Photo by: Jeff Fusco.
In case you haven’t noticed, Philadelphia has a sports team ownership problem.
It took last week’s Eagles front office fiasco to get me thinking about this. And the Eagles are the one viable team in this town right now.
Jeffrey Lurie has now owned the Eagles for 20 years. Not only is there no championship of which to speak, but now I’m very leery of the direction this owner provides towards that end. When confronted with in-house bickering of his lieutenants, Lurie caved like a pre-fab house in a stiff wind. His anointing of Chip Kelly as the main architect of the franchise and demotion of Howie Roseman from general manager to vice president of shoulder pads, or some such thing, was not exactly generalship. It was a panic move from a weak leader.
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In a story late Monday night, the New York Times’ Michael Barbaro reported on a conversation “overheard” recently. In it, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that “these Philadelphia fans, they are the worst in America.” This got a lot of play in the media, but I think much of the coverage has missed a wider point.
Barbaro continues in the Times piece:
He recalled that when he took to the field with Mr. Jones at a previous Cowboys game against the New York Giants, who play their home games in New Jersey: “I didn’t get booed. Giant fans waved, said hello, asked for autographs, didn’t give me a hard time.”
“But these guys?” he added of Eagles fans.
Oh, Giants fans. I actually thought better of you.
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Well, Chris Christie really means it when he says he’s a Cowboys fan. Here he is Sunday, celebrating the team’s playoff victory with owner Jerry Jones:
That generated a fair amount of, er, comment on social media:
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It was not a good year for Philadelphia sports. The Eagles lost a playoff game a few days into the new year, and the only other Philadelphia team to make the playoffs was the Flyers — who lost in the first round. This fall’s Eagles started 9-3 and missed the playoffs, the Sixers gutted their roster intentionally in order to be bad and the Union missed a wide open net in the final minutes and lost in extra time of the U.S. Open Cup. And the Wings moved and became the New England Black Wolves! Ugh.
But it was a good year for sports GIFs. One was Twitter’s introduction of inline GIFs in tweets. Never before was it so easy (for me, at least) to share stupid little sports moments with the world instantly. It became so easy to share GIFs one of mine was retweeted an obscene amount of times.
The Buccaneers’ Danny Lansanah preventing the Steelers Le’Veon Bell from making a first down gesture was undoubtedly the sports GIF of the year. But there’s no way to connect this to Philadelphia — Lansanah went to Harrisburg, which as close as I can get it — so it will have to remain outside the scope of this column.
Despite the bad year for Philadelphia sports, there was no shortage of great sports GIFs. If this sounds familiar, it’s pretty much the same spiel I did in 2012, when I last did this feature. It has not been a great few years for Philly sports. But the GIFs this year were, perhaps, better than ever. Presenting the best ones I made in 2014.
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Chip Kelly with service members during the team’s Military Appreciation Day in 2013. Photograph by Matt Rourke, AP
Schools were let out the day Army Sergeant Joshua Lengstorf returned home, and the kids, waving small American flags, joined the rest of the community along the side of the road.
His body was flown from Afghanistan into Eugene, Oregon, where a police escort waited to assist in the hour-plus drive south to Douglas County. Businesses in the neighboring towns posted signs of support in their windows. Locals lined the streets. The closer they got to the heart of Roseburg, the larger the crowd became.
“We went through some of the small towns that he lived in, and it was just packed,” says Josh’s widow, Jesse. “It was that way all the way down and even to the funeral home. I think that’s when we realized that this is a big deal.”
Some 500 people gathered to pay their respects on that day in January 2010. Among them was then–University of Oregon coach Chip Kelly.
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Photo Credit: Benny Sieu – USA Today
Read Mike Missanelli on why Chip Kelly’s gaudy numbers might not get the Eagles to the postseason.
Since Chip Kelly is heralded by the Philadelphia media and fan base as a genius who revolutionized football, I decided to take a look at Kelly compared to his peers.
The best way, maybe the only way, to rate NFL head coaches is by wins and losses. With that criterion, many in Philadelphia will be surprised to find out that Kelly is not even the best of his class. That distinction goes to another guy with Philadelphia ties; former Temple head coach Bruce Arians, who took over the Arizona Cardinals job the same year Kelly took over the Eagles job. In fact, Kelly has the exact same record as the man he followed as Eagles head coach, the much-derided Andy Reid.
Here is the win loss record of the seven men who became the new coach of their respective teams in 2013:
Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals 21-9
Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles 19-11
Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs 19-11
Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers 17-13
Doug Marrone, Buffalo Bills 14-16
Mark Trestman, Chicago Bears 13-17
Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars 7-24
Of those seven teams, only Arians’ team is assured a playoff spot with two games yet to play.
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Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco
Read Larry Mendte break down the numbers showing Chip Kelly is one of the bestter second-year coaches in the NFL.
The Eagles might likely miss the NFL playoffs this year, and the legend of the fall might be the very same guy who built the team into a playoff contender.
Such is life in the NFL, where one can be riding high one week, then shot down with one loss on a chilly Sunday night. And that loss, against the hated Dallas Cowboys, at home no less, has had such a chilling effect on the fan base; it may as well be the Ice Age around here.
Miracles do happen, however. If the Eagles win their last two games, they would be 11-5 – a better regular season record than last year, by the way. And they could very well get lucky with a few well timed losses amongst the other contenders. But until that happens, fans are left in a stew of blame. How could a team that, for an entire season, carried such hopes for greatness, fall so flat at the end? And who is most responsible?
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Last night the law firm of Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy P.C. and Philadelphia Eagle Jeremy Maclin – along with his foundation JMac Gives Back – teamed up to collect more than 600 toys for Little Smiles Pa. In an evening filled with holiday cheer, city leaders and business executives from across the region gathered at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse in Center City. During the evening the Eagles’ “Green Magic” bus arrived with a donation of 300 toys, which Zarwin Baum and Maclin will deliver to Shriners Hospital for Children on Thursday. The remaining toys will be distributed by Little Smiles Pa. to other area hospitals.
Photos after the jump »
Jim Kenney, Chris Christie
Like most people who were tweeting from the Linc on Sunday night, I’m going to assume that Councilman Jim Kenney wasn’t putting much thought into his 140 characters.
An Eagles fan, the possible mayoral candidate was annoyed when he spotted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie snuggling up to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in the skybox. Here’s what that looks like:
Admittedly, part of me likes that a Philly politician would not only publish those tweets but defend them. Councilman Kenney – who has a history of Twitter tantrums – didn’t take them down, explaining, “I have a big nose and he has a fat ass. Just as life deals you.”
But, as much as I enjoy Philadelphia’s unique brand of feisty real-talk, I can’t help but think the same thing I think every time someone attacks Christie for his weight: Kenney sounds like an idiot, and he probably needs a hug.
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