By Bill Campbell
Last Sunday morning, before the Eagles kicked off at Lincoln Financial Field, had anyone noticed that the Phillies had won 12 of their last 17 games? Everyone was so excited about the opening of football season that they were letting the exploits of the Phils fall by the wayside. That’s kind of a shame because the Phillies have been playing like they have visions of post-season play in their heads. With A.J. Burnett’s 3-1 win last Saturday against the Nationals, they took the series against the D.C. team for the first time since 2010. Asked to explain the current state of his squad, manager Ryne Sandberg said, “This is about creating some momentum [starting about ] 2 ½ weeks ago and building on that. It’s about character, about pride, and it is all there in the locker room.” As last Sunday, the Phils were 66-75 with 21 games left and no fan can resist asking where this kind of play has been all season. But Ryan Howard won’t dwell on that. “The only thing you can do is stay in the present,” the first baseman says, “You can’t change what happened and all we can do is build now. That is it.” A.J. Burnett added, “Even when we weren’t [winning], everybody came here positive, and nobody quit, and that is what you are seeing now,” Burnett said. “It is late, but it is good baseball.”
This week, the Phillies’ fortunes haven’t been as bright. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are slumping a bit. Ben Revere, who had a hot bat, has seen it cool down. Burnett had a rough outing last night. They lost three out of four to the Pittsburgh Pirates at home this week. The Miami Marlins are in town for the weekend and then the Phils leave town for a ten-day road trip. The season ends here at home on September 28th with a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves.
Since the season has started, it seems appropriate to take a few moments to recognize the Eagles coaching staff, the people who are invested in the workings of the team day-to-day. It’s interesting to break them down by position and consider the responsibilities assigned to them.
At the top of the heap is the head coach Chip Kelly, who turns to Offensive Coordinator, Pat Shurmur, and Defensive Coordinator, Bill Davis, daily. The Special Teams Coordinator is Dave Fipp. Assistant Offensive Line Coach Greg Austin is parried by Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line Coach, Jerry Azzinaro. Wide receivers report to Bob Bicknell, defensive quality control falls under Michael Clay, and the Assistant Defensive Line Coach is Mike Dawson. The strength and conditioning squad, which is so crucial to Coach Kelly’s goals for this team, is led by Josh Hingst who is aided by Quadrian Banks and Keith Gray. The sports science approach to conditioning, sleeping, eating and mental toughness is coordinated by Shaun Huls. Defensive backs are coached by John Lovett, assisted by Todd Lyght. Outside linebackers report to Bill McGovern, inside linebackers to Rick Minter. Bill Musgrave is the quarterbacks coach. Running backs report to a former Eagle, Duce Staley. The offensive line is coached by Jeff Stoutland, assisted by former Bird, Tra Thomas. The tight ends report to Ted Williams. That’s twenty-five men in all to coach and condition the Philadelphia Eagles.
Despite the mounting evidence as to what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knew about the now-former Baltimore Raven punching his wife in a Revel casino elevator in February and when he knew it, Goodell reportedly is adamant that he will not resign from his $44 million job. In a Tuesday interview with CBS, Goodell said that the league never had seen the video of Rice’s actions once he and his then-fiancé, Janay, entered the elevator. However, earlier that day TMZ.com (which had released the video on Monday) reported that Goodell never had asked the casino for the tape. The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that Atlantic County, New Jersey, law enforcement said they had sent the video “to an NFL executive” in April but could not confirm whether anyone in the NFL offices had watched it. However, the sending of the tape to Goodell’s offices directly contradicts Goodell’s statements as to when he saw what really happened between Rice and his fiancé.
Goodell has said that he saw the full video this week “for the first time”. Once he viewed it, he changed the penalty for Rice from the two-game suspension imposed upon him in August to an indefinite one. The Ravens terminated his contract. The public was not satisfied. Goodell initially had defended the two-game punishment back in August, saying, “We have a very firm policy that domestic violence is not acceptable in the NFL, and there are consequences for that. Obviously, when we are going through the process of evaluating an issue and whether there will be discipline, you look at all of the facts that are available to us.” After intense backlash for the slap-on-the-wrist nature of the two-game suspension (and before he allegedly first saw the full video), Goodell instituted a new, firm policy for the NFL. “My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families,” he wrote in a letter to the NFL owners. “I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions I the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.” He then instituted the new policy: there will be a six-game suspension for a first offense, a year for a second. It’s not clear if “offense” means an accusation of domestic violence or a conviction. But if you apply that new policy to Rice, he should have gotten a six-game suspension for this offense, not an indefinite one! Goodell explained that what he saw on that complete tape was “new evidence that was not consistent with what was described when we met with Ray and his representatives.” So he took the steps he did regarding Rice. Yet the Ravens general manager, Ozzie Newsome, told the Baltimore Sun on Wednesday that Rice gave an accurate description to him and Ravens coach John Harbaugh about his actions in that elevator so he found it hard to believe that Rice told a different tale to the League.
The bottom line is, what did Goodell think had happened in that elevator when the woman entered it on her own two feet and was dragged out by those feet when the doors opened a few seconds later? Whom do you believe? I can’t help but wonder, how long do you think it will take for Ray Rice to file a lawsuit against the NFL?
The Eagles play the Colts in Indianapolis on Monday night. Nick Foles vs. Andrew Luck. See you next week.
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