Healing Philadelphia (The Miracle Of Dougie P. & Nick)

Nick Foles scoring on The Philly Special

@MtAiryPhil

In the beginning they were one. They came from the industrial hardscrabble streets of Kensington, from the heavily Italian enclaves of South Philadelphia, some walked up from the North Philadelphia communities of the “Valley,” Brewerytown and Nicetown, others arrived via the trolley’s that connected West Philly to Lehigh Avenue via Girard Avenue and the Strawberry Mansion Bridge. They gathered on Sundays to watch their Philadelphia Eagles at the old Baker Bowl in 1933, Municipal Stadium in 1935 and on to Connie Mack ’40, Franklin Field ’58, Veterans Stadium ’72 and finally their current sparkling state of the art home, Lincoln Financial Field in 2003. They were one, and they expected their team and the players who donned the Kelly Green and White to reflect the personality of the city. Tough and gritty, unyielding, never too tired or busy for a good fight win or lose. That the Eagles did. While not always aesthetically successful, (aside from the 48-49 consecutive NFL Titles and the 1960 team that conquered the young dynasty of the 60’s Packers), the Eagles were a celebration of mediocrity. Still the city gathered en masse to root as one for their Philadelphia Eagles.

I don’t know when the poison set in. I don’t know why the great divide. I can point to many reasons and we’ll examine those. Suffice it is to say, the fan base that turned on their TV’s Sunday night for Super Bowl LII, the faithful that traveled to the frostbitten mecca of Minneapolis and those Philly expatriates who viewed from afar were no longer the unified base that represented EAGLES football and swore undying allegiance. There were fractures, formed of years of just not being enough, unable to take that final step, to stand along side their NFC EAST DIVISION RIVALS on the grandest stage clutching Mr. Lombardi’s trophy. But this fan base needed healing, and for this surgery to be successful, and unification to occur, it was gonna take a championship. Nothing less would do.

What is this poison you ask?

It’s not always apparent. Difficult too to recognize the symptoms. Yeah, you’ll hear the delightful, often drunken recitation of the fight song, iconic in and of itself, sung with fervor at ANY event or venue in and around Philadelphia at any moment. It sounded of unity and never felt divisive, and nationally the Eagles fan base was viewed as a singular gang of things, not to be tarried with, but there was ALWAYS an underlying air of division borne of memories of past disaster, terrible draft picks, bad management, near bankruptcy, and the Andy Reid Era that begat Chip Kelly and bubbled over into a schism that would rival Game Of Thrones for it’s complexities.

There was the House of “Tradition.” Those Eagles lifer’s now creeping up on their 9th decade who remember Pete Pihos, the consecutive NFL Title shutouts and clung to the idea that this Eagles team and it’s players didn’t appreciate the opportunity the NFL afforded, seeing today’s players as ungrateful mercenaries bonded only by paychecks with the same signature.

There were the Rozelle Kids, those who watched the legendary Chuck Bednarik level Jim Taylor and deliver the NFL title to Franklin Field in the fall of 1960, still lamenting the trade that dispatched Hall Of Fame QB Sonny Jurgensen to the Washington Redskins and began a spiral of losing that would last over a decade and accompany the franchise to their beautiful new Veterans Stadium home, illuminated by “Snowball Santa” as the legend goes and a 42-3 Monday Night Football loss memorable only for the fact that the Eagles actually faced a 3rd and 49 and graced by fans circling the Vet carrying an inflatable dog bone to let the team know exactly how they felt about current roster.

Nick Foles and head coach Doug Pederson calling for “The Philly Special”

Then there was the Era Of Hope, those of us who met Dick Vermeil and his “rah rah” college coach enthusiasm that would infect the Delaware Valley and the locker room. That would carry a group of overachieving athletes to the brink of the world championship in 1980, only to experience that joyless Sunday in New Orleans that saw Ron Jaworski throw three beautiful passes (albeit to Oakland defenders) on the way to a heartbreaking defeat to a team they had defeated just weeks earlier. The Vermeil era would end with him crying “burnout” amidst an aging locker room and a roster mostly bereft of talent and not enough resources (due to trades for veterans) to replenish. This calamity would be further exacerbated by the near loss of the franchise to Arizona when the team’s owner and shepherd, Leonard Tose, would gamble away his fortune in Atlantic City and narrowly avoid legendary infamy when Norman Braman bought him out with a pledge to keep the team in South Philly.

See where I’m going with this? Enough scars yet?

Well, this patient is going to get sicker and the symptoms more dramatically visible as the team would move into the era fondly known (by some) as “Buddy Ball.” Nothing Philadelphia had experienced in sports had prepared us for James David Ryan. Blustery, boisterous, and braggadocios, Buddy arrived to take over a moribund talentless roster that he would mold into arguably the NFL’S best defense of it’s time, accompanied by the mercurial talent of Randall Cunningham at QB, yet this team would not win a playoff game despite all the accolades Buddy would receive, and he would be ignominiously sacked in ’92 for Rich Kotite and the spirit would begin anew and with the birth of sports talk radio, create a further and deepening fissure among the fans that had begun to wonder, “will it ever be our turn” and now had an outlet to place blame, excoriate management almost daily and vocally, and finally, denigrate each other for their thoughts, ideas, and reasons why we hadn’t reached the promised land of Mr. Lombardi’s trophy and the accompanying parade.

These factions were dug in now, and the pain and division would deepen as a procession of great players abandoned ship in the 90’s led by Hall Of Fame DE Reggie White, perennial All-Pro’s Seth Joyner and Keith Jackson, and lesser lights yet major contributors like Clyde Simmons, Eric Allen and Keith Byars made their departures without either compensation or replacement.

There was a light at the end of the ’90’s tunnel however, his name was Andrew Walter Reid, and he arrived along with the new QB Messiah, Donovan McNabb, to breathe life into this city. Andy Reid would ignite the fuse of the football fury with repeated forays deep into the NFL playoffs, yet would start the worst fire among the fans with his seeming unwillingness to yield to the obvious, his intractable nature and style would create the biggest and most visible wound in Eagles Nation to date. I won’t tell you how it ended. You already know if you’re reading this.

Pain and suffering.

Sleepless nights after burning and inexplicable, very often unexplainable losses versus lesser opponents, most of them at home that often left the city stunned and defeated as yet another dagger was driven deeply into our collective sports psyche, hearts, and minds. Some will say that the loss in Jacksonville at SUPER BOWL 39 was the backbreaker, the moment the fan base went into total divide as the EAGLES stood frozen in time and memory watching the clock ticking away on a season and game that seemed destined to bring home the title so thirsted for by the faithful.

I won’t go into the debacle that was the brief yet memorable reign of Chip Kelly. By now you’ve probably thrown you’re IPAD, chucked the newspaper, cancelled your subscription, and are wondering why I’m reminding you of the pain of this journey to Super Bowl LII and the miracle of Nicky Football, the football David who slew Goliath, squashed the dynasty of BELICHICK and BRADY, destroyed the Evil Empire of The House Of Kraft.

Yes, there was a healing Sunday night. Dougie P and “The Prodigal Son” Nick Foles performed a surgery unseen before in the history of this world. They reunited a fractured, wounded, often left for dead city of Eagles fans and their communities. There is no way to devalue what Doug Pederson and a stand-in QB accomplished in Minnesota. Today, we are one. No more sleepless nights. No more taunting by fans of the other NFC EAST franchises. Stand down, all of youse! Today, we are one. Doug Pederson and Nick Foles healed 58 years of suffering with 3 hours of unmatched tenacity, daring, and fearlessness that can’t be quantified in words.

But you can feel it. The city feels it. We can breathe. Today we are one. Again.

I don’t believe we’ll ever sink again to the depths that Dougie P and Nicky Football rescued us from. Hopefully not, that took nearly 60 years to accomplish. All I know for sure is that today, we are one. Wishes do come true. Even in Philadelphia, where for 58 years, our football dreams came to die. Thank you Doug. Thank you Nick. Thanks to my compadres amongst the faithful who rode this thing we live “til the wheels fell off” and beyond. Welcome to the recovery room. The surgery was successful. Let the healing begin.

@MtAiryPhil

“The Philly Special”

 

Elite NFL Quaterbacks

Eli Manning, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger

Ashley Wright 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sportswithashley/

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The quarterback position is one of the most challenging and vital positions in the NFL. It may also be one of the most analyzed positions. Arguably, the greatest debate that surrounds the quarterback is what makes them elite. Household names such as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have almost become immune to the debate however other quarterbacks such as Eli Manning and Joe Flacco have been questioned about their elite status.

When Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz suffered an ACL tear in a Week 13 win against the Los Angeles Rams many people thought their Super Bowl LII hopes were out of reach, some even thought they would lose the game. Nevertheless, Nick Foles stepped in and shocked majority of NFL fans. Not only did he win the game in Los Angeles but he has led the Eagles to Minneapolis where they will face Tom Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

In Minnesota Case Keenum took the place of Sam Bradford who suffered a knee injury in Week 1. Keenum may have had the most shocking success in the NFL this season. He led the Vikings to a 13-3 record, and the NFC championship game. The story here is without Nick Foles stepping into Carson Wentz’s place, and without Case Keenum filling in for Sam Bradford the Eagles and Vikings probably would not have enjoyed so much success. Is it possible that their incredible seasons now make them elite quarterbacks? Many NFL fans think Carson Wentz deserves to be in NFL MVP talks but what has he accomplished other than winning a divisional championship?

In the case of the proven quarterback such as Eli Manning, what does it take to make him elite? He is top ten in multiple categories including fourth quarter comebacks, touchdown passes, and passes completed. Manning also has four Pro Bowl selections, two Super Bowl rings with MVP honors to match them both, and he beat conceivably the best quarterback ever in Tom Brady in both championship seasons as a wild card in the playoffs. Even with all of his accomplishments he is oftentimes snubbed on elite quarterback lists. Joe Flacco is also a proven quarterback who is underappreciated when it comes to elite quarterback talk.  Flacco is a Super Bowl winning quarterback and I can see the argument coming in saying, “well the Raven’s defense carried Flacco to the Super Bowl.” If you look at the numbers, it isn’t true at all. When the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2013, their defense ranked in the middle of the league. They were 17th in yards per game, 10th in yards per play, and 20th in rushing yards per game. The Ray Lewis retirement journey may have been a major highlight, but Flacco played his best football during that playoff stretch. He finished the playoffs with 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Joe Montana is the only other quarterback to do that. I am not saying Flacco is the best quarterback, but he was the main reason the Ravens got to and won the Super Bowl. Granted he has not played nearly as good since his Super Bowl win but he has been riddled by injury much of the time.

So what does it take for a quarterback to be considered elite? Super Bowl wins? Touchdown passes? Conference championships? Individual records? Whatever it is…many deserving quarterbacks get overlooked when it comes to the debate.

Girl Chat Sports – Episode 40

300x300_11658322ICYMI: (@GirlChatSports) Jessika Ward is the guest for Episode 40 of Girl Chat Sports. Jessica is a broadcast journalist and sports reporter for FSU and FAMU. We learned yet another young woman’s love and upbringing in sports and how that tailored a love for journalism, asking questions and talking Sports!!! Jessika also now hosts her own show on YouTube called #JessikaWardTV. The GCS Ladies and Jessika discuss the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, as well as some of the other records that were broken and/or tied during the game. What happened to the Falcons the 2nd half? Is Kyle Shanahan the blame? Who took Tom Brady’s jersey and will anyone give James White the winning game ball he left behind? The difference between Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, and Melissa finally links Howie Long and Chris Long (DUH!!! smdh) and enjoys the time that Martellus and Michael Bennett were able to share post game interview. Now what about those commercials!!! SB 2017 came with some great commercials, and MANY with great meaning behind them (slight punch at the orange guy lol). What about the halftime show? Our thoughts on GAGA’s performance take? But lets really talk about what everyone wants to know, no not #ArmsoftheNFL *which we cover* BUT are the Simpsons really predicting major life events? Seahawks/Broncos SB, Twin Towers, Trump and now the Falcons/Patriots SB? We continue to monitor that one. And of course the latest top 5 of Women’s and Men’s NCAA hoops and a heart felt Ahhhhhhh moment. Go down to the link below and check out the show! 

Girl Chat Sports: Episode 40

Super Bowl: Falcons, Patriots set for final dance

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The final act is here.

The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons will face-off Sunday at 3:30 ET in Super Bowl LI.

This will be the ninth Super Bowl appearance in Patriots history, with Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick heading to their seventh Super Bowl together. Chuck Noll, Tom Landry nor Bill Walsh ever managed that.

Same for Brady, besting the likes of Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach and Joe Montana as arguably the best quarterback in NFL history.

The Patriots have experience,  their well-balanced, and, oh yea, they have a  guy by the name of Brady throwing the ball.

The Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 on that controversial play on the one-yard line by Pete Carroll that ended in a game-saving interception by Malcom Butler to secure the franchise another Super Bowl.

The Patriots are the experienced team coming in, but the Falcons have former Seahawks defensive coordinator  Dan Quinn, who has experience of his own. Quinn will head to his third Super Bowl in four years, his first as a head coach

In their only Super Bowl appearance, the Falcons lost to the Denver Broncos, 34-19, led by John Elway and Terrell Davis in 1998.

Quinn won a Super Bowl as the defensive coordinator in Seattle during the 2013 season, when the Seahawks whipped the Broncos 43-8. The very next year, Quinn held the same role as the Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24.

Now, Quinn will take a young Falcons team to the NFL’s biggest stage, an atmosphere experienced by a select few players, such as seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney (Colts), linebacker Philip Wheeler (Colts), defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw (Ravens), safety Dashon Goldson (49ers), and recently promoted defensive lineman Joe Vellano (Patriots).

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Tight end Jacob Tamme, who is on injured reserve following shoulder surgery, went to Super Bowls with both the Colts and Broncos.

“No. 1, they are difficult to defend,” Quinn said of the Patriots. “They use a variety of different formations, personnel groups. They’ve got a huge playbook, from the pass game into the run game — gap schemes, trap schemes in the run game. Quick game. I’d say it’s an offense that’s well-versed. They have different ways to attack you. We’ll have our work cut out for us going through the game plan this week to get ready.

Even with the bright lights, millions of reporters, it’s still just a football game and Matt Ryan says his team will be ready. 

Ryan is having an MVP-caliber season, and like most of the young Falcons, will play in his first Super Bowl. Ryan and his teammates have never seen anything like the Super Bowl atmosphere they walked into last week.

“I’m sure everyone will be excited and anxious going into it. But as far as nerves, I feel like we’ve prepared ourselves for this moment,” Ryan said, expanding the theme to envelop the team in which he typically sets the tone by triggering the NFL’s most explosive offense.

“This is exactly where we wanted to be. We’ve put in the work, put in the time. I think we’ll all be ready to go and excited.”

Apart from the media obligation leading up to the big game, Ryan seemed pleased with the team’s preparation. 

“Obviously this part of the week is different from what we normally deal with, but I think we’ve got a group that’s focused on the right things, a group that understands we have this (media) obligation and to do it professionally.

“But at the same time when (the off-field chores are) done, they’re done. And it’s time to get to work and take care of business. I think our guys have had the right mindset the entire week. When it’s been time to do this (interviews), we’ve done it. And when it’s time to get to work we’ve been able to check in and focus. I’m proud of our guys for that.”

Julio Jones has been a matchup nightmare all season for defenses, but if we know the Patriots they master in taking away the opponents best weapon. During preparations, Belichick put two receivers, Michael Floyd and Matthew Slater in No. 11 jerseys to play as Jones on the scout team.

“That’s such a key guy for us, the routes and all that,” Belichick told pool reporter Peter King of TheMMQB.com. “We have two guys doing it so we won’t wear one guy out.” knows all to well how defenses try to cover him. He doesn’t mind it.

Belichick wants to make sure his defense is ready to slow down Jones and be aware of where he is at all times on the field.

“You’ve got to know where he is on every play,” Belichick said.

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Jones doesn’t mind the extra attention it’s just a normal game for him.

“Teams been double-covering me throughout the year, over the years, actually, so for me it’s just a normal game,” said the All-Pro wide receiver. “I’m going to prepare. I’m going to get ready, and at the end of the week just go out there and ball.”

Remember when Brady was suspended for the first quarter of the season and everyone was wondering if the Patriots could survive without their white knight.

They managed to go 3-1 and used their second and third string quarterbacks. Now there back in the Super Bowl once again. Brady will have to battle through a Falcons’ defense that’s been just short of brilliant during their playoff run.

“They have some of their own characteristics, and of course the players are different, so that makes it different,” the Patriots head coach said in a conference call with reporters. “But schematically, there is quite a bit of carryover. I think just at first glance it might be a little more pressure from Atlanta than Seattle ran, but Seattle did some of it, too. I think overall, the schemes are very similar.”

Some say youth is a real vulnerability of the Falcons defense, which includes three rookie starters and four more with only two years’ experience. But coach Dan Quinn said his callow defense helps the veterans as well.

“Our younger guys are playing like older guys. And our older guys are playing like younger guys,” he said.

Which means that there are advantages to have players on both sides of the age divide. They obviously feed off each other.

The Falcons weren’t the sexiest Super Bowl team coming out the NFC. Remember, there were the Carolina Panthers last year, the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys and the Seahawks.

After dismantling the Seahawks and the Packers, the Falcons have charmed people over as a legitimate Super Bowl threat to the mighty machine that is the Patriots.

Pick: Falcons 30 Patriots 27

THE A-TRAIN RANT 3.0!!

It’s time for another great rant coming from the A-Train…you should love this one. Here we go.

  1. Josh Morgan…you are “The A-Train Rant” DUMMY OF THE WEEK, WEEK, WEEK! Hope and pray that Mike Shanahan give you the pink slip and tell you, “Today is your last day as a Redskin, please turn in your playbook.”
  2. Speaking of football, good win for the Jeff Fisher and the St. Louis Rams. Got that first win and RGIII took his first loss, also means that you shut up John Madden…at least for this week.
  3. Andrew Luck is a beast? Too soon???
  4. Good Sunday to have Cardinals at the end of it. The St. Louis baseball team beat the Dodgers keep a one game lead for the second wild card spot (may have meaning after all). Shoutout to the Arizona football team (too young to really remember the team being in St. Louis), going into Foxboro and knocking off the New England Patriots in their home opener. 1st time any team has beaten the Pats on their home field for their opener. Tom Brady still wondering, “We lost to Arizona? In our home opener?” Yeah, Tom. You did.
  5. Mizzou will be get the tar and feathers beaten off them for the next two weeks. They are about to learn what the SEC really feels like.
  6. Speaking of the SEC, one of those teams will be in the national championship, again. If not careful…it’s LSU/Bama part 2. People will hate that for life! I for one, would love it all over again. Just keep showing how flawed the NCAA system really is.
  7. After watching Peyton Manning against the Falcons, (BOLD STATEMENT TO MAKE) I think Eli Manning will be better than his brother. At least he’s got one thing on Peyton…more Super Bowls.
  8. The New Orleans Saints need some serious help. But thanks Roger, you screwed up not only them but the NFL as well with your patty cake approach to protect your precious golden-arm quarterbacks. In the illustrious words of Tia and Tamera, “GO HOME ROGER!” I know it was bad. So what!
  9. Back to the NFL, these replacement refs have got to go. I tried to support them last time and now I can’ t take it anymore. I think it was FoxSports.com columnist Jason Whitlock that said on Twitter…”the refs don’t understand the NFL philosophy.”
  10. LA Lakers center Dwight Howard had stated through “a source” on ESPN.com that he never wanted to be hated…Brother, that’s all you did was cause hate. People will hate you regardless. If you are successful or better yet, just because you are black. Yeah I said it. The race card still plays in this world that you and I live in. It’s sad, but true.
  11. Speaking of LA Lakers, Ron Artest (I refuse to call him Metta World Peace) said that he believes the Lakers can go 73-9. Hey Ron, why don’t you just say 82-0? I mean you got the right coach to do it, right? You got Phil…eh…Mike Brown to do it. Plus all those injury-plagued players on your team like Pau Gasol and hell, even Kobe Bryant. What other bums, I mean players do they have…well there is Steve Blake, Jordan Hill, and my favorites Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Looks like you got all the right pieces in place. All you have to do now is get past the Spurs and Thunder and the Miami Heat (paper champs) and you’re in. Well, that was a good dream to not see unfold. I know we have a season coming up but that damn sure won’t happen. Sorry Laker fans. Keep dreaming!
  12. Oh yes…this is a must. After watching Night of Champions I have come to the conclusion that the WWE wants CM Punk to fight The Rock at Wrestlemania. Just to give this idiot the main event he deserves. Otherwise, he’ll lose the belt at Hell In A Cell. (SIDEBAR NOTE) Good to know that Jerry Lawler is OK and released from the hospital. It would have been a sad day if it was more severe. Now lay off the ropes and just commentate.

ONE LAST THING…SHOUTOUT TO MY HOMEY Twillie Cottingham celebrating a birthday today! Make sure you follow her @MissESPN34…fellas, if  you looking for a lady who knows her sports…she’s one of them. Die-hard fan! (She’s going to hurt me for this)

I’m done. More to come soon. Hopefully a radio show soon. Stay tuned.

Please post your comments below. Greatly appreciate it. Bad comments (that will depend on how I feel) will get the boot.

The A-Train