This Thanksgiving, Ferguson Makes Football Seem Small

National Guard stand in front of the Ferguson Police Department Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Missouri's governor ordered hundreds more state militia into Ferguson on Tuesday, after a night of protests and rioting over a grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a case that has inflamed racial tensions in the U.S.

National Guard stand in front of the Ferguson Police Department Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. Missouri’s governor ordered hundreds more state militia into Ferguson on Tuesday, after a night of protests and rioting over a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a case that has inflamed racial tensions in the U.S.

On Monday night, three days before a colossal NFL game between the Eagles and Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, a major news story began playing out making the game seem pretty small.

The situation in Ferguson involves all of us. We can’t hide from it and it can’t be swept behind a wall of conversation about a football game.

What I do on 97.5 FM The Fanatic is sports talk, but it’s really life talk — conversation among people of different races, creed and colors. And when an issue like this explodes in front of us, it is our duty to talk on it. Conversation fosters understanding; it’s the only thing that can foster understanding because it’s the only way we can hear and attempt to understand another’s viewpoint. So to the people who tweet me with nonsense like “I thought this was a sports station; let’s talk sports,” I have the following message: Open your mind, grow and progress, if just for the sake of your children and future generations who should live in a society that’s not always at odds.

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The Big Lesson I Learned from Getting Injured

Dan McQuade spiking the ball, kind of

Photo by Mark Stehle, Invision

I accelerated to keep up, and then I felt it pull.

Though I hadn’t done much in the game, I was feeling pretty good. I never played real, organized football, but I had a long “career” of touch football in the street, tackle football at the playground and flag football in intramural leagues. But I hadn’t played any type of football in 10 years. And here I was, playing in a charity flag football game at Lincoln Financial Field.

The game was set up by NRG Energy, the energy company headquartered in West Windsor, New Jersey. NRG was nice enough to invite me to play in the game and donate a thousand dollars to a charity of my choice (One Step Away, Philadelphia’s homeless newspaper). Dave Spadaro announced. Swoop cheered us on.

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Ed Rendell Is OK with NFL Game Being Moved This Time

I tweeted the above joke yesterday. In 2010, a Vikings-Eagles game in Philadelphia was moved to Tuesday night because of snow. Rendell fumed over it, and the incident somehow led to a book by Rendell, A Nation of Wusses.

They’ve gotten quite a bit of snow this week in upstate New York, and Jets-Bills — originally scheduled for Sunday in Buffalo — has been moved to Monday at Detroit’s Ford Field. The NFL made the decision yesterday.

And, thanks to NJ.com’s Dom Cosentino, my tweet is no longer just a joke: We now know Ed Rendell’s feelings on the move. He’s okay with it this time!

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It’s 2014. Time to Stop Hazing.

Central Bucks School Board Member Geryld McMullen (left), Dr. David Weitzel, Superintendent for Central Bucks School District (middle) and Paul Faulner, School Board President listen to public comment on the recent hazing scandal which caused the cancellation of the 2014 football season with two games left.

Central Bucks School Board Member Geryld McMullen (left), Dr. David Weitzel, Superintendent for Central Bucks School District (middle) and Paul Faulner, School Board President listen to public comment on the recent hazing scandal which caused the cancellation of the 2014 football season with two games left.

I was a three-sport athlete in high school and played a Division I college sport, so I am not new to the concept of “team bonding.”

Athletic teams having the most success are usually the teams with talent, yes, but also ones that rely heavily on synergy — weaving together a team of individuals into the one, collective winning force. But where and when hazing rituals became part of such team building is unclear. And the recent allegations of such rituals at Central Bucks West High in Doylestown have tainted that institution’s proud football program forever.
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Central Bucks West H.S. Cancels Football Season After Hazing Reports

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The superintendent of the Central Bucks School District announced Thursday that the remainder of Central Bucks West High School’s football season has been canceled. The decision to cancel the rest of the season, Superintendent David Weitzel wrote, came after reports of hazing on the team, including rookies being forced to grab other players genitals. C.B. West was supposed to play rival C.B. East tonight in its homecoming game.

Other players were reportedly involved in waterboarding, per police, but the process was not quite the same as the torture: Players had towels draped over their head and were then lead into the shower.

“Appropriate team-building activities cannot be permitted to spiral out of control and become hazing,” Weitzel wrote. “As educators, we must do what is right for all of our students, who deserve to be treated with dignity and with respect.”

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Boyz II Men to Perform at Halftime During Eagles vs. Giants

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Philadelphia’s own Boyz II Men will make an exciting appearance at this Sunday’s Eagles vs. Giants game. R&B hit-makers and Philly natives Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris, and Nate Morris will perform during halftime on Sunday, October 12th. The Grammy-winning group will put on a medley of their biggest hits and their newest tunes. Boyz II Men’s latest album, Collide, drops Tuesday, October 21st.

It looks like the Eagles are already warming up for Boyz II Men’s performance:

Buzz Bissinger Claims Vindication on Nick Foles

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Picture of Buzz Bissinger by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, via her Twitter feed. @SabrinaRErdely

Once upon a time, Buzz Bissinger didn’t seem to think much of Nick Foles. That time was July, and Buzz was writing for the cover of Philadelphia magazine:

But unless he stops being chickenshit and goes into the middle, he will never guide the Eagles to the place that only tantalizes us. We are tired, Nick. We are already dependent on you. So man up to be the man.

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Would You Let Your Son Play Football?

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So: Are you going to let your son play football?

I’m not. And if you’re like growing numbers of parents, you won’t either: Pop Warner participation rates dropped almost 10 percent between 2010 and 2012. Why? Because we love our sons, and we are worried that the rough, tumble, and hard knocks of a football game might turn their brains into soup.

There’s a name for the soup: CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It’s a brain-wasting disease notable for producing depression, sharp personality changes, and erratic, even violent behavior among those who suffer from it — and those who suffer from it seem to be disproportionately people who hit and get hit for a living: Football players. I’ve written about it before, noting that it seemed connected to the suicides of Penn lineman Owen Thomas and former Eagles standout Andre Waters, and asking whether it might’ve had anything to do with the murder charges against former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

It’s worth revisiting now because of three reports that emerged in recent weeks: Read more »

Can’t a Guy Get a Beer in This Town Without Freaking Football Blaring in the Background?

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During football season, Eagles talk — and also Eagles shouting, Eagles yelling and Eagles screaming — hangs in the air with a ubiquity rivaled only by oxygen. It dominates your television, your radio, your phones both smart and dumb, your already-fucked-up Facebook feed. It soaks into workplace asides, sidewalk encounters, waiting-room chats, barroom blather. It is everywhere. And for a large percentage of Philadelphians, this is an invigorating and compelling reality. We’ve waited all year, and it’s finally here! E-A-G…

For a much smaller portion of the population, however, the return of the National Football League spells hell. Living in Philly and rooting for a team other than the Eagles is an interesting existence, as we’ve recently discussed. But what about those who detest not only the Eagles, but the entire NFL and the controversial culture it’s spawned?

Joey Sweeney, founder and editor of the long-running city blog Philebrity, wants you.

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100 Percent of High Schoolers Attend Football Game Sober

Ah, high school football. The tradition, the camaraderie, the breathalyzer tests you have to pass to get in. At a Phoenixville Area High School football game over the weekend, students attending the game without their parents had to pass a breath test in order to be admitted.

This is not a new policy for school events: Routinely in many districts, students are tested for alcohol in order to attend dances or other extracurricular activities. This is the first time tests were done at a Phoenixville football game, but in a statement officials say the district has done it for other events. Fox got details on the reasoning for the tests: “Administrators declined to talk on camera, but tell FOX 29 they heard some students were going to the game drunk, so they took action.”

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