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Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On September 6

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For Howie Roseman, the risk turned out to be worth the reward.

By hanging on to Sam Bradford, Roseman, the Eagles’ executive vice president of football operations, gambled that his starting quarterback would remain content with Carson Wentz waiting in the wings. The bigger risk, however, was that Bradford would suffer an injury, which, given Bradford’s injury history, is not exactly a remote possibility.

If Bradford had suffered a serious injury, the Eagles would have been lucky to receive a mid-round pick for him – assuming he eventually became healthy and available. The $22 million in guaranteed money they gave Bradford would have been figuratively flushed down the toilet.

But good fortune was on the Eagles’ side. Teddy Bridgewater’s season-ending knee injury less than two weeks before the start of the season forced the Vikings to be desperate to find a No. 1 quarterback. Consequently, they were willing to part with a first-round draft choice and a conditional fourth-round pick, which could rise as high as a second-round selection if the Vikings iwn the Super Bowl, in order to acquire Bradford.

The trade was a win-win situation. The Vikings acquire a quality starting quarterback. They are a playoff team with a solid defense and terrific running game. With Bradford, they remain a likely playoff team.

The trade is a winner for the Eagles because they get two draft picks, including a first-round selection, for a player they were probably going to cut ties with after this season. The trade also enables Wentz to gain on-field experience this season instead of delaying his development by a year.

The trade is also a positive for Bradford. He escapes a situation in which he clearly didn’t have a long-term future, and he receives his best opportunity to make the playoffs. So this trade is a win-win-win situation.


WINNING HAND: The biggest beneficiaries of the Eagles’ two quarterback trades might be the Cleveland Browns. They acquired the Eagles’ first-round pick in the deal that allowed the Eagles to move up to No. 2 overall in the NFL Draft, enabling them to select Carson Wentz. The Sam Bradford trade will likely cost the Eagles a win or two this season, which would improve the Browns’ draft position.


BUYING TIME: Two more beneficiaries of the Sam Bradford trade are Howie Roseman and first-year head coach Doug Pederson. Without Bradford, expectations for the Eagles’ season aren’t nearly as high. I’m not suggesting this is the reason they made the trade, but Roseman and Pederson basically will receive a pass from Eagles fans for the team’s record this season.


TIME OF KNEED: It’s ironic that Sam Bradford’s best opportunity to make the playoffs is created by a season-ending knee injury to another quarterback. Bradford has missed two seasons due to torn ACLs.


FEELING A DRAFT: Until Saturday’s blockbuster trade, the big football news in Philadelphia was the official announcement that the NFL Draft would be held in Philadelphia next April. That event will be more interesting, of course, now that the Eagles have acquired the Vikings’ first-round pick. Otherwise, the Eagles would have been the hosts for the party, but they wouldn’t have had a seat at the head table.


NO POINT: Paul Turner caught 17 passes during the preseason, more than anyone else in the NFL. He returned a punt for a touchdown. Yet, one day after making the Eagles’ 53-man roster, Turner was waived.

He was signed to the practice squad on Monday, but, if Turner didn’t earn his way on to the 53-man roster, what’s the point of the preseason?

He’s not very big and he’s not particularly fast, although his 71-yard punt return may indicate that his lack of speed is overstated. But Turner caught everything thrown to him. Isn’t catching the ball a receiver’s primary responsibility?

Nelson Agholor certainly didn’t catch everything thrown to him. If you didn’t know the players’ pedigree – and the Eagles’ investment in them – you would cut Agholor, last year’s first-round draft choice, and kept Turner. Even with the knowledge of when they were draft, the Eagles should have considered keeping Turner over Josh Huff, a third-round pick who was drafted too high.

As I said on the PhillyPhanatics.com Eagles preview show on Blog Talk Radio, Huff is like a terrific golf shot during a terrible round. You may have had an awful day, but you remember the shot from the fairway to within four feet of the hole. Despite the bad round, that shot leave you hopeful that you will hit that type of shot with more consistency in the future. Every time Josh Huff makes a big play, he inspires hope that he will make big plays – or not-so-big plays – on a consistent basis. But that consistency never develops.


HALL PASS: Congratulations to Allen Iverson, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. Iverson, who led the Sixers to the NBA Finals in 2001, will be inducted by Larry Brown, who was his coach with the Sixers, John Thompson, who was his coach at Georgetown, and Sixers legend Julius Erving.


PATERNO CONTROVERSY: There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Penn State’s decision to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Joe Paterno’s first game as Nittany Lions head coach before the game against Temple on Sept. 17. The school newspaper even wrote an editorial saying the ceremony should not take place, citing the fact that many of the current students only know of Paterno through the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

If that’s all that many Penn State students know about Paterno, then it’s important that they learn more about the man who will be honored. Paterno used the football program to help build the university. He raised millions of dollars – and gave a substantial amount of his own money – to the school library, which is named for Paterno. He helped Penn State achieve athletic and academic excellence.

As for the accusations regarding the Sandusky scandal, too many people have accepted unfounded accusations as facts. The narrative never has made sense to me. Why would Paterno cover up the misdeeds of a former assistant coach that he didn’t particularly like? I’ve never heard a satisfactory explanation to that question.


KAEPERNICK CONTROVERSY: I defend Colin Kaepernick’s right to not stand for the national anthem to protest what he perceives to be the mistreatment of African-Americans by police, yet I wish he wouldn’t do it. The national anthem before sporting events has served as a unifying moment. In particular, I remember the healing effect the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner had after the 9/11 attacks 15 years ago.

Instead, the playing of the national anthem has become another issue over which our nation is divided. If Kaepernick and other athletes won’t stand for the national anthem, fans will follow in their footsteps. And then students in schools will refuse to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. This will cause further division rather than promote healing.

Despite my misgivings about his actions, Kaepernick has the right of free speech. What some of his supporters need to remember is that those who criticize Kaepernick also have the right to free speech. Free speech is a two-way street. It doesn’t exist only for those with whom we agree.


OPEN TO ALTERNATIVES: Who am I rooting for in the U.S. Open? Someone other than Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Serena Williams. It would be great if No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber or unseeded Caroline Wozniacki won the championship. On the men’s side, 10th-seeded Gael Monfils, Juan Martin del Potro or Stan Wawrinka would be nice alternatives. Del Potro is making a remarkable comeback after wrist surgery.


FINAL CHASE CHANCE: Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Speedway will be the final opportunity for NASCAR drivers to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Twelve drivers have clinched berths in the Chase by reaching Victory Lane. Chris Buescher, winner of the Pennsylvania 400, will secure a berth if he can remain in the top 30 in the standings. Buescher currently ranks 30th, 11 points ahead of David Ragan.

If there isn’t a first-time winner, three winless drivers will qualify for the 16-driver Chase. Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon have the inside track. Barring a disaster Saturday, they should make the Chase. That leaves Ryan Newman seven points behind Jamie McMurray in the battle for the final Chase berth.

Winless drivers in the top 30, of course, will be pulling out all the stops in order to win at Richmond, which would secure them a berth in the Chase and knock out both McMurray and Newman. Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne are among the drivers who hope to make the Chase at the last possible moment.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for 28 years, always stands for the Star-Spangled Banner.

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