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February 08, 2016

Sam Bradford’s days with Eagles are guaranteed over

Sam Bradford will not be an Eagle next season. I guarantee it.

Despite the lack of an established quarterback, the team will not re-sign him to a long-term contract, and it will not place the franchise tag on him, either. In a few weeks, Bradford will be free to sign a deal with any team in the NFL. His legacy with the Eagles will be one lost season.

How can I be so sure of this? Well, after 40 years in the media, I have an advanced degree in sports logic. If you follow my thinking with an open mind, the next 500 words should convince you I’m right.

The first place to look for clues of the Eagles’ intentions is the new (and old) power broker in the organization, Howie Roseman. There are very few people in sports easier to read that Roseman, whose decisions are always – without exception – designed to place himself in the most favorable light.

That’s why the team kept first-round bust Danny Watkins for so long, why Roseman led a public campaign to justify another first-round disaster, Marcus Smith; and why he never brings up his worst calamity, the Dream Team debacle. Since he toppled Joe Banner from power, Roseman’s only goal is to make himself look good.

In fact, in his first month back as the still-uncrowned GM, he has already signed Vinny Curry, Zach Ertz and Lane Johnson to big new contracts, with Fletcher Cox nearing the biggest deal of all. Those four players represent the best draft decisions Roseman has made as GM, among countless other misfires.

Meanwhile, Sam Bradford has no connection to Roseman, who was in exile last year when Kelly traded Nick Foles (another Roseman favorite) and a second-round pick to get the oft-injured quarterback. Bradford is Kelly’s guy, and that affiliation will be a pivotal factor in the decision to let him go.

The most galling part of this already-insulting off-season has been the way Roseman weaseled his way back into power, conspiring with owner Jeffrey Lurie to orchestrate a charade over who would be running the personnel side of the organization after Kelly’s abrupt banishment. Roseman is in charge. We all know that now.

Last week, a far less docile Roseman than the puppy dog who appeared at the Doug Pederson news conference on Jan. 19 responded to the news that the team had suspended its search for a personnel guru by assuring everybody that he and Pittsburgh castoff Tom Donohue had it covered. Yeah, right.

The last clue in this puzzle over Sam Bradford – the defining one, really – was provided a few days ago by Pederson himself when he told Derrick Gunn of Comcast-Sportsnet: “There are some good quarterbacks in this draft. I’d love to be able to pick one up, develop him, and eventually he becomes your guy over time.”

Two weeks earlier, Pederson had called Bradford “a perfect fit” for his version of the West Coast offense and said he was “looking forward to working with him in the spring.” The Eagles aren’t about to commit up to $100 million for Bradford while the new coach is pining for a young guy he can groom.

So what happened in those 14 days that caused Pederson to back off Bradford so far? Could it be that he talked to the guy making the decisions, and was informed that there will be as few reminders of Chip Kelly on the 2016 roster as possible. Did Roseman tell Pederson to forget about Bradford?

Duh.

Call everyone you know and let them know that Sam Bradford will not be the Eagles quarterback in 2016. You’ll look like a genius a few weeks from now. I guarantee it.

***

The NFL really, really wanted Super Bowl 50 to be special, a milestone event in the proud history of America’s top sports extravaganza. Instead, the league got a boring, poorly played game featuring a washed-up former hero and a not-ready-for-primetime young superstar.

Yes, Peyton Manning will leave football as a champion for the second time in his career, but he was merely an afterthought in Denver’s defensive masterpiece. Here’s the only stat you need to know: The Broncos managed only 194 yards on offense, 50 less than the lowest-scoring previous Super-Bowl winner.

In other words, Manning didn’t blow the game. Cam Newton secured that distinction with an abysmal performance, especially coming after his MVP season. There are kind ways to describe what happened to the quarterback, but this column is not really known for its genteel choice of words. So, I’ll say it. He choked.

The tape doesn’t lie. Late in the game, Newton flinched after fumbling the ball, hesitating too long to recover Carolina’s last chance to rally for a victory. Why didn’t he show his usual aggressiveness on the biggest play of the season? Why did he give up while he still had a chance? Because he choked, that’s why.

And then he showed his immaturity by refusing to answer the simplest questions before bolting from the post-game news conference. You can’t dab all season – the term for his trademark arm-bending, head-bobbing celebration -- and then clam up when adversity strikes. But he did, because the stage got too big for him.

The stage will never be too big for Peyton Manning, who somehow found a way to plug Budweiser during his shameless curtain call. Manning was a terrific player over most of his 18-year career, but those halcyon days are gone now. The only thing he still excels at is endorsing products, especially his own brand. It’s time to go.

In the end, Super Bowl 50 was a major disappointment. The game lacked drama, the halftime show was weird, the officials were overzealous, the commercials tried too hard and the two biggest stars came up small.

Hey, you can’t win them all. Not even the NFL.

***

Collaborative is the newest word employed by sports teams trying to avoid the truth. It is a shameless and insulting way for teams to dodge the question of who has the most power, who is making the most important decisions.

Jeffrey Lurie has been using the word for weeks now because he doesn’t have the courage to tell fans that Howie Roseman is back in charge. The Eagles owner would like his customers to believe that everyone in the front office agrees on everything.

And now the Sixers are selling the same nonsense. Last week, in one of his more frequent public appearances, GM Sam Hinkie explained that the trade that brought back Ish Smith was not made at the insistence of new director of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo.

No, not at all. It was – here it comes – a collaborative decision.

Hinkie let Smith go at the end of last season for nothing and then had to use two second-round draft picks to re-acquire the point guard from New Orleans six months later. Since Colangelo had joined the Sixers three weeks before the trade, some cynics actually concluded that the new executive was behind the move.

These cynics are hilarious, aren’t they? They know nothing about collaboration. They actually believe CEOs in major companies have more power than their underlings, that decisions are made against the wishes of the naysayers in a corporation. These crazy cynics think everyone doesn’t always agree.

A couple of days after Hinkie stopped crowing about collaboration, Yahoo sports reported that Colangelo has final say on all organizational decisions, not Hinkie. In other words, if Colangelo doesn’t like the next first-round draft pick favored by Hinkie, Colangelo gets to make the choice.

The Sixers have not yet commented on that report. They’re probably collaborating on a statement right now.

And finally …

• There’s no way Roger Goodell would ever equate playing football to sitting on the couch. The NFL commissioner makes $44 million a year. He’s not going to say something that stupid. . . . What? He did say it? . . . Well, that proves you don’t have to be smart to be rich and famous.

• For those few fans who still hold out hope that Mark Sanchez will start at QB for the Eagles next season, consider this comment last week by ex-Jet teammate Bart Scott: “If I would have had Alex Smith, I would have won two Super Bowls, possibly three. I mean, I went to the AFC championship (game twice) with Mark Sanchez.”

• If you’re ready to invest in a Philadelphia sports jersey during this era of failure, the decision has become easy. Shayne Gostisbehere is exciting, likeable, extremely talented and 22 years old. He also has a cool nickname – The Ghost. That’s No. 53 in orange and black. You cannot go wrong.

• The Phillies medical staff has never been held accountable for mistake after mistake over the past decade, including bad decisions on Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and countless others. Now you can add Jesse Biddle to the list. The former top prospect was traded to Pittsburgh last week after pitching in 2015 with an injured arm that required off-season surgery. What’s up, Doc?

• Chip Kelly lost his job as Eagles coach because he was a no-show at owner Jeffrey Lurie’s holiday party, but Kelly did attend the Playboy party in his new place of business, San Francisco, last week. Come on, Chip. What do Playmates have that Jeff Lurie doesn’t?