Angry fans can see past Eagles spin

Owner Jeff Lurie of the Philadelphia Eagles speaks at a press conference.

When Jeff Lurie finally broke his silence, we all expected the owner of our football team to shed some light on a dark season. What we got instead is a new insight into the rage spreading across the Eagles landscape.

Fans who have filled every seat of Lincoln Financial Field since it opened in 2003 — and have made Lurie a billionaire in the process — are sick of waiting for a championship, sick of the smug attitude of Andy Reid and sick of the dishonesty that has enveloped the organization.

I can make these statements with complete confidence because I felt the wrath of the fans myself when I had the audacity to suggest after Lurie’s memorable news conference that the owner had performed effectively. After all, Lurie had made it clear that he was appalled by the failure of the current team, so much so that Reid will be coaching for his job in 2012. Wasn’t that enough?

No, it wasn’t enough. In fact, all of the fans who called into my WIP radio show after the news conference said Lurie had taken an already bad situation and made it worse. They found Lurie’s damnation of the season insincere, his decision to give Reid one more chance illogical and his defense of Reid’s public demeanor infuriating.

This is the exact quote that most enraged the fan base: “I don’t think you’re ever going to meet a coach who is less arrogant than Andy Reid.” Lurie’s words came exactly two days after Reid had refused to answer all questions about his job status and, when pressed, snarled: “I’ll think about it when I want to think about it.”

Instead of appeasing the fans with some consoling words, Lurie tapped into a deeper sense of resentment than any in his 17 years as owner of the Eagles. The fans believe don’t believe anything from Eagles management. Not the weekly insults that have become Reid’s news conferences, not the grandiose proclamations of president Joe Banner and not the empathetic efforts of Lurie himself.

Jeff Lurie believed what he was saying last week. He really was disgusted by his underachieving 2011 team. He truly is getting tired of defending Reid’s indefensible behavior. He genuinely wants to win as badly as the fans of his team. All of those conclusions are fair and reasonable in the aftermath of Lurie’s honest and candid news conference.

And none of it matters anymore. Eagles fans have finally become spin-proof. Words no longer have any effect. The lesson of last week was a simple one for the Eagles. If they really want to make peace with their angry fans, there’s only one thing left for them to do.

They have to win a championship.

Clap your hands, everybody

Less than three months into their first year, the new Sixers owners have already accomplished their first goal. Their team is relevant again.

Joshua Harris and Adam Aron are the answer to a prayer for basketball fans here —
accessible, enthusiastic and creative. Thanks to them, it is impossible not to root for the Sixers.

Their first game at the Wells Fargo Center last Friday night provided all the bells and whistles expected of a new era, and more. The new guys made an instant connection with the glorious past of the franchise by inviting back Julius Erving, Moses Malone and, yes, even Andrew Toney.

This team is a long way from the exalted status of that unit, but the best way to measure the franchise is from its more recent low point. Twenty-one months ago the team was doomed by a three-Ed-ed monster: disinterested chairman Ed Snider, incompetent GM Ed Stefanski and Professor Clueless, coach Eddie Jordan.

Now we have Harris, a committed business wizard from Wall Street; Aron, a relentless Harvard idea machine with extraordinary people skills; and Rod Thorn, a proven roster manipulator. More importantly, we have people running the team who understand us. One of the first calls they made for advice was to  Pat Croce. They get it.

Nobody knows where all of this leads. But this much we can say now: When it comes to first impressions, the new Sixers are winners already.

Must love Bryz

My favorite Flyer is an undependable, eccentric, outspoken Russian who isn’t worth the money he’s being paid and may ultimately prove to be the undoing of his team.

Ilya Bryzgalov is an absolute mess, and the most intriguing Flyer to come along in years.

Bryzgalov was the star of the “24/7” reality show that took us inside the Winter Classic, as he shared his philosophy on the creation of the universe, the importance of free speech and announced that he would not be playing in the game. Later, in the same press gathering, Bryz said he had just wasted 30 minutes of the media’s time saying nothing and then proclaimed that sports hasn’t changed since the Roman Empire. People want “gladiators and bread.”

The only time not to embrace Bryzgalov is when he’s on the ice, botching easy saves and driving coach Peter Laviolette crazy. Even there, Bryzgalov is totally unpredictable. He struggled for two weeks and then saved Saturday’s win with a couple of dazzling plays in the final moments. One day later, he blew a two-goal lead in a 6-4 Ottawa disaster.

Bryzgalov is unbalanced, divisive and moody. But I love the guy, and you should, too. It’s rare in any sport that we encounter a player so willing to share himself with us, warts and all.

Angelo Cataldi is the host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages. Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Send submissions to letters@metro.us.



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