February 15, 2016
The wise thing for a fan to do when a star athlete is accused of a crime is to wait for the results of the investigation and only then to form an opinion. In the current case involving LeSean McCoy, I need no such time for contemplation. He is guilty.
No, not of the aggravated assault charges that are imminent. There’s no way to know exactly what happened when he and three of his companions squared off against two off-duty Philadelphia policemen in the early morning hours of Feb. 7 at the Recess Lounge in Old City.
What emerged in the immediate aftermath of that ugly incident – the two cops were seriously injured – is a picture of McCoy that is undeniably ugly regardless of his most recent trouble..
It is now safe to say that the all-time leading runner in Eagles history is also one of the all-time bad guys to play here. He is an arrogant ingrate with contempt for the people who made his fame possible. Mayor Jim Kenney was right when he said it’s time for McCoy to answer for his actions – all of them.
McCoy’s record of bad behavior is well documented. There was that incident in 2012 when he left by the side of New Jersey Turnpike one of the 15 women on his party bus because she objected to McCoy and his pals spraying her with water.
The victim alleged that McCoy’s bodyguard, Big John, assaulted her, knocking her to the floor of the bus and holding her while McCoy and his revelers poured beverages on her head and body. In the end, McCoy picked her back up and then abandoned her – soaked and humiliated – at the next rest stop.
Of course, there was also that incident with a Center City waitress in 2014 when he left a 20-cent tip on a $60 bill because he wasn’t pleased with the service. McCoy even boasted that he was a great tipper when the service was up to his standards. He called the waitress “rude and disrespectful.”
At the height of the PR firestorm over that misstep, legendary bad boy Charlie Sheen offered the waitress a $1,000 tip. It would have taken a lot more money than that to repair the damage to McCoy’s already soiled reputation.
After video of his latest public problem surfaced last week, ex-fans throughout the city offered further proof of what an immature, entitled lout he had become during his seven years in the NFL. He routinely missed appointments without explanation, pouted when any other running back on his team was featured, and had a months-long snit after ex-coach Chip Kelly banished his diminishing skills to Buffalo.
The most appalling story that surfaced after the Recess Lounge incident involved McCoy’s behavior during the weekly broadcast of his “Players’ Lounge” show on WIP radio. Throughout his two years on that program – broadcast live at Chickie’s and Pete’s sports bar in South Philadelphia – he became known as an insufferable jerk.
The engineer for those shows told me last week that the low point of McCoy’s two-year stint came when McCoy blew off a small boy with an autograph book by snatching his cell phone and pretending he was taking a call. It was too much trouble for McCoy to give a kid 20 seconds of his time.
Now, none of these acts approaches the alleged crime in the assault case last week, but they paint a clear pattern of behavior. If your kid still has a McCoy jersey, burn it. If he has a poster on his wall, tear it down. If he still has fond memories of McCoy’s great work on the field, provide a new role model more worthy of his adulation.
There’s no need to wait for an arrest to know LeSean McCoy is already guilty of forgetting that, 20 years ago, he was that kid with the autograph book.
What Villanova is doing right now is extraordinary by any measure, but especially so because of the current state of sports in Philadelphia. The Wildcats are No. 1 in a city where every pro team is a loser. Thank you, Jay Wright.
In fact, that's exactly what I told him last week on my WIP radio show when the coach made a rare appearance. Normally, we don’t talk about college sports on my program because Philadelphia is the ultimate pro-sports city. At the moment, however, many fans are making an understandable exception.
Wright was a grunt in the University of Rochester program when the Wildcats won the NCAA championship in 1985, but he ended up working with legendary coach Rollie Massimino as an assistant for five years at Villanova, and he knows that even now – more than three decades later – the effect of that parade resonates in the city and on campus.
Of course, the players were not born when the miracle happened, but many were there last year when Gary McLain, Harold Jensen and Ed Pinckney, among many others, came back to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their championship. This No. 1 team knows how special it is to be the best.
Will Villanova do it again? Probably not. But it is more likely now than it was in 1985, when big, bad Georgetown and bigger, badder Patrick Ewing were standing in the way. Like the ’85 team, the Wildcats are too small to be a favorite to win the tournament, and Wright’s teams have a history of going cold at the wrong time.
But there’s plenty of time to consider the reality of this flirtation with greatness. For now, it’s just terrific that a team in Philadelphia – any team – can call itself No. 1.
The development of Shayne Gostisbehere as an NHL superstar is far more important this season than anything else happening on the ice for the Flyers. The kid just keeps getting better and better, and his streak of 12 straight games with a point is a testament to his incredible potential.
No rookie defenseman has ever done what Gostisbehere is doing right now, and he doesn’t even seem to be breaking a sweat. He is a fantastic skater with great hands, an uncanny scoring touch and a creativity on offense rare for defensemen of any age. He is often compared to Hall of Famer Paul Coffey and already figures to be the best Flyers’ two-way defenseman since Mark Howe.
In setting the record last week, Gostisbehere received an assist from a Flyer who hasn’t worn the orange and black for 15 years – Keith Jones, the color TV commentator who also serves as a co-host on my WIP radio show. Without Jonesy, Gostisbehere never would have reached the milestone.
As the story goes, the official scorer last Thursday did not credit the young defenseman with an assist on a goal in the second period by Wayne Simmonds. When Jones watched the replay, he saw the puck make contact with Gostisbehere’s stick before Simmonds buried a goal inside the right post.
Jonesy then coaxed the scorer to look at the play again, and – a few minutes after the fact – Ghostisbehere’s streak was still alive. The young defenseman topped the all-time mark for points in consecutive games by a rookie defenseman two days later, before adding yet another point with 10 seconds left Sunday in New York.
The Flyers have had many very good players during their 41-year championship drought – Eric Lindros, Ron Hextall, Mike Richards, Claude Giroux – but a generation from now Shayne Ghostisbehere will top them all. He will be the best Flyer since Bobby Clarke. Bet on it.
And finally …
• The Eagles finally released Riley Cooper last week – three seasons too late. More than any other player, Cooper represented the stubbornness that ended Chip Kelly’s tenure prematurely. The coach should have cut the mediocre wide receiver the moment that racially-charged tape surfaced. Now let’s see if Kelly is dumb enough to bring Cooper to San Francisco.
• If the Eagles are smart – no sure thing now that Howie Roseman is back in charge – they will call Jahri Evans as soon as the NFL rules allow and convince him to finish out his brilliant career right here at home. He is better guard today than Evan Mathis ever was, with none of the attitude. Sign him, ASAP. Please.
• In the end, Super Bowl 50 will be remembered most for the unmasking of Cam Newton. The Carolina quarterback’s decision not to risk injury on the fatal fumble late in the game – and his defiant response after it – provided a shocking insight into the most compelling player in the NFL. Maybe he’ll learn from it. But probably not.
• The Phillies are starting spring training in Clearwater on Thursday, and never has there been a baseball season with less buzz than this one. Yes, there are young players with potential like Maikel Franco and Aaron Nola, but fans are faking it if they think this team will be successful or even interesting. The target date for relevance is 2017. Until then, ugh.
• Do we really have to wait until April for the official announcement that Allen Iverson is a Hall of Famer? In a city known for its brilliant basketball players – Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley – only one was able to fill every seat in his prime. No one was more compelling on the court, here or anywhere. No one.