Category Archives: Pet Peeves

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.

 

 

Mock Draft 3.0: Reality Check

Pederson Roseman

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – It’s easy to sit here and write all about who I would take in the NFL Draft – which begins next Thursday night (first round), then Friday (second and third rounds) and concludes Saturday (Rounds 4-7).

It’s equally easier to give the people – that’s all of “yews” – what they want as well.

But, if history as taught us anything, it is that de facto GM Howie Roseman and Co. are going to do what they are going to do without our input. It is likely to involve names we didn’t even kick around all this time in quarantine, while not even following the same thought process in terms of addressing needs.

Does that mean the brass is sometimes overthinking? Absolutely. Does it also mean we have no clue what is going on behind closed doors, in terms of which veteran players could be on the move or could be dealing with injury issues not known to the public? Hell, yeah. We also don’t know which players have caught their eye – at the combine and on film.

While my Mock Draft 1.0 featured an unrealistic overflow of receivers, specifically to quiet those of “yews” worried about that need, Mock Draft 2.0 had some trade scenarios that are impossible to predict. Now, for Mock Draft 3.0, it’s going to be a projection of what they very well may do that leaves us scratching our heads – at least until we get the “spin control” afterward.

Here we go:

Round 1 (Pick 21): Cesar Ruiz, C-G, Michigan, 6-3, 315

The Spin: It’s year to year with Jason Kelce, and center has become crucial to the offense because of his play. Ruiz is the best center prospect to come out in years, so they will say, so it’s best to grab him now and let him learn behind the All-Pro. How will Kelce take this? I don’t know. He might be offended, but he could also be relieved, as he has hinted at retirement for a while now. Also, it’s not like Isaac Seumalo is a burgeoning All-Pro at left guard. Ruiz could probably take that job and push Seumalo into the more comfortable role of a versatile sixth lineman. Moreover, the outcry over not taking a receiver – “we looked at it but the asking price was too high,” Roseman will say – will be mitigated by feel-good stories about Ruiz (pictured below) being a Camden native who always dreamed of playing for the Eagles.\

Ruiz3

Round 2 (Pick 53): Curtis Weaver, Edge, Boise State, 6-3, 265

The Spin: Like Kelce, Brandon Graham isn’t getting any younger. Meanwhile, the long-term impact of recent DE picks – Derrick Barnett, Josh Sweat and Shareef Miller — remains uncertain. There will likely still be enticing receivers on the board, but they will say this is the guy they wanted all along and that they even considered him in the first round (eye roll). And, really, drafting an edge player is a springtime rite of passage going back to when Roseman went on coffee runs. May as well get it over with, right? Weaver (pictured below) may never be an every down player, but he has pass rushing specialist written all over him, as he had 13.5 of his 34 career sacks just last season.

Weaver3

Round 3 (Pick 103): Trey Adams, OL, Washington, 6-8, 306

The Spin: Those second-tier receivers that were still there? Guess what? They were all gone, with 10 picks to spare, with pick 103 came around. They stayed true to their board here, saying the game is won upfront and that you can’t have enough offensive linemen. Even though Adams is a solid prospect with upside, this will be the head-scratcher – at least on the surface. The reality, though, is that the tackle position is as rich in talent this year as wide receiver. It’s just not as glamorous. In another year, this starter of 45 straight games at left tackle would be a Top 50-75 pick. Because he has some serious injuries, which stoically battled through, he fell to the Eagles. Adams (pictured below) could be viewed as a hedge against last year’s first-rounder, Andre Dillard, or a top-end third tackle who could use a good 15-20 pounds on his frame and some technical work.

Adams2

Round 4 (Pick 127):  Lynn Bowden, WR, Kentucky, 6-1, 200

The Spin: They are going say they are lucky this under-the-radar guy fell to them, and it won’t be a lie. As is the case with Adams in the third round, depth at the position pushed Bowden into the Eagles’ lap. Bowden (pictured below) was forced to play quarterback for the depleted Wildcats, a selfless move which showed a lot of character. While going 6-2 as a starter under center, it also hurt his draft stock a bit by stunting his growth into being a Day 2 pick as a receiver. Still, Bowden has good speed (4.5ish), reliable hands and some return game skills. For the Eagles, assuming that DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are back health – and that Greg Ward picks up where he left off in the slot (while J.J. Arcega Whiteside theoretically evolves) – they can let a guy like Bowden be a bit of a wildcard.

Better Bowden

Round 4 (Pick 145): Shaquille Quarterman, ILB, Miami (Fla.), 6-0, 240

The Spin: Position of need (although they won’t admit that), and will be portrayed as an excellent value pick – even though this is just about where Quarterman (pictured below) is slotted by most so-called experts. Saved his best for last, earning All-ACC honors with 51 of 107 tackles being of the solo variety. Looks the part of a NFL inside linebacker, but the fear is that he may miss as many plays as he makes, which is a no-no that get you benched fast.

ShaquilleQuarterman_2017_13

Round 4 (Pick 146): Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas, 5-11, 210

The Spin: They still got two receivers who were stellar college players while staying true to their board and addressing needs on Days 1 and 2. Duvernay (pictured below) had almost 1,400 receiving yards last season, and he runs a 4.4 40. Why, then, did he last this long? Although he could take the top of a defense in college, he is projected as just a one-trick pony — a slot receiver — in the big leagues. That doesn’t bode well for Ward’s long-term future, but it bolsters the overall depth in the stable for now. Duvernay, a sprint champion in high school, also has some return game experience.

Duvernay

Round 5 (Pick 170): James Morgan, QB, Florida International, 6-4, 225

The Spin: With the long-term future of backup quarterback uncertain beyond this year (Nate Sudfeld has a one-year deal and there seems to be no real interest on either side to make the relationship last beyond that), the door is open for another to be developed alongside of – or instead of – practice squad holdover Kyle Lauletta. Morgan (pictured below) had some impressive workouts before the lockouts, and he may have put himself into the draft – as opposed to being a priority UDFA – as a result. While the upside is there, as he can make the requisite throws, it is still raw.

James Morgan

Round 6 (Pick 190): Joshua Kelley, RB, UCLA, 5-11, 210

The Spin: Kelley (pictured below) was a productive workhorse in college, not only for the Bruins, but at FBS level at Cal Davis before transferring.  This may have worked against him as a prospect, as NFL teams like running backs with less tread on their tires and a little bit more mystique. His highlight reel won’t wow anyone on YouTube, but Kelley’s style may translate better than scat backs who won’t be able to run away from anyone in the pros much anyway. While not really a dynamic runner, his meat-and-potatoes style – one that produced games like the one he had against rival USC (40 carries, 289 yards) – might make him a nice short-yardage fit with Miles Sanders as the go-to back and Boston Scott and the change-of-pace back. In addition to his production – two 1,000-yard seniors at UCLA – he has some kick return experience.

Kelley

Summary: The first question will be about safety, and Roseman will say there were some they liked, but they stayed true to their board. And, with that, there will be the announcement that Avonte Maddox will get reps at safety. He will also tout the fact that he signed athletic freak Marc Antoine-Dequoy (pictured below) of Montreal (not a misprint), who is sure to become a folk hero (look at his hair) and could actually stick as a special teams guy while learning to play safety. While I fully expect more picks to be found, via trade, maybe by dumping one of the back-to-back picks at the end of the fourth round for two later on, most boxes were checked off. “Yews” will be a bit ticked off that, in a year of stud wideouts, we came away with guys who don’t float many boats. Time will tell on that one, as receiver remains one of the most difficult positions to project in the last decade. It very well could be that a Day 3 receiver, or someone signed after the draft, matches or exceeds the play of a big-name guy from a big-time program anyway. What will be unspoken – and unasked by the press hoard – is that they successfully navigated around taking a Temple player for yet another year.

MAM

 

 

All-Time Team Mulligan: Special Teams

Picard

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – If you want to win in the National Football League, there are many things you need a lot to go right – a perfect storm.

Mixed in, you need your need your special teams to be special. For our Philadelphia Eagles, we have surely seen our share of ups and downs in this category, but some real standouts over the years.

The 75th Anniversary Team, as voted on by the fans in 2008, was somewhat predictable. The years have passed, a Super Bowl was won and the time has come to set the record straight.

I do this at great personal risk, but let the bullets fly:

Kick Returner

75th Team: Tim Brown

Mulligan Team: Tim Brown

Say What?: Before my time, but I listen to my elders, and they all confirm he was Brian Westbrook before there was Brian Westbrook. They also say his sudden retirement in 1967 (returning briefly to win a second championship with the Baltimore Colts in 1968) to be a B-movie star helped keep the Birds from taking flight. When I started following the team in the early 1970s, he was still talked about lovingly and longingly. I guess when you return two kickoffs for touchdowns in one game, like he did against Dallas in 1966, your place in franchise folklore is cemented. His all-purpose skills sent him to three Pro Bowls. Ironically, Brown began his career out of Ball State with the Green Bay Packers, playing one game in 1959 before helping to beat the Packers in the 1960 championship game.

Timmy Brown

Punt Returner

75th Team: Brian Westbrook

Mulligan Team: Darren Sproles

Say What?: Me? Pick a guy I have complained about, Sproles, over one of my all-time favorite Birds in Westbrook. Yep. Cue the theme from the “Twilight Zone.” My issue with Sproles was that he shouldn’t have been handed a roster spot the last two years, and then force-fed into the offense with what seemed like mandatory touches to push him up the NFL’s all-purpose yardage list. It seemed as if the Eagles were trying to hang on to him long enough that, as a possible Hall of Famer, he would go in as an Eagle. That goal was achieved, even at the expense of the product on the field. Either it was that nefarious of a plot, or they missed the memo that they won the Super Bowl without him – and left tackle Jason Peters, who was seemingly kept around for the same reasons – on the field (Peters missed the second half of the year while Sproles missed almost the whole thing). However, prior to that season the sun, Sproles did something he did not do with his two other employers – the Chargers and the Saints – by being selected to the Pro Bowl three consecutive years – 2014-16 — as the return specialist. He was also a two-time All-Pro (2015-16). Since he had it practically written into his contract that he didn’t want to return kicks, ironically after setting up the game-winning points to beat the Eagles with a kick return in the playoffs the season prior to his arrival here, these accolades were based on what he had done as a punt returner. Before he was a shell of himself the last years, Sproles was a threat on every punt – and smart about when to call for a fair catch and when to let a punt bounce (skills that also eroded). Westbrook was surely the popular choice in 2008, as his punt return late in a game in one of the Miracle of the Meadowlands sequels was fresh in a lot of minds. However, as he became more a part of the offense, the need was less. DeSean Jackson, whose walkoff punt return in the Meadowland remains etched in our souls, went to a Pro Bowl as returner and receiver that same season (2010) At the time, they said he was the first Eagles punt returner to be so honored, which was incorrect. Wally Henry, unfortunately remembered for two bad fumbles in a home playoff game in 1981, was not only a Pro Bowl choice in 1979, but actually took one to the house in Honolulu.

Sproles

Kicker

75th Team: David Akers                                                              

Mulligan Team: David Akers

Say What?: Really hard not to go with Akers, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, even though he was not as money in the clutch as current kicker Jake Elliott has been – so far. He was selected to six Bowls, five of which were as an Eagle. He was first- or second-team All-Pro six times, five of which were as an Eagle. The Eagles have had some other Pro Bowl kickers – Bobby Walston, Sam Baker and Cody Parkey of double-doink infamy. They have had memorable ones with half a foot, recent coronavirus victim Tom Dempsey, and two that kicked barefoot (Tony Franklin, Paul McFadden). They have also had some so hideous – Happy Feller, Horst Muhlmann, etc. — that having had Akers, and Elliott now, should make us all grateful.

David Akers

Punter

75th Team: Sean Landeta                                                                

Mulligan Team: King Hill

Say What?: I know, I know … Landeta is considered, possibly, the second best punter of all time behind Ray Guy. He is the punter, and rightfully so, on both the 1980s and 1990s All-Decade teams. However, of his 22 seasons in the league, five of them – at the tail end of his career – were spent here. He was good, maybe even the best we had seen here, but his years of greatness were behind him. Once discounted for my Mulligan here, the search for a replacement was on. Donnie Jones, of the Super Bowl team, is in a similar situation. Current punter, Cameron Johnston, has a chance to maybe be the best. Going back into recent history, there were some others – Max Runager, John Teltschick, Tom Hutton — who were OK, but not OK enough to be keep beyond a few years. That put me back in time, and the best I could do to at least hold a place for Johnston was Hill. Much hyped coming out of Rice, Hill never lived up to expectations as a quarterback. He landed here as a backup in 1961 and made himself useful also serving a punter for most of the decade. His average was just under 43 yards per punt, and he never had one blocked. For now, we’ll go with it.

King Hill

Specialist

75th Team: Vince Papale                                                      

Mulligan Team: Bob Picard

Say What?: If I am going to remain unpopular, let me do it in style. I’m accused of heresy for my All-Time Defense, so why not add to the charges. I plead guilty. Unlike above, there is no need to go back in time and look at numbers. A special teamer going to the Pro Bowl, and being named All-Pro, is a 21st century thing. No one kept track of special teams tackles in the bad old days – at least not on the official docket. I have been watching the Eagles since my first game at Franklin Field at 1970. There have been many outstanding special teams players, even on bad teams, and Papale is among them. Others include the likes of Ike Reese, who went to the Pro Bowl as a special teams choice, and three who got Super Bowl rings – Chris Maragos, Bryan Braman and Mack Hollins. However, two stood out to me the most, and neither had a movie made about them. They were Colt Anderson, who was on a Pro Bowl – possibly All-Pro – trajectory when he tore his ACL in the 9th game of the 2011 season (he joined the team in 2010). He never played here again, and was out of the league a few years later. That leaves Picard, who was Papale before there was Papale (ironically wearing No. 82 while Papale wore No. 83). For three seasons here before being selected in the expansion draft by the Seattle Seahawks, who were obviously aware of his special teams acumen (despite zero career catches as a receiver). The opening for someone like Picard set the stage for Papale, but Picard actually set the mold. At Veterans Stadium in the early 1970s, with little else to cheer for, he became a bit of a folk hero with homemade signs hung from the rafters. One some teams not known for hustle, Picard often had mud and blood on his body and uniform. Wrote a scribe at the time: “Of all the Philadelphia Eagles, the easiest one to find in the locker room is Bobby Picard. He’s the one covered with all the blood. Number 82 in your program, but No. 1 in the kamikaze ranks. The guy who looks like a walking transfusion.”

Bob Picard

Long Snapper

75th Team: N/A                                                 

Mulligan Team: Rick Lovato

Say What?: I have been watching the game long enough that it was almost always the backup center serving as the long snapper. For a while, teams would turn to the third tight ends – like Mike Bartrum in the Andy Reid era – but it was become so specialized that guys whose athletic ability wouldn’t even otherwise put them on a roster, are carried for this highly specialized task. You don’t really notice the long snapper until there is a bad one. Never been a real concern here over the years, with the likes of Bartrum and Jon Dorenbos (two Pro Bowls as an Eagle), but it is Lovato who has triggered some of the most important long snaps in team history with aplomb. A pleasant surprise on the coverge units, with some solo tackles, he was also selected to the Pro Bowl this year.

Lovato

Holder

75th Team: N/A                                                              

Mulligan Team: Bill Bradley

Say What?: Am I getting weird here? Yeah, maybe a bit. With as much of a pathway to the all-time defense at safety as Bernie Sanders to the Democratic party’s presidential nomination, I feel like there is a place somewhere for my first favorite Eagle. Bradley, a college quarterback, was a bright spot on some hideous Eagles teams. A free safety in the NFL, he twice led the league in interceptions with 11 in 1971 and nine the following year. He went to three Pro Bowls (1971, 72 and 73) and was an All-Pro in 1971-72. What is also of note is that Bradley was called upon to punt, return punts and hold on placekicks (as he was likely doing here when the Eagles probably didn’t have enough, or too many, men on the field). I wanted to find him a place to honor his overshadowed service, so here he is.

Bill Bradley

 

 

All-Time Team Mulligan: The Offense

Pihos

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — His name was Wade Key.

And don’t be asking me who that is, please.

He played for the Eagles from 1970 to 1978 – with his career taking a uptick after the hiring of Dick Vermeil in 1976, as Key started 39 of 40 games and appeared in a grand total of 121 games as an offensive lineman before being waved before the 1980 season that would culminate with a 27-10 thud against the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XV.

I must have thought enough of No. 72 to seek out his autograph during an annual excursion to training camp to Widener University, as I’m starring at it right now – as it shares a place on the same sheet of paper as Vince Papale’s John Hancock.

When the axe fell, Key was the longest-tenured Bird on the team.

He should have a rightful place in team history, with the fanfare it does – or does not – deserve.

But, through no fault of his own, that is not the case.

After the 2007 season, despite never having appeared in a Pro Bowl, Key was elected as a starting guard on the Eagles’ all-time 75th anniversary team.

Technically, he was the left guard, and maybe that threw off the more than 600,000 voters, but my vote would be for the voters to have taken IQ and sobriety tests first.

Hard to say how that happened, other than that this is what happens when people are allowed to vote before having all the facts and figures laid out before them.

On the surface, given the fact that Philly loves underdogs almost as much as soft pretzels with mustard, the votes for Key make some sense.

But, as one weaned in the Wade Key era (my semi-arthritic fingers froze just typing that), I don’t recall him ever being a beloved figure. Never once saw a No. 72 jersey at Franklin Field or the Vet – let alone The Linc.

Ever.

Drafted in a round in a round (13th) that no longer exists (it went from 17 to 12 to seven) and having played at a college, Southwest Texas State University, that doesn’t even go by the same name (it’s now just Texas State), Key was cut as a rookie in 1969.

He played for the famed Pottstown Firebirds that won the Atlantic Coast Football League title, and came back to the nest to spend time on what was then called the taxi squad (more or less since resurrected as what we now know as the practice squad) before moving into the lineup as the starting left tackle on teams from 1970-72 that won a grand total of 11 games in three seasons before moving inside to guard.

Somewhat undersized – a college tight end, he was listed at 6-5 and 245 pounds – Key played through a plethora of injuries and had a reputation of coming back, whether it helped or hindered the team, sooner than projected.

Wade Key2

Drafted in a round in a round (13th) that no longer exists (it went from 17 to 12 to seven) and having played at a college, Southwest Texas State University, that doesn’t even go by the same name (it’s now just Texas State), Key was cut as a rookie in 1969,

He played for the famed Pottstown Firebirds that won the Atlantic Coast Football League title, and came back to the nest to spend time on what was then called the taxi squad (more or less since resurrected as what we now know as the practice squad) before moving into the lineup as the starting left tackle on teams from 1970-72 that won a grand total of 11 games in three seasons before moving inside to guard.

Somewhat undersized – a college tight end, he was listed at 6-5 and 245 pounds – Key played through a plethora of injuries and had a reputation of coming back, whether it helped or hindered the team, sooner than projected.

Admirable, but … not quite worthy of all-time anything status.

From 1979 to 2007, there had been plenty of guards – including the starters in Super Bowls XV (Woody Peoples and Petey Perot) and XXXIX (Artis Hicks and Jermane Mayberry, who was an All-Pro in 2002 and was, drum roll, the left guard) – more distinguished.

And from the franchise’s inception to Key’s arrival, there had to be one more worthy, right?

The team did win titles in 1948, 1949 and 1960.

From those 1948 and 1949 teams, for example, there was Bucko Kilroy. A three-time Pro Bowler, the Port Richmond native played at since-defunct Northeast Catholic and Temple and was considered the one of the dirtiest players ever to play the game (back when you got penalized for not putting your hands to the face of an opponent).

How “Philly” can you get, right?

Despite coaching with the Eagles after retiring, Kilroy was a scout from 1965-70 for the Cowboys. To 700-level voters, this is a sin that equates to the Comey memo and Access Hollywood taps all wrapped up into one.

Blame it on memories not going back that far?

Choices such as tight end Pete Pihos (1947-55), center/linebacker Alex Wojciehowicz (1946-50), kick returner Timmy Brown (1960-67) – along with legends like linebacker Chuck Bednarik (1949-62), wide receiver Tommy McDonald (1957-63) and running back Steve Van Buren (1944-51) – suggest that homework was done.

This is all not meant to single out and pick on poor Wade Key. We are not going to blame it on voter fraud, collusion with the Russians or the Electoral College.

He is far from the only curious choice on the 75th anniversary team, leaving us with only one choice.

Let’s just take a Mulligan.

With the Eagles having just won their first title in the Super Bowl era, and with 10 additional seasons now under our belt, we can right the wrongs of the past and heading into this new era of being on top of the world with a new view of the all-time All-Eagles team. For this session, my pupils, we’ll start with the offense:

75th Team                                                                            Mulligan Team

QB – Donovan McNabb                                                 QB – Nick Foles

Say What?:  Well, we have only won one Super Bowl, right. Guess which guy literally threw up on the field and which one was cool as a cucumber, winning MVP? And Foles, in his first stint with the Eagles, has the single greatest QB season in team history on his resume. For an encore to the Super Bowl season, he ignited a fire under the team after Carson Wentz went down and led the Birds to road win in the famed “Double Doink” game in Chicago (and nearly pulled a rabbit out of his hat again the following week in New Orleans).  Barring more injuries to Wentz, this place is just temporary, but we’ll let Foles keep the seat war. He can start a big game for me over McNabb anytime. I’d put the other championship quarterbacks – Tommy Thompson (two titles, 48 and 49, with legal vision in one eye) and 1960 quarterback Norm Van Brocklin ahead of McNabb as well. You could make a case for Ron Jaworski, who also got the Birds to a Super Bowl before throwing three perfect strikes to the opposition.  The Ultimate Weapon, Randall Cunningham, would also be in the conversation, as would 1950’s big arms Bobby Thomason (three Pro Bowls) and Adrian Burk (two Pro Bowls). And no, it didn’t help that McNabb was the one visible ex-Bird who seemed more embittered than elated by the recent championship.

Nick-Foles-2

RB – Steve Van Buren                                                                     RB – Steve Van Buren

Say What?: The fans got this right the first time. I grew up with Wilbert Montgomery, an all-time personal favorite whose replica jersey I wore on Super Bowl Sunday and whose number should rightfully be retired, and there are a litany of other standout backs to have played here, but Van Buren was the best. Period.

FB – Keith Byars                                                                                FB – Keith Byars

Say What?: Like Mayberry, who was drafted in the first round as a tackle before finding a home at guard, Byars had to diversify to find his niche. Really more of a Swiss Army knife than a pure fullback, Byars still gets the slight nod over Tom Woodeshick (1963-71), who ran for more than 3,500 yards and went to one Pro Bowl — at — fullback in 1968.

WR – Harold Carmichael, Tommy McDonald      WR – Harold Carmichael, Mike Quick

Say What?: Tough call here, knocking McDonald out. The franchise has been blessed with plenty of standout receivers over the years, although some (Terrell Owens, Irving Fryar, Cris Carter, etc.) spent most of their careers elsewhere. The reality is that McDonald, though well-liked and having had made a terrific touchdown catch in the 1960 title game, was only here for part of his career. Quick was not blessed with having played on too many winning teams, but he was the best Eagles receiver these eyes have seen since 1970. Put him on the 49ers instead of Jerry Rice, and he’s Jerry Rice. Well, at least John Taylor.

TE – Pete Pihos                                                                                 TE – Pete Pihos

Say What?: Hard to knock what Pihos accomplished in his career, but he better not get too comfortable. Zach Ertz was clutch in the Super Bowl, catching the winning touchdown (and dropping no passes all that season). It shouldn’t be about one game, and it’s not. He holds the league record to receptions in a season for a tight end and was a big reason for the success of both Wentz and Foles, and I’m buying some stock in the future by saying he will go down in history as the greatest tight end in a franchise that has had its share – Pete Retzlaff (5 Pro Bowls), Charle Young (3), Chad Lewis (3) and Keith Jackson (3). And then there’s Brent Celek.

T – Tra Thomas, Jon Runyan                                                 T – Jason Peters, Lane Johnson

Say What?: At the time of the voting, it was hard to argue against Thomas (although the starting tackles in Super Bowl XV, Stan Walters and Jerry Sisemore, were top-notch as well). Runyan was a bit dubious, especially considering that his one Pro Bowl appearance was as a fourth alternate. There could have been a legit case for Bob Brown at left tackle (instead of Thomas). The outspoken Brown’s Hall of Fame career began with the Eagles after being drafted second overall in 1964 and winning Rookie of the Year before being name to Pro Bowls in 1965 and 1966. However, voters who remembered him may have also remember that he demanded a trade after five seasons here. Brown played two seasons with the Rams and played three with the Raiders on a famed line with four other Hall of Famers. Peters, though, is Brown is reverse. He came here from the Bills and cemented his Hall of Fame legacy in Eagle green. Johnson, right now, is considered the best right tackle in the game and, in some circles, the best tackle overall.

G – Wade Key, Shawn Andrews                                     G – Bucko Kilroy, Brandon Brooks

Say What?: Well, you know Key was locked out, right? Andrews could have been an all-time great but his career took a dark turn after being named All-Pro in 2006 and to a pair of Pro Bowls leading up to the voting of the 75th anniversary team. The following training camp, he vanished without a trace, only to send text messages to reporters citing personal issues later revealed to be depression. He spent most of that season, and the following season, out of the lineup (with the Eagles suffered with his brother, Stacy, on the roster). He never played here again, and only played briefly for the rival Giants. Brooks is Andrews in reverse, having overcome anxiety issues to play like a man possessed receive the accompanying postseason accolades. He gets the nod here, slightly, over Evan Mathis. As for Kilroy (pictured below), it’s hard to know where he played on those classic teams of the late 1940s. I studied grainy film of those championship games and it appeared his lined up all over the offensive line at every spot but center. Although he mysteriously had not appeared on the Eagles Wall of Fame, he lands on the all-time team here.

Bucko_Kilroy_-_1948_Bowman

C – Chuck Bednarik                                                                         C – Chuck Bendarik

Say What?: Don’t think this was as easy as it sounds, especially with Concrete Charlie already a lock on the defensive side of the ball. There were plenty of All-Pro and Pro Bowl centers before Jason Kelce, with the most notable being Jim Ringo (three Pro Bowls in the mid-1960s), but it is important to note that Bednarik was named to the 1950s NFL All-Decade Team at center and not linebacker. Case closed … for now.

 

 

 

 

Mock Draft 1.0: Love The GM You’re With

Roseman

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE – Healthier than quitting smoking is quitting Eagles fan pages on Facebook, where vitriol for Howie Roseman for not getting every single superstar on the open market – regardless of who is on the roster and the salary ramifications – runs amok.

While Disneyland is closed due to coronavirus. Dingusland is open for business, as it is clear that as soon as Roseman descended from the podium after the Super Bowl parade in February of 2018 that went right back onto the hot seat in the eyes of too many.

The City of Brotherly Love, at least in some segments of the Eagle Nation, remains the City of Brotherly Howie Hate.

The largest concern among the unwashed masses is at wide receiver, but it is not as if Roseman is wearing blinders.

The situation is this: DeSean Jackson returns as the deep threat with health questions after fans took his jersey out of moth balls only to see him limited to three games (9 catches for a 17.7 average, 2 TDs).

Alshon Jeffery, in addition to not being best buds with franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, finished last season on the shelf with a foot injury after 10 games (43 catches for an underwhelming 11.4 average, 4 TDs) and may not be ready for the start of this season.

If anyone is disliked and mistrusted more than Roseman, it is Jeffery — despite his name being spelled about 22 different ways in Facebook diatribes.

The slot receiver looks to be Greg Ward (28 catches down the stretch), the converted quarterback who broke out of the bondage of the practice squad to be more than productive. For this team, in the short term, he fits. With the double threat of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert at tight end (a combined 146 catches, 11 TDs), Ward can be a more cost-effective option than the dearly departed Nelson Agholor (signed with the Raiders for way too much money). Additionally, Ward provides the peace of mind as an emergency quarterback.

The only other receiver the brass will feel obliged to keep on the payroll is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (10 catches, 16.9 averages, 1 TD, several bad drops at key times), as he cost a second-round pick out of Stanford. The reality is that Arega-Whiteside could surprise as a sophomore. He was not a reach when drafted and had an promising preseason (12 catches, TD) before not being able to adjust to the speed of the game once the regular season began. While he wouldn’t be the first bust at receiver in team history (Kenny Jackson, Mike Bellamy), he wouldn’t be the first to blossom after a tough initial transition to the NFL (Harold Carmichael, Mike Quick).

Nonetheless, I’ve heard the cries of the Iggles Idiots on the Facebook pages. As such, I’ve gone into overkill with the following mock draft. You want receivers? You got them here. There have been no projected trades, although we all know there will be. I also did something you know the Eagles won’t do, and drafted two players out of Temple.

OK, here we go:

Round 1 (pick 21) – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU, 6-3, 192

Rationale: As tempting as it is to think about trading up for one of the top three receivers – Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, both of Alabama, or Oklahoma’s CeDee Lamb – in a loaded class, the wildly productive Jefferson (111 catches, 1,540 yards, 18 TDs just last season) could be the most shovel-ready of the crop. Not a burner, he uses every bit of his 4.53 speed without wasting motion and can line up anywhere — outside, inside and in motion. He is compared by scouts to Michael Thomas of the Saints. We’d take that, right? What’s more, I’ll put forward another theory. Jefferson was productive at LSU before projected No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow “came out of nowhere.” Perhaps, it was a case of the receiver – Jefferson – making the quarterback look better than he was, as opposed to the other way around.

Justin Jefferson

Round 2 (pick 53) – K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State, 5-9, 176

Rationale: The Nittany Lion with 4.37 speed and electrifying athletic ability will immediately add juice to w moribund return game. Talent-wise, he would go in the late first or early second round if not for his stature. Will size matter in the NFL? If used properly, perhaps as a Desean Jackson protégé, it shouldn’t. High end? Think Tyreek Hill of the Chiefs.

Round 3 (pick 103) – Collin Johnson, WR, Texas, 6-6, 220

Rationale: If the draft  were not a virtual event this year, the Eagles would run this card to the podium (and may not have taken Hamler in the second round if they had known he’d be there). Johnson’s family tree is made out of pigskin. His father (Johnnie) and uncle (Ron) played in the NFL, while his brother played college football. His speed (4.55) won’t wow anyone, but he brings precise in his routes and has good hands – especially on contested catches. Johnson doesn’t just have impressive size and an insane wingspan,  as he knows how to use it. Some scouts see, with time, another Kenny Golladay in the making.

Round 4 (pick 127): Matt Hennessey, C, Temple, 6-3, 295

Rationale: While we are not rushing Jason Kelce out the door, he has hinted at retirement the last few years. Eventually, he will say what he said at the Super Bowl parade and retire with his body intact. A replacement needs to be groomed. Hennessey has all the tools as a natural scheme fit, as he has the light feet (4.95 speed) – like Kelce – to get to the second level. Only issue is that the Eagles seem to have a strict policy against drafting Temple players (the last was safety Jaiquawn Jarrett in the second round in 2011). The last undrafted Owl they had in camp was Adam DiMechele, a fourth quarterback, in … 2009. This is of note because ratings on Hennessey, largely because of medical issues, are all over the map. Another team without an allergy to Owls might jump on him as early as the second round.

Round 4 (pick 145): Joe Bachie, Michigan State, MLB, 6-1, 238

Rationale: Eagles fans will love this guy, if only because his last name is pronounced “Bocce,” like the sport. A tackling machine in college, he would likely have been drafted higher if not for a failed PED test, which may give him a chip on his shoulder entering the league. Although a two-down linebacker at the NFL level,  the Birds rotate linebackers, based on situaton, anyway. At the least, he will also add much-needed grit to a special teams unit that hasn’t been special for a while. Pro comparison? How about a guy the Eagles should have drafted in 2016 — Temple’s Tyler Matakevich  (instead of Joe Walker, who is out of football).

Round 4 (Pick 146): Harrison Hand, Temple, 6-0, 192

Rationale: Two Temple guys? The NovaCare Comlex might have to be fumigated. The brass can at least cajole themselves with Hand, since he transferred to Temple for his final year after following Matt Rhule to Baylor (after being recruited to Temple originally). The Cherry Hill West alum is considered by some the best tackling corner in the draft, which may be attributed to him having some safety experience (and he could end up there in the NFL). Hand also has been timed at 4.40. With recent acquisitions on the back end, he can be eased into the secondary while joining Bachie in immediately bolstering the coverage units.

Harrison Hand

Round 5 (pick 168) – Ben Bartch, G, St. John’s, 6-6, 308

Rationale: The Eagles will likely be looking for interior line help – while likely opting for a street veteran that shakes loose from another pro roster to be the third tackle – and this class is seen as slightly above average. With that being the case, why not cast their line in a small pond to pull out a big fish with raw potential. A converted tight end, Bartch lined up in a two-point stance at left tackle in a spread offense at the Division III level. He projects to guard in the big leagues, but that is not assured (he won’t be on the active roster as a rookie anyway, so there would be time to figure it out).

Ben Bartch

Round 6 (pick 190): Kalija Lipscomb, WR, Vanderbilt, 6-1, 201

Rationale: His average size is not helped by average speed, but he was productive – particularly as a junior (87 catches, 9 TDs). As a senior, in a difficult situation with the 3-9 Commodores his production dipped (47 catches, 3 TDs). Why would the Eagles draft a fourth receiver who may slip out of the draft entirely? Because new wide receivers coach Aaron Moorhead coached him at Vanderbilt, and he likely vouched for his ability to pick up the playbook quickly, which is considered his greatest asset.

Summary: This is somewhat fantasy, I admit. While multiple receivers are likely, two may be the actual limit. There would be no way they take four, but this was an exercise to show it could be done and the corps would be well-fortified for the future. There were no trades here. At No. 21, the Eagles are in a bit of a No Man’s Land at receiver. The brass could easily opt to go back, maybe to Miami at 26 or Green By 30, but they would likely lose Jefferson to New Orleans at No. 24. That would still leave tempting options like Denzel Mims (Baylor), Laviska Shenault, Jr. (Colorado) or Jealon Reagor (TCU) and an extra second round pick with which to work. I didn’t take an edge rusher, which is an annual rite of passage – usually with middling results – for the Birds. I also didn’t take a running back, although the third spot behind Miles Sanders and Boston Scott is likely to go to a familiar face (LeSean McCoy or Corey Clement), with an undrafted guy or two – i.e. Antonio Gibson (Memphis), JaMychal Hasty (Baylor), Tony Jones, Jr. (Notre Dame, picture below), Rodney Smith (Minnesota) — brought in to battle it out for the fourth spot. And, of course, there is no way they would draft two Temple guys.

Tony Jones

 

 

 

 

It’s About Time (to end DST)

driving-with-headlights

The following column ran in The Times Herald on March 8, before coronavirus put us on all lockdown and matter that now seem more trivial were more in the mainstream:

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It doesn’t take much to move me to tears, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Tears of sadness. Tears of joy. Tears from a harsh March wind blowing so fierce in my face that they can’t be avoided.

Since getting a new used car last January, I have been able to cry tears of relief when we fall back and spring forward on the clock.

My new used car, which is a 2018 Ford Edge, came equipped with all the computerized bells and whistles. It’s so easy to change the time that, yeah, it makes me want to cry. I almost want to reset it and do it all over again.

While that makes today’s spring back drill easier to take, I’m not off the hook.

While the time automatically changes on our computers and phones, I still have to go from clock to clock around the house and reset them all.

Then there’s my wife’s near-antique car, a Honda that historians believe was used to transport troops to the front in the War of 1812. It requires a degree in nuclear physics to figure out.

Then, when we visit my mother at her assisted living place, it gets to the point that the best option for trying to figure out changing the time on a cheap clock radio is to just go get a new one.

Turns out, that this source of tears and frustration is needless.

I’m talking on the A-List scale of needlessness – with the likes of the Iowa caucuses, hockey shootouts, chop sticks, the running of the bulls, overusing the word “very” and playing games at carnivals that are impossible to win.

When we fall back, we gain an hour of sleep but lose an hour of daylight for months. We lose the hour of sleep by springing forward, but the days are longer.

You really need to be in another part of the country, in another time zone, to completely understand the extremes of it all.

A few summers back, we were in South Dakota, enjoying the indoor pool of a hotel with the worst excuse for a continental breakfast ever (Fig Newtons instead of donuts and no decaf coffee). The sun was still up at 10 p.m. Sounds cool, but the only view was of a trailer park across the street in a town where the hot place to eat was a Dairy Queen.

Really no need, in that time zone, for the sun to catch you crying.

It is more than some annoyance that costs me my beauty sleep in the spring and makes me take out the trash and walk Rex in the dark in the fall and winter.

This raises the deeper question: Why do we do this drill, Daylight Saving/Savings Time (DST) as if we were marching around like zombies at a military academy?

Turns out, falling back and springing forward are acts – like the creation of the electoral college – that have far outlived their usefulness.

While the concept dates back eons, and Benjamin Franklin pontificated about it as a way to preserve candle light, DST first became a “thing” in America during World War I to conserve coal.

That made sense at the time, but my history books seem to indicate that World War I ended more than a century ago.

While your president (not mine) lies to the faces of coal miners to get their votes, we know that industry is pretty much a shadow of its former self.

Repealed after World War I, Franklin Delano Roosevelt put the action back into play during World War II.

Following the war, it was more of a state by state thing until Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1966, set into law that DST should begin the last Sunday in April and end the last Sunday in October.

And so we sit, hearing some vague arguments for the status quo (mostly economic) but others against it (mostly health-related, such at workplace injuries).

According to those who have studied it, it would mean a lot to make a change – certainly a lot more than we think, beyond anguish over remembering how to change clocks and watches that do it on their own, to stop the needless madness of springing back and forward.

They suggest it would reduce headaches – fatal car crashes — especially to pedestrians — and heart attacks.

Consider two studies by the University of Colorado. One found a spike in car accidents the first week after the DST change (with the apparent cause being drivers less sharp with one hour less of sleep).

The other found the heart attack risk spiking 25 percent the following Monday after the “spring forward” but fell to almost normal when the clocks fell back in the Fall.

In this era of partisan politics, this surely sounds like one issue we can all get behind.

And it’s about time.

Turn and Face the Strange

Change

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE  — It was the fall of 2000. I had become engaged to my now-wife (and Sofia’s “mama”) over the summer, and I could feel the winds of change in the air.

I had been a sports writer since 1988 and, other than not getting to be next Johnny Bravo (Greg Brady still should have gone for it, and then done college), I was content.

I liked to write, and I liked sports, so it fit (at least better than the glove on O.J.’s hand).

The problem was that sports are played on nights and weekends, a time when most of the spectating world is doing the opposite.

But if you’re a sports writer, it means you are working nights and weekends.

It was fine for 13 years, but I looked into the future and saw an abyss.

If I wanted to be a family man, I needed to make a change.

Some would call it a “Come to Jesus” moment. Lapsed Jew/atheist that I am, we will just call it a moment of truth.

While others in my situation had to either leave the business or go elsewhere, a chance to turn the beat around – quite literally — was right there at The Times Herald.

Newsroom turnover always had a mind of its own. We would have a set staff for long stretches and then, for whatever reason, everyone would seem to leave at once.

At this particular time, while we were full in sports, the newsroom had turned into a ghost town.

Skirting the tumbleweeds, I walked into the office of then-editor Mike Morsch – a straight shooter from the Midwest with whom I had a good rapport and still call friend – and, in the words of Tony Montana from Scarface, “proposed a proposition.”

I offered to fill one of the many empty chairs in the newsroom, but only under the condition that I would be the police reporter and nothing else. I wanted no parts of covering municipal or school board meetings.

Ever.

To my surprise, he was good with it.

For a while, I did both – helping out sports on busy nights, like when there were Friday night football games to be covered – while also learning the ropes of the police beat.

Within a few months, though, I really wasn’t even homesick for sports anymore.

News was growing on me.

But that’s easy for me to say.

I wasn’t going to meetings, like other reporters, and coming back to the office to write about complex issues – ones that truly affected people’s lives — while on the deadline crunch.

When I became managing editor in 2003, a large part of the job was scheduling reporters based on their meetings. If they had a conflict – there were more municipalities and school districts than reporters – we had to prioritize.

It was an odd thing, not having any personal experience with what was or was not important.

Until now.

The times they are a changin’ (nod to Sir Bob of Dylan).

As a concerned citizen, I have been to a handful of Whitpain Township meetings – and have gotten up to voice my opinion with more passion than I thought possible – about an ongoing issue in my neighborhood.

I won’t bore you with the gory details. Let’s just say that someone is looking to rewrite the zoning code to maximize his profit margin. Some of my concerned neighbors are primarily focused on the environment — water flow, trees being chopped down, the view from their back windows and water basins.

I’m with them on all that (even though my eyes glaze over with the water basin stuff), but my main thing – and that of a few others in our core group – is what even more cars will do to an already tenuous morning traffic logjam.

The other night, while we were waiting for our issue on the docket, the room was packed beyond capacity about the issue of what will become of the Mermaid Lake property.

As concerned citizens from that end of the township grilled the developers about many of the same concerns we have – only on a larger scale (school overcrowding chief among them) – it hit me just how much these meetings matter.

If citizens don’t turn out and speak up, a lot of these permanent changes – changes for the worse – will be made in their name.

During all of this heated debate, I noticed a few young ladies who appeared to be reporters furiously taking down notes (one had a small laptop and the other big yellow legal pad).

I don’t know where they were from, but I’m glad they were there.

It was another moment of truth.

While I remain eternally grateful that I never had to be in their shoes and cover a meeting, I am eternally grateful they exist.

Because these meetings matter.

Always did, and always will.

This column appeared on February 16, 2020

 

Breaking News, Broken Heart

Bryants

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Weird thing with me, and I’m sure a lot of you, is that I can recall happenings from decades ago while needing to be repeatedly reminded to take out the trash every Monday night.

A certain song, as much as anything, can provide a ride in a time machine to other events.

This brings me to the song “Dirty Laundry,” released by Don Henley in a solo effort back in 1982.

It was a sharp condemnation of the media, particularly on the television side, as it came at a time when CNN was still a toddler learning to walk as a round-the-clock entity.

Because I listen to retro radio whenever Sofia isn’t in the car to dictate otherwise, I still hear “Dirty Laundry” from time to time.

Just the other day, I realized that as on-point as the song – written by Henley and Danny Kortchmar – was in 1982, when I had decided to major in journalism (primarily to avoid taking more than one math and one science class at Temple), it has proven only more ominous over the decades.

It was this verse that got the few marbles I have left to rattle around:

“We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blond

Who comes on at five

She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam in her eye

It’s interesting when people die

Give us dirty laundry”

There is a later reference to the boys in the newsroom having a running bet about when someone will die.

It sounds unreal and callous, but it rings true. Sadly. The only real way to stay sane behind the curtain in the business is to become insensitive.

It took only events the magnitude of a 9/11 or a Sandy Hook — or a horrific local murder, like that of Lisa Manderach and her 19-month-old daughter, Devon — to cast a pall over the newsroom.

Not being a full-time newspaper guy in recent years, coupled with the birth of Sofia, has greatly softened my veneer.

When news affects me personally, it not only hits me, but I’m not afraid to show it.

When I cry at the end of the movie, which happens a lot, I’m that guy who has to watch all the credits roll in case someone sees me when I leave.

And when breaking news breaks my heart, it’s increasingly difficult to get up off the canvas.

Such was the case when Tom Petty died last year and, more recently, when the death of Neil Peart was followed closely by that of dear friend Hank Cisco.

These days, news just hits you in an instant.

On Sunday, for example, I was sitting where I am right now – at my laptop – when my cellphone flashed: “Kobe Bryant dead at 41.”

There was no other information, as it was one of the first initial reports.

“Oh, my God,” bellowed this atheist. “Kobe Bryant just died.”

“Oh, my God,” my wife, a practicing Catholic, replied.

When MSNBC was unable to provide much in the way of detail, we turned to CNN.

The news trickled in slow, and with a lot of the misinformation we didn’t run with back in the day, when we needed confirming sources and getting 2-3 people of authority on the record, and I took Sofia to her indoor softball practice not knowing for sure who else was on the private helicopter and how many people were on board.

Reports ranged from Bryant and daughter, Gianna, to the whole family to another teammate of Gianna and her parent.

We since learned the heartbreaking details, and the identities of all the nine victims beyond Bryant and his daughter.

The fact that Gianna was 13 (the age Sofia will be in two months, almost to the day) is enough to give me chills. Sports icon or not, I try not to think about what must have been going through Kobe’s mind knowing he couldn’t protect his daughter as the crash happened.

It was also personal on other levels.

Like an old song on the radio, the tragedy brought back a flood of memories.

Weaned on the Philadelphia Big 5, I remember his dad — Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant — starring for La Salle before playing for the hometown 76ers (and later the then-San Diego Clippers) before moving on Europe (Kobe was born in Italy).

Back when I was a sports writer (1988-2001, with some comebacks after), the Bryant family had moved back to the area.

By the time Bryant was in high school, you only needed to say “Kobe” to know who was being spoken about. He starred at nearby Lower Merion High School, and was the area’s greatest scholastic player – in an area of many great ones – since the days of Wilt Chamberlain.

I saw him play in the Donofrio tournament at the Fellowship House of Conshohocken, at Norristown High, on his home court at Lower Merion and on the same hallowed Palestra hardwood where I saw his father.

Later on, as fate would have it, I had the opportunity to cover the NBA when Bryant was cutting his teeth with the same Los Angeles Lakers team that he stayed with his entire Hall of Fame career after coming straight to the NBA out of Lower Merion and being drafted 13th overall by Charlotte and traded to Los Angeles for Vlade Divac (after he made it clear he didn’t want to play in Charlotte).

Through this relatively short time interval, I rarely found myself alone – or even in a small group – of reporters around Bryant (including at The Fellowship House).

I know I asked a pre-game question, when he was playing for the Lakers, but I’d be lying if I said I remember what it was (it was possibly about getting booed in his hometown, but don’t quote me).

I just remember that patented smile of his as he looked back over his shoulder and answered.

For now, as the shock waves subside and morph into the dirty laundry of impeachment hearings, it will have to be enough.

This column ran in The Times Herald on January 29, 2020.

Legal Evils Eat Away At Our Souls

Prevagen-1200x900

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Appalling.

There is no other way to describe what happened to a 90-year-old woman at Shannondell. She was scammed out of $8,500 dollars by someone pretending to be from law enforcement.

She was asked for bail money for her grandson, who she was led to believe had been in a DUI-related accident.

Unable to drive, the woman gave the envelope of cash to someone impersonating a police officer.

This is an example of a scam – one that has been used elsewhere around the area recently – that has several slight variations and is not uncommon.

It is illegal, on many levels, and we can all hope the guilty party – or parties – eventually get the old book thrown at them.

There are, however, legal scams – or shams – that go on every day.

We are all victims, but we just don’t call timeout long enough to catch our collective breath from the daily grind to realize it.

Here are four examples – a Mt. Everest, if you will – of the most egregious:

1) Printer Ink – So, you just bought a printer and some sales kid with gigantic earrings and a nose ring (ehat happens when they sneeze?) had you temporarily insane enough to believe you got a great deal.

Not quite.

Whatever you plunked down for the printer was merely a down payment on the tree-killing process that is print-o-mania.

The payments on it come in the form of continual, and seriously marked up, purchases on ink cartridges that always seem to run out all too quick (a good portion of the ink in them is used up before it even reaches the paper).

And, as we become increasingly reliant on computer printouts, as opposed to pen and paper, running out is inevitable. There is no such thing as universal ink that works in any type of printer, and no generic brands.

In order to function in modern society, the companies – like Arab sheiks setting the price on oil based on their whims – set the price to make a humongous profit off the dire need to replenish our ink.

Some say to join clubs where you get a slight markdown, or buying laser printers that are significantly more expensive.

These amount to ways to treat the symptoms without finding a cure.

After posting on Facebook that this might be one of the biggest rackets going, a friend who works behind the curtain in the computer business was quick to affirm my accusation.

He said: “I’m going to say that detention and separation of immigrant children at the border is the biggest racket, but this one is basically brazen theft. It’s akin to (drug) pushers giving you your first hit for free.”

2) Dog Licenses – This one is a bit like acid reflux, the way it keeps coming up.

Once a year, in November or December, I get a reminder that Rex needs to have his dog license renewed.

Man, what a stone-cold racket.

It’s not like I don’t already have my bases covered. Updated shots? Check.

Rabies shot? Check.

Microchipped? Rex is too lazy to run off, so no check mark needed.

What do I need this annual piece of paper for? Anyone? Anyone?

Into whose pockets does the fee go? Anyone? Anyone?

They need to have a record of my rescue dog’s existence because … why, exactly?

Thing is, I cannot take him to doggy daycare, let alone board him when we go away, so I have no choice but to submit.

I recently mailed in my annual fee, and I’m still waiting for e-mail confirmation. Certainly not coming as fast as the e-mail reminding me to pay it.

Perhaps Montgomery County Treasurer Jason Salus can provide some answers.

3) Prevagen – When they first created the term Snake Oil, I think they had this stuff in mind.

The makers of this supplement claim it comes from … jellyfish oils, and “may improve memory” (note the qualifier of “may” in there).

The ads say it is “pharmacist recommended.” By what pharmacist? Give me a name.

This one is personal. My mother won’t relent about this stuff. She resides in an assisted living facility, and I’ve gotten more calls about replenishing her supply from the staff (surely do to her nagging them) than when she has been seriously ill. Only time I ever heard from her doctor, other than when she was in the hospital, was when she had him call me (he couldn’t prescribe it because it wasn’t … a real medicine).

His basic point was that it is harmless so, if she wants it, get it.

Thanks, Doc.

Problem is this: At $2 per pill, with no hard proof it does anything, it is quite harmful – especially to those on fixed incomes.

And then there is this, the FTC and New York Attorney General’s office filed suit against the makers of Prevagen, Quincy Bioscience, LLC. The suit claims the company “made false statements about their purported clinical evidence in their advertising.”

Because it targets older people, claiming to help with “mild” memory loss due to aging, are they any worse than those who bilked the grandmother at Shannondell out of her money?

The only difference is that this is a slow bleed, as opposed to a one-shot deal.

4) Bottled Water – Surely you have gone into a restaurant and they ask you if want bottled water (at a price) or tap water?

Choose the tap water, please. If the waiter or waitress — with gigantic earrings and/or a nose ring (still want to know what happens when they sneeze) — sneers at you like you have no class, it’s their problem.

With the exception of a mere few cases, bottled water has proven to be a total sham. It’s just tap water dressed up in a labeled bottle.

Considering that blind taste tests show that participants cannot tell the difference between bottled and tap water, it is like paying for a bottle of air to breathe — as opposed to just breathing it.

According to a 2017 article in Business Insider, we spend roughly $100 billion per year on bottled water (more than milk, beer and now soda).

Meanwhile, it is estimated than 90 percent of the plastic bottles are not recycled, adding to the environmental nightmare.

A 2009 documentary film “Tapped” – made to expose pollution in sea water — laid out the damning case against the scam of bottled water.

Said actor Ed Begley, Jr.: “The film ‘Tapped’ illustrates quite clearly how we’ve been getting ‘soaked’ for years by the bottled water industry.”

Appalling.

This column appeared in The Times Herald on January 26, 2020.

News Turns To A Snooze

joe-scarborough-trump-journey-groupie-resistance

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — As I attempt to age as gracefully as possible for an otherwise graceless person, I have increasingly become a creature of habit.

One of those habits to turn on the TV every morning – sometime after the weekday alarms screeches at 6:30 — to watch “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. I don’t even really like the show, or the hosts and regulars (other than brilliant Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson), but I watch anyway.

Much to my disgust, Joe and the crew tend to belabor two issues ad nauseam: The Democratic race for the nomination and the ongoing ineptitude of your president (not mine).

The psychobabble seems like a colossal waste of breath, considering the primary season is in its infancy and your president (not mine) is never ever going to be impeached.

If I hear the words “Mayor Pete,” followed by a long and drawn out discussion by a panel of “experts” about his electability – all while they skirt the obvious issue, unfair or not – I may hurl the remote at Joe Scarborough’s smug mug.

Why, then, do they spend so much time cherry-picking a poll that shows Bernie Sanders up a point and Elizabeth Warren down two – all while doing a poor job of suppressing a clear pro-Joe Biden agenda – or giving too much attention to some late-night Twitter post that would make a middle school grammar teacher wince in pain?

Easy answer. It’s easy. It’s right there, with low hurdles to scale.

Better than anything else on, all things considered, but far from good enough.

The thing is, I’m a news junkie. It’s why I majored in journalism (along with not having to take many math or science classes).

I’m naturally curious, and some would say I’m really just a total gossip. I plead partially guilty, but with an explanation. I’m really just in search of information – even if I’ll do little to nothing with it, like a fisherman tossing his catch back into the water, once I reel it in.

Which brings us back to the facts, or lack thereof.

These days, the whole earth can shake itself out of existence while I’m sleeping. Excuse me if I like to know what happened overnight.

CNN? No better than MSNBC (especially at night). It tries to get both sides of the story so perfunctorily that neither side is satisfied. I know I don’t want to hear another discussion on climate change as if it is open for debate, especially as it ignites forest fires in Australia and California with the verve of a serial arsonist.

The few remaining friends I have on the right don’t want any human interest story, like the border camps, told with any bit of sensitivity.

And don’t even mention Fox News. I’m OK with trying to stomach a little bit of the opposing viewpoint before wanting to vomit, but independent fact checkers have issued reports on the network’s accuracy that make the ones I used to bring home look like those of a Rhodes Scholar.

The sad truth is that I can find out more about what it is really going on with the local news from 6-6:30, followed by the national news from 6:30-7, than all day on any supposedly superior all-news network.

Newspapers have morphed into digital entities, but a second mortgage is needed to get around the pay walls needed to get what you need.

That leaves fly-by-night sights that may or not follow the ye olde rules of actually putting people on the record, as opposed to being anonymous, and having at least two sources.

All the conjecture leaves us, in this advanced day and age, prone to be less informed than we’ve been in the industrial age.

The only option is television, and the flaws are obvious.

Yes, the wall-to-wall coverage of our recent near flirtation with igniting World War III was relatively well-done, but so much more has been going on – locally, nationally and internationally – that much of it falls through the cracks.

And it happens at our own peril.

The more the masses are numbed up with dumbed-down messaging, the easier it is to go on electing sociopaths with the hellish belief they are heaven sent.

While we were looking at polls that really don’t matter until a week or two before voters in Iowa leave the wheat fields and reading too much into unreadable tweets, the wheel in the sky keeps on turning for a frightening tomorrow.

Example: Did you know that, since late December, more than 500 earthquakes have hit Puerto Rico. That’s the same Puerto Rico still waiting on $18 billion in aid from hurricane damage incurred two years ago?

Did you know that, just on New Year’s Day, there were 45 non-suicide gun violence deaths across America? Including suicides by gun, there were 177 deaths.

Speaking of suicides, did you know that there were 228 suicides by police officers in 2019 in what has become a silent epidemic?

Veterans? Try a suicide rate of 17 per day.

Did you know that Philadelphia had 356 homicides last year, just nine short of one per day? You can say you are safe here in the suburbs, but this is the city you border and crime knows no boundaries.

Did you know that hate crimes have increased dramatically since a certain someone who calls himself your president began campaigning in 2015 with divisive rhetoric?

I shouldn’t just dwell on the negative, as there are positive stories every day – from simple acts of human kindness to medical advances to big bad athletes going out of their way for a sick child — that get buried under the if-it-bleeds-it-leads approach that goes a notch underneath the analysis of paralysis of politics and of an orange nitwit that the lack of real journalism left us with.

Rant over.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Jan. 12, 2020