March 07, 2016
Sam Bradford signed a two-year contract with the Eagles last week, thereby proving that he likes playing in Philadelphia and that I am an idiot.
Now, many fans will say they didn’t need the quarterback’s new deal to confirm my stupidity, but please allow me a moment to explain my unfortunate recent “guarantee” that he would leave. In retrospect, it was horribly misguided, but only because of circumstances no one could have foreseen.
First of all, Bradford never – not for a second – gave the impression that he liked the pressure of the Eagles’ job, or new coach Doug Pederson, or restored GM Howie Roseman, or the porous offensive line, or the weak receiving corps, or anything else. The logical assumption was that there was no home-team advantage.
Secondly, there was not a single so-called football insider who predicted that Bradford – and his mega-agent, Tom Condon – would ever accept a two-year contract. At 28, with six years’ experience in the NFL, Bradford was supposed to be getting his ultimate payday. Even at $36 million, with $26 million guaranteed, he did not.
And thirdly, Roseman broke his pattern of embracing his own players and shunning Chip Kelly’s not only by doing the deal, but also by offering an above-market price. Ex-president Joe Banner taught Roseman never to pay more than you have to, and his protégé followed that advice without exception, until now.
In the end, the biggest revelation of the agreement is that Bradford wanted to be an Eagle far more than the team wanted him. On my WIP radio show last Friday, he said he had no interest in leaving Philadelphia because of the bond he had developed with his teammates and the inspiring demands of the job here.
So why didn’t he preach his love for the Eagles before signing the new deal? Simply put, it was bad business. Roseman even admitted that he had no idea about the quarterback’s determination to stay here until after the contract was signed. Bradford is a very good poker player.
The shocking brevity of the agreement is not exactly a testimonial to the Eagles’ confidence in Bradford, nor was Roseman’s stammering response when he was asked if his $36-million man was a franchise quarterback. All you really need to know is, the GM didn’t say yes.
As for the Roseman’s change of approach by bringing back one of Chip Kelly’s acquisitions, Roseman said: “I don’t care who found the guy. If he’s a good player, let’s roll.”
Uh, let’s not roll, yet. The truth is, Roseman has his own job security to worry about, and a losing season under his handpicked coach and a new quarterback could have made his second tour of duty as GM a very short one. If Roseman ever wants to keep his dream job of running an NFL team, he needs to win now.
That’s why Roseman was willing to give Bradford a deal no team would have offered to a quarterback with mediocre career statistics and a history of major injuries. It’s why, once Condon agreed to only two years, it was inevitable that this marriage of convenience would happen after all.
Bradford loves playing in Philadelphia, especially for $18 million a year. The Eagles are reasonably happy to have him back, if only because the commitment is short and he gives them the best chance of winning in 2016. Hey, who knows now? The Eagles may even prevail in the weak NFC East next season.
But I do not guarantee it. After the Bradford fiasco, all of my guarantees have expired.
With each atrocious loss, the undercurrent of discontent among Sixers fans grows louder. Brett Brown is a terrible NBA coach. His 45-181 record is historically bad. His teams are disorganized and uninspired. His young players are not developing. He needs to go.
No, he doesn’t. Brown waited nine years in San Antonio for his chance to be an NBA coach, and now he’s been biding his time three more seasons for the same opportunity. Actually, Brown is not coaching an NBA team right now – not even close – and he should not be held responsible for the mess that his bosses have created.
It has become increasingly maddening to hear fans blame Brown for this third consecutive season of failure. Somehow, Brown is supposed to win with a journeyman point guard, no shooting guard and a dysfunctional front court populated by top draft picks whose skills do not blend at all.
The Sixers look like a team composed by a stat guy because they are exactly that, the product of analytics devotee Sam Hinkie, whose only goal has been to accumulate talent. Hinkie has shown no interest in building an actual team; much like his billionaire boss Joshua Harris, he is committed only to acquiring assets.
Brett Brown is a smart man – too smart to reveal his true feelings about the basketball experiment he has chosen to oversee. He admitted last week on my WIP radio show that this third year has been the most challenging because his players are becoming increasingly accustomed to losing.
To those fans arguing that Brown knew what he was getting himself into when he took the job, I say no, he didn’t. No team in sports history has ever committed itself to tanking for three straight seasons, and there was no reason for him to think that would happen here.
And to those fans fed up with all the losing, place the blame where it belongs – on the process, and on the mad scientist behind it.
If Sixers fans really want progress, they will clamor for the departure of the person most responsible for this disgrace of an NBA team – Sam Hinkie, not Brett Brown.
The story should inspire rage, but it no longer does. Hazing has been a part of the sports culture forever, the boys-will-be-boys mentality that has always been associated with athletes. Bullying has become a national cause in the past few years, but it cannot penetrate the ritual of hazing on sports teams.
One of the worst recent cases surfaced last week when three senior football players at Conestoga High School were charged with penetrating a freshman with a broom handle. This heinous act happened on a Thursday, when coach John Vogan had a tradition of leaving the locker room open without supervision to the players.
Vogan was suspended, of course, but somehow he has survived for 15 years as football coach with this lax approach. Imagine if a teacher did the same thing in a classroom once a week, allowed the kids to make their own rules without repercussion? It would never happen. The jock world is different, less evolved. Bullying is OK there, as long as it is in the spirit of team bonding.
The three players were charged with assault, unlawful restraint and making terroristic threats, but not with a sex offense because the Chester County DA, Thomas Hogan, “didn’t think it was a sex crime.” Apparently, the fact that the team called it “No-Gay Thursday” was not sufficient evidence of the players’ intent.
The Conestoga case is a compelling example of the disconnect between what authorities are saying and what they are willing to do. They rant endlessly about the bullying epidemic, but when they have a chance to take dramatic action against the criminals – yes, criminals – they inevitably pull their punch.
Those three players need to spend some time in a jail cell, and the coach should do so, too, for enabling such outrageous behavior. How many more of these nauseating cases will there be before someone stands up to the bullies, once and for all?
And finally ...
• When Brayden Schenn got a hat trick last week, 80-year-old Flyers fan Anne Duggan responded by throwing onto the ice a leopard-print bra. When I asked her what she planned to do the next time a Flyer got three goals in a game, she said: “I’m gonna throw my thong.” I’m not joking. She actually said that.
• Claude Giroux is a very good hockey player, and a very ineffective captain. Throughout the three years he has worn the “C” on his jersey, the Flyers have come out flat at the worst times, including last Thursday’s pitiful loss to Edmonton. Giroux is just not a leader; there is no shame in that. Now someone needs to tell him so. Anybody?
• Maikel Franco is doing everything he can to wake up the snoozing Phillies fan base. Last week, he hit two moon shots during exhibition games, and before that, the young slugger shattered the window of teammate Freddy Galvis’ car with a tape-measure drive. Want to see more? Good seats – very good seats – are available.
• Remember the name Neal Peskind. He’s the Marriott executive who – according to a bartender – decided to share with his co-workers, in public, the tape of Erin Andrews that led to the $75-million lawsuit being heard now in Nashville. In the land of the stupid, there can only be one king. His name is Neal Peskind.
• So now police have found a knife on the property where O.J. Simpson lived when his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and waiter Ron Goldman were killed? Shocking. Hey, there’s no chance Simpson actually committed those murders, is there?