Author Archives: gordonglantz

Lesson Learned While Cutting School

Police patrol, stop sign

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Senior Cut Day?

It was too good to be true.

Cutting class, and school, was such a perfected specialty of mine that other kids at Northeast High would come to me for advice on how to pull off their own daring escapes, whether they be inside or outside the building (and how and where they could best go undetected – like the underground railroad – once they made it).

I don’t remember the reason why the day existed in late May of 1983. I’m taking an educated guess it was the same day as the Senior Prom, but that fete was only for the 150-200 rich and famous of the 1,000 kids in my class, so it was a free pass for everyone else.

You didn’t need to tell us twice.

A free pass? Took some of the fun out of it, but let’s drive around a crank up the Def Leppard.

Def Leppard

We even convinced a black friend of ours dating back to grade school to also cut and drive around with no particular place to go or be.

Somehow, we ended up outside the mega-sized movie theater (in a senior moment here, I’m blanking on the name) that used to be in the far Northeast – an area that was then a bit more, uh, less colorful – than the lower northeast.

The lines were forming outside for the third of the Star Wars movies – Return of the Jedi, or some such nonsense – well before the first matinee. In those lines, were plenty of minors who should have been in school. Some smaller kids were with adults. The teens, though, were in groups.

It was a school day, and there was a police presence, but the police were clearly looking the other way on truancy.

Except when a patrol car pulled up alongside my beat-up 1974 Chevy Malibu and in the parking lot across the street. I tried to pretend it wasn’t there, but the officer’s glare spoke volumes. Three white kids with one black kid? In that part of the city, at that time of day?

Clearly, if we weren’t already guilty of the crime of the century, we were planning it.

I’m not going to bend the truth and say what came next was a case of brutality, but the following interrogation bordered on harassment. Abuse? No. Abuse of power? Absolutely.

I can’t help but think that the whole thing would have unfolded differently had our black friend, with ID revealing an address in North Philly, had not been in the backseat.

Racial profiling, anyone?

The officer probably suspected he was our dealer when, in reality, he was more “straight” with the use of illegal substances than any of us. He also needed the most convincing about hanging with us that day, and was shaky about going into unfamiliar terrain.

Given all that is coming out in the open about the two Americas and the way they are policed, we were lucky to walk away — in era where the shadow of former police commissioner and mayor Frank Rizzo (below) loomed large — with a stern warning.

Rizzo

Despite my rather obvious ethnic features (see pic below) that would belie an attempt at saying I went to a school of mostly Irish Catholics, I told the officer I went to Father Judge (I knew from one of my hockey friends who attended the boys-only Catholic school that they were off for some reason).

HSGRAD

One of my friends with a more obvious Jewish last name and a more tame Jewfro than what I had working (see above), confessed that it was Senior Cut Day at Northeast (leaving me to stick to my flimsy Father Judge story all alone). The officer was still dubious about my black friend in the backseat, but when he couldn’t find evidence of wrongdoing or that my car had been stolen, he reluctantly told us to leave and not come back.

Why am I relaying this story, which is rather benign in the light of the George Floyd case that was merely the final straw on the camel’s heavy back? Because I remain convinced, all these years later, that the whole confrontation would not have happened without  a black friend in the car.

And this was 1983.

And on Senior Cut Day, we learned more about the harsh realities of the world than if we had been in school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gale Force Winds

Gale Statement

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Another day, another call for Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale to either rescind this comments in the wake of the national protests over the George Floyd death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, or to flat out resign over them.

I’m going to shock you here a little bit, but don’t count me among the chorus.

You want him out? Do it the old-fashioned way — just like I hope you do with your president (not mine) and his many minions in elected office, at all level — and vote them out.

Once that door closes, he will have nowhere else to go.

And that will be the ultimate revenge.

I have it on good authority that Gale, knowing he will be permanently be the in the minority among the three elected spots among the commissioners, has joked that he has a job for life.

Let’s put the joke on him, and pull the plug then.

No need to do it now.

Gale spoke his mind. He revealed his true self, which was not a surprise, really. He has marched to the drum beat — chewing up and spitting out all the generic Fox News talking points — since he has been in the public eye.

No one really cared — or noticed — what he shared on Facebook (we’re “friends” on there) or passed along on Twitter.

Why do it now?

Pigs grunt. A pig grunted.

End of story.

It is his right, as an American citizen to do so, just as it was Colin Kaepernick’s right to take a knee and for everyone else to take to the streets in protest since the Floyd atrocity that — as horrific as it seemed — was the straw that broke the camel’s back, in terms of systemic police brutality.

There is a core group of people, drawn from the same demon spawn, that Gale is clearly trying to score points with by saying what he is saying about Black Lives Matter and Antifa. He doubled down with decrying how the City of Philadelphia, over which has no say as an elected official, pretty much erasing Frank Rizzo — the former police commissioner and mayor — from history (I don’t agree with that, either).

Let him be their hero.

Let him be our zero.

It’s almost laughable, really.

Trust me on this one. I’ve met this guy a few times. I’ve encountered mannequins with better personalities.

They say some human’s brains are not even fully formed until the age of 30. Gale is 30, and he still lives with his parents. Can’t you just picture him in the basement with his little “Don’t Tread On Me” flags on the wall?

Maybe all this is about — this unoriginal cut-and-paste from the likes of Steve Bannon — is a nothing but a cry for attention.

As tempting as it is, don’t give it to him.

Don’t give him any more oxygen.

It’s already a shame with share it.

Feel bad for this little boy lost.

Let him find his own way, post-election, when he doesn’t have his alleged “job for life” anymore.

As what has been proven by the last few weeks of Americans of all colors and creeds demanding their country back is that there are far bigger fish to fry than Joe Gale.

 

gale-fail-header

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flag on the Field

KaepReb

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE –  I wouldn’t do that if you paid me a million dollars.

Who among us hasn’t used that saying?

Truth is, there is not much most of us wouldn’t do – short of something hideous and sadistic – for that kind of a payday.

But I can name two acts that my conscience would never allow.

One is to wave the Confederate flag, that of the side of the traitors, either proudly or to make some sort of a pointless point.

The other would be to take a knee during the national anthem — even though I strongly believe Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” has been, and remains, a better long-term fit, but I won’t go there (even though I just did).

The only difference is that I can understand, in the abstract, why the latter act (like the black power fist, sitting in or the flashing the peace sign) – all public displays of a peaceful protest – would spur one with a different life experience than mine to feel compelled.

None of those are hate speech.

The Confederate flag, well, that’s another story.

The two bloodiest wars for Americans, with more than one million casualties (deaths and wounded) each were the Civil War and World War II.

If you don’t believe me, look it up. I’ll wait.

You back? OK.

It goes way beyond that, though.

It was how they died. A lot of the weaponry was no different than what was used in World War I, and a lot of the battles were fought more up close and personal.

Many of the deaths were slow and painful, coming via infection after limbs were sawed off when wounds refused to heal.

Then, there was the psychological toll, one that we are still calculating in fits and starts.

In some cases, the Civil War pitted brother versus brother. In many more, it was cousin versus cousin.

There were – and still are – many ways to understand what the Confederacy was fighting for, as they will tell you it was a way of life that someone else was telling them not to live and for states’ rights.

But let’s not talk falsely now. The hour is getting late (Dylan reference).

The way of life, the states’ rights yarn, was about one thing: Slavery.

And the slaves were black, brought here in steerage from Africa for decades.

The prime source of income for the South (i.e. Confederacy) was cotton, and the slaves bled their figures raw picking cotton for, well, nothing. They were slaves. Their families were separated, sometimes when children were less than five, or they never existed as family units as all.

It would be unfair to say they were second-class citizens, as they weren’t citizens at all.

Up North, even as they also reaped the economic reward of the cotton trade, this whole centuries-old act wore so thin that a brutal and bloody war seemed inevitable.

And so it was.

I’m not sure why, in 2020, there would be any other need to display – out in the open and proudly – the Confederate flag than to pledge allegiance to racism.

I’ve been told it’s more about the right to do it, if they want, but that falls directly under the definition of prattle.

Often waved alongside that of the Swastika flag of World War II enemy Nazi Germany, which makes even less sense (as if that were even possible), we see it.

We often see the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, which has meant many things to many different people since the 18th century. At present, it seems to be where patriotism flows into jingoism, but not as offensive to all-out flags of hate speech – at least not yet.

It doesn’t need to be.

I was startled – and aghast – in the summer of 2016, when we took a Pennsylvania road trip.

The first stop was Gettysburg, where the seminal battle of the Civil War was fought on July 1-3 in 1863.

There were some Confederate flags there – whether or T-shirts, bumper stickers, paper weights, mugs etc. – for sale (especially on the outskirts of town). I guess that could be expected, while not condoned.

As we drove through the rest of Pennsylvania, though, it got a bit strange. Weaving through some small towns on the way to our other destinations (Johnstown, Pittsburgh, the stupid place where the ground hog comes out once a year, etc.), I continued to see plenty of Confederate flags — from porches, pickup trucks and tattoos.

So many, in fact, that I had to remind a much younger Sofia – and myself – that we were, still above the Mason-Dixon Line.

It was a sign – or flag – of the times.

The times of doom.

A certain entity – an entity I will neither refer to as a “man” or a “person” – was mounting what was a controversially successful bid for The White Horse, and this so-called “human” was running plays out of Hitler’s playbook by throwing chum to a staunch base fed up with a black (biracial, actually) president for two terms.

Following a route that their GPS systems first took them, which was to join Tea Parties, they made another sharp right and let their patriotism crash into a wall of jingoism.

The saying, “Make America Great Again,” was too hard – on either side – to ignore.

Against this backdrop, in the summer of 2016, Colin Kaepernick – then the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers – didn’t stand for the national anthem of a preseason game.

When asked about it, he told reporters it was in protest of how blacks were treated in the United States.

After some backlash about disrespecting veterans, which seemed a bit off-point, he began to kneel instead of sit on the bench and stare into space (poor optics, if nothing else).

Players around the league soon joined, giving the presumptive Republican candidate more red meat.

To this day, while I’m with Kaepernick on both his right to peacefully protest and the basics of his cause of racial injustice, I’m not 100 percent convinced the whole thing wasn’t a tantrum because he was bumped to No. 2 on the depth chart behind a white quarterback.

He didn’t help himself during the whole controversy by wearing socks with cartoon pigs depicted as police officers to practice (more bad optics), and it should be noted that he is biologically biracial and was raised in an upper middle-class adoptive family.

One – either a person of color who has a had it tougher or a white person from the right trying to drive a truck through his argument — could successfully ask: “What does he know about it?”

However, President Obama was also biracial and raised by his white grandparents outside the ghetto walls. That didn’t stop the Confederate flag-waving hate machine – including a birther movement wondering if he was a Muslim and not a Christian – from churning its wheels.

That didn’t stop the current person who calls himself your president (not mine) to exploit it all to his advantage  (including tirades against Kaepernick, who hasn’t played in three years and probably never will again, and other players who exercised their right of free speech and supported him”.

Would I personally kneel? No. Not for a million dollars. But it is interesting to note that those most critical of him – and others that your president (not mine) demanded be “fired” – condone, at least on some level,  are the same who take no issue with displaying the Confederate flag.

That’s different, they say.

It’s free speech.

Standards, anyone?

Once you got two, you got none.

Kind of like flags.

 

 

This Is Us In The U.S.

Won't Comply

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Reggie Brown.

That’s the guy’s name.

No, I’m not talking about the former Eagles’ receiver who had a couple of decent seasons after the departure of Terrell Owens and before the trio of DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant.

I’m am also not talking about the inventor of Snapchat or the children’s illustrator.

Instead, I am referring to the world’s greatest Barack Obama impersonator.

Brown (pictured below) was introduced to a national audience by Bill Maher shortly after your president (not mine) was elected. Brown used the platform of Maher’s nationally televised show on HBO to roll through what were then some of the “greatest missed hits” of your president (not mine).

Reggie Brown

The segment was called “What If Obama Said it?” and, man, it was a textbook case of using comedy to reveal a seriously underlying issues of racial hypocrisy that began bubbling on the surface – like the fires of Centralia – when Obama was first elected.

These simmering feelings turned acceptable when your president (not mine) fanned those flames with birther movement and then successfully ran for president by pushing those same buttons with the large print at rallies that would have made El Duce blush.

Brown’s performance that night – using the verbatim rants of your president (not mine) in Obama’s voice — ranged from the sexist Access Hollywood tapes that seemed to get lost in the shuffle in the election run-up to a multitude of other obnoxious remarks (i.e. about John McCan not being a war hero because he was captured and referring to Frederick Douglass as if her were still alive) that were not  befitting of a president in any civilized time and place.

Perhaps Maher was shortsighted, like many of us “snowflakes” on the left, thinking your president (not mine) would somehow grow into the position and stop uttering such immature nonsense.

After all — wink, wink – there are “good people on both sides.”

Instead, there has been serious shrinkage.

A whole lot of it.

And Brown (check him out on YouTube), as a regular – or semi-regular – would have be able to illuminate this overriding serious issue, whether it be as simple as who plays golf more to who really acts like a dictator with executive orders.

Consider it a lost opportunity, but it can be placed in the gone-but-not-forgotten file.

We still see it every day, this ongoing case of America in black and white – not to mention the tan suit Obama was vilified for wearing while your president (not mine) drags toilet paper on his shoe up the stairway to Air Force One.

We saw it when Michelle Obama was taken to task for “telling our kids what to eat” in her official First Lady cause of battling childhood obesity. Meanwhile, the current wife of your president (not mine) preaches anti-bullying while her own husband preaches from a divisive bully pulpit eight days a week.

I often look at that picture of Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem and take inventory of the viewpoints it reveals. To some, he was disrespecting the flag our forefathers died to protect. While I’m not quite sure they gave their lives to protect a piece of cloth as much as the other working class kid next to them in the foxhole, I can get it to the point that I could never personally kneel.

But I can respect that others see it as a form of peaceful protest of some serious issues – serious issues of  an America locked in a cultural tug of war over double standards.

Kaepernick

I have always said that once you have double standards, you have none. I’m sure someone said it first, and more eloquently, but I’m claiming credit for now.

I know, I know … We have bigger fish to fry right now, trying to survive an historic pandemic, than who said what first about hypocrisy.

But this disparity – this sickening Color War – rages on.

And on.

Citizens, largely Caucasian, are storming the Bastille, demanding their little lives return back to normal way before it is safe to do so.

These protestors are stomping their feet, and toting their AK-47s (not sure how that factors into their “argument,” but I suppose anything goes when it’s not founded in logic anyway), all around the country.

But Ground Zero seems to be Lansing, Michigan. That just so happens to be where Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sets up shop.

Whitmer was considered a leading candidate for the bottom half of Joe Biden’s presidential ticket, but her brand has been sufficiently damaged to the point that she is now on the “B” list just for doing the prudent thing and trying to keep all her constituents, even those who would shoot her on sight, safe.

Hard to believe the ying-yangs protesting are smart enough to know they were being exploited by some sort of nefarious effort to have a VP candidate tip the scales in a vital swing state.

But it is easy to believe that if the protesters were people of color – African-American, Hispanic, Arab, Asian, etc. – that the same double standards between Obama and the current fool’s fool who calls himself your president (not mine) bubble to the surface.

We are talking about people – you know, our friends from the White Right – waving a flag of treachery (Confederate) that shed American blood in its quest get buzzcuts again.

Protest Flag

We are talking about people getting so much into the faces of police, the same police that took on a new level of rightful respect after 9/11, that their spit is probably going to their faces on their clothes.

Those who are actually carrying American flags, either with or instead of enemy flags, are seen routinely letting them drop to the ground (but Kaepernick can’t a knee in their eyes).

But, well, it’s the First Amendment when they do it, right?

They get a wink and a nod from your president (not mine), just like the “good people” from that side who invaded Charlottesville like termites.

Meanwhile, as Covid-19 is infecting people of color, there are no plaudits from on high for their suffering in silence.

People wonder why the United States is suddenly ranking first in the world in cases and scratch their heads.

Why?

Really?

Easier answer: We are anything but united. And we have a leader who does lead, as he thrives in the vast divide.

That is why.

This is us in the U.S.

And The picture — people who don’t want to be tread upon asking to be tread upon — is not a pretty one.

Image: US-HEALTH-VIRUS-PROTEST

Protestors try to enter the Michigan House of Representative chamber and are being kept out by the Michigan State Police after the American Patriot Rally organized by Michigan United for Liberty protest for the reopening of businesses on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on April 30, 2020.

 

 

 

 

Casalduni: Small Town, Long Reach

Casalduni2

By GORDON GLANTZ

For Paula Bodden, the American experience couldn’t be more … American.

Her mother, Teresa, cooked an authentic Italian meal for former president George H.W. Bush three times (once as a presidential candidate, twice as vice president), and he returned the favor by inviting mom and dad, Bob, to the White House to a state dinner in honor of the then-president of Italy.

“I was very lucky to have such great parents, and (Bush) and Barbara just fell in love with them,” said Bodden. “My mother grew up poor and on a farm there on Belvoir Road, yet she had no problem talking to the president.”

The friendship began when her dad introduced himself to Bush at a town hall held at the former Valley Forge Music Fair.

“My father was very charismatic, so they became fast friends,” said Bodden.“Many times I would stop by and Bush would call my father to talk about different things. I know it really sounds unbelievable.”

For Bodden, this connection even meant a tour of Air Force Two (vice president’s plane).

Nonetheless, she never forgot where she came from – literally.

She always felt connected to her roots and, in an era of DNA kits and the Internet, she was able to scratch that itch. Her journey became a quest, and that quest lead to what seemed like the ideal place.

On Facebook was a page dedicated to Casalduni (“My Casalduni Roots”) – in honor of those around the globe connected to the small municipality of around 1,500 in Italy, northeast of Naples, from which many made the Blackhorse (or Black Horse, depending on your preference) – a part of Plymouth Township bordering Norristown – their home for generations.

One-stop shopping? It was too good to be true.

But, when Bodden requested entry, she was greeted by the page administrator like a security guard for the National Mint.

“She wouldn’t let me in until I could prove who I was,” said Bodden, now chuckling at the initial layer of security.

It was, in the alternate Facebook universe, a private group.

After Bodden satisfied the requirements of the page administrator – Anna Frangiosa, who was born in Casalduni but has lived in Brisbane, Australia since the age of 3 – Bodden found herself in a Land of Oz.

As the two forged a bond, speaking regularly over the Internet, Bodden’s figurative family tree – with three of four grandparents tracing their roots there – naturally blossomed.

“She could tell me so many things about my family,” said Bodden of Frangiosa. “It was like having her tell me my fortune. Here she was, living half a world away, and she put me in touch with my roots.”

“And the more you know, the more you want to know.”

BoddenPaula

The Name Game

If the name Frangiosa rings a bell, it is not an accident.

It is one of several last names – i.e. Corbo/Carbo, Sylvester/Sylvestre, Salamone/Salomone, Borzillo, Romano, Mancini, Longo – that originated in Casalduni and became rooted in Blackhorse before eventually expanding throughout the entire Greater Norristown area.

Bodden’s maiden name was another common one, DeAngelis (sometimes D’Angelis).

“I was always interested in my roots,” she said. “It might have been because my grandparents lived with us. They were amazing.”

“This makes me regret not asking my family members for more stories. You can’t get that opportunity back.”

Bodden’s great-great grandmother had 13 children – leading to, literally, hundreds of descendants “all over the world,” which made the connections made by Frangiosa easy pickings.

It’s what she does.

“This whole exercise and the DNA testing that has come with it has put so many of 4-6th cousins in touch with one another and it has been an absolute pleasure to find so many people with an ancestor from Casalduni, such a small town that only survives on tourism from people like us that want to retrace their roots,” said Frangiosa, whose father migrated from Casalduni to Australia in 1953, after which she followed with her mother.

“Having fully assimilated into the Australian way of life, I was concerned that my heritage would be forever lost so, while I still had my parents and grandparents, I wanted to document the relatives of my parents and grandparents and as I was told so many inter-married I started documenting the “paesani” of my parents, knowing for sure that they would be connected to the family somehow.”

Frangiosa added that the “initial reason for starting my research” was to find a cousin who had been fostered out in Switzerland as a child of an unwed mother. By establishing a database of over 23,000 names, all in some way connected to people with their ancestry in Casalduni, it allowed her to help others find their roots.

“It was a manual painstaking journey but has been made so much easier by the digitalized records currently available,” said Frangiosa, who refers to Blackhorse/Black Horse as “Norristown” because of the former mailing address (it’s now Plymouth Meeting).

Added Bodden: “People are willing to cross the country to meet other people. It’s bringing people together and we want to meet each other. There are hundreds of us, all over the world.”

Bodden’s great-great grandmother’s brood led her to the movie theater, watching the credits roll with pride.

“One (relative) is a man from Los Angeles named Don Sylvester,” she said. “He just won the Oscar for sound editing for that movie ‘Ford Vs. Ferrari.’”

Plans On Hold

Due to the town’s population and the diligent work of its mayor, Pasquale Iacovella, Casalduni has avoided the direct impact of the Covid-19 outbreak that has ravaged Italy – especially to the northern part of the country.

Still, it has indefinitely derailed Bodden’s plans to travel there in October with her husband, Bob, and her cousin, Jim Romano, and his wife, Angela.

When she does go – and she vows she will – Bodden will come bearing gifts.

“Yes, my grandfather came to Plymouth Township in 1905 with his family when he was nine,” said Bodden. “He traveled back there in 1937. I have a lot of pictures and postcards from that time, and even earlier.

“There is a young guy there who has started a museum and wants to preserve the history of the town, so he welcomes anything from the past.”

History of Migration

When the Boddens and the Romanos eventually get there, there will not exactly encounter a thriving metropolis waiting.

Casalduni was once a bigger town but, due to earthquakes and landslides, the nearby town of Ponte – with a railway station — became more prominent.

Said Frangiosa: “There was no manufacturing or scope for advancement or employment opportunities in the mainly farming community so many of the male contingents, at least my ancestors, left either for other parts of Europe or farther afield for Argentina, USA or Australia.”

She explained that the lure of the United States were the reports for employment opportunities, which remained until there was an embargo in the early 1950’s, which is why her family went to Australia.

“My father tells of reports from the returned interned servicemen who recounted stories of ‘streets paved with gold’ and ‘money growing on trees’ but not sure where that came from,” said Frangiosa. “Most of my ancestors were not afraid of hard work because of their farming backgrounds and would do just about any work for their family’s betterment.”

Frangiosa, herself, has a strong connection to the Blackhorse area, as four from her grandmother’s family went there.

“As my husband and I are second cousins, my grandmother and my husband’s grandfather were brother and sister and that is where the Frangiosa connection came to be in Norristown,” she explained.

She added that favorable reports were recounted to the family by her grand uncle, Nicola Antonio Frangiosa (1862-1946) when he went back to his home country for a holiday.

“The family still remembers the gifts he brought with him,” said Frangiosa, added that his wife was Luigia Frangiosa (1907-1986), a Frangiosa by birth and by marriage and from the same home town of Casalduni. Her father was Lorenzo Frangiosa.

“Again by tracing her lineage I found she was related to my Mother’s father’s side of the family,” she said.  “My grandfather, Francesco Salomone (1892-1986) also went to USA to work in the quarry between the years 1906-1911.  With all the marriages within Casalduni and surrounding communes, the same names keep on recurring.”

Anna1

Plans to Return

Frangiosa spends time caring for her 95-year-old father, limiting her travel opportunities, even before the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, I have only been to Norristown once to connect with the family of my grandmother and my husband’s grandfather, but was made aware of many people whose roots originated in Casalduni,” she said. “I would love to revisit and intend to but am currently caring for my dad. … He is my source.”

Frangiosa added that, once she achieved what she required from her and her husband’s direct family lineage, she started concentrating on the families of our grandparents and great grandparents’ siblings and that is where she uncovered so many descendants of deceased relatives that went to Norristown.

“The names were all so repetitive, but having connected with people that match our DNA, it did not prove too tedious to match their data to mine and hence make a family connection,” she said. “It has helped that I come from a very close-knit family who kept in touch with cousins all over the world and that I knew all our 18 grandaunts and uncles and my father, who is 95, is alive and still lucid enough to feed my insatiable desire.”

Frangiosa recount a success story that she called her “greatest joy,” which was bringing closure for an American woman who matched DNA — and through mutual research and her hiring a private researcher — she was able to unravel out who her biological father was and, as a result, connect her with more family.

“It was so coincidental that I had actually met her father when he travelled from Norristown to meet the Australian branch of the family,” said Frangiosa. “It was very gratifying to be able to convey information and photos about a father she never knew.  He also never knew he had a daughter and went to his grave without ever knowing.

“As you can probably tell, I love Australia but am passionate about my birthplace and love my connections to kinfolk all over the globe. The internet has been a blessing and has helped connect Brisbane to Norristown to Casalduni.”

Casalduni1

 

 

 

Draft Review: Where Eagles Dared

Prince Tega

Prince Tega Wanogho (76) Auburn football vs Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, November 18, 2017 in Auburn, Ala. Photo by Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – As the madness ends, let the sadness begin.

The NFL draft, with all its build-up – and enhanced by its opportunity to distract us during these historically tragic times of a pandemic – is now behind us.

The best we can hope for now is a football season – and maybe one that will take place without fans in the stands, as more germs will be passed around there than by superior athletes playing what is arguably the most violent sport on earth.

That’s the bad news.

And there is even more bad news. The Eagles clearly missed my memos and didn’t follow the four Shakespearean scripts – Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello and Romeo and Juliet – I laid out for them here in my four mock drafts (although I did hint at some of the players they took in my broader final preview).

But there is good news.

While they didn’t take who I would have – in most cases, anyway – I wouldn’t say any of the picks were all-out pathetic ones.

I am certainly not burning de facto GM Howie Roseman in effigy – especially since these are group decisions, with head coach Doug Pederson likely speaking for the coaches while Roseman factors in reports from the scouts. If anything is dysfunctional – and only time will tell – it is that the Eagles (unlike, say, Dallas with Jerry Jones) have too many chefs in the kitchen.

With that, let’s take a closer look at a draft that I ended up grading as a B-minus (after being as low as a D-plus at one point):

Round 1 (pick 21): The Eagles reportedly explored trading up for Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, but relished their second round pick (No. 53) too much. They could have traded down and added a second round pick, but stayed put and selected receiver Jalen Reagor of TCU, who was rapidly rising up draft boards into firm Day 1 consideration. Reagor was listed at 5-11, 195 in college, where his stats were not eye-popping in his final year (three different quarterbacks, including a true freshman) but bulked up to 210. It was presumed he would easily run a sub-4.4 40, but his time at the combine was a disappointing 4.47 (still fast, but not as fast as expected – especially for a smaller receiver). He dropped five pounds and ran again – virtually — and interested teams recorded it between 4.2 and 4.3. There is another metric, measuring game speed, which came more into play in the alternate universe of this draft, and his time was off the charts.

Where He Fits: Reagor (pictured below) — the son of a former NFL player, Montae, whose journeys included a stint in Philly — will be handed the punt returner job. The only way he will lose it is if he drops the ball, literally. As for the offense, we are probably looking at a DeSean Jackson understudy for a year. While he may not start, it is likely he will be integrated into the offense with specific plays in mind.

What I Would Have Done: I do agree that this year’s No. 2 pick, given the depth in the draft, was too valuable to package with No. 21 to move up. However, I would have thought long and hard about dangling next year’s No. 2 to move up for Ceedee Lamb. If that didn’t work, I would have taken LSU’s Justin Jefferson at No. 21. I had mocked him to the Eagles from the jump and still think he has the best skill set to impact the league as a rookie. Third option would have been to trade down a few slots and pick up either a late second or multiple picks (third and fourth). In that scenario, later in the round, I would have gone with the consensus in the Zoom room and gladly taken Reagor.

Reagor

Round 2 (pick 53): This one was the head-scratcher of the draft, and it has nothing to do with not liking the actual player, quarterback Jalen Hurts (Alabama/Oklahoma). Like Reagor, his stock was rapidly rising and I regard him as an eventual Russell Wilson-type of quarterback in the NFL. While franchise quarterback Carson Wentz has been a tad bit injury-prone, this still seems like an extreme measure – unless Wentz has some sort of hidden, career-threatening medical issue we don’t know about.

Where He Fits: My first thought was as a gadget guy, like Taysom Hill in New Orleans, but I really don’t see that more than a few times, like a double-pass play (or something else that probably won’t work). And you don’t take gadget guys in Round 2. The reality is that he is here because he was the next best quarterback on the board – the rest of the draft kind of backed this up – and, after Nate Sudfeld puts in one more year of being an indentured servant, Hurts (pictured below) becomes the backup by 2021. When his rookie contract is nearing its end – 3-4 years from now – the quarterback scenario could look totally different. Maybe Wentz will be entrenched as a Top 5 guys and Hurts, with some nice play in relief appearances, will be a hot commodity to flip. However, unless they get back more than a second round pick, all they are doing to giving away a quarterback they spent time on developing for the same price they originally paid.

What I Would Have Done: In one of my mocks, I had the Eagles taking Baylor receiver Denzel Mims at No. 21. He was still there at No. 53, so you do the math. As for No. 2 quarterback, I would have brought in Joe Flacco.

Hurts

Round 3 (pick 103): Yeah, I can see where outside linebacker Davion Taylor (pictured below) fits, both in terms of scheme fit and what the overall theme of their draft – speed with a side dish of smarts – comes into play here. Taylor runs in the 4.5 range, which is pretty impressive for his size (6-1, 225). He is also still developing. When I first heard he didn’t play much, if any, high school football because his religion kept him from it on Friday nights, I got excited. I thought they maybe took a Jewish guy. Then again, there are not too many black Jews from rural Mississippi. Taylor was a Seventh Day Adventist. He played other sports in high school, standing out in track, and didn’t really give football a real go until junior college. From there, it was on to Colorado, where his came into his own.

Where He Fits: Well, it was clear that Jatavis Brown was stop-gap signing for the hybrid-linebacker role Schwartz likes to deploy in his regular sub-packages, so logic would follow that Taylor learns that position while being unleashed on special teams. There is some talk about playing safety, long-term. Anything is possible, but I don’t believe it’s the plan (see fourth-round pick).

What I Would Have Done: I can appreciate the nice little back story, and certainly the fact that the arrow is pointing way up here, but one of my favorite guys in the draft – at the same position – was still on the board: Akeem Davis-Gaither (Appalachian State) and he had a full career of monster production that could have been brought to the field sooner.

Davion Taylor

Round 4 (pick 127): The Eagles had missed out on some safeties at this point, but they could have done a lot worse than – K’von Wallace (Clemson) – who was an anchor, playmaker and leader on one of the premier teams in the country. Aside from his size (5-11, 205), he checks all the boxes.

Where He Fits: This high school wildcat quarterback/receiver with extensive experience at corner in college might be one of their drafts picks best prepared to take on an active role from the jump, and certainly in some of the multi-safety packages that Schwartz likes to deploy.

What I Would Have Done:  OK, from this point on, I am not second guessing. Were there guys I liked better? Yes. However, overall, the Eagles really started hitting their stride on Day 3 (pulling up their grade in the process), so we’ll go with God (or Roseman and Co.). To me, the choice of Wallace (pictured below) is when the draft starting getting onto some solid footing.

K'von

Round 4 (Pick 145): Yeah, I was screaming at the television at this point, wondering why certain players – weren’t drafted yet. The Eagles did take an Auburn offensive lineman (just not the one I wanted) here in Jack Driscoll, who transferred to the big time after starting his career at the University of Massachusetts. At 6-4 and just around 300 pounds, Driscoll played tackle but might project inside at guard in the NFL. With the track record of offensive line coach/running game coordinator Jeff Stoutland, he’s in a good hands. Moreover, Driscoll is a smart guy – earning an undergrad degree at UMass and a MBA at Auburn – so the learning curve should be crisp.

Where He Fits: Right in the mix with the likes of Matt Pryor as swing player who helps you at multiple positons, should there be an injury on game day. While his ceiling might be as an OK starter, his floor is as a quality backup. While you might hope for more in the fourth round, you could do worse than a safe bet. Driscoll (pictured below) could even project as the eventual center.

Jack Driscoll

Round 5 (Pick 168): Roseman was wheeling and dealing so fast that my head was starting to spin, especially at a point in the draft where teams only have five minutes to choose. You think the Eagles are on the clock and then, suddenly, it’s three picks later and they didn’t pick. With my cell phone running low on battery power, it was immediately recharged with the selection of Boise State receiver John Hightower, a human highlight real. He’s 6-1, 190 pounds (soaking wet) and runs the 40 in the 4.4 range. In addition to exciting but raw receiving skills, he will likely be given a long look as the kick returner (the Eagles are likely to keep Reagor just with punts if they can help it).

Where He Fits: Other than an opportunity to be the kick returner, all that may be guaranteed Hightower (pictured below) out of the gate is a roster spot.

John Hightower

Round 6 (Pick 196): It had been since 2011 (no lie) since the Eagles drafted a player from Temple. And it’s not like the Owls haven’t had some good teams in that time, and certainly not like they haven’t seen several solid “Temple Tuff” players into the league that they could have used. The 2011 pick was Jaiquawn Jarrett, who was taken in the second round. He was an in-the-box safety who failed miserably at the wrong position (free safety). After 13 games over two seasons here, he ended up playing 34 games – starting seven – for the Jets. It’s hard to believe the Eagles felt so scarred by the experience that they would not only avoid drafting Temple products, but would avoid bringing them in as undrafted free agents (the last was quarterback Adam DiMchele in 2009). Well, all conspiracy theories about a hidden agenda (tenant-landlord issues at the Linc) can be laid to rest, as the Eagles used this pick – and wisely – on linebacker Shaun Bradley. Temple has now had as many players taken in the last five years as Florida State and more than the likes of Nebraska. It’s ultra-cool, with they are local (Bradley is from South Jersey).

Where He Fits In: Bradley (pictured below), is virtually the same player as the third-round pick, Taylor. While Taylor may be a bit more athletic, Bradley has more game acumen. It’s hard to believe the two would be battling for a roster spot, as no one like to cut draft picks, they could be battling it out for the same game-day niche while the other doesn’t dress.

Shaun Bradley

Round 6 (Pick 200): There were still plenty of players I liked, and mocked, to the Eagles sitting there at this point – including receivers. One I was aware of, but hadn’t mocked, was Quez Watkins (Southern Mississippi). Upon further review, I should have. Like Hightower, he is a raw product, but his highlight reel is loaded with catches that guys on Sundays make.

Where He Fits In: There will be a lot of healthy competition at receiver. Consider it a much-needed good thing. A lot of “Iggles” fans were enamored with Alabama receiver Henry Ruggs III, who ran the fastest time at the combine. Guess who ran the second fastest – at 4.28? Try Watkins (pictured below).

Watkins

Round 6 (Pick 210): This might be my favorite pick of their whole draft. I mocked Auburn left tackle Prince Tega Wanagho (see pic all the way at top) to the Eagles in the second round of one of my mocks, with that the thought that he could be coached up by Stoutland to eventually be Jason Peters 2.0. That would be the ceiling. The floor? A high-level swing tackle, as he has experience on the right side, or maybe even a look at guard. It’s unclear why he went from a Day 2 pick to a late Day 3 pick. The only answer is that water on the knee at the Senior Bowl kept him on the sidelines. He came to this country from Nigeria to play basketball, but instead took to football while waiting for basketball season to start.

Where He Fits In: No need to bring back Peters – again – that’s for sure. There are whispered concerns about last year’s first-rounder, Andre Dillard, as the ultimate answer at left tackle. Tega Wenagho will be a hedge against Dillard, and a nice project for Stoutland.

Round 7 (Pick 233): For the Eagles, the opposite of Temple has been Stanford, with the most prominent being Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz. They fulfilled their Cardinal quota in the final round with Casey Toohill. At his size (6-4, 250), he would appear to a classic outside linebacker/defensive end ‘tweener who might be best suited a 3-4 defense, which the Eagles haven’t played since the Marion Campbell era, to succeed. On the plus side, he does have some athleticism and saved his best season – his first as a full-time starter – for last (8 sacks). He also finished as a finalist (as was Driscoll) for the William V. Campbell Trophy that is known as the Academic Heisman.

Where He Fits In: Since the Eagles curiously did not fill the edge rusher need earlier in the draft, instead doubling and tripling up on other areas of concerns, so Toohill (pictured below) could be positioned to play himself onto the roster as a deep reserve. Being from their favorite school doesn’t hurt, either.

Toohill

Undrafted Free Agents: This one area that has consistently been strong for the Eagles, and a few names jump from this year’s group of post-draft signees:

-Cincinnati Running Back Michael Warren II

-Michigan State Defensive Tackle Raequan Williams

-Baylor cornerback Grayland Arnold

-Montana Inside Linebacker Dante Olson

Where They fit In: Warren (pictured below) was a workhorse in college and has that bowling-ball build (5-9, 225) and running style that earns a lot of guys places in the league’s running back stables. The MVP of the Military Bowl ran for more than 2,500 yards the last years and had 37 touchdowns in 38 career games. Rated as high as a fourth-round pick in some mock drafts, it is hard to say why he slid out of the draft. Sometimes teams are scared off by too much tread on the tires, or by lack of receiving skills. The Eagles only have Miles Sanders and Boston Scott locked into roster spots right now, so he would have a good shot of sticking on the roster – even if a veteran back is brought in.

Williams, like Warren, was often mocked as a solid fourth- or fifth-round pick. He played under 300 pounds but is now at 308 while standing 6-4. While the Eagles seem set at defensive tackle, he could play his way onto the team. It is believed he needs more moves, but has a pro-level bull rush.

Arnold had draft-worthy production, picking off six passes last season (including one on Hurts). However, his size (5-9, 186) and speed (4.6) may relegate him to only the slot in the NFL. However, he does have some chops as a savvy return man.

Olson has good middle linebacker size (6-2, 237) and did all he could do to play as his way onto the map, earning Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year and Buck Buchanan honors with 179 tackles and 3.5 sacks. His 40 time (around 4.9) caused him to fall out of draft consideration.

Michael Warren

Two others of note are Oregon State tight end Noah Togiai, who caught 102 passes for 1,048 yards and 10 touchdowns in his career. Even though he is 6-4 and nearly 250, blocking seems to be his weakness. Meanwhile, Elijah Riley, a corner from Army, is the primary person responsible for convincing the current president to overturn the rule preventing active service players from playing in the NFL. If he can follow orders well enough to maybe slide over to safety, he could emerge from a year on the practice squad as a helpful player in 2021.

Summary: In my Mock 1.0, I took four receivers just to prove it could be done. What do they do? Draft three and add a fourth — Marquise Goodwin (pictured below) — via a swap of draft picks with the 49ers. That’s a crowded receivers’ room, but I like that they created competition – not only there, but at several positions (including, theoretically, backup quarterback). The goal was clearly to add speed. As long as toughness and grit are not sacrificed, it is hard to argue with that. I think there is still some roster drama yet to unfold, but this – all told – was not a half-bad opening act. No Draftnik is ever going to be satisfied. Often times, we are proven right, but this isn’t about that. It’s about getting better and building an identity – in lieu of living off the fumes of the recent Super Bowl title.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers

 

 

In Lieu of a Final Mock …

Reagor

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Today was supposed to be the day I put the pedal to the medal and came up with Mock Draft 5.0, which was the make the previous four seem like 90-pound weaklings eating sand at the beach.

However, I have become so enthralled by Mock 4.0 – one in which I was just swinging from the hip – that I have decided to let it stand as final stab in the darkness of what will really go down Thursday through Saturday.

No reason to go back and check it. This is one-stop service.

Here’s recap: First round (pick 21), Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor. Second round (pick 53), Prince Tega Wenagho, OT, Auburn. Third Round (pick 103), Nick Harris, C, Washington. Round 4 (pick 127), Kenny Willekes, DE, Michigan State. Round 4 (pick 145), Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt. Round 4 (pick 146), David Woodward, MLB, Utah State. Round 5 (pick 170), Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii. Round 6 (pick 190), Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota.

I still think believe there is, at best, a 50 percent chance the Eagles pick at No. 21 in the first round. They may trade up for one of the top four receivers, or they made trade back a bit and get more picks (or maybe a disgruntled veteran).

It’s just impossible to predict what moves – up or down – other teams are going to make, and which teams would make ideal dance partners for the Eagles once there is a ripple effect.

We can only guess at scenarios. Truth be told, Howie Roseman can only guess right now. All the phone calls are made, but it’s all contingent on what others do.

How about this for a theory, annexed from my cranium? LSU’s Justin Jefferson (pictured below) probably the last of the elite receivers, somehow lasts until the 21st pick. While the Eagles would likely be elated, what if Cincinnati came in and played Vito Corleone and made an offer Roseman couldn’t refuse?

The Bengals would be aching to reunite Jefferson with likely No. 1 overall pick, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

Justin Jefferson

The compensation? The best the Bengals could do would be their second- and fourth-round picks, which means the Eagles would be without a first but would be kicking off Day 2 and Day 3. The Bengals could throw in disgruntled back Joe Mixon, giving the Eagles the thunder to pair with Miles Sanders’ lightning, and maybe the Eagles ship Rasul Douglas or Alshon Jeffery to the Bengals. A trade of Jeffery anywhere else would require the Eagles gagging on a chunk of his contract. Out of gratitude, maybe the Bengals are willing to at least split the cost.

There would likely be another a few of the second tier of receivers – including Mims — on the board to kick off Day 2. They could use that first pick of Day 3 to grab another receiver who slipped through the cracks of a loaded draft at the position.

Another move could be for disgruntled Jacksonville defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. There have been some wild deals proposed on the internet – some even want to ship tight end Zach Ertz out of town – but it may be as simple as the Eagles swapping their first for Jacksonville’s second (42nd overall). There would be other pieces and picks, but that would be the main thrust of it. Both teams would be – or should be – ecstatic. And, yes, one of that second group of receivers would still be there at No. 42.

But, until other dominoes fall, this is all speculation.

Instead, let’s get down to brass tacks here, with a position by position look at who the Eagles could theoretically target – along with when and why:

Quarterback: It is not necessarily a necessity to bring in another arm. I have sent a Day 3 quarterback to the Eagles in each mock draft, as they stunk up the joint last year with Clayton Thorson in the fifth round. Right now, the concern is No. 2 behind Carson Wentz. The idea of the team being 10-2 and him going down, meaning Nate Sudfeld becomes the starter, is disconcerting. That said, Sudfeld is better than a No. 3 at this point in his career. My guess is that, after the draft, they bring in a veteran. My money is on Joe Flacco, although I could see Jameis Winston on a one-year deal. Flacco, at this point, might be cool with a long-term role. I’m sure the Eagles did their due diligence on all the incoming quarterbacks and would pounce on one in Day 3, maybe as early as the fourth round, if one – maybe Jordan Love (Utah State), Jake Fromm (Georgia) or Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma, pictured below) — they had a higher grade on. If more Day 3 picks are acquired, then they could burn one on a guy like Hawaii’s flamboyant McDonald (Mock 4.0) or Washington State’s Anthony Gordon (Mock 3.0).

Hurts

Running Back: Well, if they acquired Mixon – or even brought back LeSean McCoy for a final hurrah – the need is less. That aside, the depth behind Sanders and Boston Scott is nill. They are many who fit the bill who could be had on Day 3. I have mocked the likes of UCLA’s Josh Kelley, South Carolina’s Rico Dowdle and Vanderbilt’s Vaughn. Others often linked the Eagles are Florida’s Lamical Perine and Boston College’s A.J. Dillon, a 250-pounder (pictured below) who may not make it to Day 3.

Dillon

Wide Receiver: There will be receivers taken, that much is certain. The questions are who and when? They could go for another position – like linebacker (see below) — in Round 1 and then hit receiver in Round 2 and again another time or two. At Pick 53, though, it’s a bit of a roll of the dice. The top four are – in no particular order – are the Alabama tandem of  Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb and the aforementioned Jefferson of LSU. If the Eagles trade up, the word is that it is most likely to be for Lamb (unless one of the Alabama guys slip). Jefferson was almost universally mocked to the Eagles at No. 21, but his stock has reportedly risen a bit. The second tier of receivers would be a solid first tier most years. In addition to Baylor’s Mims, we are looking at – in no particular order – Laviska Shenault, Jr. (Colorado), Tee Higgins (Clemson), Jalen Reagor (TCU, pictured at top), Brandon Ayiuk (Arizona State) and K.J. Hamler (Penn State). Each brings different body types and skill sets. Shenault (6-2, 225), Higgins (6-4, 215) and Mims (6-3, 215) are bigger receivers who could replace what will be lost, whenever that is, by the departure of Jeffery (6-3, 215). While the Eagles are banking on a healthy DeSean Jackson this year, the others fit the mold of a deep threat. Ayiuk (5-11, 190, 4.4 speed), Reagor (5-11, 195, 4.4) and Hamler (5-9, 176, 4.37) each also add much-needed return skills. They would consider themselves lucky to have a choice between two of these players at No. 53, but the odds are that only Hamler would be left – and that’s not a certainty. That would mean a bad whiff on the elite receivers in this year’s crop, and I would say the draft is a failure without at least one of these nine (the elite four plus that strong second group) eating cheese steaks next year.  Yes, there are others who could make impacts – USC’s Michael Pittman, Ohio State’s K.J. Hill among them – that would be Round 2 reaches but likely not around by late Round 3. In Round 4, receiver’s like Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden, the Texas duo of Devin Duvernay and 6-5 Collin Johnson or Central Florida’s Gabriel Davis could be added. They could also take a Day 3 gamble on small-school stud Antonio Gandy-Golden (pictured below) of Liberty.

Antonio-Gandy-Golden-1-800x445

Tight End: With the combination of Ertz and Dallas Goedert on the field together, defensive coordinators around the league are up at night. If they even want to carry three on the active roster, Josh Perkins (can also play receiver) and Alex Ellis (solid on special teams) are still on the roster.  That said, just like quarterback, the Eagles wouldn’t be above spending a value pick – especially if more are acquired – on a tight end who slides a bit. Fitting that description would be Dayton’s Adam Trautman, Vanderbilt’s Jared Pinkney (pictured below), one from LSU – Thaddeus Moss (son of Randy) or Stephen Sullivan – or Charlie Taumponeau of Portland State.

NCAA Football: Tennessee State at Vanderbilt

Offensive Tackle: Because Jason Peters probably won’t be back — and should do the dignified thing and just retire — the Eagles might just be wise to dip into a talented pool that it is as a deep as that at receiver. I went for Auburn’s Tega Wanagho in Mock 4.0 on raw potential and his ability to play both sides, meaning he could be a third tackle for a while, but burning a second-round pick may not be realistic. They could still look to a player like North Carolina’s Charlie Heck (6-8, 307) or Missouri’s massive Yasir Durant (6-6, 343) later. There will be clamoring for Jon Runyan’s son (and dead ringer), Jon Runyan, Jr. (pictured below) of Michigan, but the 6-4, 313-pounder is more of a guard-tackle tweener without much projected upside.

Runyan

Interior Line: The reality of eventual life without Jason Kelce creates interesting scenarios. The Eagles could look for a pure guard like Kentucky’s Logan Stenberg (6-6, 322, pictured below), and as early as Round 2 (or cross their fingers he lasts to Round 3, which is unlikely) and groom Isaac Seumalo to move from left guard to center (unless they see something in Nate Herbig, who made the team as a USDA out of Stanford last year), or they look at a pure center like Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz, Temple’s Matt Hennessey (the Eagles have not drafted a player from Temple since 2011), Washington’s Harris (Mock 4.0) or Wisconsin’s Rimington Award winner Tyler Biadasz.

Stenberg+for+Website

Defensive Line: While set at tackle, and lieu of a trade with Jacksonville, the Eagles could go draft shopping here. If they traded back in the first round, picking up more draft capitol on Day 2 to address receiver, someone like 6-6, 280-pound A.J. Espenza (pictured below), who somehow still runs in the 4.75 range, comes into play in the latter part of the first round. Ditto for Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos. If LSU’s explosive K’Lavon Chaisson falls to 21, it would be tempting. On Day 2, in keeping with their history of Tennessee defensive ends (Reggie White, Derek Barnett),  a player like Darrell Taylor would be a name to watch.

Espensa

Linebacker: It would be a shock if the Eagles didn’t come away with at least one. Like receiver, it’s just another question of who and when. There is serious talk about Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray (pictured below) in the first round. Another player who might be too good to pass up, just on talent, outside linebacker Zach Baun of Wisconsin, although some see him more as a 3-4 outside linebacker, meaning he wouldn’t really be a scheme fit here. Murray or Baun he might be the best player available at No. 21, but it would leave them waiting until No. 53 — or later — on receiver, and pushing back other needs, like interior line and secondary (see below). If they hold off, there are still options — Logan Wilson (Wyoming), Malik Harrison (Ohio State), throwback Shaquille Quarterman (Miami) and Woodward (Mock 4.0) of Utah State. Another guy I mocked earlier, who I love — at least as a situational hybrid/special teamer — is Akeem Davis-Gaither of Appalachian State (6-1, 220). Roseman is often criticized for neglecting linebacker in drafts, but the secret reality is that the Eagles coveted Leighton Vander Esch, who went to Dallas in 2018.

Murray

Secondary: . With the acquisition of Darius Slay as that long-craved lockdown corner, the immediate need there is not pressing but not out of the question. Jaylon Johnson of Utah, Louisiana Tech’s Amik Robertson (pictured below) and Kristian Fulton of LSU would be solid Day 2 picks. Temple’s Harrison Hand would be a potential Day 3 heist, but he has the Temple hex working against him. With Malcolm Jenkins gone, the safety position may need a long-term solution beyond Will Harris and Jalen Mills (Rodney McLeod is locked in for the long haul). If they could pick up another second round pick, Division II standout Kyle Dugger, who can line up almost anywhere (via Jenkins), is a possibility. Jeremy Chinn of Southern Illinois and J.R. Reed of Georgia have also been linked to the Eagles. Another intriguing prospect is Marc-Antoine Dequoy of Montreal, should the Eagles maybe acquire a seventh-rounder.

amik-robertson-ltu

Summary: The national crisis has  cast a cloud over the draft as well. It is more cloaked in mystery in ever. Will teams play it close to the vest and base picks on college potential, in lieu of seeking upside? My guess would be yes, but I also guess life would be back to normal by now. As for the Eagles, as already stated, there are many ways to go. I saw a reputable mock today that had them going with Murray, the linebacker, in the first round and still coming away with Reagor in the second at No. 53. If that happens, without having to give up picks, maybe some of the Howie Haters out there would stand down.

Roseman

 

 

 

Upon Further Review: Gun Control

Ding Dong

The recent shooting in Nova Scotia will likely get the gun nuts all excited, saying it can happen anywhere. Yeah, it can. We know that. What’s the point of your point, though? I shouldn’t happen anywhere, with here topping the list.

Below is a column written in March, 2013. It still hold trust…

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Left of center. That means a lot of things to a lot of people, and not all of them good, but it is also the title of a semi-popular Suzanne Vega song.

It actually came on the CD player while driving Sofia to school Thursday morning, and it caught her increasingly discerning ear, as evidenced by her bobbing her little head and singing along in the backseat.

I was able to enjoy that she and I were on the same musical wavelength because, in a true rarity, we were running ahead of schedule.

Through the rear-view mirrors, I could check her out at stop signs and red lights. While we were waiting behind school buses with their lights flashing and stop signs popping out to temporarily halt traffic, it struck me how these road safety features are, more or less, anti-people devices.

It is human nature, regrettably, that many read a stop sign and interpret it as ‘yield’ while a ‘yield’ sign means ‘keep going.’

That’s why Sofia was in a child safety seat as we rocked and rolled down the road. That’s why I had my seat belt on. That’s why, if the worst happened, the vehicle is equipped with an airbag.

None of these safeguards existed back when the ‘motor vehicle’ first hit the road. They evolved over time, meeting the needs of the society.

These measures can’t be enforced all the time, and they don’t prevent every death or serious injury, but most of us would agree that they help.

It’s why we get our cars inspected once a year. It’s why we change our brakes and our bald tires.

It’s why there is a speed limit. It’s why laws are now in place, or in motion, to crack down on distracted drivers more interested in texting and yammering on their cell phones than being safe drivers.

It’s why they make cars with all-wheel drive and turn signals and high beams.

Realistically, people are still going to speed. They are still going to fall prey to temporary ADD while behind the wheel.

They are going to drink and drive. As long as there are bars and cars, you can bet your recession-depleted bottom dollar than some fool is going to tempt fate and think they have immunity.

To combat it, there are stricter rules for DUI. And there are DUI checkpoints.

As a system of checks and balances, we don’t give up on trying, even though people are still going to act like, well, people.

Yet, when it comes to gun control, the pro-gun types out there are sticking to their guns more than ever in the wake of renewed efforts to deploy the same common sense we have on the road.

Since Newtown, driving Sofia to and from school has been an almost religious experience, as I can’t shake the vision of the parents who said goodbye to their first graders that fateful day and never saw them again.

I have spoken out about gun control, and I’m still doing it because I refuse to consider it old news, and have gotten back a lot of venom.

Personally, I see no real need for guns and don’t get the fascination. In the few hundred years since the Second Amendment, cars have become a little more essential to day-to-day living than a gun.

But these instruments that should be in the hands of the military and law enforcement are ingrained in our culture.

I can respect that law-abiding citizens do the right thing, although I am compelled to point out the ‘tragic accidents’ that occur in homes and on hunting trips each year.

I am, like the Suzanne Vega song, left of center on the issue.

The operative word is “control.”

I never said ‘take away.’ Neither has President Barack Obama.

But people – being people – hear what they want to hear and read what they want to read.

At left of center, there is more fresh air; more realism.

Just like you can’t go around rounding up illegal immigrants and transporting them home, like many pro-gun types would like to do, you can’t go door to door and collect weapons.

But you can start to stop the madness.

If not now, when? The arguments against doing so simply don’t hold up.

‘Guns don’t kill, people do.’ ‘People die in cars each year, and you don’t ban them, do ya?’

The common denominator is ‘people.’

For the car argument, we have the rules of the road, enforced by your local and state police – a necessary arm of the g-g-g-g-overnment – to protect and save as many lives in the face of people being people.

And since people are people, and they are prone to temper tantrums and temporary insanity, we need better gun control as much as we need salt on the roads when it snows.

And if you want to take the defeatist stance, saying that it won’t matter anyway, let’s do away with all those traffic laws.

Let people be people, and drive 100 mph through a school zone. Let them blow through a red light at a busy intersection because they feel like it.

Just exercising their freedom, their liberty, right?

Wrong. I know it is human nature to want it all.

If the statement ‘you can’t have it both ways’ was made the 11th commandment, I’d be OK with hanging it up with the other 10 in public.

Cease resisting the president so much on his left-of-center effort to make the highway of life, circa 2013, a little safer.

Close the gun-show loopholes. Same as applying for a driver’s license.

Ban semi-automatic weapons. Same as not driving while intoxicated.

Immediate results? No. It may take a generation – when my daughter is driving my grandchild to school, in even safer vehicles than today – for tangible change, but it is worth the effort.

People are people, true No matter where we stand – or fall – on this thorny issue, whether we are left of center or far right, we share one commonality.

We only live once. If that’s not worth one step toward the middle, then what is?

Contradictory

 

Mock Draft 4.0: House Money

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By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — I’m baaaaaack!

Consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to endure me on Zoom while I do twice as many Mock Drafts leading up to Thursday’s first of three days of drafting that we in Eagle Nation can only hope don’t turn into a mockery of a sham.

Before we begin, let’s review the first three:

Mock 1.0) – There was a drill in proving that the Birds could go receiver-heavy, as I took four. I know they won’t take four, but it was fun to speculate.

Mock 2.0) – I was like a Jewish person eating pork on this one, as I did something that is against my Draftnik religion. I factored in some trade scenarios. It’s not like there won’t be trades. I suspect there will be, but it’s so impossible to say with which team and what will be the return. As such, I never bothered. This year, while sheltered in place, I bothered.

Mock 3.0) – Otherwise termed a “joke” by one of the mental midgets on an Eagles Facebook page, the small print clearly stated that it was a new exercise in taking the wind of the sails of we in Eagleville by showing not what I would do or what Joe Blow would do, but would be oh so Eagles to do (i.e. wait until Day 3 to address the receiver need while addressing the trenches).

Since I plan to reveal my serious Mock within 24-36 hours of the actual draft, why not try to sneak in a bonus.

The goal here will be simple. While not going the trade route, I will be staying put and drafting players I have not already tabbed in the three previous Mocks – all while addressing the same obvious needs.

Let’s call this the “Look, Ma, No Hands” Mock.

Ready? Let’s Mock (How did I need think of that before?):

Round 1 (Pick 21): Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor, 6-3, 215

Rationale: I honestly don’t see the Eagles staying at No. 21, especially now that LSU receiver Justin Jefferson is not expected to make it past No. 18. They could move up to get Jefferson or Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, but it’s more likely they move down to pick up extra picks and still grab a receiver. It could be Miami at No. 26, Green Bay at No. 30, Kansas City at No. 32 or Cincinnati at No. 33 (first pick of Round 2) – or some other team altogether that is desperate to jump in front a division rival. If and when that happens, there will still be plenty of receivers – including the athletic but somewhat unrefined Mims (pictured below) – on the board. They just can’t afford to fixate on any one player. Mims, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault, Arizona State’s Brandon Ayiuk, TCU’s Jalen Reagor and Penn State’s K.J. Hamler all have strengths and weaknesses but something special to offer to a team with a receiving corps that will look vastly different beyond 2020. There has been some talk of going in another direction in Round 1 and then addressing receiver. That could always happen – what the Eagles do is out of our control, and what other teams do is out of their control – but getting one secured early allows for other needs to be addressed.

Denzel-Mims

Round 2 (Pick 53): Prince Tega Wanagho, OT, Auburn, 6-5, 305

Rationale: This seems like a luxury pick, but only on the surface. While a three-year starter at left tackle, this man-child has also played the right side. That makes Tega Wanagho (pictured below) the ideal candidate to be molded into a third tackle by offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland without having to bring back Jason Peters at three times the salary. Ironically, the general consensus is that his pro comparison, if one believes in such things, is the future Hall of Famer, Peters, himself. Why not take a clone? If not for a deep class at tackle, he’d likely be gone early as the late first round in other years.

Prince Tega

Round 3 (Pick 103): Nick Harris, C, Washington, 6-1, 302

Rationale: The fan base will go apoplectic with the choice of yet another lineman, but my projection is that runs at other positions will push this ideal fit to eventual replace Jason Kelce into the Eagles’ laps. Harris (pictured below) is not a power blocker, but the two-time All-Pac 12 selection is known for getting to the second level, much like Kelce. Additionally, he brings some experience at guard, giving him value as a non-starter.

Nick Harris

Round 4 (Pick 127): Kenny Willekes, DE, Michigan State, 6-3, 260

Rationale: As soon as I saw his last name, I knew he was destined for Philly, as it will be spelled wrong more than it is spelled right. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this overachiever is likely to make enough of an impact, even if it is only a role player making the most of his situational snaps on passing downs. Willekes (pictured below) won the Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the college player who began his career as a walk-on. He finished his career with 51 tackles for a loss and 26 sacks.  As expected from the fact that he was a walk-on, Willekes is technically sound and works hard but will need to add strength and some moves to his arsenal.

Willekes

Round 4 (Pick 145): Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt, 5-10, 215

Rationale: Vaughn (pictured below) is an interesting story. After running for a little over 1,000 yards combined in two years at Illinois, he transferred to Vanderbilt and ran for over 2,000 yards the last two years (although he fell a bit short of a grand last year as a sole running option on a three-win team in a tough conference). He brings to the table some traits that NFL scouts value – compact frame with good vision and burst, natural hands, plus the ability to make tacklers miss in tight spaces. Guys who can do that find places in running back stables around the league, even though his collegiate travels have him entering the circuit at age 23.

Vaughn

Round 4 (Pick 146): David Woodward, MLB, Utah State, 6-0, 235       

Rationale: Another Mock, another inside linebacker. This time, I’m going with the guy who might be so underrated that he may end up being overrated and going higher than this point. Woodward (pictured below) fell off the radar a bit because he missed five games last season due to injury. Coming from the same program that produced Bobby Wagner and others at the position, Woodward is lauded for his natural instincts, which allow him to play the position with the patience needed to not look foolish in the NFL. While he will need to show he is healthy and can play at full speed, expect a rookie to bolster special teams put of the gate.

Woodward

Round 5 (Pick 170): Cole McDonald, QB, Hawaii, 6-3, 190

Rationale: Another Mock, another developmental quarterback. But, wait, hold up a second. I kind of like this one, and might just return to it in the final version. McDonald (pictured below) took advantage of running a passer-friendly attack the last two years, accounting for around 8,000 yards and 69 passing touchdowns. He is also a running threat (11 rushing touchdowns). While it’s easy to put up numbers for the Rainbow Warriors, the tape shows applicable skills for the next level – accuracy on throws outside the numbers, decisiveness, mobility and noble willingness to stand in and take a hit. Why, then, is he projected as a Day 3 pick? At 190 pounds, there is a legitimate fear about his health and well-being. He has also rarely played under center and doesn’t really have a rifle for an arm. Then again, he is favorably compared to Gardner Minshew, the same Gardner Minshew who displaced the beloved Nick Foles as a rookie last year in Jacksonville. Don’t get excited out there. He wouldn’t be supplanting Carson Wentz, but maybe – just maybe – he could be an OK No. 2 after Nate Sudfeld pushes on in 2021.

Cole McDonald

Round 6 (Pick 190): Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota, 6-2, 205

Rationale: This isn’t the sexiest pick, but this highly productive receiver will find a place in the league somewhere. Why not let it be here? Johnson (pictured below) hauled in 199 passes for 3,164 yards and 32 touchdowns in the last three years. What is he still doing here this late in the draft? For one, he is not a sexy pick. It is almost as if he peaked and, with limited tools, reached his ceiling already. Plus, his 40 time is slightly north of 4.5. A little bigger and a little faster, and he’d like go late in Day 2 instead. Just keep in mind that an annual rite of passage are receivers everyone fawns all over who don’t make it while guys like Johnson do. Not saying it will be him who defies the odds this year, but the risk-reward in Round 6 is worth it.

T Johnson

Summary:  I was just having fun here and throwing caution to the wind without overthinking it. You know what? I kind of like what I did here. I would be fine with this haul when the dust settles. Yay, me!

Super Bowl 39

 

 

 

Upon Further Review: Obamacare

Obamacare

The following is how a column I wrote in 2012 about how I felt about Obamacare …

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Back when hockey was hockey, they had these things called ties.

For we hockey purists, there was nothing inherently wrong with ties.

The key is that there were good ties and bad ties.

If three 20-minute periods – and later a mini-me frame of five minutes that usually saw both teams play it so conservatively that you would have thought Barry Goldwater and Pat Buchanan were coaching – left the score knotted (except in the playoffs), so be it.

It wasn’t until non-hockey people – cut from the same cloth as those who were appalled by outbreaks of fisticuffs – came along and said they couldn’t take the sport seriously because they went to a game once and it ended in a tie.

I presume that left them feeling unfulfilled.

What hockey haters didn’t know was that there were good ties and bad ties. Example: If a team was playing its sixth road game in eight nights and battled back from a 4-1 deficit to earn a 4-4 tie, that was a good tie.

For the other team, well, not so much.

Being a hockey guy (pronounce that ‘gee,’ giving it a French Canadian flare), I don’t always view life’s twists and turns as wins and losses.

Just like arguments are not always being black and white, the outcome was not always a win or a loss.

But we live in a society where the vocal minority gets appeased.

Now, in place of a righteous deadlock, hard-fought games are settled in the most stupid fashion known to professional sports – shootouts (like playing H-O-R-S-E if a basketball game is tied, or having a home run derby – in lieu of extra innings – in baseball).

Sometimes, in the game of life, there are ties.

Upon further review of the Supreme Court’s recent health care ruling, the narrow victory for President Barack Obama is a tie for the American public.

True, a loss would have been devastating for the proletariat, not to mention the death knell for Obama’s re-election bid against Mitt Romney.

In that sense, we the people are looking at a good tie.

But time, more than any Supreme Court justice acting on transparent political motivation, will be the ultimate judge.

The health care system is still in critical condition, and all you have to do to confirm that ongoing status is talk off-the-record with the doctors and nurses on the front lines.

Dreaded Obamacare – a right-wing code word for letting ‘them’ have something for nothing, even though it is a virtual identical twin to Romney’s health care plan when he was governor of Massachusetts – will, among other things, do the following, now that the high court upheld the Affordable Care Act by a 5-4 vote:

•Young adults, you know the ones who are lucky to get part-time jobs in retail after taking out obnoxious amounts of dough from legal lone sharks to catch a whiff of whatever stench the lure of the American dream is giving off these days, are allowed to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

•Not denying children – yes, children (not inmates on death row) – insurance via some non-medical person behind a desk who may or may not know what it’s like to have a sick child.

•Not allowing people with pre-existing medical conditions to be denied coverage – if they can avoid the grim reaper until 2014 (nice, huh?).

•Thirty million Americans (excluding illegal immigrants) who don’t have health insurance can get it (the White House estimates only 4 million people will reject that benefit).

Go ahead, read them there bullet points again.

I’ll wait. Now let it sink in.

Making sure children get health care, whether or not their parents knew the rules of the game (and make no mistake, this ain’t nothing but a cruel game)?

Letting young adults, thrust into an economical nightmare not of their making, have a safety net should they get into a car accident or tear a knee playing hoops?

That’s s-s-socialism? That’s giving the country away?

That’s what you think is making the founding fathers spin in their graves?

Sounds more like an attempt – and more like a bunt than a home-run swing – at solving human problems with semi-humane solutions.

The high court equated the mandate to have health insurance to a tax, a hot-button word (tax) which makes many on the right go apoplectic before they even stop tea-partying enough to learn the facts.

Your tax money is going to go somewhere, folks.

That’s a fact. I don’t get how it is better for the money to go toward a nuclear warhead that can help us blow up the world 1,001 times over instead of 1,000, than to heal a sick child who may find the cure to cancer one day.

I don’t get how it’s acceptable to let the health industry and drug companies – the same unholy alliance that would probably conspire to keep that cure to cancer under wraps so they can keep making money – hold us hostage.

I don’t get how you don’t want the government, the one theoretically in place to protect us from such evil pursuits, to serve as negotiator and free us from these chains.

Doesn’t sound very American to me.

Doesn’t sound very Judeo-Christian.

Doesn’t sound like we are taking care of our own.

Doesn’t sound like waving the flag – and chanting ‘U.S.A., U.S.A.’ – is going to make it go away.

I’m as a patriotic as the next guy, but give me a reason to be proud.

We are ranked 37th in the world in health care, while leading the world in health care spending.

If you accept that – and to the illogical point that you don’t want to even try out what eight presidents (including ones with skin as white as Ivory soap) have wanted – the only conclusion to draw is that you are not playing to win.

That’s why we are losing. That’s why ties – like the the Supreme Court gave us – are the best we can hope for right now during these days of being torn in the U.S.A.