisions have featured different leaders within the past week, and the A’s are making a late charge at the Rangers in the AL West.
There isn’t a better story than Jim Thome, who has found new life at the end of his career as he helped the Orioles secure their first playoff berth in 15 years. There are many fans in the Delaware Valley rooting for Thome to succeed.
KESELOWSKI TRIUMPHS: Brad Keselowski earned his second win of the Chase for the Sprint Cup at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, moving him into sole possession of first place in the standings.
Jimmie Johnson, who finished fourth at Dover, posted his third straight top-four finish and sits just five points behind Keselowski. Denny Hamlin is third, 16 points off the pace.
Jeff Gordon, who finished 35th in the opening race of the Chase, finished second at Dover, moving him within range of the middle of the pack. Gordon is hoping for a 10-race Chase similar to the regular season, when he rallied from far behind to make the Chase on the final race.
LEAD-PIPE CINCH: Ryan Howard broke the big toe on his right foot when he dropped a lead pipe he uses in the on-deck circle Thursday. The injury will cause him to miss the rest of the season. Howard finished the season with a .219 batting average, 16 homers and 56 RBI in 71 games.
SUNDOWN ON THE UNION: The Union were officially eliminated from MLS playoff contention with Saturday’s loss to Columbus. In realistic minds, the Union have been out of playoff contention since late August.
I don’t understand what happened to the Union. They took a playoff team apart, trading away its stars and eventually firing its coach. If the Union were sacrificing for the future by dispatching veteran stars, these young players better have one helluva future.
WILD ABOUT CATS: Villanova has won four straight games after dropping its opener to Temple. The Wildcats, considered a second-division team in the Colonial Athletic Association, have won their last four games by at least 15 points. That’s quite a turnaround for the Wildcats, who weren’t expected to do nearly this well.
U.S.A. COLLAPSE: The United States’ tremendous collapse opened the doors for the Europeans to pull off a remarkable upset to win the Ryder Cup. There are many factors involved in the U.S. collapse; however, as the world’s most recognizable golfer, Tiger Woods will certainly earn his share of blame for failing to win a match.
Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for 24 years, swears he was not a replacement golfer on the U.S. Ryder Cup team during Sunday’s final round of match play.