By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Perhaps Rob Ellis put it best, when he proclaimed his love for the dysfunctional family he was standing up there with during the 7th Annual Great Birds Debate on Thursday at Chickie’s and Pete’s in South Philadelphia.
The tenor was still biting, sharp, witty and entertaining as Ellis, the four-time defending Great Birds Debate champion fended off the advances of Angelo Cataldi, Ike Reese, Anthony Gargano, Rhea Hughes, Michael Barkann, Howard Eskin, and Josh Innes, CBS3 Sports Director Beasley Reece, and PhiladelphiaEagles.com’s Dave Spadaro.
The winner will be decided by a fan vote, either by texting the first name of the WIP host that you think won to 94WIP’s shortcode, 84828, or voting at cbsphilly.com/debate. Voting will continue until Monday, March 3 at 5 p.m. The winner will be announced early Monday evening.
Talking points included everything from draft needs to how good Nick Foles is. And though there wasn’t much to debate, in Chip Kelly’s inaugural season that saw them go a surprising 10-6 and win the NFC East, there were some still not completely sold.
Ike Reese, for one, still felt the Eagles have to improve on defense, and gave the Eagles a 6.5 chance out of 10 in winning a playoff game next season. Innes agreed, dipping even lower, giving the Eagles a ‘5’ out of 10.
Perhaps the one who stole the show, however, was Beasley Reece. He came with high energy, had the crowd bubbling with some “Amens,” preacher style in his closing, and was the alpha-protagonist when it came to where he feels the Eagles were going.
“I predicted two years ago that Nick Foles would be the starting quarterback, I was right about Michael Vick being the backup, and if the Eagles go to the playoffs with 19 of their 22 starters [from 2013], they win the Super Bowl this year!” Beasley proclaimed.
Gargano brought in the best prop, getting Eagles’ general manager Howie Roseman on the phone. He also broached pertinent points that “the Eagles matter again, last year found out Chip Kelly is as real as the 700 level was. The Eagles matter once again—we have to enjoy it and embrace it.”
Hughes had some of the best lines: “I almost fell asleep during that 90 seconds” after Ellis’ opening. Another zinger aimed at Ellis—“We can never win a debate with our bitch, either.” And in her closing, “Rob, we’re all sick of you—Angelo you have a big enough head, it can’t get any bigger. And my favorite part of the debate was when Barkann said the only thing to debate was whether or not Nick Foles is the quarterback of the future—and when it came up, ‘I got nothing.’”
Cataldi was typically strong. He reminded everyone in his opening that Don Smolenski and Roseman have been far better than Joe Banner, how Kelly endeared himself more to the Eagles’ ardent fanbase in one year than Andy Reid did in 14 years, and how he predicted Foles was the future of the franchise.
Innes went outside-the-box in his comments. He said Tony Romo was the best quarterback in the NFC East, stirring the ire of the crowd. He told the audience to stop “kissing Nick Foles’ ass.”
But a credit to the rookie. He also made an interesting point: “The Eagles played a mediocre schedule last year. I don’t think this is a bad football team. They could draft well, but based on the  schedule, they could still have a worse record. Do you believe this team could have gone to Seattle and won last year? We still have to see about Nick Foles—he’s ‘Mr. Right Now,’ but is he ‘Mr. Right?’”
And Spadaro, usually the target of the verbal venom in the past, got in a dig at Innes, reminding him in his closing, “Everyone loves the Eagles again—but one note to Josh—yes, Nick Foles is the best QB in the division. You say the Eagles got a break in the last game against Kyle Orton, who threw an interception late in the fourth quarter. That’s something Tony Romo would never do.”
The Great Birds Debate Champions:
2008: Ike Reese
2009: Angelo Cataldi
2010: Rob Ellis
2011: Rob Ellis
2012: Rob Ellis
2013: Rob Ellis