Birds still flawed and unlikeable
You will hear and read much about the sudden rebirth of the Eagles. Believe none of it. Their 17-10 win over the Giants may have provided a temporary reprieve from this dreadful season, but it proved nothing.
Vince Young’s dramatic drive that saved the season — at least for now — was remarkable in every way. Six third-down conversions with the game on the line against a formidable defense is cause for celebration, as is the blind-side sack by Jason Babin that preserved the victory in the final minutes.
But 12 minutes of joy after a season of frustration isn’t enough for me or for you. Before and after that unexpected spree of positive developments, the Eagles were the same muddle of disjointed talents and bad attitudes. Their final destination is programmed into the GPS. They are going nowhere.
For example, the revived defense that held the Giants to 10 points was rescued not by defensive coordinator Juan Castillo but by Young, who held the ball for close to nine minutes and prevented the biggest chokers in football from blowing their sixth fourth-quarter lead. Not only had the defense given away the lead in a five-play, 73-yard drive, but it ended up allowing 143 yards on just 10 plays in the final quarter before Babin’s turnover.
The notion that Castillo was somehow vindicated because the Eagles won the game is almost as absurd as Castillo’s original appointment to his new job. What exactly did the Eagles prove? They stopped the run against a team that can’t run, and they were in the process of another fatal swoon when Young rode to the rescue. Does anyone believe the Eagles’ defensive problems are behind them?
And then there is the case of DeSean Jackson, who appears to have won his power struggle with Reid. Before the game, Jackson compared himself to Larry Fitzgerald and the NFL’s other top receivers, then he cost his team a 50-yard gain by taunting a Giants assistant. He ended his busy day by proclaiming that he was “the light I bring and shine on my teammates.”
Jackson learned nothing from his benching. In fact, he was empowered by it. Now he thinks the Eagles can’t win without him, and Reid did nothing to discourage that idea after the game. Jackson is a child out of control — selfish, boisterous and poison in the locker room.
Yes, the Eagles won a big game on Sunday. But nothing has changed. Andy Reid is still lost. Juan Castillo is still clueless. And DeSean Jackson is still playing for DeSean Jackson.
The end is near for these overindulgent underachievers — and the sooner the better for all of us.
Shocking but not surprising
In the deepening cesspool at Penn State, there are two themes that require our undivided attention. One is Jerry Sandusky, the former defensive coordinator accused of sexually abusing children. The other is the army of gutless people, led by Joe Paterno, who enabled Sandusky to do what he allegedly did.
Think about the other stories that have emerged since the darkest secrets of Happy Valley became headlines. Politicians were more interested in filling their campaign coffers than in seeking justice for the victims. A judge violated the ethics of her job and took care of a friend. Eyewitnesses were discouraged to tell the truth and then vilified when they tried to.
Is any of that behavior surprising? It happens every day. Granted, the scope of the corruption is alarming, especially in a sick little place like Happy Valley, but it is just a diversion. What really matters is that a man is accused of the worst crime possible, and many people — including the coach most associated with moral behavior — enabled it.
The only things we all need to remember involve Sandusky and Paterno. In a TV interview, Sandusky required a 17 seconds to deny that he is sexually attracted to children. Seventeen seconds. Ask a friend that. You will find none, not one, who needs that long to respond.
Honesty demands respect
When Ilya Bryzgalov stoned Phoenix last week, it wasn’t just a big victory, it was a welcome — and rare — triumph for the truth. You see, Bryzgalov was hated in his final days in Phoenix, basically for one reason. When asked a question, he answered it honestly. Imagine that.
His candor led to a few fractured relationships when he publicly referenced a bad play by a teammate. That’s how the Russian goalie got a bad reputation. He spoke the truth. We already got a glimpse of this honesty when Bryzgalov trashed himself, essentially saying he couldn’t stop a beach ball.
Well, here’s one vote of support for the refreshing new addition to our sports community. We already have enough sneers from Andy Reid, enough hiding from Jeff Lurie and Joe Banner, enough tired cliches from Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
If we have learned anything at all from the Penn State tragedy still unfolding, it is that honesty remains the best policy. If Mike McQueary had said something publicly about what he had witnessed in 2002, would the alleged abuse have continued? If Joe Paterno had used his powerful voice to halt the insanity, would his legacy have withstood the assault?
Sports figures who prefer the safe route to popularity should study Bryzgalov. Either because of a cultural gap or his honest nature, he’s showing the public something that has become extinct. It’s called respect.
– Angelo Cataldi is the host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
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