By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new era in Eagles football starts tonight, and that is a super big deal. I mean, it will be a big deal for about a quarter, and then the game will devolve into preseason slop like it always does, but it’s still football.

A side note here: how funny is it that we celebrate the “return of the NFL” about 15 times? When the draft happens, it’s like “it’s officially football time!” Then when OTAs happen it’s the same thing. Then when training camp begins, same thing. Now the first preseason game, then the first regular season game. We’re a sick people.

Still, for me personally, there was nothing more hilariously awesome this week than Josh Harris’ group trying to buy the Devils. We’ll get to that.

#5 Michael Vick Starts The First Preseason Game

How awesome is Chip Kelly? Knowing full well that we’re obsessed with the question of who the starting quarterback will be, and how we’ll make far too much of any little intimation that one guy has the lead, Kelly releases a depth chart with two starting quarterbacks! Genius.

Then, when he announces when Vick will start the first game, he also announces that Foles will start the second game. This is either a genuine case of indecision, or a fantastic troll job by an NFL coach. I’m thinking it’s a little bit of both.

By the way, unless he blows up like we’ve never seen or gets hurt, I think Vick’s going to start. When there’s no quarterback who is demanding of his own system, might as well pick the guy who fits the current one best.

#4 Antonio Bastardo, Cheater

The PED discussion is a funny one. Not funny “ha ha,” but more like funny “intolerable and full of hyperbole and hypocrisy.”

I thought it was funny that everyone in Philly was intent on publicly announcing their fury over the Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez PED suspensions. Shame them! Make sure you announce how disgusted you are that they’re ruining the game and lying about it! (by the way, who cheats and isn’t at one point lying about it anyway?)

But then when Bastardo got caught, it was a whole lot of “ehhhh, whatever.” A middle-reliever getting suspended 50 games during a horrible season is obviously not a glamorous suspension. However, it’s amazing to me how convenient the outrage is given the circumstances.

Either you’re mad at the cheaters or you aren’t. Pick a side.

#3 Prediction Machine Says Eagles Have A 0.5% Chance Of Winning The Super Bowl

The Predictalator over at Prediction Machine ran a simulation of the upcoming NFL season 50,000 times, and in .5% of those simulations the Eagles won the Super Bowl.

At its face, this seems fine. It’s a miniscule possibility, and the number reflects what your logic would indicate. But the more I think about it, the more I need to know what happened in those small number of times the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year. I know the Prediction Machine people are smart and account for everything, so maybe they account for a plague hitting every team but the Eagles? Maybe they account for the Patriots just leaving Tom Brady in Philadelphia?

I’ve got to know.

#2 Chase Utley’s New Contract

I don’t want to talk about whether or not it was a good deal for the Phillies or not (I think it mostly was). I do want to talk about how smart and complicated the contract is.

Full of vesting options based on playing time and “if/then” statements. So my question is this; who the hell came up with this? It wasn’t Ruben Amaro, was it? Unless he’s been playing possum this time, it surely isn’t his style. I imagine it happening like this:

Amaro struts into the negotiating room with his standard five-year deal worth $100 million or more. Confident, and smug as ever.

Utley’s agent walks in, with the contract he came up with, two years plus three vesting years, already written up and signed.

While Amaro is struggling to find the one sheet of paper (with four lines of text) that is his version of the contract, Utley’s agent plops down his.

Amaro glances at it, and stops reading after the first mention of vesting. “Exactly what I was thinking,” Amaro said.

#1 Josh Harris, Devils Owner

Now, let’s get this out of the way, it’s just a “report,” and nothing has been confirmed. That said, I believe every bit of it.

There will be a ton of different analysis and narrative created, legitimate or not, about what this means. The reality is that Josh Harris and company like buying undervalued businesses, and the Devils are just that. Sports is big business, and franchises rarely, if ever, go down in value. That’s the reality. The reality is also that owning a basketball and a hockey franchise would give him good negotiating position to get a new arena at some point. I don’t think anyone is moving.

Let’s talk about what’s really important here, and that’s just how furious this is making Flyers fans. It’s hilarious. The Sixers buying the Devils is the biggest, most amazing troll job in the history of sports troll jobs. Lots of Flyers fans already hate the Sixers, all of basketball, and most basketball fans anyway, so this just gives them more ammunition.

Can you imagine if this happens? I don’t think there is any chance of the Devils moving to Philadelphia, like almost zero chance. But I will make pretend that it’s going to happen and drive Flyers fans nuts for a day or two. The Philly Devils! Ben Franklin in a Devils jersey. A combined Sixers/Devils logo. Amazing.

Honorable mentions: Riley Cooper returns, the Eagles defense is amazed by Tom Brady, the Phillies sign a 16 year old, Michael Young is still here.

Follow Spike on Twitter @SpikeEskin

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