Category Archives: Sports

Blending In With The Scenery (Finally)

Brynner

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — North of 50, actually nearly 55, my short-term memory is becoming seriously challenged.

Long-term, though? Forget about it – pardon the pun.

I remember the almost-frozen ice cream sandwiches on the beach in Atlantic City (this is before I became Lactose intolerant).

I remember drinking a coke from a seemingly bottomless bottle (this is before I developed a sensitivity to caffeine).
I remember going into the ocean (this is before I stopped wading in past my ankles after seeing “Jaws”).

 

And I remember going to a lot of movies (before there were video stores) and getting popcorn you didn’t have to butter yourself.

And the TV shows, with only three network channels and the UHF stations (no cable, no Netflix) that always needed rabbit ears for better reception.

When I loved a movie, I would see it multiple times. Being from a broken home – yeah, I am playing that card again – it was automatic that one I saw during the week could be seen again on the weekend to get out of the way of the missiles flying at my father’s home.

One movie that was a hit in Gordonville was “The Ten Commandments,” an epic drama about the exodus of the ancient Hebrews from bondage in Egypt.

Starring Charlton Heston as the protagonist, Moses, the plot of what now strikes me as embarrassingly hokey dialogue was stirred by Rameses II, the antagonist played by Yul Brynner.

What set Brynner apart — beyond an accent that was a mish-mash of Russian, Swiss and Mongolian – was his shaved head (with had some weird ponytail thing hanging out of it for a while).

The movie was made in 1959, six years before I was born, but it made the rounds again in theaters in the early seventies.

At a time when men had hair longer than a lot of women, it struck me as a bit unique.

On television, there were a plethora of classic detective shows that all 264 high-tech CSI shows combined could never match.

Savalas

A standout was the gritty “Kojak,” starring Telly Savalas.

In addition to his signature lollipop, the character had a shaved head.

Maybe shoulder-length hair of men had given way to the more “disco” blow-dry look (think John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever”), but going all shaved was still way out of the norm.

Most bald men just went bald, usually with those awful fringes around the side that some would let grow out of proportion.

That horror hit close to home.

Clarke

My father would go to a barber – the same guy who “styled” the hair of some of the Broad Street Bullies (he claimed he used the same scissors and comb on my hair as boyhood idol Bobby Clarke) – whose supposed specialty was covering bald spots.

My maternal grandfather used an at-home pullover approach that would never fly today.

The shame of it was so powerful that some resorted to hair pieces that were obnoxious.

Genetically, I was doomed to be bald.

A sad fate for someone who could never get it right.

One constant through my misbegotten youth was a lot of bad hair days trying to emulate either the rock stars or sports stars I so admired.

There was one respite from the madness. It came in fifth grade, when even older women in sixth grade, seemed to have crushes on me.

I got hitched to the adorable Barbara Padgett one day at recess (breaking many hearts in the process), and figured I’d be set as a playboy for life.

But an early onset of puberty was not kind.

By sixth, I was playing in the minor leagues.

My father would order the barber, the Flyers’ guy, to turn my Juan Epstein thing into a “camp cut” before going away to camp (thus assuring being turned down by the fairer sex for roller skating or dance at a record hop).

In protest, once back in the world, I let it grow out into an all-out Brillo pad atop my head.

I made matters worse by blow-drying it, because it seemed like the cool thing to do, as opposed to letting it dry naturally.

Daltrey

Giving up trying to look like Bobby Clarke – or some other hockey players (a guy named Ron Duguay from the New York Rangers had the ideal look) – it turned into an all-out quest in high school to nail the look of Roger Daltrey (lead singer of The Who).

On a good day, the best I could do was Neal Schon from Journey, and that was usually right after a shower.

I eventually went to the John Oates look in college, and got by enough to do OK with the opposite sex – and meet my eventual wife, who says I “grew on her like fungus” – but then genetics set in and I started losing hair.

Fortunately, and fortuitously, I noticed more and dudes on TV – from guest experts to law enforcement officials to aging rockers to athletes – doing away with those hideous fringes and either go closely shaved or all bald.

My cousin, Aimee, told me I could “rock that look” a few years ago, but I filed it away for future reference.

I took it slowly, but I recently instructed my barber – former Kennedy-Kenrick athlete Steve Devlin of Mike Devlin’s Barber Shop in Broad Axe – to shave it all the way down before our trip to Nova Scotia.

I was thrilled. Finally, I looked like everyone else.

Me now

We were north of the border, where people are nice to one another, for so long (2 weeks) that I was sick to my stomach when it grew in too fast.

I have been back twice since, within the span of a week.

Yul Brynner and Telly Savales have become the new Bobby Clarke and Roger Daltrey in Gordonville, and I couldn’t be happier.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Oct. 6, 2019.

Let It Be (And Other Thoughts)

No Wood

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It’s been a long time, perhaps too long.

Let’s press reset with another installment of “What Is And What Should Never Be” (named in honor of the Led Zeppelin Song).

If you don’t recall how it works, it won’t take long to catch on.

And we’re off:

What Is: We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Woodstock, providing a chance to relive all the music and magic that took place (without getting caught in the rain and mud, let alone having to sleep outside). One of the most amazing aspects about the festival – beyond featuring a lineup of classic acts (The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, etc.) that can only be duplicated by those who turned down invites (The Doors, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel) – is that it was as peaceful as advertised. There were two deaths – one from an insulin injection gone wrong and one when an attendee sleeping in a nearby field was run over by a tractor – and two births.

And What Should Never Be: Attempts to mark the anniversary with a reboot. A 50th anniversary try failed miserably, but at least the plug was pulled to avoid the type of chaos that occurred at the 25th anniversary attempt (although the Philly-area band Huffamoose, featuring some real talented guys I’ve worked with, played the first day – before it went haywire on the second). That should serve notice to anyone wanting to make a 55th, 60th, 75th or 100th. It was a once in a lifetime event. It was a historical event. History naturally repeats itself anyway – often tragically – so we need not spur it along because we can’t think outside the box. In my mind, there was another Woodstock. It was Live Aid in 1985. I was there, at old JFK Stadium. It was my Woodstock. I’m good, thanks.

Iowa

What Is: In the landscape of our country still struggling to reach its potential greatness, consider Iowa as Exhibit A.

And What Should Never Be: Iowa wielding the political power that it currently does in the flawed political system that ultimately leaves voters from the other 49 states – and the District of Columbia, which somehow isn’t its own state – holding their noses in voting booths and feeling like they are voting for the lesser of two evils. Consider Steve King, the Iowa Congressman, who has uttered so many hateful and absurd pronouncements that they are not worth repeating. Do we really want a state whose voters elected this sad individual to disproportionately control to fate of America the way it does?

colin_kaepernick_jan_rtr_img

What Is: As soon as Eagles backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld was lost for 6-8 weeks, which equates to a few weeks of the regular season, the chirping began for the Eagles to sign exiled Colin Kaepernick began. It only increased when the No. 3 quarterback, Cody Kessler, went down for the count with a concussion and the Eagles coaxed 40-year-old Josh McCown out of a short-lived retirement.

And What Should Never Be: Sorry. Not the case. This was a football move, period. To paraphrase “The Godfather” (greatest movie of all time), this is business and not personal. A commitment to Kaepernick would have been complicated. Other teams – most notably, Seattle in 2017 – have kicked those tires. His reported contract demands were unrealistic (immediate chance to start, at starter’s pay). In a league with a fixed salary cap, and considering the pending media circus, the choice against becomes more vivid. I have my own personal feelings on Kaepernick, and where he was and is coming from, but it wouldn’t be fair to put them out there with any proof. Let’s just say, as both an Eagles’ fan and a bleeding heart liberal (i.e. snowflake) who supported his right to protest under the First Amendment, I’m fine with how it went down. If Sudfeld were out for the season, different conversation. He’s not, so drop it.

Bibi

What Is: Israel banned two U.S. Congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, from visiting the West Bank, sparking such outrage on the left that Bernie Sanders – my Bernie Sanders, whose family fled the same Nazi persecution that help lead to the formation of Israel – called for an end to U.S. aid there.

 

And What Should Never Be: Hopping, skipping and jumping to the facts here. While it was wrong to not let elected officials visit, it’s also wrong to sweep with one broad brush about Israel. These are the actions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (a graduate of Cheltenham High School right here in Montgomery County). Known as “Bibi,” he was elected by a narrow margin, with his Likud party eking out the more moderate Blue And White party of Benny Gantz. Sound familiar? It should. They are almost as polarized there about their leader, also working on his third marriage while operating under corruption charges, as we are with ours here. Just like many of us don’t want to be judged by the actions of your president (not mine) many there feel the same about their prime minister. When detractors quickly seek to punish “all Israelis,” I can’t help but think some other bells are going off in their heads.

Looop

What Is: John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, dropped out of a crowded Democratic presidential race that most average citizens didn’t even know he was in.

And What Should Never Be: I like to make fun of John Hickenlooper because, well, his name is John Hickenlooper. Worse yet, he actually looks like someone whose name is John Hickenlooper. However, to his credit, he did the right thing here. Not only is the herd thinned by one, but he is now going to run for a senate seat currently occupied by a vulnerable Republican. All he needs is a nickname. Go get ‘em, “Loop.”

This column appeared in Time Times Herald on Aug. 25

Bias Keeping Flyers Grounded

Finns-celebrate

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — It’s almost hard to think back to 2006, considering it is the year before my life changed forever with the birth of Sofia.

It is equally hard to believe — or conceive — that an NHL team that wants to stay relevant would close off part of the hockey-playing universe “just because.”

Not saying that is the case with the Flyers, in regards to drafting players from Finland, but the evidence is mounting.

Finland is a country of about 6 million people (a lame reason often given why they can be more humane to each other on social issues, but I digress). Despite this, it is becoming known “the best hockey country in the world,” much to the chagrin of our friends up in the Great White North.

In last weekend’s NHL Draft, the Flyers continuing their steak of not drafting a player from Finland since 2006 (Joonas Lehtiuvori).

Given the talent coming out of that country, it is an almost impossible feat to accomplish, and yet they have managed to do it.

Since that time, the Finns have won three golds at the Under-20 World Tournament. In the Under-18 tournament, where most of the draft-eligible players have been displaying their games for scouts, they have two golds, two silvers and three bronzes in that time frame.

Yeah, you’ll find a Finnish veteran on their roster, via trade, from time to time, but it’s not the same thing as growing your own talent.

Just scan the rosters of the league’s elite teams, and you will find what they have that the Flyers (no Stanley Cups since 1975 and six losses in the finals since) do not.

You win with Finns.

The Flyers don’t win, and the bias is obvious.

I’m sure they don’t just dislike Finns off-hand, but there seems to be some general fear that their players maybe won’t adjust to playing in smaller rinks with more physical play, or that they won’t be willing to come here on two-way contracts, meaning apprenticeships in the less-glamorous minor leagues.

Lehtiivori might be an example of that. After being drafted, he remained in Europe before coming across the pong and playing 98 games with the Adirondack Phantoms over a span of a season and a half before returning to Europe, where he still plays for pay.

It’s hard to believe that one experience left such a sour taste in the mouths of management that they have passed it along though several regime changes since 2006.

The only common ground between these front offices is no Stanley Cups and not drafting any players from Finland.

 

Every Day Is Father’s Day

MVP

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Only a few Father’s Days ago, I spent the occasion at an 8-hour dance recital just to watch Sofia perform for, maybe, a grand total of eight minutes.

I accepted it as my lot in life.

Sofia was my own personal Tiny Dancer, and I figured this was how it was going to be – waiting all day with a growling stomach, clinging to a bouquet of flowers while racing other dance parents for ideal seats.

At the time, she was the kid – “that kid” — in her first year of 8-U Rec softball that sometimes needed 10-12 pitches (from a coach) before she hit the ball four inches.

I braced myself to become a dance dad and not a sports dad, as she was more in her natural habitat in ballet shoes than spikes.

We fostered her overall creative side with piano lessons, art camps/classes, etc.

Softball was just something cute she did, usually with yours truly serving in some sort of coaching capacity, as she enjoyed being part of a team and accessorizing, via headbands and wristbands.

And it was all fine with me.

It would run its course and we would look back one day and laugh.

As long she did well in school and maintained “angel on earth” status with the Mount Rushmore of teachers she had in the early grades, all was good.

I could not have been more proud.

At least that is what I thought.

Guess where I spent this past Father’s Day?

I’ll make it easy.

It was not at a dance recital.

It was not at a piano recital, either.

We were in gritty Gloucester City, N.J. – literally in the shadow of one of the bridges — for a travel softball tournament.

And not as spectators – well, mama was a tense spectator while I was in the dugout as a low-on-the-totem-pole coach who keeps the scorebook.

Sofia was on the field.

For those of you not familiar with this world of travel tournament softball, the pace of the game puts it several notches above neighborhood Rec leagues.

Players have to audition for teams in mid-summer and, if they earn an invite, they practice year-round in indoor facilities.

I’m not going to say Sofia is a superstar at this level, because she is not – not yet, anyway – but she meets the commitment level needed for travel ball.

She played left field and batted ninth in both games Saturday. She made a nice running catch and lined a single in the first game, a 7-4 loss to the second-ranked team in South Jersey. That performance earned her a chance to be a game captain in the second game, a terse 7-7 tie in which she stole a base and scored a run after getting hit by a pitch (her specialty).

On Sunday, Father’s Day, she was moved up a spot in the batting order, but we were promptly eliminated, 10-0.

Still, in the midst of this early morning drubbing, it hit me as she rifled a throw from deep left field to the cutoff at shortstop, how much she has developed her softball skill set in such a short amount of time.

And she has done it her way.

Sofia still dances – just not at a school that holds recitals on Father’s Day (eye roll) – and we limit her ballet classes to one long night a week to allow for softball practice, schoolwork and her litany of other secondary activities (Girl Scouts, 4H, school choir, etc.)

In the spring, Sofia also played for her school’s softball team, starting every game at her preferred position, catcher, and was named as an All-Star at year’s end.

It was not uncommon for her to go right from a school game or practice to a workout with her travel team, Velocity.

I could take all the credit for not giving up on her, but the truth is that she never gave up on herself and is eternally coachable, meaning the arrow is still pointing way up.

And no, I have zero delusions that she will be one of those young women on TV playing for UCLA or Oklahoma in the College Softball World Series.

Sofia was never going to be dancing at Julliard, either.

She is what I said I always wanted, an all-around kid.

This is not to be confused with me thinking Sofia is perfect, because she is not. She is the princess of procrastination. She is not quite as compliant with authority at home as she is with teachers, coaches, dance instructors, etc.

And she is bit too addicted to social media.

But Sofia is a young lady of many deep passions.

Beyond softball and dance, she is turning into a mini-me with her love for music (I wish she’d let me show her how similar my bands are to hers, but I’m not giving up). She enjoys going to museums, art and historical, especially if they are about ancient Egypt.

Sofia will soon return to her beloved creative arts camp – well-prepared with a purple streak in her air — to indulge herself in all it has to offer (except sports, as the kids there are, uh, not too athletic).

As parents, all we can do is let our children engage with the world, and embrace their passions with both arms.

In her case, she might need three.

Sometimes, it’s her mother helping her rake in the overflow.

Sometimes, it’s me.

That’s just what fathers do.

It is my lot in life — a life where every day is Father’s Day.

No matter where I am spending it.

This column  first appeared in The Times Herald on June 23, 2019.

No Reason To Play Ball

puerto-rico-opener-cgregory

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — When it comes to sports, I’m as provincial as it gets.

If you’re from Philly and not a fan of a Philly team, get away – and stay away – from me.

It’s a question of loyalty.

There was one exception, to which I plead guilty – albeit with an explanation.

My grandparents had a summer home on the outskirts of Atlantic City that received both Philadelphia and New York channels.

Perfect for my grandfather, who would watch anything sports-related, even roller derby or celebrity bowling.

A perfect fit for me, because I loved sports – and my grandfather.

The Phillies preempted everything in those 1970s summers – except maybe an Eagles preseason game – but it was not uncommon to watch a Mets or a Yankees game. While there was no way I was going to cheer for the Mets, who were a divisional rival of the Phillies, I admittedly developed an affinity for the Yankees in those carefree days before interleague play.

Soon, a disdain developed for the Yankees’ rivals, with the Boston Red Sox topping the list.

And nothing was more annoying than to hear people from that town with so many championships in basketball and hockey whine, in their irksome accents, about how they were cursed because they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920.

This alleged curse was eventually broken, as the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.

They won it again in 2007 and 2013, before doing it again last season.

And with the Phillies a distant fourth – actually, fifth, if you count Temple football — on my Philly interest list, I may have to go get a Red Sox cap or hoodie or something.

And it has zero to do with me being a frontrunner. That’s not how I roll.

It’s because they have players – and a manager — who went against peer pressure and refused to visit the White House for a recent dog and pony show with your president (not mine).

The players who chose not take part had valid reasons, but I’d like to focus specifically on why manager Alex Cora took his stand.

It was a question of loyalty, which earns bonus points in Gordonville.

As a native of Puerto Rico, and as one who has been deeply immersed in relief efforts since Hurricane Maria’s wrath in the fall of 2017, he simply could not hang with the “man” who threw paper towels at his people for one photo opportunity and never looked backed in his rearview mirror at the island again.

In a Spanish to English translation, Cora said: “Although the government of the United States has helped, there is still a long way to go, that is OUR reality. I have continually used my voice so that we Puerto Ricans are not forgotten and my absence is not different. Therefore, at this moment, I do not feel comfortable celebrating in the White House.”

Cora is actually being kind in saying the government’s help was anything more than perfunctory, especially in comparison to its swift responses to natural disasters in red states with primarily white victims – 2017’s Hurricane Harvey in Houston and a destructive tornado in Lee County, Alabama in early March of this year.

Tapping into old country club canards about how minorities manage their finances, the current administration has painted Puerto Rico, where 3,000 perished, as mismanaged and corrupt and using aid money to cover old debts.

The implication is that the rich white man should not be punished by paying for it.

On the ground, it is a much different – and urgent – story.

The argument that “too much” aid is being sent to this American territory where residents serve in the military (assuming there are no bone spurs) and pay into Social Security, the infrastructure remains at the level of a third-world country.

According to a University of Michigan study, the federal response to hurricanes Harvey and Irma (affecting Florida and Georgia, two more red states, in 2017) on the continental U.S. was “faster and more generous” than the response to Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico.

The study adds that survivors of Harvey and Irma had received nearly $100 million in federal funds nine days after the hurricanes hit land. Hurricane Maria survivors had gotten just over $6 million in this time frame.

This is about more than just how Puerto Rico has been treated, which is like dirt on the bottom of a sociopath’s shoe.

A lot of you want to know why I refer to the president as “your president (not mine),” and this is one of a growing list of reasons why.

My theoretical president (not yours, more than likely) would have felt compassion for Puerto Rico.

He – or she – would not have done the following:

-Justified putting children in cages after separating them from their parents.

-Denied the science supporting the man-made climate change that is likely behind these extreme natural disasters.

-Put Neo-Nazis on equal footing with counter-protesters.

-Called for gun control — not backing for the NRA – after ongoing mass shootings.

And my president would not have given good reason for the champions of what was once considered America’s pastime – where grandsons would skip the beach just to watch games all day with their grandfathers – to choose to not show up at the White House.

This column originally appeared in the Times Herald on May 19, 2019.

The Witch Hunt of Kate Smith

kate-smith-1

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — There are some true American heroes that, for one reason or another, don’t quite receive their just place in in the history books.

A few who come to mind are Thomas Paine, Susan B. Anthony and Woody Guthrie.

Another is Paul Robeson, a true Renaissance man if there ever was one.

As a black man born in 1898, he seemed to either break down barriers – or get around them – with an uncommon ease and grace for his time when mutual respect between races, and ethnic groups, barely existed.

One of the first blacks to attend Rutgers, he endured physical punishment from prospective teammates to earn a place on the football team.

Robeson was also on the debating team, honing skills that would serve him well with a lifetime of political activism that later got him blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

Although he earned a law degree from Columbia, Robeson became a successful stage actor and singer, leaving behind a long discography while engaging in social activism.

Why do I bring up Robeson, other than because he should not be forgotten by time?

Because one of his recordings was a song titled “That’s Why Darkies Were Born.”

The lyrics of this song, written by Lew Brown and Ray Henderson, are beyond offensive and blatantly racist.

But Robeson still recorded the song, which would seem to be an off choice for someone of such steadfast conviction about who and what he was.

However, research reveals the song was meant as a satirical jab at racists (one of the writers, Brown, was Jewish and likely keenly aware of prejudice).

In that context, it is a poke right through the eyes of their white hoods of the many out-in-the-open Klan members of the time period.

The Marx Bros. also referenced the song in the movie “Duck Soup.”

And Kate Smith recorded it as well in 1931 (the same year as Robeson).

Although it was recorded as recently as 1970 by satirical song master Randy Newman, who once wrote and sang how “short people have no reason to live” to make a point, it seems that only Smith will be punished.

Since Smith has been dead for 33 years, there is no way to know if she was performing the song for reasons other than that of Robeson or Newman.

But unlike them, she has been posthumously singled out and put on trial like a Salem witch – without a chance to defend herself or her motives – as both the hometown Flyers and New York Yankees, a team so reluctant to sign black players that they reportedly passed on Willie Mays, have taken steps to make sure the singer of “God Bless America” is vanquished from history.

Truth be told, the Flyers winning the Stanley Cup in 1974 – and again in 1975 – was a highlight of my wayward youth. The whole Kate Smith thing – the playing of “God Bless America” and her showing up in person before Game 6 of the finals in 1974 to belt out the song – was a bit silly to me (and I was the ripe old age of nine).

The fact that the Flyers erected a statue of her was embarrassing, but taking it down – now – is beyond mortifying.

Left in the place of where the statue once stood, we have yet another downright blatant case of political correctness run amok.

In the final analysis, this is more about what is or isn’t fair when dealing with what I regard as the most valued possession any person has, that being their legacy.

Yes, Smith also sang “Pickaninny Heaven,” another song – one she dedicated to children in a black orphanage to “cheer them up” — with offensive lyrics (watermelons and such) that was yanked off YouTube (and yet we can still watch the alleged cinematic masterpiece, “Birth of a Nation,” whenever we want).

These ignominious events caused me to research Smith a bit more, and I found nothing – as in zero – that the woman held any racist views.

After World War II, in terms of social and political stances, she was a non-entity.

At worst, she was a product of her time. More than likely, as time passed, she was embarrassed by the poor song choices made for her to sing.

And, in her prime years, keeping pace with the hit parade was a grind. You had to keep cranking out song after song, or someone else would take the same song and have a hit with it instead.

Considering artists don’t have much say or control today, they certainly didn’t back then.

Smith’s parents scoffed at her career aspirations and wanted her to become a nurse, but she chose a career as a singer. It was make it or break it. If someone said “sing this, it will be a hit,” she sang it.

That’s not an excuse, and maybe she could have risen above it all, but there are more egregious acts that are overlooked.

Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford, for example, were vehement anti-Semites and Nazi sympathizers who opposed our entry in World War II.

No statues of Lindbergh are being torn down, and plenty of people – myself included – drive Fords.

Walt Disney was purported to be a bigot, and yet people – of all creeds – pour into his resorts.

Andrew Jackson was responsible for heinous policies against Native Americans, and yet he remains on the $20 bill.

Many of the founding fathers – including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson – owned slaves.

Their legacies remain untarnished.

But not that of Kate Smith.

Sounds like fodder for a song – one that a man with the character of Paul Robeson would have been proud to sing.

This column originally ran in The Times Herald on April 28, 2019.

 

Another Mock for the Mockery

Simmons

 By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The smart money is on the Eagles drafting Alabama running back Josh Jacobs in the first round Thursday night.

The rumor mill is now spitting out the name of mercurial wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown as being linked the Birds.

Nay, I say.

I’d be shocked if the brain trust – Howie Roseman, Joe Douglas, Doug Pederson and the senior scouts and most valued assistant coaches – didn’t lay it on the line at pick No. 25.

That’s if they even stay at No. 25, as it is just as likely they either move up 5-10 spots or drop back as far as the early second round and pick up additional picks.

Since my request to have the phones at the NovaCare Complex tapped was denied, I’m not privy to what conversations with other franchises may or may not be going on.

So we will stick the board as currently constructed and take a run at a Mock Draft, which will be a delicate combination of who I would take in my dream job as Eagles’ GM and who they are likely to take based on past tendencies.

Away we go:

First Round (Pick 25) – Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson

I think this is guy, I always he would be the guy and I would be shocked if the 340-pounder (give or take a few in either direction) would not be the guy. While boasting a larger-than-life personality in the spirit of Jerome Brown, Lawrence is similar to Brown in the sense that he is more than just a run-stuffer. At the NFL level, he will at least collapse the pocket enough to make the life of his fellow linemen easier. And if their lives are easier, so will those of the linebackers and secondary. Meanwhile, in a division where your team faces Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott twice a year, another run-stuffer is not a luxury.

Dexter

Second Round (Pick 53) – Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

With a knee injury that will likely keep him out of action for most of the season, this would be a red-shirt selection of a guy with first-round talent whose stock may have dropped a bit anyway because of character concerns. Eagles’ fans are rightfully wary of this whole scenario because cornerback Sidney Jones, taken under similar circumstances in Round 2 in 2017, has yet to stay healthy and really do much. However, each situation needs to be judged on its own merit.  This would be a case of stealing a Top-15 talent and storing him up for later. There is no reason to rush Simmons, who could also use the year to soak up the mature culture of a NFL locker room anyway. Some mocksters still have Simmons going in the window of the late first round to early second, and he still might, but I have been following this stuff for too many years to see it happening.

Second Round (Pick 57) – Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech

Whether or not Chris Long retires, and even if last year’s fourth-round pick Josh Sweat emerges, more depth is needed here around starters Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham. While Vinny Curry has flown back to the nest, he is likely to be used a lot inside on passing downs. He’s 6-5 and will likely play at 260-265 has a NFL-ready burst off the edge that will give teams fits when coming fresh off the bench into games on obvious passing downs.

Fourth round (Pick 127) – Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma

Anderson, when healthy, is one of the most talented backs in this draft. Despite three season-ending injuries, he could be snatched up on Day 2 (second or third round) by a team enamored by tape from his 2017 season that saw him use his cutback skills to accumulate 1,442 yards and 18 touchdown and look good doing it with his long and strong 6-1, 220-pound frame. Since the Eagles have the committee in place behind newly acquired starter Jordan Howard, there would be no reason to rush Anderson into action.

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Fourth Round (Pick 138) – Ross Pierschabacher, C/G, Alabama

Out goes Stefen Wisniewksi, in comes another player with a name worthy of the final round of a spelling and who sports similar characteristics. While it is presumed the Eagles will be looking for a tackle in the draft, my gut tells me they will look more toward the interior and spend another year evaluating Halapoulivaati Vatai and Jordan Mailata as long-term solutions before spending draft capital on another. Wisniewski’s departure via free agency, Brandon Brooks coming off a knee injury and Jason Kelce hinting that the end of his career his nearing makes the interior a more pressing need. And while their paths did not cross at Alabama, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland’s blocking schemes are still used there, easing any learning curve – assuming one is even needed for a player who started 42 games at guard for the Crimson Tide before sliding over to center last year.

Fifth Round (Pick 163) – Trevon Wesco, TE, West Virginia

This pick may be off the grid a bit, as the Eagles boast an excellent 1-2 punch at tight end with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, but the 270-pound Wesco is a freakish athlete for his size who may just be scratching the surface. Conceivably, he could line up at tight end while Ertz and/or Goedert line up in the slot. And if someone does a Vulcan mind meld with Pederson, convincing to use a fullback, Wesco would be epic in that role. Plus, last year’s draft was the first since Roseman return from exile that a player from West Virginia was not drafted.

SIXTH ROUND (Pick 197) – Jahlani Tavai, MLB, Hawaii

He may prove to be just a core special teams guy at the NFL level, but the Eagles would be pulling off a major heist is the best defensive player to come out of Hawaii in ages continued showing the knack for the football that led to him collecting 391 career tackles, including 41 for a loss, and 17 ½ sacks in his career. There is also an arrest charge in his file, which hurt his draft stock but may help the team that grabs him late.

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