By Joseph Santoliquito

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Behind the glasses, there is a little twinkle in the corner of Josh Innes’s eyes—and it’s not mucus. It connotes he may have a fresher perspective about the Eagles than you do, even though the 94WIP afternoon rush-hour host hasn’t been in Philadelphia very long. It also hints he’s a little smarter than people think.

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He likes to be underestimated. It’s an unwise choice to do so.

While everyone was looking past him, Innes broached some salient points last year during the Great Birds Debate—arguments Eagles’ fans may not have been ready to hear. But he caught the ear of the fan base, who selected him champion of the seventh event.

This year, Innes is ready to defend that title—at the Eighth Annual Great Birds Debate Thursday, Feb. 26 at Chickie & Pete’s in South Philadelphia on Packer Avenue at 12-noon, in an event that’s open to the public.

Innes will be up against a cadre on Eagle aficionados, including his afternoon partner, Tony Bruno, competing in his first Great Birds Debate, four-time debate champion Rob Ellis, along with the always formidable Ike Reese, quick-wit Michael Barkann, broadcast legend Howard Eskin and sacrificial lamb Dave Spadaro, the Eagles’ Insider who deserves guts points each year for defending the team’s honor.

It promises to be combustible.

“I’m ready to defend the title,” Innes said. “Last year was a little bit different, because I was coming into a new situation. I’m ready to keep kicking [expletive] and taking names. I’m ready to go for number two, looking for the repeat. I’m just going to say really outlandish things, and politic really hard to get people to vote for me. That’s my new philosophy—or as it’s called, my show every day. I’m going to say outlandish things, then I’m going to politic.”

One of Innes’s chief competitors could come from his own partner, Bruno.

“My philosophy is to show everyone I have the most Eagles’ knowledge in the history of the city,” said Bruno, one of the pioneers who helped make 94WIP into the Philly sports stable it is today. “I’m going to go out and dazzle the fans, just give them facts and information that the other guys just can’t bring to the table. So I will win.

“It’s my first time back [at WIP] in 25 years and I will win. I will make a guarantee right now that I will win this Great Birds Debate on Thursday. I know I work with the champ. I love Josh, I love all of the guys here at WIP. But it’s time to put up or shut up, and I will put up and they will shut up.”

The Great Birds Debate Champions:

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2008: Ike Reese

2009: Angelo Cataldi

2010: Rob Ellis

2011: Rob Ellis

2012: Rob Ellis

2013: Rob Ellis

2014: Josh Innes

 

 

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The Eight Annual Great Birds Debate is Thursday, February 26th at 12:00pm @ Chickie’s and Pete’s in South Philadelphia.