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Friday, March 3, 2006

One Man's Free Agency Plan for the Eagles / Some Random Thoughts

There may be hope, Eagles fans. The Inquirer reported today that the Philadelphia Eagles will look to sign New Orleans Saints’ all-pro center LeCharles Bentley. I’d be lying if I said I knew a damn thing about him, but I know something about the Eagles, and this is the sign I think we all needed to have some hope after last year’s debacle.

The Eagles seem to have fallen into a pattern with free agency. They either come out of the box strong or they don’t come out at all. As much as we’d all like to block out last year, see 2005 free agent acquisition (notice the lack of plural) Mike McMahon as evidence of the latter.

Whether the Inquirer is right or not, I still need to see more out of the Eagles to believe the Super Bowl is a possibility, which is still all that counts this year. Regardless of exactly who the Eagles sign, they must show that their 2005 slumber is over. Talking specifics with free agency – as far as who they can and can’t sign – is almost as bad as doing so with trades from a fans perspective. Despite that, here’s my two cents:

It’s not sexy but the Birds do need help on both lines, and they usually try to add that, so I don’t worry much about it. Besides, fans don’t know anything about offensive lineman. Defensive lineman are a little more “knowable,” and the Birds must grab a pass rusher we recognize.

An addition at wide receiver is critical. Antwaan Randle El would be a solid addition. Joe Jurevicius and, to a lesser degree, David Givens, who I’ve heard are available, would also boost a decent, not great, receiving corps.

I also think signing a big back is a must. Mike Anderson, who was cut before the NFL rescinded most of what occurred in the past week, should be a target if he is, in fact, a free agent. I do not think he’ll be a target because Andy Reid doesn’t value running backs enough, which is a mistake.

You cannot win a Super Bowl in free agency. You can lose one. The Eagles proved both in the last two years, respectively. To put the Super Bowl back on Philadelphia’s radar, the Birds need to add impact players at wide receiver, running back, and both offensive and defensive lines.

Allen Iverson will reportedly be snubbed on Sunday when the invitees to tryout for the U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team are announced. At first I didn’t think it was a big deal, but the more I think about it . . . this is a terrible move.

The logic behind not taking Iverson seems to be that a true team was selected, and Iverson doesn’t play a typical point guard role. Based on his play in the NBA, this is a valid argument.

Yet, Iverson was one of the few superstars who treated being selected to the team in 2004 with dignity, expressed a genuine desire to play again — a rarity among today’s players — and has proven his ability to play a true “one” on these types of teams.

Besides that, the Olympics are the one place in sports that “sending the right message to kids” should truly be a factor in team selection. Leaving Iverson home while selecting Kobe Bryant fails miserably in that regard.

Iverson should have at least been invited to tryout.

Are the Sixers finally getting hot? I clearly overestimated the 76ers this season, predicting they would win around 47 games. I’ve been waiting all year for the team to put together a win streak. Their post-all star run has me hopeful, but unconvinced. The Daily News’ Phil Jasner, one of the best sports reporters in Philly, finally helped me put my finger on why. He finished up his story today with this: “Red flag: The Sixers turned back the Rockets despite being out rebounded for the ninth game in succession. The overall differential has been 108 rebounds, 66 off the offensive glass.”

Angelo Cataldi’s site returns. A while back, 610 WIP’s Angelo Cataldi shut down his site, saying his “rants” were moving to the station’s site. That never happened, and Cataldi’s back online. I was a fan of the old site, where he offered some decent commentary. It’s worth a bookmark.

Gargano/Douglas. When I changed the name of this blog, I also wanted to slightly change direction. Part of what I want to do is review the sports media, especially in Philly, but to do so in a bit more of a professional manner. My ripping of WIP’s Anthony Gargano got a lot of hits on the previous address, but no comments. I’m guessing his fans are just more inclined to use the web than other WIP listeners, and merely rolled their eyes at my criticism. Yet, I would be happy to get opinions on the guy’s ability as a sports talk show host.

Today, he was on with Hugh Douglas (who filled in as co-host, oddly enough), and everything I dislike about Gargano shined through. He positioned himself as being “one of the guys” with Douglas and constantly mentioned how he was “with the team” writing a book on the Birds’ Super Bowl run in the first 20 minutes of the show. He was practically commiserating with Douglas over the lack of guaranteed contracts in the NFL, which I think is what helps keeps the NFL great. Later, I happened to catch the inevitable call from Ike Reese, a former Eagle who spent a good portion of his career on special teams. He’s also a guy Gargano frequently heaps praise on simply because they’re friends. I heard 10 minutes of ridiculous flattery coming from Gargano, and plenty of inside-joke-giggling between the three.

I just think the Gargano often talks as though he’s speaking to a select group of people, or as though he’s in that select group allowing the rest of us a peak into his special life. His first 20 minutes also exposed his affinity for using nicknames for pro athletes, such as calling Donovan McNabb “5.”

I know Gargano’s popular. I just don’t know why.

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