Category Archives: Sports

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

 

 

Mock Draft 2.0: The Trade Edition

DP1

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The last time we met, my Mock Draft 1.0, was an exercise in suicide prevention for all those who thought the Eagles had no hope at receiver. To prove a point, more than anything else, I took four receivers. Although I think it’s likely they take more than one – probably two, if I were laying a bet – we know four was not only a stretch of the imagination but a chance for us to stretch our thinking to what could be possible.

While I generally don’t adhere to mock drafting with trades, this coronavirus thing has allowed me another shot – in Mock Draft 2.0 – before getting down to business with 3.0.

So, for today – as was the case with 1.0 – we are going work outside the margins a but and throw in some trades.

Last time around, I had the Eagles taking LSU receiver Justin Jefferson at No. 21. Today, for this drill, I’m trading down for a later first and a second. Perfect world, we go to, say, Miami at 26 and also get No. 39 in the second round, which would probably be too much for Miami to give up to just to move up five spots. So, I’m looking more at Green Bay at No. 30, which might be looking to get in front of the Saints (No. 24) to snatch Jefferson. Green Bay, in this deal, also sends us its second-round pick, 62nd overall.

Now, I get on the horn with the Jaguars and offer No. 30, as well as our third-rounder and cornerback Rasul Douglas for coveted defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, their second-round pick (42nd overall) and their second of two fourth-round picks (137th overall).

This puts the Eagles out of the first round in what it is an uncertain draft year anyway, but leaves them with three – instead of one – second round picks. There is no longer a third-round pick but four (127, 137, 145 and 146) instead of three, in the fourth – going along with one in the fifth (168) and another in the sixth (190).

My trading will conclude by sending Alshon Jeffery to either the Colts (familiarity with Frank Reich) or Bears (past success with Nick Foles, who will be their quarterback by midseason), but there is no hurry there. The return will future considerations (i.e. a Day Three pick in the year 2525).

So, with the reshuffled deck, here we go:

Round 2 (Pick 42, Acquired – theoretically — from Jackonsville): Laviska Shenault, Jr., WR, Colorado, 6-2 215

Rationale: Without a chance to visit teams in the flesh, there is no way to know where this wunderkind is, physically. On talent alone, he might be right there with the three receivers expected to go in the first half of the first round. Unlike two of them – Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III of Alabama — Shenault was not part of a three-headed monster (Alabama has another receiver likely to go in the first round next year) with a stud quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, throwing them the ball. With Colorado, opponents knew Shenault was the focal point of the offense and he still made plays. He has the size of a running back (see above) and runs in the 4.5 range. Considered still a raw product, Sheanault draws favorable comparisons to J.J. Smith-Schuster.

Plan B: There is a chance, though, Shenault may not be left at No. 42. When you drop down from 21 to 30 to 42, while picking up a stud defensive end, it is the risk you run. The feeling here is that, if he isn’t there, Denzel Mims of Baylor will be. Although also raw, Mims is 6-3 and 215 pounds and runs a sub-4.5 40. Come away with one or the other, and we’re doing fine (as long as J.J. Arcega-Whiteside improves).

DP2

Round 2 (Pick 53, our own): Kyle Dugger, DB, Lenoir-Ryne, 6-0, 210

Rationale: A little bit risky here, as some other receivers could be on the board, but Dugger is a hot commodity right now after proving the pro scouts that his college dominance at a lower level of competition was not a fluke. Dugger is a hitter and runs just over 4.55. A free safety and return man in college, he could eventually play a Malcolm Jenkins role in the Eagles defense, as he has the ability to line up anywhere from outside corner to slot corner to linebacker to safety. It may take a year to learn those nuances, but he would be a maniac on special teams, and maybe even a return-game option, as a rookie. With the moves made in the secondary in the offseason, there is no immediate rush. However, there will likely be new holes and roles to fill in 2021 and, by then, he’ll be shovel-ready.

Plan B: As is the case above, there is no guarantee Dugger lasts this long. If not, and considering that I traded Douglas to Jacksonville, I’m going to stay in the defensive backfield with my backup option and take Noah Igbinoghene, a pure corner from Auburn. The son of two Nigerian Olympians, he checks in a 5-11, 200 pounds. He runs a 4.4 40 that carries over, unlike others, to the playing field. His closing speed is considered to be, perhaps, the best in the draft crop. He probably wouldn’t play much defense as a rookie, but would be a surreal gunner on punt coverage while learning the fine points.

DP3

Round 2 (Pick 62, Acquired – theoretically — from Green Bay): Brandon Ayiuk, WR, Arizona, 5-11, 190

Rationale: This is where I rolled the dice, as this undersized college game-breaker, who would add immediate juice to the return game, could go anywhere from the late first round to middle of the third. Projections are all over the map (one has the Eagles taking him at No. 21, for example), as some scouts see another Tyreek Hill while others just a part-time receiver and return man. Many teams aren’t going to spend first- or second-round draft capital on that. For the Eagles, where DeSean Jackson can hold down the deep threat role for at least a year – while Greg Ward can be more and adequate in the slot, should that be Ayiuk’s eventual place in a NFL offense – he is a long-term good fit (as long as too much isn’t expected too soon).

Plan B/C: There is a 50-50 shot he isn’t there, so I would hope that a similar player, Penn State’s K.J. Hamler is still on the board. If both are gone, I’d be fine with checking off my mandatory two-receiver 2020 “Need” box with someone like TCU speedster Jalen Reagor, whose projections are also all over the map, or Ohio State’s K.J. Hill, who was highly productive in a big-time offense and should definitely be available.

DP4

Round 4 (Pick 127): Logan Wilson, ILB Wyoming, 6-2, 240

Rationale: Word on the street – if anyone were out in the street to hear the word – is that the Eagles are high on the tackling machine with a classic frame. Wilson started four years, an achievement that is tempered a bit by the fact that it was at a lower level of competition. However, like Dugger, our second-round pick, he was a can’t-miss playmaker on the field. What likely has the Eagles enthralled is that, in high school, Wilson was a two-way starter – at wide receiver and defensive back. He hit the weight room in college to become a beast at the next level.

DP5

Round 4 (Pick 137 – Acquired – theoretically – from Jacksonville): Tony Pride, Jr., CB, Notre Dame, 5-11, 193

Rationale: He runs a 4.35 40. Do you need more rationale beyond that? Yes, there are reasons he drifted into the fourth round. He doesn’t always play “up” his athletic gifts and could stand to be a bit more physical. Because he might be relegated to the slot, he may need more aggressiveness to excel. Still, he runs a 4.35 40. We can work with that, as the Eagles talked a lot about improving their team speed after last year.

DP9

Round 4 (Pick 145): Rico Dowdle, RB, South Carolina, 5-11, 214

Rationale: There are a litany of other backs expected to drafted on Day 2 of the draft, and one or two will likely slide into the Eagles’ laps early on Day 3. That aside, they could do worse than Dowdle, whose main knock is the time spent on the trainer’s table throughout his career. However, he fought as hard as could to get on the field, starting 29 of 39 possible games in a productive career (2,167 rushing yards with 16 touchdowns and 483 receiving yards). In terms of skill set – one that includes a 4.50 time in the 40 – he checks off a lot of the requisite boxes for a NFL back: quick first step, ability to make defenders miss in tight spaces, yards after contact and nice hands on screens.

DP6

Round 4 (Pick 146): Akeem Davis-Gaither, OLB, Appalachian State, 6-1, 219

Rationale: The Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft, having been insanely productive over the span of his 55-game career (258 tackles, 28 for a loss, 8 sacks, 18 passes defended, two forced fumbles and so on). However, his size – or lack thereof – is hard to ignore. As such, he becomes a classic boom-or-bust prospect. This late in the draft, if he is still on the board, the risk is mitigated. At the least, you are looking at a guy who will bring his fierce compete level to special teams and some sub-packages as a hybrid linebacker/safety.

DP10

Round 5 (Pick 168): Calvin Throckmorton, OL, Oregon, 6-5, 310

Rationale: Versatility. He can play anyway on the line, but the question is if he can play anywhere – full-time – at the next level. The only spot Throckmorton hasn’t started at for the Ducks was at left guard, meaning the Eagles will likely try to force feed him there when they try to convert Isaac Seumalo to center if and when Jason Kelce hangs them up. That, plus his name and the fact that he played at Oregon (though too young to have been a Chip Kelley recruit), make him the classic boom or bust prospect destined for Philly.

DP8

Round 6 (Pick 190): Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State, 6-2, 210

Rationale: Listen up, all ye knuckleheads on social media, the Eagles are not going to somewhow get Nick Foles back (maybe someday, but not this year). Forget Cam Newton or Jameis Winston, and don’t start with the Colin Kaepernick stuff. Nate Sudfeld is your No. 2, with Josh McCown likely on speed dial again. A year from now, though, it will look different. Sudfeld only signed for one more year, and will likely look to move on. McCown will be one year closer to collecting social security. The third quarterback on the roster is Kyle Lauletta, who they liked enough to carry over from last year’s practice squad. Another developmental arm is likely. Gordon fits the bill, as he has the requisite arm strength and gunslinger mentality. Nobody is going to draft him high because, with his height and lack of mobility, he doesn’t look the part of a franchise quarterback. That doesn’t mean he can’t make his way as a quality backup. He will need coaching on what is reportedly horrendous footwork. The staff is in place for that here, so the opportunity exists as well.

Anothy Gordon

Summary: Remember, this is a mock draft with trades. Again, this was a mock draft with trades. It is theoretical – as in theory. I’m trying to type as slowly as some of you dimwits who might be reading this.

I do believe that No. 21 could be a bit of a No Man’s Land for the Eagles. They don’t have the picks to move up, unless they want to dip into next year’s stash.

Instead, in this scenario, we moved back – to No. 30 and then into the second round – but picked up the coveted Ngakoue to make the defensive end rotation – with Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat – as lethal as that of the one inside (Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, Malik Jackson, Hassan Ridgeway).

I guarantee two receivers out of Shenault, Mims, Ayiuk, Hamler, Reagor or Hill and a defensive back – Dugger or Igbinoghene.

Other needs – linebacker, running back, offensive line, secondary depth and developmental quarterback — were met on Day 3, and don’t forget that, while Howie Roseman takes heat for draft misses, his record with UDFAs is pretty strong.

Roseman

 

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

 

 

 

 

Bad To The Bone

Fatso

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The official definition of the “witching hour” is when witches — or magicians, ghouls, Republican senators and other demons — are said be at their most powerful.

That’s the myth, the folklore.

The reality is that the witching hour is when we wake up in the middle of the night and our minds are clear enough to be haunted by our own bitter realities.

Unanswerable questions, many about futures we can’t control, ravage the brain.

I was hit with one so immediate this past week that not even my home remedy – sneaking downstairs for some old “Sopranos” episodes – could make it right.

The question was this: Am I a bad person?

Here are three examples, hot off the presses, that had me wondering:

Andy Reid – Much of Eagles Nation has forgiven and forgotten the specifics of the Reid Era here. They instead focus on the general success between 1999 and 2012.

But not me. I remember high hopes repeatedly dashed, and the seasons that ended in despair.

I invested too much – in time, emotion and money (season ticket holder) — to be stranded at the altar again and again and again.

Maybe some forget the feeling of having their hearts eaten out that were then met with the subsequent kick in our collective gut when Reid would act smug and indifferent during postgame press conferences.

Even when mishaps (dropped passes, missed tackles) weren’t directly his fault, Reid’s standard line was “it begins with me.”

Fine, Andy, you wanted the blame, you got it. I would have told you so if they let me to drive you to the airport when you left town.

Why, then, would I – or anyone else who bleeds green – root for Reid to have success elsewhere?

There was no worse scenario than his new team, the Kansas City Chiefs, winning a Super Bowl when he didn’t do it in Philly after all those years of knocking on the door without finding a way to kick it in.

When we finally got it done two years ago, some of the edge was taken off. Still, when the Chiefs reached the big dance this year, I became a temporary fan of the opposing San Francisco 49ers.

Truth be told, I am more than a little bit angry with the end result (particularly the touchdown that wasn’t a touchdown) and irked by all the glad tidings for Reid around the Delaware Valley.

Bad person?

Self-vote: Yeah, sigh, I am. It’s not like he tried to lose big games here (it just seemed like it).

Iowa Caucuses – I have been a detractor of the overall primary system for a long time, and my criticism begins with the disproportionate role little Iowa plays in the process.

I wrote all about it in my Sunday column a month or two ago, but I never could have imagined the Monday meltdown that will leave the final tally with an asterisk.

The root cause of the chaos was the already silly caucus process being further complicated with some second-round scenario that was clearly over the heads of those Iowa straw-chewers to comprehend.

While the good news is that this is probably the last we will see of the Iowa Caucuses, and maybe even Iowa getting to bat leadoff and set the pace – as it has been doing, despite clearly not being a gauge of America’s diversity (it’s well over 90 percent lilywhite, for example) – the embarrassment for the Democratic party could prove to be colossal.

Bad person?

Self-vote: Nope, not at all. A little bit of vindication is good for the soul.

Rush Limbaugh – The right-wing AM Talk Radio host revealed that he is terminally ill.

If you are waiting for tears, keeping waiting.

I understand the man may have had a job to do, sort of in the Howard Stern shock jock sense, and that he may or may not have even meant half the hateful things he was saying.

But listeners – many with pea brains – accepted his postulating as fact.

And he knew it.

And he kept on spewing his garbage — ironically losing his own hearing, so he couldn’t even hear himself anymore.

 

If we are truly mired in a modern day Civil War, one in which lives (i.e. Heather Heyer) have been lost, Limbaugh is a general in the militia that fired the first shots (albeit away from the fray while on his bully pulpit).

It could be said that there would have been no coming of your president (not mine), without Limbaugh – among others – laying the groundwork.

No wonder Limbaugh got the Presidential Medal of Freedom the other night.

Limbaugh

Hard to believe, though, considering this is the same person who called Iraq War veterans subsequently opposed to the war “phony soldiers.”

Then again, this prize was given to him by the phoniest of soldiers, one who got out of Vietnam with phantom bone spurs.

Like your president (not mine), Limbaugh built his empire on lies and half-truths.

Consider that Polifact rated Limbaugh’s on-air statements as either “mostly false” or “pants on fire” at a rapid-fire rate of 84 percent, with only a mere 5 percent registering as “true.”

While a lot of his false statements are about climate change, we are also talking about someone who continually degraded President Barack Obama with racially charged innuendoes – calling him (and Oprah Winfrey) “uppity,” etc. – and who compared NFL games to showdowns between black gangs.

He also said actor Michael J. Fox was exaggerating his Parkinson’s disease in an ad for stem cell research.

I wonder if he’d like some of that stem cell research for himself now? Maybe he is just exaggerating his symptoms.

Take the high road? Not this so-called snowflake. It’s all low road here in Gordonville.

Bad person?

Self-vote: Abstain.

This column first ran in The Times Herald on Feb. 9, 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.

Vick In The Thick Of It (Again)

Michael Vick

By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — Love and hate.

Two powerful words that are as used and abused as much as any in the English language.

For example, you don’t’ really love the food at a certain restaurant, and you don’t really hate when people act rude in public.

Love and hate has to be more personal.

I hate Neo-Nazis, for example.

I love my family, my friends, and the music that has been the soundtrack of my life.

I love dogs (cats, too, but particularly dogs).

And I love the Philadelphia sports teams, but the Eagles top the list.

This brings me to the great quandary, and controversy, still swirling around one Michael Vick, the former NFL quarterback.

While Vick made his name with his game with the Atlanta Falcons, the quarterback became a lightning rod when his role in a dog-fighting ring was exposed.

He went to jail for 21 months, and his name – as it should have been at the time — was mud.

Vick served his time, and was signed by the hometown Eagles.

That’s when things got pretty interesting.

Some fans turned in their green gear. Their love for dogs was so powerful that they could no longer root for a team that could employ such a person.

Others, figuring he wasn’t going to play much anyway, tried to shrug it off.

Myself, a lifelong Eagles fan? To say I wasn’t happy about it at the time would be an understatement.

For one, just from a football perspective, they needed a fourth quarterback on the roster like I needed a fourth hole in my head.

Plus, well, look what he did those poor dogs.

After one year here of saying the right things, while not really coming across as being overly convincing, Vick ended up not only being a standout on the field for the Birds in his second season, 2010, but a genuine good citizen off of it.

When he led an amazing comeback win in the Meadowlands, the one that ended on DeSean Jackson’s walk-off punt return, it kind of personified his comeback to being a productive and law-abiding citizen and family man.

Vick has since retired, gone on to be a better citizen than many others — including Donovan McNabb (two DUI arrests in Arizona, one of which caused an accident).

Vick has worked for the cause of animal rights while also establishing several charitable foundations for at-risk youth.

Vick has been a positive role model to those who have done wrong and now try to do right, showing that a life can be turned around.

For that, he was named an honorary captain for the upcoming – and relatively nonsensical – Pro Bowl on Jan. 26 in Orlando.

Firestorm instantly ignited. It was 2009, the year the Eagles signed him, all over again.

In my inbox, I received e-mails from Change.org (they have me on file for being a crazy radical who has signed petitions in the past).

One asked for my support in removing Vick as a captain.

The other was to support keeping him.

Even though a pickup game in the park between middle-school kids is more interesting than the Pro Bowl, the question was fairly significant.

And it has some resonance this time of the year, where families put aside differences and New Year’s resolutions are made.

Which petition did I sign?

The choice was pretty easy.

Keep him as captain, I said, lest we ski down an endless slippery slope – putting us into a gray area of serious issues of black and white and selective forgiveness – that we don’t want to get into but probably should.

In a country where the system of crime and punishment is broken (recidivism rate of almost 77 percent within five years of being released), Vick should be heralded as a success story of how it should work.

But, because his victims were dogs – and I love dogs, too – Vick is judged more harshly than if he, say, committed a violent crime against even a woman or child.

We live in a country where someone who bragged about fondling women was elected president, and where charges of sexual child abuse against Catholic priests and those using the football brand of Penn State – get swept under the rug.

People get all weak in the knees over stories about the few white supremacists who changed their ways so much that they want to remove their swastika tattoos.

But a black man in a white man’s world? Not a chance.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, to his credit, has refused to yield to the pressure to remove Vick as honorary captain.

Good for Goodell.

How about you?

It is a true question of love and hate, and it’s a chance to let love in and let it win.

This column ran in The Times Herald on Jan. 5, 2020.

Bracing for Civil War 2.0

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By GORDOON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — If the gauntlet had not already been laid down for the American Civil War 2.0, recent events have inched us closer.

Let us count the ways:

-Impeachment: The hearings kicked off Wednesday, with the Union (Democrats) and Confederacy (Republicans) painting two entirely different portraits about what your president (not mine) said to the Ukrainian president during a phone call.

The other thing that can prevent this from leading to a bloodbath that will spill over into the streets is that all of us – left, right and center – just don’t have the same attention spans from when the same thing happened with Richard Nixon in the early 1970s or even Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.

These proceedings will drag on for weeks, if not months, providing enough lead time for diversionary tactics – ranging from childish 3 a.m. tweets to creating new and inventive instabilities overseas – that will draw the mainstream media away from both the impeachment hearings and who currently leads in the Iowa polls.

The “base” will refuse to believe any evidence that their president did anything wrong. At the least, they will just convince themselves – via the mastery of false equivalencies and believing conspiracy theories – that it was nothing different than what anyone else has done in the back rooms of the West Wing.

They said that about Nixon, too. And, well, we know how that turned out.

The whole election of your president (not mine) was a sign of the times, revealing we were ripe for a Civil War. No qualifications were required, as only venom toward outgoing president Barack Obama – and the use of code words and hot-button topics like immigration – were enough to capture the imagination of those who didn’t want to be bothered with the gory details involved in sorting out fact from fiction.

He has done 1,000 things that cry out “Impeach Me, Hard” – kind of like those “Kick Me Hard” signs we would put on someone’s back in middle school – and this is just No. 1,001.

Whether it does the trick or not is irrelevant.

There are those who see this, and those who don’t want to see it. In the middle, we have a portion of the country – the same portion that will likely decide the next election – who may just want to take the time to understand the US Constitution and whether or not he breached the document he swore to uphold above his own personal interest.

-Sandy Hook Revisited: There may be no more hot-button topic in this brewing war between the states than gun control (yet another school shooting in suburban Los Angeles Thursday morning).

It is said that if nothing changed after the horrific mass shooting of 26 people, including 20 first-graders, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in 2012, it was never going to happen.

And nothing has.

However, what seemed to be a Hail Mary pass, a lawsuit against Remington Arms Co., the maker of the weapon used by the shooter in the Sandy Hook massacre worked its way all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And the high court, despite having an extra vote from the right, allowed the families to move forward with the suit, the essence of which states that Remington was at fault because its marketing targeted “vulnerable young men” – i.e. losers – with its phallic symbols thinly disguised as weaponry.

At face value, there is some merit against the lawsuit, as it could create a slippery slope. However, as is the case in the impeachment situation, the devil lives in the details.

The reality is that most of the country, even gun-owning members of the NRA, are for some form of gun control.

Still, the startling fact is that three percent of Americans own half of the country’s estimated 265 million guns, and they are likely not those with any interest in any form of gun control legislation.

This case will be worth watching. The NRA’s deep pockets haven’t stopped its momentum yet, even when going to the right-leaning Supreme Court, the ruling of which will not only will likely open the door to more lawsuits from victims of gun crimes.

If that happens, there will be backlash from those who don’t get the fact that no one is physically coming for their guns in a conspiratorial attempt to trash their rights under the Second Amendment.

-Colin Kaepernick Workout – While it should be a sports story, it is anything but when Kaepernick’s name is involved.

Your president (not mine) infamously called on NFL owners to “fire” (wrong terminology, as players are released or waived, depending on their contract verbiage) any athlete who didn’t stand at attention during the national anthem before games.

Kaepernick, who began kneeling for the anthem in protest, has been out the NFL for almost three full seasons now.

While it is ironic that many of those who insist of their rights under the arcane and misinterpreted Second Amendment are unwavering in denying Kaepernick his right of free speech under the First Amendment, it is also fair to say that Kaepernick was getting more mileage out of being martyr than trying to make a comeback as a rusty quarterback.

The whole saga took a shocking turn this past week when Kaepernick tweeted out that he would be holding a surprise, open workout for NFL executives.

Initial indications were that just one team out of 32, the Dallas Cowboys, would attend the workout via a “team official” who could be nothing more than a low-level scout.

Whether Kaepernick throws another NFL pass, a tight spiral goes into the great divide. If he isn’t signed, he becomes even more of a martyr for the cause. If he is given a chance, others – the Confederates – will be up in arms.

And then there are the nuances of the scenario. If he signs but sits behind a starter who is not a standout, there will be cries of discrimination. If he kneels again during the national anthem, there could be protests at stadiums. If he doesn’t, the Confederacy will declare a moral victory and the Union will see a sellout to the man.

Controversial (and, fingers crossed, viral) Music Video – A bit of shameless self-promotion here, folks. A video of a Gordonville, U.S.A. song “Angry White Male” was released, via Facebook watch party, on Nov. 16 (World Unity Day) and remains available for viewing.

The images of how far we have devolved, with so-called patriots using symbols of those our forefathers fought against to save our union and democracy, are not pretty.

But they were necessary to convey the brevity of the song, which can be found on YouTube and at the Gordonville, U.S.A. Facebook page (give a brother a “like” while you are there).

I would say enjoy, but that’s not the intent.

This column initially ran in Times Herald on Nov. 17, 2019.

Unique Coach Gets His Call To The Hall

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By GORDON GLANTZ

GORDONVILLE — The first time I met Lou Lombardo, I was a know-nothing twenty-something cutting his teeth as a rookie sportswriter.

Already a fish out of water as a natural slacker thrust into the workforce, I was playing double jeopardy because the sports editor sent me to an American Legion game – the Fort Washington Generals against someone — instead of one in my comfort zone of the Perkiomen Valley Twilight League.

There was this short guy coaching third base for the Generals shouting out weird stuff to his batters and baserunners, and I half-wondered if he suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome before I was assured by someone, perhaps a writer from another paper (back in those bad old days of yore, multiple papers would cover sporting events), who said, “that’s just Lou being Lou.”

I covered the game, and warily approached this strange Lou character after the final out.

Before I could even introduce myself, let alone ask a question, Lou took one look at me and proclaimed “it’s Gene Wilder!”

He then summoned anyone he could – assistant coaches, umpires, players, parents, dog-walkers (and their dogs) passing by – to seek validation in his assessment that I could be Wilder’s stunt double.

Other than that I would have gladly traded paychecks with the star of movies like “Young Frankenstein” and “Blazing Saddles” – among a litany of others – I didn’t quite get the connection.

Once Lou settled down, he was an amazing interview, breaking down the game in such detail that I wondered if we had just witnessed the same one.

It’s now decades later, and I look more like Telly Savalas than the curly-haired Wilder. It was a minor miracle that Lombardo – the longtime coach for both the Generals and the Mustangs of Montgomery County Community College – seemed to have even a faint recollection of me when I called him last spring for more information on his career to build a resume for what I believed to be a long overdue induction into the Montgomery County Coaches Hall of Fame (full disclosure: I’m the chair of the Selection Committee).

Two fascinating hours after what should have been a 15-minute conversation, Lou agreed to let me bring Sofia by his backyard training facility for a hitting “evaluation.”

She had fallen into a terrible slump, and I was desperate for an expert assessment. He cautioned that most of his clients were baseball players, not softball players, but he would take a looksee.

I brought Sofia over for what was to be a 50-minute lesson early last May.

About 2 ½ hours later, her whole approach was broken down and built back up with what he calls linear hitting.

She did so well, that he had her elevated – as a sixth-grader – as being a Division III-level college recruit.

I left feeling like I had flipped Andre the Giant off my back, especially when he agreed to take her on as one of his few softball students.

It was like getting an acceptance letter from an Ivy League school (especially when we added catching to the course load).

The only remaining hurdle was Sofia.

Lou’s passion and enthusiasm seemed to have left her rejuvenated, in terms of confidence, and she couldn’t help but chuckle at many of his antics.

Still, would she want to come back with this guy who claimed to be 79 years old and was encouraging work with a hula hoop to increase power and naming her bats?

That question was answered as soon as we got in the car, even before the doors were closed.

“Wow,” she said, without being prompted, “that was fun. … And I can’t believe he is 79.”

Lou – who is actually a decade shy of 79 — made it clear that he was really an advisor, and only needs to see her every now and then, christening me as her new hitting coach.

I was initially reticent, but I now feel that I can break it down pretty well when we practice in the backyard.

He not only can teach the players, but also the teachers of the players.

And this is just a small sample of all the players – of both sexes and of all ages – that he has helped become better ballplayers.

Ironically, Lou gives homework to his students – and their parents, who he makes stay for the sessions (I would anyway, being a helicopter sports dad) – and I gave some to him as nominee.

As part of his Hall of Fame nomination process, to sell it to the rest of the committee, I wanted him to put together a coaching tree.

What that is, in layman’s terms, is a list of former players and assistant coaches, etc. who have gone on to carve out their own impressive niches in the baseball world.

Football example: Doug Pederson and John Harbaugh, both of whom won Super Bowls, are among those from Andy Reid’s coaching tree (not that I’m rubbing it in Reid’s face too much that he is still chasing a ring down like the last pastry at the buffet table).

The first “tree” Lou gave me was a page, but he knew he was forgetting some people. The next was a page and a half, but the retired history teacher at Upper Dublin High still wasn’t satisfied. The final product was closer to three pages long.

I don’t want to tell Lou this, but the committee barely glanced over the list. His reputation preceded itself, and he was in on the first ballot and will be inducted as part of the Class of 2019 at Presidential Caterers on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

Lou touched a lot of people’s lives during his coaching career, and has privately expressed – more than once – how he would like to look out over the room and see a representation of his career, from different eras, looking back up at him as he delivers an acceptance speech that he promises will be nothing short of the Gettysburg Address.

Tickets still remain for the event, and can be purchased at the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-montgomery-county-coaches-hall-of-fame-banquet-tickets-72532381305 or by calling 484-868-8000.