Normalizing An Addiction


GORDONVILLE – Those commercials for new and improved medicines? I’m sure you have seen them. So hideously one that you cover your eyes out of embarrassment for whomever was responsible.

We’ll get a brief description of the minor health issue the pills are for, followed by so many dire warnings and scary side effects – up to and including sudden death — that it seems better to just have cold fingertips or hot feet in the morning.

But give them credit for laying it all out, slowly and concisely.

I wish I can say the same for the cottage gambling industry that has placed a firm chokehold on our culture.

Yeah, everybody bets a little and doing it online is probably better than going through a bookie in a dark alley, but there still seems to be a sudden casual acceptance that I find a bit troubling.

At the end of the gambling commercials, commonplace on sports-talk radio stations and during sporting events, the voiceover is so rapid that you can barely make out the CYA 1-800-GAMBLER part and something quickly muttered about Gambler’s Anonymous.

What is troubling, and what has this racing up my list of burgeoning pet peeves, is that many regional sports heroes of our recent past are used as spokespeople (pawns, really) for these operations (don’t get me started on Pete Rose not going into Cooperstown but no Hall of Fame credentials getting yanked for these ex-jocks in need of a pay day).

The statistics back up a difficult fact that our country, especially at a time when people are at home more, is dealing with a gambling problem that is most prevalent in teens and young adults who are the most computer literate and almost see gambling as a video game without real consequences.

Compared to the immediacy of drug addition, gambling addiction is pretty much swept under the rug.

Consider the following:

-As many as 10 million Americans live with a gambling addiction. While the act of gambling itself is not illegal, making it easier justifies risky gambling behaviors.

-The numbers show that the majority of people who have a gambling addiction are not self-aware enough to see it as a problem. In fact, just 21 percent of incarcerated individuals assessed as having gambling addiction thought that their gambling was problematic.

-Gambling trends indicate dire consequences with the advent of the internet making gambling more accessible. As a result, the number of lives negatively affected by gambling has also increased.

Specifically, two areas where the addiction has hit hard is with college students and with domestic violence, as studies show it is more likely to occur when a parent is a compulsive gambler.

Children of gamblers, according to experts, are more prone to develop depression and substance abuse later in life.

According to a combination of national studies, 1 in 20 college students meet the criteria for compulsive gambling.

That rate is more than double that of the overall adult population. A major reason for these high rates seem to point to the accessibility of gambling through the internet, as some studies indicate that 23 percent of college students report gambling online (with 6 percent doing so weekly).

And then there is the issue of criminality. While gambling is legal in most states, there is still a connection to breaking the law, as about half of compulsive gamblers commit predictable crimes. All are committed in an attempt to get money to gamble with and/or to pay off debts.

The crimes range from forgery to fraud to petty theft, etc. As compulsive gambling increases, and primarily under the radar, the correlation with crime will as well

Don’t believe me, try these facts and figure on for size:

  • More than two-thirds of compulsive gamblers report committing crimes directly related to gambling, and approximately 40 percent of compulsive gamblers report the only crimes they commit are related to gambling.
  • Somewhere between 80 to 90 percent of individuals who attend Gamblers Anonymous report engaging in illegal acts to get money for gambling.
  • An estimated 63 percent of Gamblers Anonymous members reported writing bad checks, and approximately 30 percent reported stealing from work.
  • Nearly 70 percent of gamblers assessed as having a severe problem reported engaging in illegal acts relating to gambling, compared to roughly 26 percent assessed to have moderate severity.
  • A study of Gamblers Anonymous members found that 57 percent had stolen to finance their gambling with a combined financial impact of theft equaling $30 million.
  • Compulsive gamblers are arrested seven times more frequently than non-gamblers.

But there is more than all these damning facts and figures.

There are the personal stories.

For me, this all hits a little too close to home and rattles skeletons rattling around in my own closet.

My stepfather was a gambler. I was a kid, and not around on weekends (at my father’s house), so I don’t really know the full extent. Looking back now at some of the uneven behavior, a lot adds up that gambling was fueling the engine running off the road.

The sins of the stepfather were not visited upon the stepson, as my chances placing a rare bet of more than $5 on anything are less than me dunking a bastketball, and I was not the victim of any sort of physical abuse.

But there was some emotional abuse, and it got worse around the same time gambling became legal in Atlantic City.

After retiring, that’s where he and my mother lived half the year. I was already a young adult when we would visit, but I remember him Jonesing to finish dinner to go off and play Black Jack and Roulette.

He played so much that there were stretches where this casino or that one would comp him (he was also frequently comped on gambling junkets on cruise ships when they spent the other half of the year in Florida).

I was fine with it, staying in those rooms and eating in those exclusive restaurants, where he would still have ants in his pants to hit the casino with what seemed to be a self-fulfilling prophecy to lose.

He would win $5K and then lose it all back within 24 hours. It was a vicious cycle, and one we couldn’t wait to get away from after a night or two when the focus should have been more on, say, a young Sofia.

There were those who had it worse. There was a friend my stepfather won a Jaguar from in a high-stakes poker game, which was reminiscent of him winning – and then losing – a West Philly diner in the late 1960s (I only heard that story as a whimsical remembrance).

Even though he kept at it, owned by his compulsion (common in older men to the tune of 69 percent), he always said gambling was a game for losers and that the house always wins.

Memo From A Windmill


GORDONVILLE — Forget the name you see above.

I’m not Gordon Glantz.

Call me Don Quixote.

When it comes to the issue of gun control, that’s who I am. Driven to the point of heroic madness.

I’ve gone at the subject of gun control 1,000 times, so get set for No. 1,001.

We have so many inherent problems in this country.

We are literally torn apart by a covert Civil War, which was initiated by your former president (not mine).

Education? Environment? Bullying?

Gun Control still tops the list for me.

I’m not advocating going door to door and taking all your guns, either. If I would, I could, but I can’t.

But there are measures that can be taken to save lives. Why not move forward?

Let’s start with this bitter pill: More American have died from gunfire since 1970 than in all wars combined. And the death toll continues to rise.

Take a minute to swallow it without choking.

Now, to put it into more immediate terms, try this: There were more than 500 shootings this weekend that resulted in 233 fatalities.

Some like to parse it out between mass shootings and street shootings, but a gun death is a gun death. No matter the victim’s race or social standing, the blood of a victim runs in rivers of red.

What gets me is that the common response I get, even from those who are frustratingly neutral, is that there is nothing we can do about it.

Throwing up your hands and surrendering to the madness? Is that the American way?

Actually, I’ll tell you what it really is: It’s the Yemen way.

Yemen? Yeah, Yemen.

That’s the only other country with an attitude toward guns like we have.

Let me update you on Yemen, so that we have some context of who are partners in gun crime happen to be.

Yemen is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. An estimated 12 million children are hungry, thirsty and lacking basic medical care.

Considered one of the most unsafe places on the planet, travel advisories are generally issued due to terrorism and kidnapping and overall violence.

Yemen is second – I repeat, second – to one other country in the gun ownership.

Take a wild guess?

United States? Bingo!

Maybe Yemen can’t help it.

We can.

We have this fantasy, perhaps a fetish, about playing John Wayne. The reality is that ever getting to do that in your own home, as compared to a tragic accident or heat-of-the-moment domestic disputes or suicide (two-thirds of gun deaths), are much great.

And I have news for you. John Wayne, while also a racist in the real life, was also wimp. He served as many days – zilch — in combat as the former president (not mine).

Let it go.

Let me tell you a story. Once or twice a year, we have a garage sale. Without fail, some “customer” will show up looking for guns and ammunition. We will politely tell him we don’t, and it’s not uncommon for this “customer” to refuse to take “no” for an answer.

“Youse, don’t got nuttin’ at all,” he’ll say, while rattling off different types of guns and bullets, and smirking as if we’re losers when we say no.

Is this how it’s supposed to go down? And it’s naïve to think these guys only use our garage sales to circumvent the flawed system where approximately 20 percent of the guns on the streets are sold outside the boundaries and countless others are stolen.

The common arguments I get, usually on Facebook, are that it’s a mental health issue.

I’m not going to argue that it’s part of it, but it’s blatantly irresponsible to thrown that blanket over it and walk away.

Statistics show that the vast majority of people with mental health issues are non-violent. What we can agree that it is not enough people who need access to mental healthcare are able get it (typically blocked in budgets by the same right-wing politicians that refuse to budge on gun control). Pretty much unrelated in reality, people seeking easy access to guns are able to get them.

What do the sobering numbers say? It is, in fact, easier to get your hands on a gun than to get psychiatric treatment. This is from that Harvard place, by the way, not FOX News.

The other one, and most laughable, is the car comparison.

How about this, ding-dongs? Let’s compare mind sets and see where we are on it.

Read a car magazine or through an online thread and compare it to those from gun enthusiasts.

One person is enjoying the open road, the other is enjoying pulling the trigger on a weapon with only one reason for its existence.

The reality is that, since 1921, the auto fatality rate per 100 has been reduced by 95 percent.

Gunfire? Not quite, sorry.

There is a conscious effort, from car owners and makers, to make them safer each year, with features like improved breaking systems and traction control. Most cars are equipped with features to assist with going in reverse.

The passage of time has seen seat belts, air bags, speed limits, lights (red, yellow, green, blinking, etc.), the need for an operator’s license, updated insurance (with incentives for safe drivers), high beams for the dark, a focus on distracted driving, etc.

Then, yawn, comes the misinterpreted and misunderstood argument about the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.

Let’s back up the bus a bit here and talk about the First Amendment, which protects the right of free speech but does not guarantee the right to defame someone’s character.

The Second Amendment, often treated like it came down with Moses from Mount Sinai and cannot be touched without the planet being struck with an asteroid, does not preclude sensible regulation. For example, background checks would not be unconstitutional.

Still, do you own nuclear weapons?  Well, why not? Where is the line drawn? It’s OK to have an AR-15 or AK-47, which rattle off an insane amount of shots, but not antiaircraft missiles in your backyard?

And, speaking of the Constitution, it was written when people owned other people and women were allowed the right to vote.

Not only was it not etched in stone, the founding fathers – visionaries but also products of their time – didn’t want it to be etched in stone (look up the definition of the word “Amendment”).

I have no doubt that they never intended the Second Amendment to be anything more than state militias being prepared for the British Army trying to reclaim lost turf.  Considering we bailed out Britain in both world wars, becoming a power in the process, that is not a concern anymore.

The state militia members of yore have become the National Guardsmen of today.

I think we’re good.

As bad as times are.

Final Mock: Once More Into The Fray


GORDONVILLE – One of my favorite historical sayings: Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.

It may be more of a legendary myth – or a mythical legend – from the American Revolution, with scholars still debating over who commanded it … if it was ever actually commanded at all.

As the story goes, it was meant to save our gunpowder against the better stocked forces of the British Empire during a battle on Bunker Hill.

True or not, it has its place in our common vernacular, in terms of waiting until the last time – even if it seems up against deadline – to pull the trigger.

That’s what we are doing here, with one more into the breach with a Mock Draft.

Round 1 (Pick 12): Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

Explanation: An alpha receiver, like LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, would have been ideal at pick No. 6. After GM Howie Roseman traded out of the spot for additional draft capital (a first next year). It was clear the focus had shifted to the dire need at cornerback. There are some good ones this year, and the opinion here is that Surtain is the complete, and polished, package. He has size (6-2, 200ish) and runs well enough (4.5 range) and has poise. He is also an excellent tackler for a corner (leading to some thought that, at some point in his career, he could wind up at safety). There is some talk, maybe too much talk, that the Eagles will have to trade up to get Surtain. In this computerized simulation, which only stopped for me to choose for the Eagles, Dallas traded back from 10 to 20 (and Chicago spent the No. 10 pick on Justin Fields) and Surtain was sitting there.

Round 2 (Pick 37): Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

Explanation: It could be argued the Eagles didn’t need a linebacker this high, or at all, but Collins brings the size (6-4, 250-260) and athleticism that could relate to Leighton Vander Esch-type impact. When the history of this draft is written, Collins could easily be seen as the crop’s best linebacker.

Round 3 (Pick 70): Payton Turner, DE, Houston

Explanation: A late riser on draft boards, his size (6-6, 270) and athleticism could put him into an immediate Vinny Curry role as a defensive end who can line up inside. This pick will cause “Iggles” fans to breathe fire, but they will say they loved the pick 2-3 years from now.

Round 3 (Pick 84): Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia

Explanation: The only debate with this long (6-2) and lean (185 pounds) defender is where he will play – corner or safety. A good problem. There is no debate that he will play, and play well, at the next level.

Round 4 (Pick 123): Caden Sterns, S, Texas

Explanation: A big (6-1, 210) and physical safety who looks for the big hit. He has 28 consecutive starts under his belt. It’s a streak that is likely to end in the NFL, as he will ride the learning curve while hunting heads as a rookie on special teams. Down the road, though, you could expect this head-seeking missile to be a starter.

Round 5 (Pick 150): Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State

Explanation: This long for a receiver? Yeah, this long. Johnson could be worth the wait, however, as he showed well at the Senior Bowl, where he put himself on most draft boards. He brings strong hands and skills as a return man.

Round 6 (Pick 189): Trey Hill, C, Georgia

Explanation: You could say that the Eagles could get by without drafting Jason Kelce’s possible heir apparent, especially since he could already be in the building (Luke Juriga, Ross Pierschbacher) or in the person of veteran Isaac Seumalo with Jack Driscoll or Matt Pryor sliding in at guard. Still, at this point of the draft, a mauler like Hill (6-3, 330) presents too much value to pass up. I was surprised to see him still here in this simulation, so I pounced. NOTE: There is some speculation is pick could be dealt to Chicago for slot receiver Anthony Miller. Even though I have no issues with Greg Ward, and even though Miller would be a one-year rental, I’d do it.

Round 6 (Pick 224): Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford

Explanation: A Stanford receiver who doesn’t get great separation but wins jump balls? Where have we heard that before? Relax. In the sixth round, the risk of another J.J. Arecega-Whiteside (second round in 2019, with D.K. Metcalf on the board) diminishes. Plus, Fehoko plays with much more grit and could be a Mack Hollins-type on special teams. Also, he has the size (6-3, close to 230) to warrant consideration as a hybrid tight end/receiver.

Round 6 (Pick 225): Avery Williams, CB. Boise State

Explanation: Not only do I like this guy as a NFL role player, I love him for the Eagles. He may not be anything more than backup slot corner at a shade under 5-9 and maybe 180 pounds soaking wet, but he might be the best two-way return man (punts and kicks) – outside of Jaylon Waddle – in the draft class. He has also excelled in kick and punt coverage.

Round 7 (Pick 234): Briley Moore, TE, Kansas State

Explanation: Assuming that Zach Ertz is traded away, a tight end will be needed. Like at center, there are some in-house projects, but Moore offers another option. While he lacks ideal size (6-3, maybe 250), he is a reliable receiver. For those old enough to remember, think former Eagle tight end Keith Krepfle, who came from the Midwest (Iowa) and measured in at 6-3, 227.

Round 7 (Pick 240): Mustafa Johnson, DT, Colorado

Explanation: The only thing stopping Johnson from being drafted higher, which he would be in lighter drafts, is his perceived lack of girth for the position. Not only is Johnson 6-0, he is 290 pounds. However, players with a knack of making plays – 12 ½ sacks the last two years — find a way to adjust and remain productive.

Summary: If you notice a theme, it’s heavy on defense. There were points last season where, while calling for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s head, I told anyone who would listen that I would mind a defense-only draft this year. That was a bit extreme, but only a bit.

Also, unlike my other mocks, there were no trades. There will be trades. Roseman will break out in a rash if he doesn’t maneuver around the board even a little. Also, while Ertz will likely be moved, it’s impossible to project to where for what. The hunch here is that it won’t be for much more than a Day 3 pick – something like Ertz and a sixth for a fourth – but we will just see how that plays out. We can always hold out hope he stays, has a productive year, becomes the franchise’s all-time leading receiver and then leaves in free agency (bringing compensation next year than might be better than what they get in a trade).

Because this was a defense-heavy draft, I was unable to tab a developmental quarterback or another running back. The Eagles just have to roll with Khalil Tate and/or an undrafted guy (i.e. Zac Thomas of Appalachian State) as the third QB and let Elijah Holyfield, the son of Evander Holyfield, fight it out with Jason Huntley and the infamous Adrian Killins – and maybe an undrafted entity (i.e. Caleb Huntley of Ball State; Otis Anderson of Central Florida) for the fourth running back job.

If Ertz is moved for a pick, perhaps it will be used for a quarterback like Kellen Mond (Texas A&M ) or Davis Mills (Stanford) or a running back such as Rhamondre Stevenson (Oklahoma) or Chris Evans (Michigan).

G2 Mock Draft 2.0: Cornering The Market


GORDONVILLE – Crank up the Aerosmith.

Not talking about that newer crapola.

Not into dudes who look like ladies.

Talkin’ old School …

I’m back in the saddle.


Time for my Eagles-only 2021 NFL Mock Draft 2.0 Edition

This time around, I accepted more trade offers. The only ones I rejected were those where the Birds, with so many holes to fill, were asked to give up more picks than received. For some teams, that makes sense. For our Eagles, at this place in time and place, it did not.

You will also not that I did not take a tight end, as I’m now trying to cling to the hope that Zach Ertz mends fences with the front office and returns. It would be mutually beneficial for both sides. In a year where there might not be a lot of positives, there is the PR plus of him becoming the franchise leader in receptions. Also, with a solid season (doesn’t need to be spectacular), he can then sign elsewhere (and bring a decent compensatory pick, which would about the same value that the Eagles would get in a trade now anyway).

Also, with the signings of stopgap linebacker Eric Wilson and big back Jordan Howard, I reassessed those positions as well.

OK, ready to rock?

Let’s dream on …

Round 1 (Pick 19): Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern

Explanation: In a lot of the mocks I have been doing, Kyle Pitts is there at 12. We know that is not going happen. He may not get out of the Top 5, and definitely not the Top 10 (in this one, he goes to Dallas at 10). The top three receivers – LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and both Alabama receivers, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle – were also gone. There were a few offers to move down, but the one that made the most sense was from NFC East rival Washington. In exchange for the 12th pick, used for Mac Jones, the Eagles get the 19th pick and a first in 2022 (meaning at least three, if not four). The choice came down to Newsome, who has nice size (6-1, 190) and rising up the draft boards from initially being viewed as a solid Day 2 pick, or Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman. Tough call, but I went with Newsome, who has the type of maturity to not be as flustered as a rookie put out on an island and has sound ball skills.

Round 2 (Pick 37): Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

Explanation: Not much to say here. The best at his position in a strong draft has to be the choice. When I saw his name sitting there, I honestly did not even look at who else was available. The Eagles may have done some temporary patchwork at the position for now, but you don’t want to look back 3-5 years from now and get sick to your stomach over passing on a perennial Pro Bowler.

Round 3 (Pick 88): Tommy Togiai, DT, Ohio State

Explanation: If you are wondering how we got to Pick 88, put down the aspirin. A lot wheeling and dealing, from Pick 70 to 74 and then 74 to 84 and 84 to 88. You will also see a plethora of picks in the fourth and fifth rounds as a result of these deals. There are just too many holes to plug and too many quality players to not go and pick up more picks in the guts of the draft. GM Howie Roseman may do some of this, but not to this extent. I did a lot of it and, as it turned out, I’m glad. There is a glaring need at defensive tackle. Fletcher Cox is still very good, but not as a consistently dominant, and the persistence of “stinger” injuries is worrisome. Javon Hargrave is OK, at least for now, but a third player is needed to rotate in while being groomed for a larger role. Togiai (6-1, 300) is stout at the point of attack and, while he may still have some rough edges, is clearly a future starter. He’ll never be a premier pass rusher from the inside, but he will be consistently solid against the run.

Round 3 (Pick 103): Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis

Explanation: While this is a deep running back class, it was not as deep in power backs. Bringing back Howard, who was inexplicably underused by Doug Pederson last year after being plucked off waivers, alleviates that need and opens up the field – literally and figuratively – to someone with a more unique skill set. Gainwell (5-11, 195) is more of an offensive weapon – a chess piece – than a traditional running back. After opting out last season, he was able to nudge his speed under 4.4 and he consistently outruns the angles to the outside. In addition to running for 1,469 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2019, he often lined up in the slot and had 610 receiving yards and three scores on 51 grabs.

NOTE TO NAYSAYERS: You will see picks coming up on Day 3 that were not originally the property of the Eagles. They are result of trading back from the third round, and a little bit more in the fourth round. In a few packages, all of which were offered to me, I had to include the two seventh-round picks.

Round 4 (Pick 118): Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville

Explanation: Like Gainwell, Atwell may never be an every-down player, but he will still create ulcers for opposing defenses. He is 5-9 (maybe) and 170 (maybe) but legitimately runs a notch under 4.4 and can take the top of the defense. He has added value for gadget plays, as he was a heavily recruited dual-threat quarterback out of high school.

Round 4 (Pick 127): Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan

Explanation: This is a result of minor swap of Day 3 picks offered by the Colts, but he would have been the choice at No. 123 anyway. The only real knock on this corner with requisite size (6-0, 185) is that he is too aggressive and needs to be refined a bit. Because we have Newsome to play more right away, we can live with the learning curve. You can’t teach size or speed (4.35), and Thomas has both.

Round 4 (Pick 136): D.J. Daniel, CB, Georgia

Explanation: Sense a pattern here? Another corner who may not be shovel-ready on Day 1 but who also has the requisite size (6-1, 185) and speed (4.4) to play on Sundays. The only question is game experience, as he was a junior college transfer who answered the call in 2019 as junior before injuries set him back last season. It might take a year of playing special teams, or not even being active on game day, but this could end up as an absolute steal.

Round 5 (Pick 147): Rodarius Williams, CB, Oklahoma State

Explanation: A four-year starter who took a licking in pass-happy conference and kept on ticking, eventually emerging as one of the best defensive backs in the Big 12. He is not quite as long (5-11) as our other CB picks — and he runs in the 4.5 range — but he is an excellent tackler who will help on special teams and could get a look at safety if corner doesn’t work out.

Round 5 (Pick 150): Cade Johnson, WR, South Dakota State

Explanation: I don’t really see the dire need at receiver as other do. Back in the fold are Greg Ward (led the team in receptions) and Travis Fulgham (led the team in yardage) and all three of last year’s draft choices. However, Johnson is similar to Atwell in that he can bring some part-time juice to the picnic. In addition to some ability as a return man, he is solidly built (just under 5-11, 185 pounds) with some short-range burst on reverses. After a solid career at a lower level, Johnson put himself on the radar with a nice showing at the Senior Bowl. His best trait is that he is has sure hands. Johnson primarily projects a slot receiver, which is good news for all you Ward haters out there.

Round 5 (Pick 158): Jamie Newman, QB, Georgia

Explanation: After the news that the Eagles are moving street free agent Kahlil Tate away from receiver and back to quarterback, where he excelled at Arizona before a forgettable senior season, you could make a case that another undrafted QB to compete with him is all that is needed for now. However, Joe Flacco is only here for a year. Someone like Newman could end up as the eventual No. 2 behind Jalen Hurts and he plays the same style, meaning the whole offense would not have to be reworked if and when there is a quarterback change in 2022 and beyond. Newman has requisite size (6-3, 230) and excellent running ability for a bigger guy. While not possessing a cannon for an arm, some work on mechanics can help him get the best out of what he has in his arsenal. Even if Tate shows some potential, it will be raw and he would be an easy practice squad stash.

Round 5 (Pick 163): Trey Hill, C, Georgia

Explanation: Hello, Newman (see above)! You will have your college snapper to work with while he is potentially groomed to replace Jason Kelce. Unlike some other centers in this class, Hill possesses excellent size (6-3, 330) and plays a pure power game. He also has some experience at guard, which is another plus (bye Sua Opeta). There are some medical questions, as he put off knee surgery to play in pain last season, but Hill can always be redshirted for a year. Kelce coming back allows for that luxury.

Round 5 (Pick 165): Charles Snowden, LB, Virginia

Explanation: I know I said I was going to lay off of linebacker, at least in the early rounds, but this is a true value pick. Considering some are mocking him as high as the third round, it seemed like the value was too good to pass up on here. Snowden stands at an imposing 6-6, meaning there is some room to grow into his 240-pound frame. He shows some NFL-level explosion as a pass rusher, assuming the new Eagles’ strength staff won’t follow the pattern of the previous one and leave players with season-ending and career-altering torn triceps and biceps muscles.

Round 5 (Pick 175) Camryn Bynum, CB, California

Explanation: Yes, another corner. And he won’t be the last. The reality is that most safeties around the league were college corners anyway (just like second basemen in the majors were shortstops at the lower levels). Bynum is a high-character player who was a two-time team captain and started 48 straight games (with 28 passes defended and 6 interceptions). He also has good corner size (6-0, 200) but his timed speed (4.55) may see him end up at safety. Think Jalen Mills — without the green hair.

Round 6 (Pick 189) Thomas Graham, CB, Oregon

Explanation: Graham is another excellent value pick, as this productive four-year starter is often mocked as high as the late third or early fourth round. What makes him different from the plethora of other corners selected here? At 5-10 (195 pounds) with 4.5 speed, he is likely to be relegated to the slot at the next level, even though he played outside for the Ducks. If not, he would require safety help over the top (unless he also gets a look at safety).

Round 6 (Pick 203) Avery Williams, CB, Boise State

Explanation: Another corner? Really? Well, not exactly. Williams need not take a snap in the secondary, at least for now. At 5-9 and in the range of 190 pounds, he has the build of running back and those skills show up in the return game, where he is one of the best – if not the best – in the whole draft class. And, Williams brings back both kicks and punts with equal acumen (some do one but not the other). While I may have overdone it here in this mock at corner out of disgust with the current depth chart and a dire need to create real competition (not just for starting jobs, but for roster spots), this pick is primarily to bolster what has been a DOA return game for far too long.

Round 6 (Pick 224) Chris Rumph II, Edge/OLB, Duke

Explanation: In about 90 percent of the mocks I do, this guy follows me home like a lost puppy. He had a sound college career (17.5 sacks, including 8 in 11 games last season) for the Blue Devils. Rumph doesn’t seem to have a set position, though. With his size (6-3, 235), Rumph is not hefty enough for defensive end and his speed (4.75), while quite good for a defensive end, is marginal for an outside linebacker. The guess here is that he is bulked a bit and turned into a pass-rushing specialist, which may take some time and patience. That would have to be case here in Philly, where a 4-3 defense is deployed.

Summary: Again, if you read this far, I picked up yet another first-round pick in 2022 and then traded back for extra picks (mostly on Day 3) and loaded up on the secondary after getting more immediate help there in the first two rounds. We also got some Swiss Army knife types for the offense (Gainwell, Atwell, Johnson), a center of the future (Hill), project QB (Newman), an interior defensive lineman who can help now and start later (Togiai) and a linebacker with upside (Snowden). My only regret is not adding an edge rusher sooner than the last pick (Rumph). Like my first mock, it’s not the sexiest haul (unless you get one of the top receivers, or Pitts, it won’t be), but having the discipline to trade back plugged more hole. Having 11 picks should do it, but the sad truth is that more were needed.

G2 Mock Draft 1.0


GORDONVILLE – Opening Day, my eyeball.

This is the greatest time of the year in sports because the NFL Draft looms on the horizon.

Not a day passes that I don’t immerse my Draft Geek self in an online draft simulation, and I find myself emerging with different results each time.

While there are multiple simulators out there, the one I prefer is from Pro Football Network. Its ratings seem to be in lockstep from what is out there in real world and also my print draft guides (yeah, I’m that pathetic.). It also proposes trades along the way. Sometimes, for the heck of it, I accept almost all the offers and load up on talent in what is a draft made deeper in talent by high-end prospects opting out last season due to COVID. That gave others a chance to shine, creating almost a double draft this year.

It would be easy to just look at each round and follow a wish list and go from there, but experiencing it in real time, with targeted players going off the board a pick or two before you have the chance, is the ultimate challenge.

I am sharing today’s draft because it looked like a snapshot of how it really may go down. There were some disappointments, as you’ll see, but some needs may have to just wait for the second wave of free agency (or veterans getting cut loose after the draft) or for next year’s meat market for college prospects.

So, for now, let’s look at G2’s 2021 Mock Draft 2001 (with some tongue-twisting last names:

Round 1 (Pick 17, via trade from Las Vegas): Jeremiah Owsu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame

Explanation: I was hoping to be offered New England’s pick at 15, if only because of swap there is the hot rumor, but the simulator offered three others. Two were ridiculous — offering a bunch of later picks and 2022 picks — so I dismissed them offhand. This one, from the Raiders (still weird not saying Oakland Raiders) made sense. For them to move up to the 12 spot the Eagles held after moving back from 6, the offer was the 17th pick along with a second next year. Truth be told, if offered New England’s choice at 15 (even with Micah Parsons on the board), this Swiss Army Knife of an athlete from Notre Dame would have been the pick anyway. If people can buy hybrid vehicles, why not a hybrid defender? He is the classic “player without a position” that is all the rage, and he is the best one in the draft. While a pick was spent on a similar player, Davion Taylor, in the third round last year, Owsu-Koramoah is as shovel-ready as a three-down player as Taylor wasn’t (and still may not be this year). He can cover backs, tight ends and even big slot receivers. He can blitz, and he hits like a truck against the run. The knock is his size (6-1 and in the 215-220 range) but his athleticism and ability to line up anywhere against any formation makes him the ultimate decade-long chess piece for a defensive coordinator.

Round 2 (Pick 37) Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Washington

Explanation: There were sexier picks, like the craved receivers and corners, on the board. Others that I was hoping would fall (TCU’s Trevon Moehrig, the best safety in the draft by far, didn’t last this time around) didn’t. So, instead, I went non-sexy. Onwuzurike, a 2019 beast in the Pac-12 who opted out in 2020, fills what I see as a more desperate need than others do. Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox, who seems to be plagued by “stinger” injuries, isn’t getting any younger. While Javon Hargrave was one of the few players who actually got better as last year’s nightmare season refused to end, there is almost nothing reliable behind he and Cox on the depth chart. At 6-2 and pushing 300, this Huskie will likely carve out an immediate niche as an inside pass rusher while learning to gain more leverage at the point of attack in the run game.

Round 3 (Pick 70): Josh Myers, C, Ohio State

Explanation: The Eagles will hopefully be looking for Jason Kelce’s heir apparent, and give up on the fantasy of mixing up the whole line and sliding Isaac Seumalo over to center from left guard. Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey went first in the second round, and Alabama’s Landon Dickerson was gone, too. Myers (6-4, 315) is considered as plug-and-play as either of those guys and I had no choice but to bypass some talented skill position offensive players and cornerbacks and grab up a guy who combines technique with power and athleticism. The only real knock on Myers is that he may lack the versatility to play anywhere else along the line in the NFL, but that’s what I’m bringing him here for anyway, right?

Round 3 (Pick 78): Patrick Jones II, Edge, Pitt

Explanation: Still not overly sexy, and I apologize, but I’m not a sexy kind of a guy. Since the Eagles are in rebuild/retool mode, they need to plan ahead all over the field. They seem semi-set at defensive end this year with Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and the emerging Josh Sweat. However, a snapshot of 2022 and beyond shows a dire need. Jones (6-5, 265) is part of a solid DE class that starts falling off a bit on Day 3 (Rounds 4-7). He is a four-year starter and a second-team All-American who can be accused of being a squatter in opposing backgrounds. He could join Onwuzurike on obvious passing downs and make an immediate impact while being taught on how not to overplay the run.

Round 4 (Pick 188, from Los Angeles Chargers, for TE Zach Ertz and a conditional 2022 pick): Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame

Explanation: Hard to know how Ertz-gate will be resolved. Me? Since the Kyle Pitts possibility is all but gone, I sweet talk him into staying another year – and becoming the franchise’s all-time leading receiver as aPR stunt – but I think the SS Antipathy has ventured out to sea. I’m hoping instead that it isn’t one of those situations where he is cut loose for nothing. A team that is restocking its shelves can’t afford that type of move, even for salary cap relief. So, I cooked up this trade with a likely suitor. He won’t garner a fourth, or maybe not even a fifth, straight up. A spiced up the pot with a conditional 2022 Day 3 pick (fifth or sixth round) based on his performance and health. As for Tremble, I hate to put pressure on the kid by taking a tight end in exchange for the best at the position in the franchise’s rich history at the position, but the need is there and Tremble is good value as a 6-4, 250-pound two-way tight end with untapped upside and athleticism.

Round 4 (Pick 123): Caden Sterns, S, Texas

Explanation: A 28-game starter for the Longhorns, he is the quintessential two-way safety. Sterns has good size (6-0, 207) and athletic ability and he thrives on the big hit while being sound in coverage with nice ball skills. He may take some time to learn the pro game, like last year’s fourth-rounder K’Von Wallace, but will be a willing combatant on special teams in the meantime.

Round 5 (Pick 150): Shi Smith, WR, South Carolina

Explanation: I’m sure there is a school of thought that the Eagles should go receiver early, and Ja’Marr Chase as the Alpha Dog for their WR Room at 6 was what I would have done, even with Pitts on the board. However, beyond getting an obvious No. 1 to build around, I don’t really see the logic in stockpiling receivers after drafting three who showed glimpses of promises last year (same reason why I didn’t take multiple offensive linemen with the line hopefully healthy and the younger guys who played last year more experienced). They also return Travis Fulgham (led the team in receiving yards) and Greg Ward (led the team in receptions), and both are young as well. There is also a lingering hope that the new coaching staff can press reset on J.J. Arecega-Whiteside, a foolish second-round pick ahead of D.K. Metcalf two drafts back, and get some production, even if it’s as a red zone specialist. That is six receivers there, and it would not surprise me if a veteran with some mileage on the odometer — but some street savvy — was also added. However, the back end of the draft is loaded with receivers. It would make no sense not to grab a lottery ticket. Every year, a late-round receiver – or even an undrafted one – emerges (while a higher pick, like Arcega-Whiteside, flops). That brings us to a human highlight reel in the 5-10, 185 pound Smith. He has sub-4.5 speed and a productive career (174 catches, 2,204 yards) on his resume.

Round 6 (Pick 189): Tre Brown. CB, Oklahoma

Explanation: I know I didn’t take a corner earlier, and I was hoping to get one at the right value. Again, though, this was a real fire drill in real time. Also, I have a theory on corners. I have seen too many drafted high and, because of that, their team will throw them into the toaster and turn them into burnt toast. It gets to a point that psyches get so damaged from pro receivers making them look bad that they never fully recover. Sometimes, and history backs this up, it is wise to take a corner later on and nurse them along. Brown would provide an instant boost to the Eagles’ moribund return game while project as slot corner. Although he has 4.4 speed and doesn’t not back away from a challenge, his size (5-9, 190) would almost lock him into that role, where he could excel with what are considered pro-level ball skills.

Round 6 (Pick 224): Israel Mukuamu, CB/S, South Carolina

Explanation: This is my “steal” pick. Maybe I’m missing something, as the game film screams a much earlier selection to me. He has experience at a corner and safety. He deploys every bit of his 6-3, 205 frame to play physical with receivers and also hit hard in the running game. While it’s unclear where he will play – my educated guess is safety – the guy will find his way onto the field. Mark it down.

Round 6 (Pick 225): Trey Ragas, RB, Louisiana-Lafayette

Explanation: And now my “sleeper.” There are some intriguing backs all through the draft, but there are also too many other glaring needs. Ragas (5-11, 230) is the type of back the Eagles need to mix in with Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. While this “mean runner” barely cracks 4.6 in the 40, Ragas has a knack for consistently slamming it between the tackles for daylight. For his career, he gained 3,574 yards and ran for 38 touchdowns. Oh, and that was while operating out of a committee approach. He won’t break many long runs, but he could make a career out of runs of 5-10 yards on a consistent basis.

Round 7 (Pick 234): Shane Buechele, QB, SMU

Explanation: A quarterback might actually not be happy getting drafted this late because he would rather just choose his own best destination as an undrafted entity. However, the Eagles offer the perfect opportunity to draw a NFL paycheck as a developmental No. 3 behind Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco. While Hurts is being given the chance to prove himself this year, there is no knowing right now if it will pan out. Flacco, meanwhile, is here one-year hitch. Buechele doesn’t have a whole lot of visible upside, as his arm and athleticism are not eye-popping. But he has a bit of former Eagle Jim McMahon in him. He is tough, accurate, intelligent and competitive. When the smoke clears, he could at least be a solid No. 2 down the road that you don’t fear putting into a game.

Round 7 (Pick 240): Ben Mason, FB, Michigan

Explanation: The odds are probably stronger that the Eagles even take a kicker or a punter here than a fullback, but I am now making an editorial comment. There is a fallacy that fullback is a dying breed. In reality, it is coming back. You are seeing it used more in college, and 21 of the 32 teams in the NFL – including a lot of playoff teams – had a fullback on their depth chart last season. Some only play 5-10 snaps a game on offense but are still core guys on special teams while others are more integral to their schemes. Like long snappers, most fullbacks who make it are undrafted, but Mason has the chops to be a late-round pick. Why not here? The new coach, Nick Sirianni did not have a fullback last year with Indianapolis, where he was the offensive coordinator, although he did use former Eagle – and thrower of the famed “Philly Special” – Trey Burton there from time to time. New offensive coordinator, Shane Steichen, had a fullback (Gabe Nabers) with the LA Chargers. Mason (6-2, 255) is a fierce lead blocker who always has soft hands out of the backfield. It’s also interesting to note that he played several positions in Ann Arbor, before landing at fullback, and mostly on the defensive side of the ball. That would make him an asset on special teams.

Summary: Again, not a sexy draft. I would have hoped to get a corner earlier, but it’s not the way the cookie crumbled this time around (we’ll try again after Easter). I had to go with the flow and what was a real-time draft and plug as many of the obvious holes as I could. The hated one, GM Howie Roseman, has already had prime draft picks for next year (at least two firsts a third) and I got another second here for moving from 12 to 17 and getting a three-down linebacker who can start Day 1.

Hiding Among The White ‘Right’


GORDONVILLE — Why do we have Black History Month?

Going all the way back to sixth grade, when my teacher made it part of the curriculum in February (long before it was a “thing”), it was fairly clear why.

It was because the other 11 months were for White History.

And this is the stone ages, the 1970s, so even the likes of Christopher Columbus were painted in a positive light.

Here in Gordonville, we chose to honor Black History Month largely though music appreciation. That meant posting songs on Facebook, with a heavy – but not sole – focus on the Sound of Philadelphia that started in the 1960s and hit its apex in the ensuing decade.

Now, in March (the month of all the cool birthdays), it is Women’s History Month. Press rewind and play again, only with many songs by female artists – in all genres (folk, rock, country, etc.) – that have formed the soundtrack of our lives.

However, in some circles, is not Women’s History Month.

The alternate universe where the likes of QAnon is reality and reality is fantasy has declared this White History Month.

How do I know?

Because I have been dispatched behind enemy lines on a dual spy missions, where I have access to the twisted thoughts of those on the far right.

It was here, behind these enemy lines, that what they call White History Month begins. Interestingly enough, this unnamed Facebook group posted about Albert Einstein. While exalting the genius for being a genius, there is zero mention of his ethnicity and why he escaped from Germany before World War II.

I guess that wouldn’t fit the narrative, would it?

Next post was none other than Elvis Presley. No mention that Elvis, himself, credited the influence of black music on his own or that one of his primary songwriters, Otis Blackwell, wrote major hits — “Don’t Be Cruel” and “All Shook Up” and “Return To Sender” for the “King.”

It’s also ironic they would choose to herald an immigrant, albeit one for who a visa was named for what seems to be white Europeans (including a future First Lady).

But that’s not all of the nonsense I’m seeing and, thus, subsequently filing in my first report from behind enemy lines.

The funny thing here is that they invited me, albeit with the following hollow warning: “We are a family of Proud Americans that want to keep our country as a free country, not a socialist country – We also believe that this election was stolen from President Trump. (IF) you don’t believe in these two items mentioned above then you aren’t welcome in our family of THE PATRIOTS – SO DONT EVEN THINK OF JOINING …”

Oh, I was soooo scared that I altered my appearance, wearing a MAGA hat and overalls and toted a fake AK-47, and made it across their checkpoint with no issues.

My quiver quake barely registered on the Richter Scale.

Here I am, reading posts for “sheeple” such as the billboards from Liberty Arms, the Walmart of firearms, reminding the easily swayed that cult leader Jim Jones killed 919 people with Kool-Aid (I think guns have still killed way more people than Kool-Aid). They also say not to feel stupid because people actually voted for Elizabeth Warren (at least they didn’t call her Pocahantas).

And on it goes.

Anger over Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head, jokes about the fence around D.C. needing a padlock so it can be called a zoo.

Then, there was this nugget of a post, of which I will cut through the poor grammar and paraphrase. The basic claims are they never cared about anyone else’s race, sexual orientation, place of birth or political beliefs until they were thrown into their faces and sought to “erase my history and blame my ancestors.”

That’s kind of a revelation and admission of guilty behavior on so many levels, and we are not even getting into the real horrors of White History, which would take way more than a month.

But, wait, there is more …

I have also found myself on email lists of some right-wing groups, including one for a gubernatorial candidate for governor who is looking to follow in her ‘ol pappy’s footsteps (although he could give her some dieting tips, from the looks of it).

We already from when she was the mouthpiece for your ex-president (not mine), that she puts down the cream puffs long enough to sing the party song with no capacity for original thoughts.

Beyond that, she is not worth much more time.

I have also started getting missives from another female politician, a former governor and ambassador to the U.N., with presidential aspirations. Because she needs to separate herself from your ex-president (not mine), she has tried to distance herself from some of the craziness.

But, judging from these emails, that doesn’t make her sane.

This is how bad it is, when only being half-nuts makes you normal.

The other outlets that thinks I’m one of them? Yikes.

Since I get about 16 right-wing emails per day, I’ll just provide some of the greatest mishits and foul tips (plus, my bosses have declared some information as classified).

While I couldn’t find anyone shed half a teardrop for Rush Limbaugh, he is martyred for “rewriting the playbook on cancel culture (fancy term for political correctness).”

Along the same lines, the CPAC speech of your ex-president (not mine) is lauded for sending a “strong message.”

While they continually question Pres. Joe Biden’s mental vacuity, and paint him as a puppet, they warn against some master plan of his to turn us socialist.

And then we have the case for “so-called” hate crimes – the foundation of White History – being covered by freedom of speech.

Have a good month, and send your “hopes and prayers” that I don’t get my liberal ass busted.

A (First) Name I’d Rather Forget


What, exactly, do I do these days?

Well, in addition to being Sofia’s chauffeur, I handle a wide array of freelance articles about subjects ranging from hearing loss to anesthesiology to business and sports features.

And, yet somehow, I find myself with so much time on my hands that I’m on Facebook and invariably picking fights with either wrong-wingers who can twist their so-called minds so much that they can justify insurrection or Eagles’ fans who somehow think a position coach from a 4-11-1 team should have been promoted from within to head coach.

What I often find myself doing, in both frustrating realms, is serving as a combination of English teacher and Journalism professor.

Before I can even argue posts with little to no punctuation or capitalization, I find myself correcting what it took me two times to read only to find it wasn’t worth one read because of the stupidity.

One of the major pet peeves, particularly with Eagles fans, is the usage of first names – Carson, Doug, Alshon, Howie, etc. – on first reference.

It’s not just the so-called fans, as I find this occurring with radio hosts on sports talk stations and with the vast array fledgling sites where the “experts” throw their stuff against the wall in hopes that sticks.

Here’s my thing: If you know the individual on a personal level, fine. I know, as a former second-tier sports writer myself, that is rarely – if ever – the case with pro athletes.

Maybe I’m from the old school, and maybe the old school has been burned to the ground in the name of “progress,” but nobody gave me the memo.

It was pretty simple back in Journalism school. First reference, full name (i.e. Zach Ertz). Second reference, last name (Ertz). Only time he can be called “Zach” is if he is referred to as such by a teammate or coach, or even an opposing player or coach, in a quote.

Other than that, it’s unacceptable.

Unless you know the person. Unless you are on a first-name basis.

In my previous lifetime in the newspaper business, I earned that status with some local semi-luminaries.

One of them, I’m now sorry to say, is Bruce Castor.

He was no Bruce Springsteen, but he was an OK “Bruce” that I actually knew fairly well – first professionally and then more casually as members of the Mangioni Society (basically a bunch of guys getting together to eat, drink and be merry.).

I first came into Castor’s orbit as a police beat reporter with The Times Herald when he was the District Attorney.

I have to say, he was awesome to deal with. He was followed in that post by Risa Ferman, who could have been standing astride over a dead body and still wouldn’t say that a murder had been committed.

Bruce? Heck, he could fill up your notebook without really saying anything.

And he could call a mean press conference, laying all the drugs and firearms from a recent bust.

He was a reporter’s dream, but there was a catch. He loved the limelight. His favorite topic was himself, or an extension (i.e classic Corvette).

But I played the game.

It was a quid pro quo.

As I moved up and on to managing editor, Bruce – if I can call him Bruce – eventually became a county commissioner.

Even though he played on the wrong team as a Republican, a fact that squeezed him into the minority of the three-person board, he was among the Republicans for whom I’d vote.

And why not?

I knew him and, while bemused by some of his phony bologna act that comes with the territory, he was a decent person who appeared regularly on my cable access talk show “Behind The Headlines.”

When I lost my gig at The Herald, he was one of the first – if not the first – person to reach out with the claim to let him know if I needed anything.

Now, he is back in the limelight, big-time, as he is representing the entity who recently dared to call himself your president (not mine) the last four years.

To be specific, Castor is defending “it” on impeachment for inciting a riot of Neanderthals who support him if shot someone in Times Square.

In short, he has signed on to defend the indefensible.

In terms of selling off your soul, this is like doing so at a flea market.

I used to say I know many local Republicans, and that I voted for some, like Castor.

There were times when my ticket was split, or even went into the red, and he’d be the reason.

I wouldn’t say we were friends, but we were friendly enough to be on a first-name basis.

And, man, I couldn’t be more ashamed.

Remembering a Brother Lost


So many people were posting yesterday about the passing of Ross S. Malkiel. I was in too much shock to post. I had just had an hour-long phone conversation with him a few days ago (well, if you know Ross, that translates to about 50 minutes of him speaking to my 10 minutes of speaking).

Growing up four doors down the street, he was one year older than me and one year younger than my brother, so the three of us truly considered ourselves to all be brothers. He could walk into my house unannounced as I could into his. If anything was cooking I was always welcome to join his family for a meal and vice versa.

As we got older, Ross made some bad choices and chose to go down some roads that I refused to take. He never ever pressured me to travel those roads with him. He actually grew to respect my decision to stay away from those roads when it was clearly the less popular choice among most of our friends at the time.

The problem is Ross was never truly able to find his way off those roads. Maybe there was something more I could have done to help him. I don’t know.

But I do know this: Ross loved me like you wish every friend that you ever had loved you. Ross would have my back whenever I needed him, and plenty of times when I really didn’t need him.

He truly had a heart of gold and always believed that the future ahead of him was a brighter one. I will truly miss him.

Rest in peace, my brother.

And As The Rats Scurry


From factory workers to steelworkers to those who worked in big city high rises, the shocking sight of a place where you spent the large part of your work life go from vacant to a state of disrepair to being reduced to rubble is far from unique.

It is an American as Hollywood insulting our intelligence with rehashed reboots of sequels old movies and television shows.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have my own rather bittersweet feelings about the old Times Herald building at Main and Markley streets in Norristown suffering the same fate for the alleged sake of gentrification.

The last time I was there, in mid-April of 2013, I was being escorted to my car. Nearly eighteen years of service, and that was that.

The truth was this: I didn’t need an escort. If I believed more strongly in running instead of walking, I would have ran to my car. It was a mercy firing.

It was a Thursday, and my blood pressure had been so dangerously high (readings like 180/120) all that week — from work-related stress — that my doctor had me checking it three times a day and set me up with a counselor to work it out (if it was good enough for Tony Soprano, it was good enough for me).

When I woke up Friday, the first day of unemployment, my BP was a perfectly normal 117/94. I still went to the counselor, but we soon talked about my “mother” issues after she pretty much surmised my work scenario was toxic and I needed the change,

Since then, as I’ve gone from seeing my daughter, Sofia, 15 minutes a day to 15 hours a day, I’ve had the happiest years — Kindergarten though 8th grade for her — of my life.

But that is not to downgrade my time at The Times Herald. I made some lifelong friends — Valerie Newitt, Judy Baca, Kelly Devine, Katie O’Conor-Kelly, Bill Schneider and many others (including people in the community I met through being there so long) — and have stories that no one sober would dare believe.

Like I said, bittersweet.

Even while surrounded by co-workers who felt eternally trapped and miserable, there was a point in my tenure when I would have been wholly satisfied to retire in that place. There were no daggers in my desk drawers to plunge into anyone’s back with the desire to move up some imaginary corporate ladder. In the newsroom, the same newsroom where I had vicious seizure in 2005 and where Sofia took her first steps in 2009, is where I wanted to be.

They say that ignorance is bliss. And I was probably too blissful — and too comfortable — for my own good.

The only thing that changed was the work environment, where it went from feeling like a family akin to the Waltons (I craved that after my unique childhood) to one where a rabid pack of Millennials, some of whom I had brought in as interns and then hired, operated under the misguided belief that they could make their own candle shine brighter by blowing out mine.

I always wanted to be loved. Since that is not an easy juggling act for one in middle management, I would have settled for being liked. Being despised, for reasons I couldn’t fully comprehend, tore away at my insides.

Maybe it was just the circumstances of becoming too understaffed to operate seven days a week, and maybe I had just overstayed my welcome in those 18 years.

Even though it all left me with a touch of PTSD, I still would not have changed a thing in the big rose-colored picture.

Under the wrecking ball’s wrath, there are no victims except the generation of suddenly homeless rats that have long-since inhabited the place. If they could tell tales, that of Gordon Glantz would be a quite a chapter in and of itself.

It is not an exaggeration that my blood, sweat and tears were left there when I was escorted out.

Maybe only the rats in the dank bowels realized it, but that’s OK. They are more intelligent animals than most people know.

Am I making too much out of my impact there? Maybe.

I mean, I was no Red McCarthy, the sports editor for eons, but I likely won more journalism awards than anyone in the history of the joint (I also probably entered more contests, too, but you got to be in it to win it, right?).

I also hosted my own cable access current events show and had 14.5 minutes of fame on the mainstream media circuit after a gruesome homicide in Upper Merion.

Just during my 18-year tenure, there were those who came and went at the speed of a staff of a fast food restaurant and likely barely remember ever even working there on their road to somewhere else.

That wasn’t me, though.

Heck, at places like Eve’s Lunch or the annual Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame banquet, people will come up to me and complain about not getting their paper delivered.

I have to politely tell them I don’t work at the paper anymore, and haven’t since that fateful day in 2013.

When we toured Mount St. Joseph Academy (Sofia got a scholarship, not that I’m bragging), a teacher from the Jeffersonville area said: “Wait, you’re Gordon Glantz? Really? We love Gordon Glantz!”

She, too, didn’t realize I wasn’t there anymore. And this was recently (she politely declined my offer for an autograph).

I remember being at the bank, and also serving a sentence waiting for the wife to shop at the Dollar Store in East Norriton, and having someone ask this question: “Didn’t you used to be Gordon Glantz?”

As I am prone to do, I wrote a dour woe-is-me song about the experiences called “Used To Be Me.”

Actually, as songwriting has morphed into my main thing, one theme has been the wrestling match within American souls between defining themselves by who they are (as parents, citizens and civil human beings) and what they are (based on what war they might have fought in, and for which branch of the military, or what they did for a living and where).

Having served both of those masters in my lifetime, my bittersweet feelings about the building coming down now make sense in context.

It has been a long, strange trip.

When I got to The Times Herald in May of 1995, Scotty had beamed me down to the surface of the planet Utopia. I had spent 7 years at a chain of low-paying weeklies – Montgomery Newspapers – and was already worn to a nub from my sports stories running up to a week after an event.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the opportunity given to me at that first real journalism job, as it gave me a chance to iron out some seriously rough edges to my writing.

Because I was often writing game stories that were running way after the fact, and after they had already been reported in other papers (there used to be healthy amount back then), I developed a way to turn a game story into more of a feature that would be still be an interesting read.

I had put in the work, too, on other levels. Example: I would cover football games on Friday nights and drive all the back to a dark and dank Fort Washington office (also long-since vacant) and put myself on the same deadline that I knew writers at daily papers were on.

When I first got to the Herald, there was a lot of consternation – and turnover – because of a change in ownership about a year before. I was always kind of caught in the middle of all that. It was like being born too late to be a baby boomer but too soon for Generation X, something I know from being born in 1965.

At the time, all the desks in the newsroom were still filled with reporters and editors. People weren’t happy with their salaries, but we were at full staff. There were multiple reporters at the courthouse, too. In sports, there were seven of us for six desks. As the “rookie,” I sometimes had to get up and move two or three times per shift.

In many ways, the Herald was more antiquated than my previous employer. It didn’t have voice mail – something I had to put atop the bargaining wish list as unit chair when it was clear we weren’t getting more than a pittance of a raise – and I had taken my life in my hands multiple times by trying to enter through the arcane revolving door at the front entrance (it became safer ascending and descending from the steep and rickety side fire escape that management encourage us to use).

But I covered all the premium scholastic beats – football, boys’ basketball (including PW winning the state title in Hershey), baseball and American Legion baseball in the summer.

I eventually had the chance to cover the 76ers and then college hoops, both of which included going on the road.

Professionally, after seven years of feeling like a second class citizen, I was like Albert in Wonderland.

I got married while I was there, and many of the attendees at my bachelor party – and wedding — were co-workers.

The thing was, turnover was growing at a more rapid rate, too. At one point, the news reporters had already left or had turned in their two-weeks notice. At the same time, my union activities pretty much had me blacklisted from attaining management status, even after serving as interim sports editor – with no raise – for a period of close to a year.

It was time for a change, but we already bought a house in Blue Bell and I couldn’t just up and move (even after being advised that it would be in the best interests of my career).

I had an epiphany, and went into the office of then-editor Mike Morsch (still a good friend to this day). I offered to come over to the dark side – i.e. newsroom – but only as the crime reporter. I wanted no parts of any township/borough meetings, etc.

He was cool with the proposal and, just like that, I had made a sudden gear shift.

A lot was different, obviously. It was real life, with real life consequences, but I had connected with most of the cops the same way I did with coaches.

Once you are on a first-name basis, and can be trusted, you can be a more cerebral cop reporter (you don’t need to go ambulance-chasing covering accidents and fires catching stories solely from the scanner). I worked closely with detectives on larger cases and had my share of scoops.

The managing editor, a vastly overqualified dude named Justin Williams, was leaving. I was talking in the newsroom with fellow reporter – and partner in crime – Michelle Mowad about who would replace Justin.

“Whoever it is, I hope they aren’t an asshole,” one of us said, as we watched candidates come and go for interviews.

Hearing us from across the room, Cheryl Rodgers – then the city editor and now still “it” as the paper functions virtually – chimed in.

“Whoever it is better not think they are my boss,” she said.

As soon as we got done laughing, I saw Justin at my desk. He said Stan Huskey, Mike Morsch’s replacement as executive editor, wanted to see me.

I figured someone was in trouble (not naming names, but it was usually the same person) and he wanted to tell me about it, since I was the “union guy.”

Lo and behold, Stan asked if I was interested in the managing editor’s job.

I’m sure he thought I would jump at it, but I needed some time.

We were in the middle of contract talks, and I didn’t want to seem like Benedict Arnold.

However, everyone involved with the Newspaper Guild could not have been more encouraging, if not flat-out happy for me, as it seemed I was suddenly off the blacklist.

I was cleared for takeoff on the home front as well, so I told Stan I was willing to proceed.

What came next was the best run of my work life.

Followed by the worst.

It was like a thrilling roller-coaster ride that, unfortunately, leaves you nauseated at the tail end.

Like I said, bittersweet.

Ask the rats — as they scurry — if you don’t believe me.