January 10, 2017
The biggest sports story in Philadelphia in this very new year came via the mouth of Joel Embiid, who declared that the Philadelphia 76ers have a chance to make the playoffs.
Mind you, Embiid was not talking about one year from now, three years from now or a half decade from now. Embiid was talking about NOW – and it has been a very long time since anybody from the Sixers has talked about now.
All of this talk occurred when the Sixers won their tenth game of the year, matching last season’s total. Embiid, who has become a larger than life character both on and off the court, took a look at the standings and said, “I think we have a chance.”
Think of that, somebody from the Sixers who didn’t try to deflect toward some distant future … he was actually talking about this season, this spring, these playoffs.
“We’ve been hot lately,” said Embiid. “We’ve won three of four ... so I look at it, and I think we have a chance, and we’re really figuring things out. We’re starting to learn how to win games.”
So, while the organization is trying to figure out how to reconfigure the roster to get a more balanced team on the court, Embiid has figured out how to get the fans excited about the team and organization – just announce you expect to win games.
Congratulations to Brian Dawkins – not only for his recognition as a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame but also for Clemson’s victory over Alabama in the national championship game. Before the Eagles, Dawkins was a member of the Tigers, and football players never forget their roots.
On the subject of that instant classic game between Alabama and Clemson, there should be some spotlight shined on the disgraceful play of Alabama early in the game that was ignored by the officials and essentially championed by the broadcasters.
On the first series, it was very clear that Alabama’s Reuben Foster targeted Clemson quarterback Deshawn Watson. He hammered the quarterback with a forearm to the head, drawing a penalty – but it should have been much more than just a penalty.
It was clearly targeting, and the player should have been ejected. To make matters worse the announcing team was on the verge of what you might call endorsing the penalty by suggesting that Alabama had successfully intimidated the talented quarterback.
In a world where head injuries are haunting the sport, it was the wrong message.
Later in the quarter, Alabama’s Tony Brown had a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on Clemson receiver Mike Williams. It was an obvious target with no penalty, and the explanation was that it was not the crown of the helmet, but the side.
Makes no sense; it was clearly helmet to helmet, a torpedo launched at a receiver who was already tied up by a defender – and another case of targeting.
The night turned memorable in a wonderful game, but it was hardly wonderful to watch those two dangerous plays – and the lack of criticism that followed.
Allen Iverson is causing some ripples for his continued love of the Dallas Cowboys – and don’t expect his enthusiasm to wane if and when the Cowboys move on through the playoffs.
Most of Philadelphia will be howling against the Cowboys this weekend when the Green Bay Packers attempt to knock them out of the playoffs but you can be the networks have are hoping Dallas gets hot and gives the Super Bowl a super rating.
Among those who wear the star as super Cowboy fans are Jamie Foxx, Russell Westbrook, Eva Longoria, Bryce Harper, Kelly Clarkson, Denzel Washington, Chris Rock, John Wall, LeBron James – and New Jersey’s lame duck governor Chris Christie.
Other than Christie, who looked the fool as he bounded up and down as owner Jerry Jones pet panda in the private box at the Linc, there isn’t much you can complain about if fans are loyal to their team.
From this point of view, it would be a whole lot more fun to see the Cowboys get through the playoffs and then get blasted in the Super Bowl by the Steelers or Chiefs.
Better to have a villain for the next month, and then watch the villain get destroyed at the end of the movie.
The Flyers are going to have to address the fact that they are in desperate need of another top-six forward, preferably a center.
No doubt the Flyers are blessed with a cupboard full of prospects on defense -- including, in Shayne Gostisbehere and especially, Ivan Provorov, a couple already with the big club.
They also have top-end young prospects in net and will likely have to make a decision on the long-term status of Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth.
The challenge for general manager Ron Hextall will be to decide which prospects to cut loose in order to get the players the Flyers need. Many teams will be willing to trade for some of the Flyers' kids and Hextall has to make sure he doesn’t ship out those who could eventually become the bests of the bunch.