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Rebounds in season opener by Ben Simmons, who also scores 19 points

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On August 1

Brian Dawkins certainly wasn’t destined to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Eagles selected Dawkins with the final pick in the second round of the 1996 NFL Draft.

The hope was that Dawkins would be an immediate contributor and develop into a solid starter. Nobody was predicting a Hall of Fame career – least of all Dawkins himself.

As we learned from an interview with NBCSports.com/Philadelphia’s Derrick Gunn, Dawkins was battling depression. Dawkins credits Eagles defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas for both pushing him on the field, seeing more potential in Dawkins than he saw in himself, and for pushing him toward getting treatment for his depression.

We know the rest of the story. Not only did Dawkins overcome his own demons, but he developed into the heart and soul of the Eagles. He became their defensive leader and, arguably, their team leader.

Dawkins, who spent the first 13 years of his 16-year NFL career with the Eagles, is one of the most respected and most beloved players ever to play in Philadelphia. His induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday is an honor he richly deserves.

                                *****                               

DISHONORABLE HEADLINERS: There’s no question that Brian Dawkins, who will be introduced Saturday by former teammate Troy Vincent, will deliver an emotional speech. But I will stop watching the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony after Dawkins’ speech. I have no interest in watching the speeches of the two headliners for the Class of 2018.

I have no qualms with Ray Lewis and Randy Moss entering the hall of fame. But I have issues that will prevent me from celebrating their induction. Moss quit on teams and, at times, didn’t put out any effort. That’s not the type of player I root for and respect.

Lewis pled guilty to obstruction of justice in an incident in which two men were killed. The accused killers fled in Lewis’ limousine. Lewis allegedly orchestrated a cover-up of the incident while in the limousine. His role in the fight that resulted in two deaths is unclear, but the suit and coach he was wearing on that night were never found. I respect Lewis’ performance during what was undoubtedly a Hall of Fame playing career, but I have no interest in watching him celebrate that honor.

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DRAFT IS VITAL: Three players from the 1996 NFL Draft will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday: Ray Lewis, Brian Dawkins and Terrell Owens. It’s incredible to think that the Eagles (or other teams) could have had all three of those players.

The Ravens selected Lewis 26th overall, one pick after the Eagles selected guard Jermane Mayberry. As mentioned earlier in Fish ‘n Chips, every team passed on Dawkins in the second round until the Eagles took him with their second pick of the round, the 61st pick of the draft. (Tight end Jason Dunn is the answer to the trivia question of whom the Eagles selected with their earlier second-round pick). Owens was drafted in the third round with the 89th overall pick, four picks after the Eagles selected quarterback Bobby Hoying.

Imagine if the Eagles had hit the jackpot by drafting Lewis, Dawkins and Owens in the same year!  

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NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS: There hasn’t been much news out of Eagles training camp. And that’s a good thing.

No injuries. No controversies. No discord.

Nit-pickers may complain that the Eagles seem too content after winning the Super Bowl. They would argue that a little discord, knocking the Eagles out of their comfort zone, would be a positive development. Given a choice between the two, however, I prefer camp harmony..

The only major intrigue so far has been guard Brandon Brooks’ “illness,” which turned out to be a serious bout with dehydration, and whether or not Carson Wentz participates in full-team drills. The Wentz issue isn’t a minor one. One of the major questions surrounding training camp is whether Wentz is going to be ready to start Game 1 of the regular season.

It’s unlikely we’ll see Wentz during a preseason game, but it would be encouraging if he can practice without any restrictions. On the other hand, this is only the first week of training camp. We have all of August to see Wentz become a full participant in practice. Patience is required.

Eagles training camp may be a bit boring, but, other than the beat writers, nobody should have a problem with that.

*****

HALLADAY TO HALL: Jim Thome, who made quite an impression during parts of four seasons with the Phillies, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Saturday. Next year fans will likely see another player who spent four seasons with the Phillies, but spent the bulk of his career in the American League, inducted into the hall of fame.

Roy Halladay, who died in a tragic plane crash last November in the Gulf of Mexico, is one of two first-time eligible players, along with Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera, who seem almost certain to be voted into the Hall of Fame. Not to minimize Thome’s contributions, but Halladay, who will be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame on Saturday, made even more of an impact during his four years with the Phillies than Thome did.

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FREEDOMS STREAK TOWARD TITLE: The Freedoms, who take an eight-match winning streak into a home-and-home series with the New York Empire on Wednesday and Thursday to close out their regular season, will host the World Team Tennis Championship on Sunday (2 p.m.). The Freedoms have played their home matches at Saint Joseph’s University this season, but Sunday’s championship match will be held at Drexel University.

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UNION MAN: The Union put out a release Wednesday morning saying they’ve agreed to terms with an individual to become the club’s next sporting director … but they won’t release the person’s name until the contract is finalized. If the contract isn’t finalized, why make the announcement? Why not wait until the hiring is official?

By the way, the Union will return to action Saturday (11 p.m.) at Portland before returning home Wednesday to host Chicago in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup. The Union are one point behind New England and Montreal in the battle for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

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GAME OVER: The Philadelphia Fusion lost in the finals Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn? Who are the Fusion? They are Philadelphia’s entry in the Overwatch League.

Don’t ask me why people would pay to watch other people play video games. I don’t understand it. But I know that playing video games – even sports video games – isn’t a sport. And I know that if the Fusion had won the championship, it would not, as others have suggested, be part of the championship year of 2018 in Philadelphia, with the Fusion joining the Eagles and Villanova as championship teams. I’m not 100 percent certain that Villanova’s championship should count toward Philadelphia’s total and I question whether the Freedoms would count if they win the World Team Tennis would count if they win Sunday, but I know that a Fusion championship would not count toward the title total.

Eric Fisher, who has been writing about sports for nearly 30 years, denies any rumors that he is the Union’s new sporting director.

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