June 01, 2015
LeSean McCoy is in hiding right now, a coward unwilling to back up his poisonous words. DeSean Jackson was sitting courtside at an NBA playoff game last week, shunning his responsibility to his teammates. Does anyone still wonder why these two selfish jerks no longer play for the Eagles?
Among many stories surfacing at the OTAs over the past week, the way coach Chip Kelly evaluates NFL players offers the most intrigue. His credo has always been: “Big people beat up little people.” Now we know there’s a stronger guiding principle: “Good people beat bad people.”
Hey, I’m not ready to appoint myself judge and jury on the character of these two extremely talented players; for all I know, they may be not be the clueless ingrates they appear to be. What I am sure of right now is that McCoy and Jackson do not belong on the roster of a coach who demands a full commitment.
McCoy accused Kelly of being a racist, of “getting rid of all the black players – the good ones” in ESPN the Magazine last month. It is an accusation he made privately long before that – even to reporters covering the team – and yet now he has waved off all further discussion.
Now, the coach has to bear some responsibility for the initial racial questions because of the way Kelly so quickly forgave, and then handsomely rewarded, Riley Cooper after the n-word incident two summers ago. But it’s one thing to harbor doubts about a person and quite another to air the issue in a national forum.
McCoy is no longer an Eagle because he was not worth the salary-cap hit his huge contract required, because he is beginning the downside of his career, and because – above all – he is gutless. No other word fits a man who pins the racist label on a person, then ducks for cover.
Kelly branded McCoy “wrong” for the comment when the coach finally addressed it last week, and then he tacked on a piece of valuable wisdom.
“You start chasing perception,” he said,” and you’ve got a long life ahead of you, son.”
Translation: He doesn’t care what McCoy thinks. Nor should he.
If McCoy really believes that Kelly treated him differently than the white players, he needs to provide his proof now, not refuse to answer questions and not shun Kelly. The fact that McCoy hasn’t returned the coach’s calls is another act of cowardice.
DeSean Jackson is no better. He is a permanent drain on good will in the locker room, a me-first showboat who has never grasped the concept of hard work. Last week, he said he couldn’t make the first week of OTAs in Washington because he was “busy.” Two days later, he showed up in Cleveland for the NBA Eastern Conference clincher, preening in photos while flashing his trademark gang gesture.
Jackson is tangible proof that talent is not enough in sports. The Redskins were 4-12 last year, his numbers were down from the previous season in almost every major category and he saw no need to put in some extra work with his teammates. The Eagles may have missed his explosiveness last season, but they did not miss his attitude.
Kelly has had sole control of personnel for only five months now, but it is growing clearer by the day that he has a distinct prototype. His players do not need to be black or white or green or purple. They need to be smart, honorable and committed to the common cause of winning football games.
LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are none of those things. And that’s the only reason why they will never play on Chip Kelly’s team again.
In a parallel universe, Mark Sanchez is every bit the quarterback the Jets thought he would be when they burned the fifth pick in the 2009 draft on him. The 80 interceptions since then never happened. The butt fumble is pure fiction. And the fatal throw that ended last season for the Eagles is nothing more than an ugly rumor.
That Sanchez is living an impossible dream becomes more obvious with every season that passes. He has failed repeatedly, often in spectacular fashion, and yet here he is in his seventh season competing for the starting job on a team with serious playoff aspirations.
It makes no sense, none of it. And Sanchez’ presence on the field last week at the beginning of OTAs merely served to underscore the absurdity of it all. Why did Chip Kelly bring him back after Sanchez screwed up a promising 2014 season? What does Kelly see that we don’t?
Now, after my bold prediction last week that Sam Bradford would emerge as the next big star in Philadelphia, I cannot deny my sudden concern when the oft-injured quarterback showed up for OTAs with a cumbersome brace on his left knee. And equally worrisome was the sight of Sanchez working with the first team.
Bradford is not just the best hope for the Eagles after the failed effort to draft Marcus Mariota last month; he is the only hope. Sanchez may have movie-star good looks and a slick public persona, but he is not a good starting NFL quarterback. The numbers don’t lie. A career passer rating of 74 is not the formula for winning playoff games, let alone Super Bowls.
Kelly was unusually coy last week when he said he’d name the best quarterback in camp as the starter this year, but he didn’t commit $13 million this season to a backup. He expects Bradford to heal fast enough to claim that role. And he expects Sanchez to do what the perennial backup does best – hold the clipboard on the sidelines.
If the coach is wrong – if Sanchez is the starter at any point in 2015 – we will all wish we lived in the parallel universe where Mark Sanchez permanently resides. Because reality is going to be painful.
Ruben Amaro Jr., the GM who led a champion to last place and emptied half a ballpark in the process, turned his attention away from ruining the Phillies for a few minutes last week to insult the few remaining fans of his wretched baseball team.
Amaro said he was tired of fans “bitching and complaining” about his plan to develop players, suggesting that these fools don’t understand the intricacies of baseball. Of course, that comment suggests that he does – a difficult argument to make from the depths of last place.
As usual, Amaro was hopelessly wrong on all counts. The issue is not whether he should promote top pitching prospect Aaron Nola all the way from Reading to Philadelphia. It is that the GM should be open-minded enough to consider all options.
Remember, this is an organization that waited too long to promote Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and especially Carlos Ruiz before reaping the benefits of their undeniable skills. They were 25, 25 and 27, respectively, before they made significant contributions to the Phillies.
Nola is 22, with 21 starts in the minor leagues, which may not be enough experience to make such a big jump, but the move would hardly be unprecedented. Chris Sale of the White Sox was 21, with 12 minor-league starts; Tim Lincecum was 23 with 13 starts when he joined the Giants; and Michael Wacha was 22 with 18 starts when the Cardinals promoted him.
The problem with Amaro is that he entertains no possibilities outside of his own narrow definition of what to do. He is the anti-Chip Kelly. He follows the so-called book, even though there is no evidence that this approach actually works. Name one Phillies whose promotion through the minors has been seamless and logical. Dom Brown? Darin Ruf? Anyone?
Eventually, Amaro apologized for his insult. He said he was a fan himself. Now our best hope is that he’ll soon be sitting in the stands with all the other fans, where he can do no more damage to our baseball team.
And finally . . .
• Either Evan Mathis is getting some very bad advice right, or he’s lost his mind. Blowing off the OTAs because he doesn’t think a $5.5-million salary is enough makes no sense. First of all, he signed the contract. And second, alienating Chip Kelly is never a good idea. Mathis’ agent is Drew Rosenhaus. Next question?
• Tim Tebow finally spoke last week, 39 days after he became an Eagle. He said he had forgotten how much fun football was, how he was just trying to fit in, and how he hoped to improve his accuracy. Zzzzzz. At this point, Tebowmania II is starting to look like another really bad sequel.
• Maikel Franco made a play on a dribbler down the third-base line last week that only two other Phillies could have made – Mike Schmidt and Scott Rolen. If Franco ever finds a way to make consistent contact at the plate, he’s going to be a special player.
• That amazing Allen Iverson documentary on Showtime apparently won the ex-Sixer his first endorsement deal in years – socks. That’s right. The Answer will be hawking Stance athletic footwear on a TV near you soon. Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere.
• For one brief moment, the dramatic arrests of 14 FIFA officials amid allegations of widespread corruption within the organization made soccer seem interesting. Fortunately, the feeling quickly passed.