Career goals for Flyers captain Claude Giroux

The Greek God of Wrestling explains why WWE’s Great Balls of Fire didn’t quite reach the heights he expected of it. Achilles Heel also provides a rundown of next Sunday’s Battleground at Wells Fargo Center, reviews a troubling incident involving Alberto El Patron, and congratulates the new CZW champion.

Carson Wentz leads the Eagles to a touchdown on their first possession, but, with Wentz out of the game, the Eagles didn’t reach the end zone again during a mistake-filled 24-9 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field.

Jimmie Johnson has his sights set on his eighth NASCAR championship, which would break a tie with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most career championships. But, as the playoffs begin, Johnson is not generally considered among the favorites to win the title. Eric Fisher previews the 16-driver playoff field.

Archive for the ‘Columns’ Category

The view from Cloud 9

Posted by Gordon Glantz On February - 18 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

There is not much more I can say about the Philadelphia Eagles that Jason Kelce didn’t already say at the Super Bowl parade (just got chills typing that).

He spoke the truth, and he did it in the native tongue.

If others aren’t literate in Philadelphian, we can’t worry about that, can we?

They probably eat soft pretzels without mustard and a cheesesteak open face with a knife and fork.

They can babble for decades about us throwing snowballs at Santa Claus, but we – well, most of us – believed in St. Nick.

I won’t be going nuclear here and drop the F-bomb on you, but this was all about the redemption – from the maligned front office to the locker room to the fan in the street – that Kelce spoke so much from the drunken heart about.

I was on the record that I would be a changed man with a Super Bowl ring. (And I will be getting one for myself. I wasn’t lying).

And changed I am.

Doesn’t mean I won’t be prone to some road rage down the road (see what I did there?) or agonize over offseason moves, but not with as much of an edge.

If you know me, you know that I’m not much of a fan of organized religion. I’m not ruling out a higher power, but our futile attempts to understand – him or her or what or it – are so pathetic that it just isn’t worth the time, or the wars and division caused, to even go there.

It doesn’t mean I’m not spiritual, and my spirit was lifted. And – as Larry David would say – it feels pretty, pretty, pretty good!

So good that I broke my exclamation-point rule.

So good that I broke my rule decrying fans who called players by their first names. I always said they need to win me a title first.

And so they did – Nick, Zach, Jay, Brandon, Fletcher, Malcolm and all the rest.

I’m now like Ebenezer Scrooge waking up on Christmas morning.

But in order to make Cloud 9 a permanent residence for my soul, I still need to write my way through some post-Super Bowl 52 thoughts that need some perspective.

Best way to address it is to dust off a G2 favorite of yore with a little drill of “What Is And What Should Never Be.” Fasten your seat belts. We’re moving at breakneck speed …

What Is: There was some consternation across the Eagles Nation about Tom Brady leaving the field and not shaking Nick Foles’ hand.

And What Should Never Be: Needing some sort of validation from Tom Brady. I bet Foles didn’t give it a second thought, and neither should you.

I’m not quite sure why Brady didn’t do this, but he never has in all three Super Bowls he has lost. Peyton Manning had a similar policy and nobody said much about that.

After a usual game, shaking hands is expected. Super Bowl? A bit different. There is so much going on down on the field, and such a throng of media forms around the winning quarterback, that it would be kind of a lame move for anyone – Brady, Manning or Joe Blow – to insert themselves into the middle of it, stealing the thunder away and making themselves part of the story.

And when you are Tom Brady, you are always part of the story.

Even when you run off the field.

I know we all grew up taught to shake hands after a game. I notice, from Sofia’s own softball games, it gets quite generic. The word “good” sometimes gets dropped, and instead it turns to mumbled “game, game, game” as they go through line missing half the hands being half-heartedly offered. If she talked to some of the same girls online, the exchanges might be more personal. As she gets older, and gets to know other girls on other teams, this may be the way it goes.

Who is to say, in this day and age, that Brady didn’t text Foles?

And he didn’t play against Foles anyway. He faces the Eagles’ defense, and did exchange post-game pleasantries with both former teammate Chris Long and rookie Derek Barnett.

Not to play Freud here, but this all goes to the inferiority complex we should have shed the second Brady’s Hail Mary prayer – with Rob Gronkowski assaulting defenders downfield – went unanswered and the clock hit zero. Yo Philly, let it go. We have more things to be legitimately indignant about.

Such as?

What Is: Chris Collinsworth and Al Michaels came under immediately scrutiny for seemingly being pro-Patriots during the national broadcast.

And What Should Never Be: Their bosses letting the outcry fade without a knock on the knuckles. An online petition with tens of thousands of names within 24-48 hours is nothing to ignore.

Where I watched the game, there was no decision. It was Merrill Reese and Mike Quick as soon as the ball was about to be kicked off. Other than being out of synch with the action by a few seconds, and not hearing the commercials (Why does a 3-13 team like the New York Giants get a commercial?), there was no other way to go than to fly the hometown-friendly skies.

Within hours, the venom about the national broadcast – especially toward Collinsworth – was all over social media.

I initially figured it was Philly people being Philly people, and feeling disrespected (see above entry about Brady).

But then I played the game back on DVR.

It was virtually unwatchable due to the broadcast, and I was really trying to keep an open mind.

I wrote the following on Facebook, and stand by every word:

“A complete disgrace. No other way to describe it. For me, it was only made tolerable knowing the outcome, but both Michaels and Collinsworth would have driven me nuts in real time. In addition to not reeling Collinsworth in on his rants on the two touchdowns (I am more convinced now than ever both were legit, by the way), there should be a separate petition to remove Michaels because he is unlistenable with his dentures. Dude, get implants or retire. I started to think Nick Foles changed his name to Nick “Folesh” and Nelson Agholor to “Nelshon” Agholor and Doug Pederson to Doug “Pedershon.” I don’t know if it was anti-Eagles bias as much as being preconditioned to expect a Patriots win (even when they needed a Hail Mary AND a 2-point conversion with 9 seconds left just to send the game to OT). Jeez! Or as Michaels would “shay” … “Jeesh” ….

And I wasn’t done. A few hours later, I wrote the following:

“Stick this up your boney ass, Collinsworth. What you and Mr. Dentures (Al Michaels) failed to realize that it takes conclusive evidence to overturn a call on the field. You can’t go frame by frame, hitting pause and play like it was the Zapruder film … That’s not why the rule is there. It is to correct a call that was blatantly and obviously incorrect (like a receiver stepping out of bounds before coming back in to catch a pass). Billions of people are watching. You owe it to them, and specifically to those most emotionally invested (the fans of both teams), to stick to the hard fact that there is clearly not enough there to overturn either TD. In actual fact, after re-watching the game, it is clear they got it right on the field. Clement had two feet down with possession before he shifted it a little in his arms while running out of the back of the end zone. Ertz took THREE FRIGGIN’ STEPS as a runner into the end zone and clearly crossed the goal line. Not gonna let you try to tarnish this. Don’t be showing your Icabod Crane face in our town again (and get those dentures tightened up, Al Michaels) …”

What Is: A lot of talk, maybe too much talk, about what now becomes of Nick Foles.

And What Should Never Be: Punching his ticket out of town too quickly.

Keep in mind that Foles has a year left on his contract. And while there is a $3 million bonus that kicks in next month, he is still at a manageable pay rate.

Some people in his cleats would insist on a trade, but Foles is a different kind of dude. His best football has been played in Eagle green and I don’t think he would want to go to a bad team just to be a stop-gap guy until a younger quarterback is groomed.

The Eagles will surely get some offers, but there is a question of his value. Alex Smith went for a third-round pick from Kansas City to Washington, and he was in the Pro Bowl this year. Foles is a bit younger, so he might be worth a second to someone. Maybe.

Does that make sense to the Eagles, with Carson Wentz possibly unable to start the season (or at least training camp)? They don’t have second- or third-round picks, but getting Sidney Jones back on the field after a full offseason will be like an extra mid-first. They could easily trade back from the last pick of the first round and get a mid-second and fourth. All this, while maintaining a more solvent quarterback situation, seems more prudent for a team that wants to remain as the kings of the hill.

Additionally, many of this year’s injured players – even Jason Peters and Darren Sproles – will be back. You add those on top of a roster that returns virtually intact after a Super Bowl, and it could be one year you could bite the bullet on draft picks.

It might be wishful thinking, but I think it is as likely the Eagles extend Foles beyond next season as it is that they trade him.

The reality is that Wentz checks every box to be the ultimate franchise quarterback, but he does have a history of injuries going back to North Dakota State. If Foles is kept around, he will play again. That as sure as Tom Brady not shaking hands after his loses the next Super Bowl.

What Is: I told you so.

And What Should Never Be: Not telling you I told you so.

When Wentz went down, I went to war with people on Facebook insisting that the Eagles had to sign Colin Kaepernick or the season was lost. I defended Foles – as I always have and always will – even after he played poorly at the end of the season, and the reasoning was simple.

And no, it’s not a man-crush.

He did it before – in 2013 – so he can do it again.

And he did.

I may not have put my neck as much on the line for Howie Roseman, the de facto general manager, but I always felt he got a bit of a raw deal. I won’t get into some of the reasons why. Let’s just say I felt the Howie Hate was ethnically motivated and leave it there. And no deal was more raw than when he was relinquished of all responsibilities – except maybe changing the water at the water cooler – to appease Chip Kelly, who proceeded to treat the roster like that of a fantasy football team.

Like Kelce said, Roseman came back a new man. He undid Kelly’s damage, identified and drafted Wentz, hired Pederson and put together a championship team.

Kelly is back in college football, where I wish him nothing but the worst.

That might sound harsh, but I could have put it the way Kelce did.

But it’s the new me – the dude I have been waiting to be since my first game at Franklin Field in 1970 – so I’ll be nice.

For now.

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On February - 15 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

Dressed in a green Mummers costume, Eagles center Jason Kelce delivered a speech that won’t be forgotten for a long time.

The opinions on Kelce’s speech at the conclusion of the championship parade range from dismissing the profanity as inconsequential to treating the profanity as a capital offense, with calls for the Eagles to fine Kelce or even release him.

I wish Kelce had left out the profanity. There were a lot of kids celebrating the Eagles’ championship at the parade and watching on television. One or two f-bombs wouldn’t have raised as much of a stink, but the cursing during the final stages of Kelce’s speech seemed excessive. More importantly, the profanity controversy seems to have distracted from his message.

The message in Kelce’s passionate speech has been overshadowed by the great profanity debate. Kelce’s speech did a wonderful job of emphasizing the link between the Eagles, who overcame so much adversity, and their fans, who had to wait 57 years between championships. Both were hungry for success, and, as Kelce said, hungry dogs run faster.

Kelce played up the anger factor and the lack of respect directed toward the Eagles and their fans. He listed players, including himself, who were counted out for a variety of reasons. And he explained how nobody seems to like Eagles fans.

The speech perfectly captured the attitude of the Eagles, their fans and the city of Philadelphia. Within sight of the Rocky statue, the Eagles and their fans celebrated their status as unappreciated underdogs.

One could argue that the profanity was appropriate in the context of the speech. The profanity conveyed the anger and passion dripping from every word of Kelce’s speech. In the end, however, the profanity was a distraction from what otherwise was a masterful speech.


SIGNIFICANT LOSSES: One of the inevitable effects of winning a Super Bowl is that you lose assistant coaches. The Eagles lost offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. Reich became the head coach of the Colts. DeFilippo joined the Vikings as offensive coordinator, replacing former Eagles assistant coach Pat Shurmer, who became the Giants’ head coach.

With Doug Pederson remaining in charge of the offense, the loss or Reich and DeFilippo won’t sink the Eagles, but it’s foolish to think that these two men were expendable to the point that their absence won’t make a difference. There clearly was an excellent working relationship between Pederson, Reich and DeFilippo. It will take time to develop a similar relationship with two new people as part of the equation.


CROWD NUMBERS: Was Philly.com trying to stir up controversy with its 700,000 crowd estimate? While driving into and out of Center City on the day of the parade, I saw people parked beyond the zoo. When I drove through Fern Rock in the morning, I saw Eagles fans parked a mile from the subway station. I can also attest that there were people wearing Eagles gear walking around Center City during the parade. Every store that was open contained people in Eagles uniforms.

Apparently, the Inquirer sent parade photos to a pinhead professor in England, and he and his assistants analyzed the photos to come up with a crowd total. To start with, the methodology is flawed. Photographs wouldn’t include the people in the hotels, offices and parking garages along the parade route. Nor would it include people who took a break from the parade to get something to eat or drink.

If there weren’t more than a million people at the Eagles parade, then there weren’t more than a million people at any parade in Philadelphia’s history.


OVERLOOKED MOMENT: The Philly Special, with Trey Burton throwing a touchdown pass to Nick Foles, will live on in Philadelphia sports history forever, but there were a few big plays that were overlooked in the wake of the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

One of the most important plays was safety Malcolm Jenkins knocking Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks out of the game with a crushing hit during the first half. Without Cooks, who never returned to the game, the Patriots didn’t have their best deep threat to stretch the Eagles defense.


OVERLOOKED STRATEGY: Malcolm Jenkins also was part of one of the most important strategic decisions during Super Bowl LII. Instead of having Jenkins cover tight end Rob Gronkowski, as many analysts (including me) expected, the Eagles decided to have Jenkins cover running back James White in passing situations. White, who set a Super Bowl record the previous year with 14 receptions, was held relatively in check. Gronkowski had just one reception for 9 yards during the first half before the Patriots figured out how to get him the ball during the second half.


TRIBUTE TO PAST GREATS: In yet another example that this year’s Eagles “get it,” several Eagles wore the throwback jerseys of great players from the past who never got to celebrate a Super Bowl title. Among the players wearing throwing back jerseys were defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (Reggie White), left tackle Jason Peters (Brian Dawkins) and tight end Brent Celek (Harold Carmichael). White is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dawkins will be inducted this summer and an argument can be made that Carmichael belongs there as well.


FOLES’ CHOICE: With Carson Wentz recovering from a major injury, the Eagles should keep Nick Foles. He could start the season or be an insurance policy in case Wentz reinjures his knee. However, if Foles wants to be traded to a team for which he definitely would start, the Eagles owe it to him to try to make a deal.


TOUGH DECISIONS: In addition to losing assistant coaches, another dreaded consequence of winning the Super Bowl is getting rid of players from that championship team. It’s inevitable that the Eagles will have to part ways with players they would like to retain.

There are questions about bringing back left tackle Jason Peters and running back Darren Sproles, both of whom are approaching the end of their careers. The Eagles need to create room under the salary cap in order to re-sign some of their players, such as linebacker Nigel Bradham, who is slated to become a free agent.

Defensive end Vinny Curry seems a likely salary-cap casualty. And the Eagles might not have money under the cap to re-sign tight end Trey Burton or cornerback Patrick Robinson, who was one of the more pleasant surprises this season after being in danger of being cut during training camp. And will 11-year veteran Brent Celek return?


NO OFFSEASON: While we’re still basking in the glory of the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory and the championship parade, the Phillies have opened spring training. The first workout for pitchers and catchers was Wednesday, but the bulk of the attention still is on the Eagles.


SNOW JOB: The Winter Olympics have been overshadowed even more than the Phillies by all of the attention directed toward the Eagles. As far as the Delaware Valley is concerned, the Olympics barely register on the sports radar.


RELIVE THE GLORY: For those who want to relive the thrill of the Eagles winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history, WIP will replay its broadcast of the game on Sunday (2 p.m.). I won’t spoil it for you by giving away the ending.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 29 years, is absolutely thrilled to celebrate the Eagles’ first Super Bowl championship.

Chris Long, Lane Johnson lead E-A-G-L-E-S chant