By: Bill Campbell
I’ll bet you can’t wait until Thursday night when the 4 and 7 Eagles meet the 4 and 7 Seattle Seahawks in what should be an NFL Classic.
While the Eagles spent the past Sunday being carved up by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, the Seahawks finished the day losing to the Washington Redskins who had lost 6 straight.
The Redskins’ quarterback is someone you should remember. His name is Rex Grossman. The last time we saw him he was throwing interceptions all over the place against the Eagles, contributing to one of the Eagles’ four victories.
Against the Seahawks last Sunday, Grossman was called for intentional grounding while being driven to the ground. On the very next play in the fourth period, he got up and threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Armstrong on third and 19 to win the game for Washington.
I mention this only to take your mind off how pathetic the Eagles looked against a “real team” after opening the game with an impressive 10-0 lead. Then the Patriots, led by the thoroughly professional Brady, switched to a no-huddle offense and the Eagles fell completely apart. They appeared to become helpless, wandering around without any sense of direction or discipline on both sides of the ball. As they stumbled to their eighth loss in their last nine home games, head coach Andy Reid must have spent his time on the sidelines rehearsing his post-game comments. You know, the ones about “my responsibility” and “I’ve got to do a better job” — because he and his staff couldn’t have spent much time coaching. Those comments shouldn’t have needed any rehearsal. He uses them every week.
Losing the game is one thing. But to be almost completely non-competitive is something else again. Even if they win their five remaining games – which isn’t likely – the Eagles would finish 9 and 7. Again, worse than last year. There were over 69,000 people in their seats at the Linc when the game started, plus thousands more with radio and TV following the game. Many of those in the stadium contented themselves at times by singing “Fire Andy” through a portion of the day.
Most of the fourth period was played without Tom Brady and it seemed that when Brady took his seat on the bench, a good many fans decided to leave the Linc. What was the point of sticking around? Frankly, watching Brady on the bench than watching the Eagles on the field. Jeff Lurie and Joe Banner had such high hopes for this “dream team.” I wonder what thoughts are running through their minds today?
Brady finished 24 for 34, for 361 yards and 3 TD’s. He took some physical shots early but his sheer professionalism, experience and good coaching prevailed. You would think that the Eagles’ impressive wins over the Cowboys and the Giants might lead to better things, especially when they jumped out to that quick lead. But I’m sure we’ll all be tuned in for the Seahawks classic on Thursday night.
The NBA labor lock-out lasted 149 days. It has been called the most under-whelming sports labor stoppage ever. But the real regret lies in the fact that it solves almost none of the league’s real problems. Back about 100 days ago, one of our daily papers conducted a poll on the NBA lock-out. It was trying to determine which entity – owners or players – had the most public support. Seventy-six percent of the people who responded, representing roughly 200 people, replied that they couldn’t care less. I would surmise that the ending of the lock-out would produce a similar response. The season, to begin on Christmas Day, will reduce the regular season from 82 games to 66. It will begin with a triple-header on Christmas Day. The shorter season might produce a few surprises, like teams remaining in competition for longer periods of time, creating surprising interest in areas where there has been little. But when you consider that competitive balance in a league that has needed it more than any other was one of the goals of the lock-out, you come to the conclusion that much of the time really was wasted.
The owners were searching for a hard salary cap, which they strongly desired. And the players lost any salary at all for 149 days.
I hope that someone will produce another poll between now and Christmas so we can have some idea of how many NBA fans are truly overjoyed that the league is back. I wonder if any of them can really say that they couldn’t possibly have gotten through the cold winter months without the games? The official end of the lock-out will come when the union, which decertified a week or so ago, re-forms and gets a simple majority vote from the players – a foregone conclusion. The players will have to get along on a 50-50 split of basketball revenue, down from 57 percent, which will represent a loss of close to $300 million for the players. Sounds like a management victory to me. Although some in management are still regretting that they didn’t get that hard salary cap.
My one pleasant thought in all this is that it will be nice to see Doug Collins again, to watch him work. It’s always fun to watch a guy doing something he loves. And he made things somewhat better here last year. Perhaps a shorter season might just make the Sixers’ days of being in contention last a little longer. Other than that, the NBA labor business looks like a huge waste of time. But it is dramatically good for all the people who work in and around the buildings. They have been the real losers in this lock-out.
Speaking of labor deals in sports, baseball has come out smelling like a rose. Realignment is coming along with expanded playoffs, changes in replay and, most significant, testing for human growth hormone. And no work stoppage at least through the year 2016.
Baseball thus becomes the first North American team sport with HGH blood testing beginning in the coming spring training. Players also will be subject to random off-season tests. A first positive test will result in a 50 game suspension. As for the post-season playoffs, the Houston Astros will move in 2013 from the National League Central to the American League West. And they will do it without their general manager, Ed Wade, who was fired this week.
In 2013, there will be two 15-team major leagues, which was first proposed by the players more than 10 years ago.