Friday, July 31, 2015

Piper dead at 61

Roddy Piper
Legendary pro wrestling heel "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (born Roderick George Toombs) has passed away at the age of 61.

He died of cardiac arrest in his sleep Thursday night in Hollywood, CA.

Piper was the key foil for Hulk Hogan during the national expansion of the then-World Wrestling Federation in the mid-1980s. He and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff teamed against Hogan and "A-Team" star Mr. T in the main event of the first Wrestlemania.

“Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved my millions of fans around the world,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. “I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”

Piper, much like Dusty Rhodes, who also passed recently, was known as one of the great promo men in wrestling history, and also faced Mr. T in a boxing match at Wrestlemania II, as well as Adrian Adonis at Wrestlemania III.

While most know Piper for his work in WWE, he was also a legend in a number of the old territories, namely Portland, Los Angeles, Mid-Atlantic and Georgia Championship Wrestling.

Piper was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and also has some success as an actor, most notably in John Carpenter's "They Live."

Piper is survived by his wife, Kitty, and four children.

Sixers get Wallace, draft consideration

PHILADELPHIA - That sure was a short homecoming.

The Sixers sent Mount Laurel native Jason Thompson back west Friday, trading the big man to the world champion Golden State Warriors for veteran forward Gerald Wallace and a draft consideration.

Wallace, a 14-year veteran, has appeared in 832 career regular season games, averaging 12 points, six rebounds, two assists and over one steal in 30 minutes per game. He has also appeared in 33 career playoff games.

A first-round pick (25th overall) in the 2001 NBA Draft, Wallace was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team and earned NBA All-Defense First Team honors during the 2010 season.

Wallace has finished the season in the Top 10 in steals per game five times and steal percentage four times during his career.

Like most veterans, however, he probably has no real role in this Sixers organization.

Is Tebow really in play for the Eagles?

Tim Tebow
By John McMullen
jmcmullen@phanaticmag.com

PHILADELPHIA — There are a host of now ex-Eagles who can confirm Chip Kelly doesn't like players who speak out of turn.

"I look at it from the Navy SEALs' point of view: 'I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor do I seek recognition for my actions,' " Kelly told Philadelphia-area reporters earlier this summer when describing his insular personality and coaching style.

When now-Seahawks cornerback Cary Williams expressed displeasure on how hard Kelly's up-tempo practice regimen can be on the players, it wasn't a matter of if the veteran cornerback was leaving Philadelphia, it was a matter of when. And when so-called "big" personalities like DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy went off script, they felt the wrath of Kelly, resulting in their new addresses.

If you want to be in Philadelphia these days you must buy in to Kelly's vision and part of that is letting those deputized to talk handle the heavy lifting when it comes to the media. After any open Eagles practice you will see team leaders like center Jason Kelce and linebackers Connor Barwin and DeMeco Ryans holding court as extensions of what Kelly wants released to the public.

Brandon Graham isn't one of those trusted mouthpieces but he is Philadelphia's best pure outside pass rusher and an emerging playmaker who got a big-money, four-year extension in the offseason, one that was at least partially fueled by the interest of the NFC East rival Giants.

Graham didn't say anything disparaging about his organization or Kelly so his future employment isn't at risk but he did offer up some information the coach probably wanted kept under wraps on the possible impact of polarizing quarterback Tim Tebow, the perceived fourth-stringer when the Birds open training camp on Sunday.

“Tim Tebow is going to shock a lot of people, because he is going to make the team,” Graham, a University of Michigan alum, told Detroit-area radio host Lauren Beasley recently. “And I think he will play a lot.”

In most NFL cities Occam's razor would be applied here (the simplest answer is usually the correct one). And what does a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end know about the inner workings of Kelly's quarterback plans anyway?

It's conceivable Graham just likes Tebow personally or perhaps the former first-round pick is just a poor talent evaluator who can't see the mechanical issues that were still on display during offseason work, most notably Tebow's elongated throwing motion and sometimes laughable footwork.

But, this is no longer the B.C. age of the NFL (Before Chip) and if any coach has a plan for the former Florida Heisman Trophy winner it's going to be the guy who believes his football program should be run like the Navy SEALs.

Tebow's skill set of speed and strength could be maximized in Philadelphia where Kelly's offense is a simplistic one based on the read-option and tempo. There is no asking the quarterback to make Peyton Manning-like progressions from receiver to receiver. It's one-read and go, and that first outlet is picked by the sideline not the signal caller.

In theory that scales down the decision-making and makes anticipatory throws, something Tebow struggles mightily with, off the table in what some have called a quarterback-proof offense.

Furthermore, it's not all that far-fetched to speculate that Sam Bradford might tear his ACL getting out of his car at the NovaCare Complex Sunday and you know that four-interception game from Mark Sanchez is right around the corner. So, only Kelly punching-bag Matt Barkley stands between Tebow and the roster spot which could spur opportunity.

Most have speculated that chance would only be as a red-zone threat or a two-point specialist but the only certainty about the Eagles quarterback position is the uncertainty.

So maybe Brandon Graham knows a little more than we think and you can bet Chip will have a little talk with him about that.

Flyers extend Voracek

PHILADELPHIA - The Flyers signed right wing Jakub Voracek to a multi-year contract extension on Thursday.

The 25-year-old Voracek just finished up his seventh NHL season by leading the Flyers with 81 points (fourth in the NHL) and 59 assists (second in the league). Meanwwhile his 22 goals ranked third on the team.

It was a career year for Voracek, who set new career highs in points (81), assists (59), power-play goals (11), power-play points (33), game-winning goals (tied - 3) and penalty minutes (78). He was also awarded the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the team’s Most Valuable Player for the second time in his Flyers career (2012-13), and was named to the NHL’s postseason First All-Star Team becoming the first Flyers to earn an NHL postseason All-Star honor since the 2000-01 season (G - Roman Cechmanek, 2nd Team All-Star) and the first time a Flyers earned First Team All-Star since the 1997-98 season (LW - John LeClair).

A native of Kladno, Czech Republic, Voracek was named captain of the Czech team in the 2015 World Championships, where he led the team with 10 points (3g-7a) in 10 games, which was also a career high for him in international play.

Voracek was originally acquired by the Flyers on June 23, 2011 from the Columbus Blue Jackets along with the Blue Jackets’ first round pick at eighth overall (Sean Couturier) and third-round pick at 68th overall (Nick Cousins).

He has recorded 85 goals and 153 assists for 238 points in 290 games as a Flyer, and since the start of the 2012-13 season, Voracek has led all NHL wingers in assists (122) and is third in overall point production (189).

He has also recorded three straight seasons of playing every game and is the current “iron-man” leader for the Flyers, appearing in 226 consecutive games played. He has missed only four games as a Flyer (290 of 294) and has appeared in 531 out of a possible 540 games played since his first NHL game on Oct. 10, 2008.

In seven seasons in the NHL, Voracek has recorded 124 goals and 248 assists for 372 points in 531 games for the Flyers and Blue Jackets (2008-11). He was drafted in the first round (7th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by Columbus.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Soul playoffs headed to 97.5

PHILADELPHIA  – The playoff run of the 2015 AFL East Division Champion Philadelphia Soul will be broadcast live on 97.5 FM The Fanatic.

Joe DeCamara, host of The Fanatic’s 6-10 p.m. Weekday Show, including the weekly Ron Jaworski Show on Wednesdays from 6-7 p.m, will provide play-by-play.  Soul General Manager, Tom Goodhines will provide color commentary.

Games to be broadcast on The Fanatic include the first round playoff game, which is set for Saturday, August 15 at 5 p.m. as they host the No. 4 seed of the Conference (TBD) at the Wells Fargo Center.  With a Soul victory, the Soul will host the American Conference Championship game on Sunday, August 23 and will face the winner of the first round game featuring the No. 2 and No. 3 seed in the American Conference.

Should the Soul make the ArenaBowl Championship game on Saturday, August 29, the Soul would host that game in Philadelphia should they be the higher seed of the teams competing in the game.

“We have a championship caliber football team this year with a great opportunity to bring Philadelphia a second championship in our 10 seasons of play,” Soul Chief Operating Officer, John Adams said.  “We are thrilled that our playoff run will be shared in Philadelphia with a championship caliber radio partner.”

97.5 FM The Fanatic is home to both college and professional sports, including Temple Football as well as the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia 76ers.

“We have a great relationship with Soul owner Ron Jaworski and now we look forward to this opportunity with his team,” 97.5 The Fanatic’s program director Matt Nahigian said.  “We want to be the station that brings Philadelphia’s next championship to the airwaves.”

 The Soul host the New Orleans VooDoo in their last regular season home game this Sunday, August 2 at 4 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Union ship Williams to Houston

CHESTER - The Philadelphia Union have shipped defender Sheanon Williamsto and an international spot to the Houston Dynamo in exchange for general allocation money and future considerations.

Williams, 25, was the longest-tenured member of the Union, joining the team during its 2010 expansion campaign. He arrived on Aug. 31 of that season and started in eight games at just 20 years old.

From then on the now-veteran was almost a permanent fixture in the lineup, starting 92 games from 2011-2013, including both of the club’s playoff games in 2011. In 2015, he had played in 17 games, starting 15 of them. He is particularly known for his powerful throw-ins which often set up legitimate scoring opportunities for Philadelphia.

“Sheanon has represented the club well during his time here and we wish him the best of luck in Houston,” Union technical director Chris Albright said. “However, this allows us the flexibility to make additional moves both short and long term.”