The Eternal Home Run



GORDONVILLE – Home … run!

Michael … Jack … Schmidt!

From the voice of Harry Kalas, the late great Phillies announcer, that was the ultimate sound of summer for me.

More specifically, when it was from grandfather’s transistor radio while sitting on a windswept porch in the Chelsea section of Atlantic City.

My grandfather would watch any sporting even on television – he was able to get Mets and Yankees games on channels 9 and 11 down the shore – but the world revolved around the Phillies.

And when the Phillies were playing at home, at Veterans Stadium, the games were not on TV.

That sent us to the front porch, with bowls of ice cream, and the transistor radio that I can still close my eyes and see now.

Looking back now, it was better that way.

My grandfather was a bit hard of hearing — a trait I inherited (I’m hoping for the internal genes, too, as he made it to nearly 95) — and generally preferred an ear plug (I can still see that, too).

But that would have made it impossible for me to listen as well, so he gladly made that concession to have me at his side.

To this day, I still believe baseball is better followed on the radio. It comes across too slow on television, and has too many staged distractions in person.

True confession: The Phillies are a distant fourth on my priority list now, but that’s not the way it started out.

At least until the Broad Street Bullies made us feel like winners in the middle of the 1970s, the Phillies were No. 1 back when Gordonville was mostly farm land to be tilled.

The thing is, though, they pretty much sucked.

My form of a pennant race was checking the standings each day to make sure we at least had a lead on the last place team in the NL West, which I remember as being the San Diego Padres.

As a matter of fact, I asked my father to get tickets when the Padres came to town, and I was devastated when utility infielder Terry Harmon grounded out with runners on base in a 2-1 loss.

Yeah, sigh, it was that bad.

But it slowly got better, culminating with the 1980 World Series title that remains my baseball pinnacle. No other postseason push, or even the 2008 World Series win, could recapture that magic.

I was grateful to Pete Rose for helping us get over the top, but I was happiest for the players that had been here during the slow and steady ride to the top.

And none more than Mike Schmidt, who is generally regarded as the best third baseman of all time.

However, before 1980, he was pretty much regarded as a great player who chocked in the clutch and who did match his numbers when it mattered.

Even though he led the league in home runs several times in the 1970s, there was a running joke that they all came as solo shots in the the eighth inning when they were either winning or losing 9-1.

After that season, one in which he won both MVP for the season and the World Series, those labels were put to rest.

I had a lot of favorite Phillies growing up.

They tell me it started with Cookie Rojas when I was still in diapers, but I have no real recollection of that alleged fixation that probably had more to do with his first name anyway.

I do recollect a steady roll call of Tony Taylor, Joe Lis, Tim McCarver, Willie Montanez, Larry Bowa and Greg Luzinski.

There was a deep connection with Richie Hebner, who batted fifth and played first base, just like I did in Little League, but he was gone – to make room for Rose – by the time it all fell together in 1980.

When I put in the tape and hit rewind now, it is easy to pick out not only my favorite Phillie of all time, but also one of my all-time favorite athletes, period.

It’s Mike Schmidt.

He puts me back on that porch, with my beloved grandfather and his transistor radio – eating ice cream (before I was lactose intolerant) – and waiting in anticipation for those words from Harry Kalas that would follow the crack of a bat coming through loud and clear amid any static.

Home run!

Michael … Jack … Schmidt!

Memos From My Spy Mission



GORDONVILLE – Moe Berg was a mediocre backup catcher in the big leagues for 15 seasons.

Yeah, so what, you might ask? What makes him any different than any other bullpen receiver with a .243 career average who can’t even crack the roster of the all-time Jewish baseball team?

It was peculiar, in the years leading up to World War II,  that teams of major league all-stars – featuring the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig – would travel to Japan and a relative no-name like Berg would somehow be on the roster, only to wonder off on his own instead of hanging with the team.

There is, or was, a running joke about Berg. It went that he could speak X number of languages — five, seven or 12 — but couldn’t hit a curve ball in any of them.

Turns out, Berg – educated at Princeton and Columbia Law School — was doing some pre-war work as a spy, a role that he took on full-time during the war and served as fodder for several books and a 2018 movie titled “The Catcher Was a Spy” (the name of one of the better-known books).


That’s quite a life, and has me longing for my own spy mission, which would be to be dropped behind enemy lines in the burgeoning Civil War for the soul of our nation.

Since we can almost script out the narcissistic speeches of your president (not mine), which are part Hitler Lite and part Rodney Dangerfield “I Can’t Get No Respect,” it’s not even interesting to me anymore.

And I’ve said all along, it’s not the entity that calls itself the president I have the real issue with anyway. It’s those who put him where he is, allowing this country to devolve into a riots in the streets and a pandemic that the administration was not out in front of from the jump.

My ongoing theory that the coalition that put your president (not mine) in position to stain the White House – beyond Russian hackers and staunch Republicans — were racists looking for payback after eight years of a biracial president, those who could not stomach the idea of a female president to the extent that that a womanizer and sexual abuser was the preferred option and people who are so ignorant that they are just so easily seduced by arrogance that they fall prey to the cult of personality?


But, without proof, how would I know, right? I need to be a spy behind enemy lines. I need to be a fly on the wall while they talk amongst themselves.

The chance to get my Moe Berg on came recently when I finally accepted a repeated invite to join a Facebook group of backers of your president (not mine).

I’m not going to reveal the name of the group, as they have a strict “no trolling” policy (odd, since the person who kept inviting knows who I am and where I stand on this sad situation).

So, despite being tempted by the hour, I suppress my urges and stay quiet in the group.

But I take notes.

A lot of them.

In general, the posts are not overtly offensive. It’s a lot of the flag-waving bologna that they think makes them more patriotic because they dare not think outside the lines.

It is the responses in the comments below the posts that confirm how much venom these snakes have their bite.

I’m writing this on June 26, the first day of the Green Phase we are lucky enough to be in because of the work of a Democratic governor, around 1 p.m. There is a post about Joe Biden – who they call the “Biggest Idiot Democrats Ever Nominated” (the first letter of each word spells out Biden’s last name … rim shot) — coming to Pennsylvania and being greets by like three supporters of your president (not mine).

It prompted ingenious remarks like: “Time to send Sleepy Joe to a retirement home in Wilmington, he’s done enough damage to America for a lifetime.”

How so, I wonder? Didn’t say. You get a lot of that on there. More in the way of pronouncements than backing it up with factoids.

Another actually asked why Biden keeps coming to Pa (after they chide him for staying in the basement, even though their immortal beloved hid in a bunker), when it’s obvious that both candidates are going set up shop in all swing states.

The response from the page administrator was “because they are trying to tell the rest of the country that battleground PA loves Biden … And WE all know that just ain’t the facts!”

Actually, page administrator, a poll released 24 hours earlier showed Biden with a semi-healthy lead in Pennsylvania. But, well, I guess that is nullified – or reduced to “fake news” – by using ALL CAPS.


Then there was a “Keep America Great” meme for the 2020 reelection bid. It had two American flags crossed, almost fascist style, and this quote from your president (not mine): “I don’t have time for political correctness and neither does this country.”

That prompted a high number of “likes” and “loves” and this gem of a comment: “One of my many reasons (why) I voted for him. You fix anything without seeing it and correcting it for what it is.”

Wait, what?

Next was a picture of Hillary Clinton with photo-shopped dreadlocks that said she was the new name and face of Quaker Pancakes and Syrups and it called her “Aunt JaPresident.”

Yeah, we’re in the rabbit hole now.

Break out the white sheets.

It gets worse.

The memes aimed at Carly Fiorina for saying she was going to vote Biden (“Mitt Romney in a dress”), Jerrold Nadler (“he justs want to hold subpenis”), Bubba Wallace (“a race CARD driver”)  and Colin Kapernick (“don’t mess with Betsy Ross”), in which his Afro was particularly wild.

There is a meme of two lesbians reading: “Let me guess … (He) is not your president.”

There is a meme with a quote from a recent tweet from your president (not mine) saying: “Republicans are the party of LIBERTY, EQUALITY and JUSTICE for ALL. We are the party of Abraham Lincoln and the party of LAW AND ORDER!”

Again, with the CAPITAL LETTERS – equating to someone thinking yelling makes them right – and again with the twisting and turning of the Abraham Lincoln nonsense when Lincoln would crawl out of his grave just to vomit at the way his name is being used.

Of course, the page administrator commented: “YES, we are!”


There is an oddly cropped picture of Derek Chauvin that goes from the waist up, not showing his knee on George Floyd’s neck, and a reminder than he was a Democrat in a city run by Democrats (like most cities).

There is another cropping out the crazy hair of your president (not mine) and photo-shopping up his face enough to make him look semi-human.

Lastly, there was a video clip of a black man decking a young white (or Asian woman) female. The accusation that it was for not kneeling at a protest, but the grainy video was inaudible and she was wearing what looked like a winter coat (suggesting it wasn’t from the recent spate of protests). You never ever hit a female. I get that, but they can’t say 99 percent of all cops are good and not acknowledge that the vast majority of black men wouldn’t act this way, either?

And these comments … wow!

I could report them, and have the page taken down, but that would blow my cover.

Here are a few lowlights (poor punctuation — and profanity — left in, destroying my editor’s instincts) in this give and take:

-Poster A: “That my friends is a nigger. Say what you want.”

-Poster B: “At last someone with the balls to say it!!!They need fuckin’ destroyed before they ruin the country.”

-Poster A: “These dumb fucks need a history lesson. Slavery didn’t start here it ended up here and there are more rights for blacks in this country than whites the problem is they want everything for free and to play the race card because that’s what the Democratic Party has been feeding them since the late 30’s”

-Poster B: AMEN!! And the more we allow them to play the race card and get shit for free the more the problem gets perpetual motion in the action of bringing this country to its knees.”

And there was more, proving that Facebook’s Faux battle with hate speech can only be effective without a colonoscopy with the pages supporting your president (not mine).


“Give them their own state! In 5 years they will kill each other and then take the state back!”

“Start shooting their asses”

“put that stray dog down … he won’t be missed”

“I don’t wanna say what I’d do to that POS!!!!!!”

“It coming people. Wake up fast! Notice most of them pick on women and old people.”

“That’s what they do folks. Wake up out there.”

“Again I’m asking that someone PLEASE send me a video of a bunch of white kids beating on a black kid!!! I don’t know if they just don’t video it or it doesn’t happen?? I know I have seen a dozen of these videos. I think I’m questioning who the real racists are!!!”

“String him up!”

Yep, here I am, behind enemy lines. It’s a dirty business. I can see why Berg turned down a Medal of Freedom after the war. He probably just wanted to take a shower and forget it ever happened.



Political Food Poisoning

Food poisoning


GORDONVILLE – Starved for some cerebral sustenance, I found a show on Hulu called “The Food That Built America” that wove American history with the stories of the innovators that brought much of what we take for granted today – Coke, ketchup, chocolate, cereal, KFC, McDonald’s, etc. – into what we eat without a second thought.

As fascinating as it was, I almost didn’t get beyond the first 5-10 minutes because I was nearly nauseated watching how rancid meat was sold on the streets of yore, causing all sorts of disease.

The thing with red meat is that when it no longer stays red once it goes bad. Instead, it turns this grotesque green or greenish brown, and develops a smell that almost hit me through the television screen.

I couldn’t help but think of this when the entity that calls itself your president (not mine) defied the medical experts and attempted to hold one of his Hitleresque rallies in Tulsa.

The state of Oklahoma is one of those seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, but the plans went forward. The rally was originally slated for the same day Juneteenth, and in the city where a massacre of a black neighborhood took place in 1921.

Moved back a whole day (eye roll), with all the arrogance your president (not mine) can muster, the rally went forward.

But the steady diet of red meat thrown the crowd, the size of which fell short of predictions, was more of the spoiled variety.

It was no longer red, and it aroma made normal person sick to his or her stomach.

Moreover, the sparse crowd was asked to wash it down with water that would make that of Flint, Michigan taste like Poland Spring.

There was no mention of the murder of George Floyd under the knee of a policeman in Minneapolis. The media was blamed for the lower-than-expected turnout, as were left-wing “radicals” in the streets (so-called far-right nutsies were out there, too, but didn’t seem to have the cojones to do more than tote their weaponry and flex).

Inside, the blame game was played. The me-first diatribe included blaming the surge in COVID-19 cases, oddly happening in mostly red states, on … too much testing.

Acting like a third-grader on the short bus, your president (not mine) referred to the scourge that has already claimed more than 100,000 American lives as “Kung Flu” (yes, it started China, but there was time to prepare).

The red meat gone bad came in such gems as suggesting a one-year prison sentence for burning the American flag, which means it is seen as an act of treachery.

Oddly, your president (not mine) offered a contradictory stance on taking down statues of Confederate generals – or changing the names of Military bases named for them – as those generals. Those were all traitors as well, and took it one step beyond burning the flag, as they raised one of their own in battle and your president (not mine) sees no problem with these flags still being some sort of twisted part of American heritage.

Maybe there is sentimentality here. Maybe your president (not mine) was stationed at Fort Benedict Arnold. Never mind. Never got that far. Pres. Fake Bone Spurs never served anywhere, a fact that seems lost on his sycophants.

While the kickoff to his campaign was a kick in his ass, let’s stay measured here.

While it is all encouraging, I can’t get too excited about it.

We’ve dug this grave before, but no corpse was in the coffin.

The media, the same media that was guilty in the way the 2016 election went down by readily supplying more free coverage than Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders combined. It was likely because it was seen as a detour from sanity – as a mere 15 minutes of national shame – and they wanted to be there to record every hateful word that was uttered for posterity.

What was underestimated was how a good portion of white America feeds on the steady diet of red meat being served.

Resentment built at the election of Barack Obama in 2008 – revealing itself in a drastic rise in militia groups, the Tea Party and the Birther movement that your president (not mine) bankrolled – and exploded like an atom bomb.

We are still dealing with the fallout, with the nuclear winter.

And followers are left with no other option but to consume grotesque food and poison themselves.




Lesson Learned While Cutting School

Police patrol, stop sign


GORDONVILLE – Senior Cut Day?

It was too good to be true.

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

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

You didn’t need to tell us twice.

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

Def Leppard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Racial profiling, anyone?

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

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


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


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

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

And this was 1983.

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















































Gale Force Winds

Gale Statement


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

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

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

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

And that will be the ultimate revenge.

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

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

No need to do it now.

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

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

Why do it now?

Pigs grunt. A pig grunted.

End of story.

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

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

Let him be their hero.

Let him be our zero.

It’s almost laughable, really.

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

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

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

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

Don’t give him any more oxygen.

It’s already a shame with share it.

Feel bad for this little boy lost.

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

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











Flag on the Field



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

Who among us hasn’t used that saying?

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

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

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

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

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

None of those are hate speech.

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

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

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

You back? OK.

It goes way beyond that, though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so it was.

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

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

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

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

It doesn’t need to be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The times of doom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s different, they say.

It’s free speech.

Standards, anyone?

Once you got two, you got none.

Kind of like flags.



This Is Us In The U.S.

Won't Comply


GORDONVILLE – Reggie Brown.

That’s the guy’s name.

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

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

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

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

Reggie Brown

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

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

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

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

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

Instead, there has been serious shrinkage.

A whole lot of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

And on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protest Flag

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

That is why.

This is us in the U.S.

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


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





Casalduni: Small Town, Long Reach



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Name Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s what she does.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plans On Hold

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

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

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

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

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

History of Migration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Plans to Return

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





Draft Review: Where Eagles Dared

Prince Tega

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


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

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

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

That’s the bad news.

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

But there is good news.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Davion Taylor

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

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

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


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

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

Jack Driscoll

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

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

John Hightower

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

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

Shaun Bradley

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

-Cincinnati Running Back Michael Warren II

-Michigan State Defensive Tackle Raequan Williams

-Baylor cornerback Grayland Arnold

-Montana Inside Linebacker Dante Olson

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

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

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

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

Michael Warren

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

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

NFL: Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers



In Lieu of a Final Mock …



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justin Jefferson

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

NCAA Football: Tennessee State at Vanderbilt

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


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


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


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


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


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