The Eagles are run by football people with decades of experience, a proven record of success and an impeccable national reputation. The Sixers are guided mostly by novices who know a lot more about Wall Street than building a sports franchise.
So why did the Eagles completely botch the NFL lockout, while the Sixers handled the NBA lockout brilliantly? Could it be that the Eagles allowed their own arrogance to sabotage another season? Is it possible that the new Sixers’ brain trust already has a better idea of how to run a successful team?
Keep these numbers in mind as we explore how two of our major franchises confronted the challenge of a league shutdown. The Eagles started the 2011 season 1-4 and sunk to 4-8 before four meaningless wins. The Sixers are an astounding 10-3 right now, having outscored opponents by an average of 15 points per game.
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It is no secret the Eagles have a much stronger roster than the Sixers; no one would ever have the chutzpah to call the Sixers a Dream Team, unless the dream was inspired by hallucinogens. In fact, the Sixers have no stars — not one. The Eagles have Mike Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Asante Samuel and new post-lockout additions Nnamdi Asomugha and Jason Babin.
The problem is, that array of stars wasn’t good enough for the Eagles, who decided an offseason with no workouts, no minicamps and no contact with players was a perfect time for major changes. Why would coach Andy Reid choose that moment to promote Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator? For that matter, why would he radically change the roster after the lockout?
An outsider would assume the people making these major decisions — President Joe Banner, GM Howie Roseman and Reid — were new to the game, unable to see the value of stability after the chaos of a lockout. We know better. The tired act of that trio is painfully obvious. The only rules they play by are their own, even when there is no logic behind them.
Meanwhile, a consortium of investors led by New York financier Joshua Harris bought the Sixers in October during the lockout and then resisted the urge for roster changes, despite slow ticket sales. I asked new Sixers CEO Adam Aron — as I gazed out at thousands of empty seats last Friday night in the owners’ box — why he didn’t order his only experienced executive, President Rod Thorn, to do more.
His answer was something the Eagles needed to hear, but wouldn’t have if he had screamed it in their ears. He said it didn’t make sense to shake things up when the NBA was already in disarray after the lockout.
Imagine that. A logical response to a difficult problem, with no I’m-smarter-than-you-are agenda. Is there any way we could get these new Sixer people to run our football team, too?
Shame on you, Penn State
Just when it seemed impossible for Penn State to look more delusional, more in denial, president Rodney Erickson began a PR assault that was a shock to the system and punch in the stomach. Have these people lost all connection to reality?
And by “these people” I am including the legions of alumni who refuse to acknowledge the essence of the worst sports scandal in decades. No, this tragedy is not about the firing of Joe Paterno or his shattered legacy. It is about the alleged sexual assault of children and the appalling coverup.
Erickson, who was hired to control the damage, had the unmitigated gall to tell 650 alums at a town meeting in King of Prussia: “It grieves me very much when I hear people say ‘the Penn State scandal.’ This is not Penn State. This is the Sandusky scandal.”
Two Penn State administrators are under indictment for lying to the grand jury, accused child molester Jerry Sandusky had the run of the campus for years after his retirement, and at least one of the assaults reportedly happened in PSU’s football shower room. Now the new president says “This is not Penn State.”
The worst part was the reaction to Erickson’s remark. He received a loud ovation from the alums. They actually cheered. I have always revered Penn State — not for the bogus image of moral superiority its football team created, but for the quality of education it represented. Now, I feel nothing but shame for everyone associated with the school.
In Amaro we trust
Ryan Madson is no longer speaking to his former team. He signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with Cincinnati — after refusing to accept the last-ditch phone calls of the Phils — ending an offseason of ugliness between his agent and GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
The only thing left to decide is who the villain is, and who the victim is. It’s obvious that Madson lost the most, since no one is denying he was close to a new deal with the Phillies that would have paid him at least $30 million over three years. So, Madson blew $22.5 million.
Agent Scott Boras claims he had a verbal agreement for a fourth year and a total of $44 million before Amaro had second thoughts and signed Jonathan Papelbon. Amaro says there was never a final agreement at those numbers, just the usual give-and-take in a high-stakes negotiation.
Whom should we believe? I say Amaro.
With the superior Papelbon available, why would the GM lock down Madson so early in free agency? And also, with that much money on the table, an agreement isn’t final until ownership signs off and it’s pretty clear president Dave Montgomery wasn’t happy with that deal.
– 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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