Andy Reid, the NFL head coach who is never wrong, was right again. Despite every shred of available data, Juan Castillo is a terrific defensive coordinator. Once again, the
alternate universe where Reid resides is in direct conflict with the rest of the world.
Last week, one of the best NFL coordinators of the past decade, Steve Spagnuolo, agreed to run the defense in New Orleans, even though he has a long (and reportedly positive) history with Reid, and still maintains a home here. Why would Spagnuolo choose Bourbon Street over Broad Street, crawfish over cheesesteaks?
It’s very simple, really.
Reid never wanted Spagnuolo to return. In fact, there is no evidence that Reid seriously discussed the job with him. All we know for sure is that Reid went on a weeklong vacation and then ducked back into hiding behind the thick, soundproof walls of the NovaCare Complex.
Reid hasn’t spoken to the “best fans in the NFL,” as he calls them, in 23 days. His last words on the direction of his underachieving team were: “I’ll think about [the future] when I want to think about it.” And he wonders why he has become the most disliked coach in a generation in Philadelphia?
Well, the coach may be mute, but the fans are not. Their frustration with Reid is unprecedented. It is beyond the darkest days of Rich Kotite and probably even Joe Kuharick. At least those bumblers didn’t pretend they were smarter than everybody else.
Reid has now taken his idiotic decision to move Castillo to defense and amplified it into a full-blown fiasco by failing to hire Spagnuolo.
And make no mistake: Reid could have had Spagnuolo if he had wanted. The Eagles have already proven they’ll spend whatever it takes, after shedding its reputation for cheapness in their free-agent frenzy last summer.
All things being equal, there was really no decision for Spagnuolo to make. The Eagles have the money, the talent (especially on the defensive line and in the secondary), the comfort of a previous working relationship and the pull of a wife whose family lives here. If Reid had really wanted Spagnuolo, there was no question the best defensive coordinator in the NFL would already be working here.
But we all know that didn’t happen, and now we know why. Because Andy Reid, one more time, decided that he knew more than everybody else. In his warped mind, Juan Castillo will be a more effective defensive coordinator in 2012 than Steve Spagnuolo.
Hey, at least this time there is good news ahead. When Castillo fails again next season — and he will — the overburdened assistant will not walk out the door alone. Accompanying him, finally, will be his arrogant, delusional boss.
And even then, Andy Reid will be convinced he was right.
Nothing is ever really sacred
How are we supposed to feel? We all love sports because of the escape it provides, a refuge from the harsh realities of life.
And then the story over the weekend of Joe Paterno dying yanks us out of our fantasy world and forces us to deal with a jumble of conflicting emotions.
The first instinct when an extraordinary man like Joe Paterno passes away is to feel a deep sympathy not just toward him and his family, but also toward ourselves. If an ageless icon like Joe Paterno cannot escape —or at least temporarily deny — death, then what chance do the rest of us have?
And there are all of the people he has helped through his brilliance as a coach and his generosity as a philanthropist. For generations into the future, his contributions to Penn State will reverberate. A new library, a spiritual center, a sports museum, they are all a part of his campus legacy.
But then two words jar the senses: Jerry Sandusky.
Can one horrific mistake in judgment undo over 60 years of achievement? Should it? The crimes are so unthinkable that it is too soon to consider the answer, and yet words must be spoken, today, that can bring some closure to an incredible life.
So how are we supposed to feel?
Right now, it has to be a mixture of appreciation for all that he achieved, but also a deep sadness that nothing is ever really sacred — inside or outside of sports. Not even Joe Paterno.
Here’s to the goats
One of the very first lessons of sports journalism is to visit the losers’ locker room, because that’s where the best stories reside.
And so it was in a championship weekend that proved once more that the NFL provides the best drama, and the best villains.
Billy Cundiff will never escape one brief moment in time when he hooked an easy 32-yard field goal and ruined an entire season for his teammates. Neither will Ravens receiver Lee Evans, who cradled a victory in his hands until the ball was swatted away at the last instant by the Patriots.
And then there was the demoralizing story of Kyle Williams, a backup punt returner who fumbled twice for the 49ers and handed an NFC title to the Giants.
It wasn’t surprising that teammates rallied around their newly-spawned goats after the massive gaffes. However, there is no excuse for undemanding sports towns like Baltimore and San Francisco to stifle their anger, too.
Well, since I’m always at the service of the modern athlete, I hereby offer some words of consolation to Cundiff and Evans and Williams: Things could be worse. You could play in Philadelphia, a place — I’m proud to say — not nearly so forgiving.
– Angelo Cataldi is the host of 94 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
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