Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Not Jealous?

Donovan McNabb finally spoke to the media and said he isn’t jealous over the success Jeff Garcia had replacing him as the Eagles quarterback...

McNabb on trade rumors:

“The so-called rumors that have started, they’re false. I’m a Philadelphia Eagle and will continue to be a Philadelphia Eagle hopefully for more years to come and hopefully [will] retire as an Eagle.”

On Mark Eckel's Trenton Times article indicating he was upset with the organization:

“For the article that was written that started all of this mess, if someone close to me so-called heard what I so-called said, I’m sure they wouldn’t have run to someone to write an article about it. So that was false as well."

On Andy Reid putting the kibosh on his season-ending press conference:

“To talk about the press conference that Andy so-called shut down, that I can’t speak for myself, and he was worried about me saying anything – that’s completely false as well. We both felt nothing good would have come out of it. At that time, it was still early during rehab, and we just wanted to focus in on trying to get healthier. We felt like it wouldn’t be a good thing at that time.”

On his Mom:

“Was I upset? No. This is a blog that she’s had for over a year now, and I appreciate everybody logging in to my website. … It’s just a mother reacting to a situation that we’re a part of. It’s nothing that she’s speaking on my behalf. She’s speaking as a mother. … It’s unfortunate that she had to receive the criticism that she did.”

On Jeff Garcia:

“I actually was very happy for Jeff. Before the decision was made, I talked to Andy about making sure that he wasn’t with Jeff. I know the fans of Philadelphia wanted A.J. Feeley, and they cheered for him – I just continued to tell Jeff, ‘You were brought in here to lead this team. … Now it’s time.’ “For those who feel like I have a grudge on Jeff, or I was upset by the way they received him, that was completely false as well.”

Good thing the Eagles aren't playing Sunday

By Steven Lienert

What's going on with Andy Reid's sons is bad. Really bad.

And it gets worse, as has reported that needles were the "drug paraphernalia" that was found.

Not a bowl or baggie of weed. Needles. The things you use to inject something into you that can kill you. Ugh.

Reid's two sons, Garrett and Britt, were allegedly caught with the drug paraphernalia after Britt allegedly brandished a gun during a road-rage incident and Garrett was in a serious car wreck in Conshohocken, both on the same day.

How much trouble are these guys in?

Reid doesn't tolerate this kind of behavior from his football team, let alone his own family.

How would you like to be in their shoes?

I don't know who delivers the news to Reid when one of his players does something stupid, but I certainly wouldn't want to be the one to have to look him in the eye and say something to the effect of "Dad, I have something really horrible to tell ya..."

From a people standpoint, in all seriousness, I hope this isn't what it's starting to seem to be.

From a selfish and tongue-in-cheek standpoint, as an Eagles fan, I'm really glad the Birds aren't in Super Bowl XLI. First, the Colts would have torched them again, this time in front of the whole world to see.

Second, if the Eagles magic-carpet ride had continued to this point, this story would be bigger than the O.J. Simpson trial. Media people from Japan would be asking Reid questions about his sons' heroin habits instead of how to stop Peyton Manning.

'Distraction' wouldn't be a big enough word to cover it.

And at this point, I'm hoping it doesn't become a distraction from the Eagles' 2007 season.

Lienert can be reached at

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Garrett Reid possessed drug paraphernailia

By John McMullen

The Plymouth Township Police said that drug paraphernalia was found in the possession of Andy Reid's son Garrett during an investigation following a traffic accident on Tuesday.

In a press release acquired by The Phanatic, the police indicated that the 24-year old Reid was operating a black Jeep Liberty that struck a red Ford Taurus, being driven by a unidentified 55-year old woman.

Witnesses reported that Reid was traveling eastbound on Germantown Pike at a high rate of speed when he failed to stop at a red light on Arch Road. Reid's vehicle subsequently struck the rear driver's side of the female's vehicle.

The woman was then airlifted to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for treatment of her injuries.

Then, during the accident investigation, drug paraphernalia was located in Reid's possession. Reid was transported to Mercy Suburban Hospital for a blood test, which -- according to the police -- is common in these types of accident investigations.

No charges have been filed against Reid at this time but the investigation is still ongoing.

Big Game Proves Race Still an Issue

By Jared Trexler

In order to escape the metaphorical chains of servitude clasped tight to their ancestry, both Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy had to be successful.

They weren't coaching just for their own careers, but for the livelihood of African American coaches everywhere.

Win big and the underlying notions of justly deserved bigotry and stereotypes of genetic inequality would all fade behind the confetti marking a champion.

Or so we all thought.

Yet, if the build-up to Super Bowl XLI has taught us anything, it's that two African American coaches meeting in sports' biggest game won't erase the unimaginable opinions protruding from many attending this week's festivities.

Suits and ties genetically disposed of Eastern European descent, men and women born and raised behind the belief in 20th century societal roles, will never fully accept men like Smith and Dungy.

That's why tattered Confederate flags still fly in the deep South. It's why America voted George W. Bush into the White House for a second term.

Steps have been made, but don't let any member of the media searching for a heartwarming, significant story angle convince you Smith and Dungy's arrival in this game proves the American football family, or even the majority of NFL higher-ups, are ready to give African Americans their just due.

"It says very simply that for as far as we've come, we haven't come very far," Golden State Warriors executive Al Attles told

Yes, Mike Tomlin was hired in Pittsburgh, but by a man almost solely responsible for a rule that pushes black candidates through the door. And yes, more African Americans are getting their shots at prominent coordinator and front office positions.

Yet, in a day in age where Barack Obama is trying to convince the nation he is not 100% African American during a run for the presidency, two head coaches in a league where 70 percent of its players are black aren't being discussed as successful head coaches.

But rather black ones. And that's the overwhelming problem.

No one is asking Peyton Manning how it feels to be white? Or even Lance Briggs how it feels to be black?

However, when two men of authority are of a race suppressed for generations, progress is the sexy word.

Members of the media talked about the move forward with both coaches extensively on Media Day in Miami. The same media who asked Washington Redskins quarter Doug Williams before Super Bowl XXII, "How long have you been a black quarterback?"

Still, everyone fails to realize the absurdity of all this. Progress would be not talking about it at all.

You can contact Jared Trexler at

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Countdown to Super Sunday Begins

Bob Sanders sure looks like a guy I wouldn't want to run into on South Beach. Chicago ball carriers better avoid him on the field as well, making him the key to Super Bowl XLI, writes Jared Trexler.

The Phanatic's week-long Super Sunday coverage continued on Media Day with John Gottlieb's indictment of Tank Johnson, above the law because of his bench press and squat weight.

The NFL coverage didn't end in Miami, swooping far west to the Bay Area, where John McMullen theorizes that the Raiders made the right move shying away from another member of the "Old Boys Club." In Eagle-related news, Comcast Sportsnet reported on its 6:00 p.m. newscast that Andy Reid's son was involved in a car accident.

Phillies news? Chase Utley appears ready for Opening Day. Flyers fodder? Peter the Great may be heading to Anaheim. And the Sixers season may be going down the tubes, but Michael Rushton connects the dots to one of college basketball's rising stars, explaining that Kevin Durant is more mature and well rounded because of the collegiate experience.

Finally, The Phanatic reprinted its article about former Army women's head coach Maggie Dixon's death last April. Her brother Jamie's Pitt Panthers entered the Wachovia Center and beat Villanova Monday night, providing the perfect opportunity for another tribute.

It struck a chord with one of our readers: As a close friend of Mag's I can tell you that the wounds are still fresh and it seems as if they may never heal. After spending time with her parents and sister in the family home in November I can tell you that the smiles still exist- but there is an emptiness that surrounds everyone. A void that will never be filled. I miss her terribly and only write these words because to me, its the only way I can go on. I "google" her everyday and look at her pictures to fill that void I mentioned above. I can still hear her voice, and I know she's watching all of us from above. In fact she's probably laughing, because that's what she did so well. For those who never met her, she was the funniest girl you would ever want to know. I miss those laughs-Thank you to the author of this story for keeping that memory alive. Go Pitt! Go Army! Go USD!

**Photo courtesy of the Associated Press**

Family Trouble

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Utley ready to roll as Spring Training nears

Pitchers and catchers will report to Clearwater in roughly three weeks. When they arrive, Chase Utley will be there to greet them.

That's work ethic -- a drive that has defined Utley since his very first big league at-bat. Listen to Utley talk about his approach to the game, then read about his take on the new contract, new teammates and a new season in a sit-down with John R. Finger from

In a related story by Finger, players reflect back to the inspired play down the stretch last season, crediting manager Charlie Manuel for the late season push.

Forsberg to Ducks?

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Anaheim Ducks are one of several teams that have contacted the Flyers about Peter Forsberg. The paper also states that San Jose, Nashville, Montreal, Detroit and Atlanta have also expressed interest.

It is believed the Ducks would have to part with top prospect Bobby Ryan if they have any hope of landing the Flyers star.

New Blood

By John McMullen

The “Old Boys Club” just might be dead.

Sure, there will always be out of touch NFL owners afraid to roll the dice and looking to hire a retread (I’m looking at you Jerry Jones). But, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders may have pulled the league -- kicking and screaming -- into the 21st century when they hired a pair of thirtysomethings to pilot their respective franchises.

Lane Kiffin, the new head coach of the Raiders, especially interests me. I vaguely remember meeting Lane when his father Monte was the inside linebackers coach for the Minnesota Vikings and he was just a pup, attending Bloomington, MN Jefferson High.

Since that time, the younger Kiffin has been a shooting star in the football world. He played quarterback at Fresno State and quickly got into the coaching ranks after graduating, spending two years as an offensive assistant at Colorado State. Kiffin then got his big break when Southern California’s Pete Carroll hired him as the tight ends coach in 2001.

As the USC program and Matt Leinart took off, then offensive coordinator Norm Chow was a hot property. It looked like Chow was intent on moving to the pros and eventually landed in Tennessee. Many were stunned when Carroll didn’t flinch and try to convince Chow to stay. In fact -- to some -- it looked like the USC mentor actually pushed the highly regarded Chow out the door.

And, it was all because of Kiffin. Carroll thought so highly of Monte’s progeny that he promoted him to passing game coordinator, offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at the nation’s premier football factory in 2005.

Under Kiffin, the USC offense produced a plethora of school records during the 2005 season, averaging an astonishing 49.1 points and 579 yards per game. The Trojans also became the first team in NCAA history to have a 3,000 yard passer, two 1,000 yard rushers, and a 1,000 yard receiver in Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, and Dwayne Jarrett. Meanwhile, another wideout -- Steve Smith -- fell a tad short of surpassing 1,000 yards receiving himself.

The one thing USC didn’t do is win the National Championship and that fact was never lost on the bitter veteran Kiffin replaced in Hollywood. After an upset loss to UCLA extinguished the Trojans' latest title hopes in 2006, Chow publicly criticized Kiffin, along with Southern Cal quarterbacks coach Steve Sarkisian.

“I know DeWayne Walker (a UCLA coach) may be better than both of those guys,” Chow told the Orange County Register. “DeWayne Walker is a heck of a football coach, which is why I wasn't too surprised he did what he did.”

Now -- at 31 and with a boatload of critics at the ready with a never ending supply of age jokes -- Kiffin will be the youngest head coach in the NFL in 2007, surpassing the New York Jets' Eric Mangini and the Steelers' recently-hired Mike Tomlin. In fact, he will be the youngest head coach since the AFL-NFL Merger.

He will also be walking in to a situation Norv Turner and Art Shell -- two members of “The Old Boys Club” -- found untenable.

So, while Lane may still get carded when buying his Corona....

And, he still might get stuck at the kiddie table when Monte hosts Thanksgiving dinner...

And others may stare at his girlfriend when she takes him across state lines...

He’s new blood and I will take that over Turner or Shell anytime.

-You can talk about the NFL coaching carousel with John McMullen at or

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The Key to Super Sunday: Bob Sanders

By Jared Trexler

The eighth man in the box. It's normally a nasty phrase in football fodder. A successful defense doesn't need it, while a porous one creeps that extra defender near the line of scrimmage to clot a bleeding wound.

Meet Bob Sanders, a 5'8" medical wonder, a safety by way of cornstalks and open terrain. A technically-sound hard-hitter, a paradox in today's game of highlight-reel licks and countless poor form.

Since Sanders' return at the beginning of Indianapolis' playoff run, he has turned one of the worst rush defenses in modern history into a solid, stern group in the trenches.

In turn, opposing offenses have faced more down-and-distance issues, allowing Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis to streamroll off the edge.

And that's when Indy is at its best. Unleash the speed, sit back in zone coverage and attack mistakes.

Thus, Sanders' role is more significant than tackles or sacks. It's measured in time of possession, and in the fourth quarter when attrition sets in.

If one player can single-handedly change Super Bowl XLI in Miami this Sunday, it isn't the quarterback destined for the Hall of Fame or the all-everything burly beast manning the middle of Chicago's defense.

It's the eighth man in the box -- Bob Sanders.

A little bit about Bob begins with his pedigree, Erie prep school signaling discipline and heart. Four years under Kirk Ferentz at Iowa, highlighted by freshman accolades, an undefeated
conference slate and the nickname "Hitman."

It suits the diminutive Sanders. He hides behind the wide and the tall. Then he sneaks up on the ball, always the attacker never the attacke.

During the regular season, Sanders played in just four games due to a nagging knee injury. The Colts consequently became one of the worst rush defenses in league history, allowing at least 100 yards on the ground in every game.

During a 44-17 Week 14 loss at Jacksonville, the Indianapolis rush defense surrendered 100-plus yards rushing to both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew -- in the first half.

Embarrassment didn't yield immediate results. The Bengals ran for 133 yards in a Monday night affair the next week, a game the Colts won. Then Ron Dayne pounded out 153 yards and Ronnie Brown followed suit with 115.

An alarming trend had become statistical truth. The Colts couldn't stop the run, making the likelihood of a postseason march remote.

Enter Sanders, seen in the locker room as the man put on the football field of life to stop Larry Johnson. As prognosticators spouted off about the bad match-up with the Chiefs, theorizing that LJ would run for 1,000 yards while keeping Manning off the field, Indianapolis went about its normal practice week -- this time with the safety in toe.

The difference was monumental. He didn't hide his intentions from the opening snap. Unlike how Pittsburgh deploys Troy Polamalu or Baltimore uses Ed Reed, Sanders lined up as a linebacker then went out and played like one.

Johnson's predestined historic day turned into a game without infamy, a paltry line reading 13 carries for 32 yards with a long run of six. Big Bob missed a tackle on that play.

"He just seems to lift the play of the other guys around him," head coach Tony Dungy told the Boston Globe prior the the AFC Championship victory over New England.

"He's excited about practice. He plays with high energy. He's an emotional guy. Our players pick up on that and they feed on that. He does help everybody play a little bit better," Dungy continued.

And as if truer words had never been spoken, Rob Morris and Cato June turned into the second coming of Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks.

Jamal Lewis mustered just 53 yards in the Divisional Playoff, allowing the pass rush to sack Steve McNair twice and rush him into two costly interceptions.

Then, against arch-nemesis New England, the Colts held Corey Dillion to 48 yards and rookie Laurence Maroney to 13 on eight attempts. In the second half of a win-or-go-home contest, the Patriots ran the ball just four times...because they couldn't.

No one would have dared to think that impossible feat was remotely possible before the playoffs began.

A Sanders-less unit that allowed 173 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry during the regular season quickly turned into an immovable force, yielding just 73.3 yards per contest and 3.6 yards a touch.

And because of those stats, the Colts took part in Media Day on Tuesday in Miami, one win away from removing the hump squarely on Manning's and Dungy's backs.

"I was never panicked about our run defense," Dungy said under the Florida sun. "We're going to be tested when we play Chicago, because those two backs (Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson) can pound it."

But so can Sanders.

"They make a lot of plays up front," admitted Jones. "They have a lot of quickness in their front seven, but Sanders is the key to their defense."

Right out of the opposition's mouth.

The key to Super Bowl XLI Sunday night will be whether Jones and his five-man buffet line can find Sanders, and do something three AFC squads couldn't during a rush defense resurgence.

Locate the eighth man in the box, and hit him.

Jared Trexler can be reached at

**Picture courtesy of Colts official web home***

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Durant gets it

By Michael Rushton

As the 76ers continue their quest towards lottery bliss, even though they are doing their best to screw that up, the possibility of selecting Ohio State’s Greg Oden continues to make fans salivate.

Many believe if the Sixers land the Ohio State big man, they become a playoff-bound squad next year. Many of those same fans scoff at the notion Philadelphia may entertain the idea of grabbing Longhorns freshman Kevin Durant instead.

I’m perfectly fine with Philadelphia passing on the versatile swingman because you know what, he may be available the following year.

Durant is part of this year’s freshman class restricted from entering the NBA draft. So instead of NBA millions, the likes Durant, Oden and Mike Conley all were “forced” to enroll in college.

It’s an outdated argument now whether the restriction is a good or bad thing. We’ll resurrect that discussion closer to the draft. Let me just say I’m for it and I’ll briefly tell you why.

The easy argument is that a fresh-out-of-high-school product’s body and mind just aren’t ready for the NBA. They are undersized, under worked and lack the necessary experience to handle the pro game. And that’s fine.

However, I think it goes deeper than that.

At 24-years-old and just 1 ½ years removed from college, I can tell you kids make mistakes. It’s a part of life, a part of maturity, a part of growing up. However, in a controlled environment such as college, the consequences of those mistakes are usually kept to a minimum. Usually.

However, give any freshman-aged person millions of dollars, the bad crowd that usually follows, and a wild, uncontrollable environment, and those mistakes can have disastrous consequences. Which is why a smile came to my face when I read Steve Wieberg’s article in last week’s USA Today.

In it, Durant admits that jumping right to the NBA might not have been the best move.

“I’d have struggled, man,” Durant says in the article. “I would have wanted to spend all my money on stupid stuff. I’d have wanted to buy everybody else everything. It would have been a disaster, I think.”

He continues, “Outside of basketball, I don’t know what I would have done. I think my mama would have had to quit her job just to look after me.”

And that’s just it. Many of us don’t know what we want to do at that age. We use college as a safety net to try, fail and succeed. Except we don’t have a high-priced contract and the weight of an NBA franchise on our shoulders.

Is a degree and a four-year college career in Durant’s future now. Probably not. In the end, college isn’t for everyone. But it’s a safe start. Who knows? Maybe Durant will play for Texas next year -- or three more years.

And if he falls into the Sixers’ lap in two or three drafts, they will get a wise, mature player to build around.

Give your take on the draft argument at or

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Reid's son reportedly involved in car accident

Comcast Sportsnet reported on SportsNite this evening that Andy Reid's son, Garrett, was involved in a car accident in Montgomery County Tuesday afternoon.

According to the report, a woman involved in the accident was taken to a nearby hospital and is listed in serious condition. Reid, 23, is reportedly being questioned by police.

More on this story as it becomes available.

Armed with a Tank

By John Gottlieb
It was last week that the Chicago Bears got a bit of good news when Cook County (Ill.) Judge John Moran allowed Tank Johnson to travel to Miami for Super Bowl XLI.
While not at work Johnson was required to stay at home after a December 14 raid on his Chicago suburb house found six weapons with ammunition, resulting in 10 charges of possession of firearms without a state gun-owner identification card. His bodyguard and childhood friend, Willie B. Posey, was arrested during the raid for possession of drugs.
In an article in the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald, it was reported the police found 550 rounds of ammunition, six guns, including a semiautomatic rifle with 19 live rounds and a loaded .45-caliber handgun, marijuana and what what was thought to be the prescription painkiller hydrocodone.
Two days later Johnson was at a bar where Posey was shot and killed.
And what did the Bears do? They suspended him for one game.
It's apparent that Johnson, who was a second-round draft choice out of Washington in 2004, has a problem keeping himself out of trouble. That was his third arrest in the last 18 months.
The first was in a fight with a police officer with the charges being dropped and the second was a misdemeanor weapons charge in November 2005. Johnson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months probation and community service after a valet reportedly saw the 6-3, 300-pound defensive tackle with a handgun in his SUV.
There has always been a double standard for the public and sports stars when breaking the law, but it has never been more evident that this.
How's it possible that Johnson was allowed to cross state lines to play in the Super Bowl? What's the point of probation if you can violate it with no ramifications? I thought these sentences were supposed to be a deterrent to prevent these things from happening again and again.
Johnson is lacking a little common sense and what does it say about the judicial system to let him go and play in the biggest game of his life? What's even more sad is that the prosecution didn't even object to the decision.
Is the district attorney's office more enamored with Chicago's first Lombardi Trophy in 21 years than keeping its citizens safe?
Media day, and this entire week is a joke, but the only thing I wanted to hear, more than Peyton Manning or Brian Urlacher, was Johnson try to explain what's happened over the past year.
I know that the charges are pending since he pleaded not guilty, so I wasn't expecting an apology or anything revealing, but he had the audacity to say that this was the best year of his life and that the situation opened his eyes. Apparently, his past transgressions with the law were mulligans or no big deal.
Chicago tried to shield Johnson by not giving him his own tent, but he couldn't dodge the questions.
When asked on the media coverage regarding his troubles, Johnson replied, "I would say (it was overblown). But it's the job of you guys to hype the hot story. Unfortunately, I was the story that gave you guys ammunition to write about me. Of course, I think that, but I just have to do my job. Sometimes you guys don't have the facts or you fill in the blanks here and there. I don't think that's right, but I don't have any control over that."
That's right, blame the media. I thought that Tank made an interesting choice of words.
Chicago's defense has struggled since the loss of Tommie Harris and Mike Brown, but maybe the franchise could've been the role models and given Johnson a little more than a one-game layoff. It would've made the Bears conquest that much harder, but it also would've made the statement that there are consequences for your actions, even if you're an NFL athlete.
However, Johnson will be lining up opposite Peyton Manning on Sunday looking for the NFL's biggest prize. It must be nice to be an athlete within the dichotomy of the judicial system. It's funny how hard it is to get a second chance in life if you're an ordinary citizen, while the world bends over backwards if you can run fast, throw the deep pass or sack the quarterback.
*** photo courtesy of AP ***

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Barbaro may be buried at Churchill Downs

Officials at the Kentucky Derby Museum have reached out the Barbaro camp, saying they'd be "honored" to have the colt buried on the premises.

Churchill Downs, of course, was where Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby. Four other Derby winners are currently buried there.

Almost One Year Later, the Bond Remains

At times, the area scribes hit the nail right on the head.

In the aftermath of Pittsburgh's 65-59 victory over Villanova Monday night, all of the small things within the game -- the bits and pieces only coaches see -- are overlooked.

No one misses talking about them more than Panthers head coach Jamie Dixon. He can banter with the media about the final stretch run at the Wachovia Center Monday night or delve into the textbook execution of a high pick and roll.

But it's just not the same. Not without Maggie.
Inquirer columnist David Aldridge wrote with precision and power in a Tuesday morning column, detailing how hard it is for a brother to lose his sister. His hero. His best friend. All in one sudden, unexpected blink of an eye.
It was the morning of April 6th, 2006, the day Jamie Dixon's life forever changed. And we at The Phanatic covered the horrific event in a column the very next day.
In honor of Jamie Dixon's return to Philadelphia, and in remembrance of his sister, former Army women's head coach Maggie, a reprint of Jared Trexler's column is found below:
I never met Maggie Dixon.
After all, I'm just a young journalist right out of college. I'm only 23 years old. That's the scary thing.
Dixon was a vibrant basketball mind who had just guided Army to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. Her brother Jamie, the head coach at Pittsburgh, also led his Panthers to another tournament bid.

March Madness had become a family affair. A celebration of hard work had culminated with hugs between a family bonded by basketball.
Despite the Cadets' first-round defeat to Tennessee and Pittsburgh's second- round upset loss to Bradley, the Dixon family was on top of the world.
Until it all came crashing down.
Maggie was rushed to Westchester Medical Center on Wednesday after suffering an arrhythmia heart episode. She died Thursday after spending about a day in critical condition. She was only 28.
"Her joy in coaching these young women made them believe in themselves and depend on each other," said Army athletic director Kevin Anderson. "Her guidance not only helped them excel here, it will help them become better, more compassionate leaders."
Those are generous words. Yet, they don't bring Maggie back. Flowers, cards, tears and condolences will not place Maggie in front of her family and friends again.
Her sudden death has absolutely nothing to do with sports. This just happens to be an impassioned plea found on a sports website. I don't plan on discussing her overall record or the bright coaching future she had.
The tragedy has everything to do with life.
Cadets ready themselves on a daily basis for bad news. Friends and classmates are fighting a war in the Middle East, spending every day one bullet away from death. Not that it is ever expected, but families understand the dangers of loved ones restoring peace in the Persian Gulf.
This came without warning. Without an immediate explanation. It makes even those who didn't know Maggie question life's plan. WHY. WHY. WHY. They don't have question marks because we already know the answers.
There aren't any.
Maggie's death will be grieved in the public spotlight because of who she was. However, every single day people who never got the chance to dribble a ball, putt for birdie, get married or take vacations sadly pass away. It is never fair. It is never easy. But a lesson in life always comes out of death.
It seems simple enough, but most people get too caught up in the rigors of the daily grind to ever truly embrace life. We should all enjoy special moments with family and friends. Always take the opportunity to tell loved ones how much they mean to us. It may be the last time. No one ever really knows.
The wounds of Maggie's death may never truly heal. There is no need to ask the Dixon family for a quote to fill this space. They are grieving. And we all already know how they feel. The next several months, probably even the next several years, will be a day-by-day recovery period for this basketball family. Yet, if they remember the embrace in happiness they all shared due to this season's success, perhaps the embrace in sadness will be just a little easier in the long run.
We celebrated the joys of human existence during the NCAA Tournament only to remember its fleeting nature in this one tragic event.
That's life.

Barbaro gone; McNabb to speak mid-week

Kentucky Derby winner and Kennett Square resident Barbaro was euthanized Monday after an eight-month struggle with multiple health complications. The horse was loved from beginning to end, a true sign he was sports' best friend, writes Jared Trexler.

Plenty more was on the docket at The Phanatic on Monday, including the news that Donovan McNabb will make his first public appearance since a season-ending injury on Wednesday as part of a Chunky Soup PR gala in Miami.

We are also right on top of the Flyers-Peter Forsberg drama. The Motor City may be the star player's new home, and a Q&A with the press revealed some interesting parts of his developing story.

In other Philadelphia sports news, Daily News baseball writer Paul Hagen wonders if Pat the Bat can really SEE the ball, and who knows if Curt Schilling may be a Phillie in 2008. Bob Glauber of Newsday buried an interesting tidbit for Eagles fans at the bottom of his Monday column. LINEBACKER JEREMIAH TROTTER MAY RETIRE.

Greg Wiley gets us ready for Super Bowl XLI in Miami with a riveting piece about Peyton's Place in the big game, along with other sports ramblings about Barbaro and HDTV.

Finally, who is the most dominating athlete in sports? The Phanatic's John Gottlieb delves into the debate between tennis icon Roger Federer and golf king Tiger Woods.

Smith downplays Toub talk

Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith downplayed talk that his special-teams coach -- Dave Toub -- would take the same position with the Eagles during his Monday press conference.

"This is the first I've heard of it," Smith said. "As far as things coming out like that during the week, Dave Toub is our special-teams coach. That's all we are concerned about. He was at practice today working hard just like he always does. If things come up at the end of the season, we'll deal with them, but I can't see why anybody would want to leave and not coach for the Chicago Bears. I'd answer it that way."

Monday, January 29, 2007

Will Manning go M.I.A. for the Super Bowl?

Manning, HDTV, Barbaro and other spiteful ramblings
By Greg Wiley

And down the stretch they come...

No this is not a bad lead into a Barbaro eulogy, rather it refers to the week-long media pounding the Colts and Bears players face leading up to Super Bowl XLI this Sunday.

The two teams were scheduled to arrive in Miami on Monday and the questioning will begin soon thereafter. You already know that Peyton Manning will be the center of attention for the Colts. He is a continuous sound bite and rarely backs down from any question. Remember his rant about then-teammate Mike Vanderjagt, who had earlier questioned Manning's ability to play in the clutch, at the Pro Bowl a few years ago? Expect a Chicago defensive player to lay into the Colts offense and Manning should have a response. If not, running back Joseph Addai is wet enough behind the ears to foolishly give the Bears bulletin board material.

For the Bears, I expect Rex Grossman to take a pounding from the sports media.His play most of the season has been up and down and his performance in the Super Bowl will be interesting to see unfold.

The real question this week, however, is which player will fall into an abyss and be absent from the big game. We've seen it a number of times in the past.In Super Bowl XXXVII it was Oakland Raiders center Barrett Robins. Years earlier it was Bengals fullback Stanley Wilson, who missed Super Bowl XXIII following a cocaine relapse the night before the game.

I hope nobody has any problems leading up to this game, but I bet the Bears are hoping Manning suffers a "promotional overdoes" and misses the game in favor of doing DirecTV commercials...

Speaking of DirecTV...Last week I mentioned I was getting a High Def TV. Well, it arrived on Thursday along with my DirecTV HD service (I refuse to give my money to Comcast) and boy what a difference. In the short time I have had HDTV, I have fallen in love. I can't imagine how I survived without it for so long. I was cheating myself. The clarity is unreal. I watched the Buick Invitational in HD on CBS and you could see the ball marks (no jokes please) on the green. I've never watched golf this early in the season before, but if other tournaments are in HD I'll be compelled to tune in again. I also flipped over to the NHL game on NBC, and I never watch hockey until the playoffs. If it was broadcast in HD I would have stayed. It wasn't (typical for hockey), so I switched to Discovery HD. That channel is awesome. I enjoy the nature shows in HD. When I was at the Cape May Zoo this past summer I didn't see animals this clear. Of course, that could have more to do with the Jersey air rather than anything else. I can't wait until the Super Bowl. I highly recommend HD to everyone. Oh yeah, get the DVR/TiVo. That is the best invention ever!...

I guess I need to mention Barbaro. He was a horse headed for history until that fateful day at the Preakness. It's a shame that happened. It was a wonderful story for horse racing that he made it as long as he did. Barbaro was obviously a fighter. It was great that the owners tried to keep him alive for so long. If it was any other horse, he would have been euthanized a longtime ago. But if I had the chance to make millions if Barbaro went to stud, I would've kept him alive a lot longer. Heck, I might even had tried to pass off another horse for Barbaro for the pay day...

How fitting was it that Tiger Woods and Roger Federer won their respective tournaments on Sunday? The two most dominant players in sports today showed what made them special. Federer coasted through the Australian Open, failing to lose a set on the way, while Woods lurked the entire tournament and then made his trademark move on Sunday to earn his third straight Buick Invitational crown.

Regarding the growing debate as to who is more dominant in his sport, I tend to slightly lean towards Woods. There doesn't seem to be a major flaw in his game he can't overcome and more importantly there isn't a course that can control him. On the other hand, Federer has a major problem on clay. How can I rule in favor of Federer when he has never won the French Open, one of the four Grand Slams in tennis? Woods has won each of the majors in his sport and has proven that climate isn't a factor either. Similar to the U.S. Postal Service, he delivers in wind, rain or shine. If he had to play in the snow, I would also bet on him. Now if Federer wins in Paris, I will probably rule in his favor. Federer's competition is slightly better than Woods'...

The Phoenix Suns are on some run. Closing in on 20 straight wins is simply amazing. This team is a fabulous regular-season squad, nearly unstoppable when playing a different opponent each night. Their running style is tough for any team to stop. The question, though, is can this team survive a playoff series against a top-flight Western Conference squad. It seems teams have answers for the Suns over a seven-game series. They become a lot more defendable. The Suns are a fun team to watch. Let's hope they can finally show up in the NBA Finals...

The surprising baseball news of the week was that the Red Sox are in serious discussions to acquire Todd Helton from the Rockies. Red Sox fans have to be happy to hear that. J.D. Drew looks a lot better behind Manny when Helton is waiting on deck...

I took some slack for touting Abreu as a fantasy baseball stud last week. So, I felt the need to provide a true sleeper this week. Oakland's Bobby Crosby is headed for big things. If he can stay healthy, expect him to put up career numbers. He is 27, the prime for hitters in the majors, and the Athletics should again vie for the AL West title. Expect to get Crosby in the mid rounds during your draft...

Anyone watching the X-Games? I have a problem getting into an event created by ESPN for ESPN...

Oh yeah, by the way, the Colts win the Super Bowl 27-17.

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Update on Forsberg-Flyers meeting

Following the meeting between Peter Forsberg and the Flyers' brass, GM Paul Holmgren and Forsberg addressed the media. Here's what they said:

Paul Holmgren

How did the meeting go?
Holmgren: “It was good to sit down and talk some things out. Peter’s skate/foot issues are still front and center for him and that sort of keeps everything else on hold. We are working on trying to resolve the problems he is having and it’s an ongoing thing. We feel like we are making some headway and until we get to the point where Peter feels very comfortable…I think what we resolved today was that there is no sense in talking about anything down the road until we can get to the point where he feels comfortable in his skate.”

Does this have to be before the [trade] deadline?
Holmgren: “I think we will know in a fairly short period of time. It’s January 29 today, the trade deadline is February 27, so there is still some time. Peter is a proud man and obviously a tremendous hockey player and his main responsibility is to the Philadelphia Flyers. He wants to help our team get better and win hockey games here down the stretch. If he has a chance at some point if he is feeling better to go to a team and maybe help a team win, he may want to do that, but right now there is no sense in talking about that. I think to throw that question at Peter today…I think he would need to feel better about his own situation.”

How frustrating is this?
Holmgren: “I guess my immediate response to that is, what are we going to do? Peter is our player and we are trying to work with him and make things better so he can help us right now. He is willing to play through it and continue to try and work on his issues. If February 28 comes along and Peter is still a Flyer, then so be it.”

Did he indicate if his foot feels better before the deadline that he would be willing to accept a trade?
Holmgren: “We never even really got that point because of what he is going through. He is very frustrated that the situation hasn’t gotten better and it’s not as good as it can be. As I said earlier we have made some strides. It’s still not perfect and he does not feel like he is the player he can be. He’s Peter Forsberg and he has been a tremendous player for a number of years and I really cannot relate to it. I see him doing some good things to help us but he is frustrated. He is the reason why we are where we are at. He is very hard on himself. Right now he wants to get these things resolved so he can help us.

“He is hard on himself. I see him out there trying. He is working hard and he still does those little things to help us. Maybe he’s not Peter Forsberg in his prime but he is still a great player and he can still do a lot of things to help win a hockey game.”

Are you going to take him off the (trading) table?
Holmgren: “He has never been on the table. Teams just called and the basic conversation goes something along the line of “if you ever get to that point where you are going to move Peter Forsberg we would have interest.’

“I’ve said all along if he stays here we are willing to roll the dice and get something done prior to next year with him.”

Is there any chance his frustration will lead to his retirement?
Holmgren: “I guess there is a chance for that. I don’t think Peter wants that. He is a thoroughbred, an artist, and if his equipment is not up to par where he can perform to the level where he wants to perform at, he feels like he is letting himself down and people down. So I guess it may get to that point, I don’t know, I think that is a ways off because he still has some fight left in him.

“I’ve always been a glass half full guy and I told Peter today we will continue to do everything we can until he walks in and says, ‘Ok, I have had enough.’ And that is how we are going to approach it.”

Peter Forsberg

How did the talks go?
Forsberg: “I think it went good. We didn’t really get a whole lot of things done. But we said we have to figure out the foot before we talk about anything else and that is what the focus is on.”

Do you think your foot will get better?
Forsberg: “I definitely hope so. I have been thinking all along it’s going to get resolved and that is what I have to hope and believe in otherwise I don’t think I would be here today if I thought there was no solution in sight. I think it would be hard to go out there and play. But, I think there is a solution out and there and I just think we have to keep working on it and hopefully one day we will find it.”

Talk about your frustration with your foot issue.
Forsberg: “I have been frustrated all year. And lately, I think you can see that I am frustrated. I am yelling that the refs. Overall, I am doing the things I should be doing out there and it has been wearing lately. But, I think it was a good meeting today. We got to clear the air a little bit because there have been a lot of rumors (about) me going everywhere and it’s been hard. I would like to try to focus on playing with the Flyers. I know I have been brutal on the ice and I know I can do so much more and that is why I think it is so frustrating to be out there. I know I can do better but I just cannot perform at the level that I have always performed.”

You are still doing things to help the team.
Forsberg: “I’m trying to go out there and do those things but then [I] get into a battle and fall down when [I am] not supposed to fall down. I know where I should be playing at so I don’t think I’ve been hard on myself. It’s just being realistic.”

Is this the final straw, so to speak?
Forsberg: “I don’t think so. Everybody is looking at the trading deadline and talking about that. So far it is out of the question right now, my wish was to be a Flyer and I wanted to play here. Our goal in the beginning of the year was to try and get the foot fixed and sign for how ever many years. Right we will see what happens, but I will do everything I can to help the Flyers and right now it is just being on the ice playing.”

*** Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers ***

They're the best, but who's more dominant?

By John Gottlieb

We are in an era right now of two of the most dominating athletes in the entire world and surprisingly enough they don't play in the NFL, MLB, NHL, or NBA.

Eldrick "Tiger" Woods and Roger Federer are so superior to everyone else in their respective sports that we are ready to just hand them the Green Jacket or the Wimbledon Trophy.

With Tiger winning his seventh straight PGA Tour event at the Buick Invitational and Federer becoming the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win a major without dropping a set in a 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 6-4 win in the Australian Open final against Fernando Gonzalez, the debate is raging on as to which is more supreme.

Since 2004, Federer has won nine majors, and made it to the semis in three of the four Grand Slams he didn't win. He is 254-15 with 35 tournament wins in that span, including 99-5 with 13 titles since 2006 and 36 straight matches, which is 10 shy of Guillermo Vilas for the Open Era record .

Federer is also the only player in the Open era to win three consecutive majors twice in a career.

He's going to pass Jimmy Connors' record of 160 straight weeks as the World No. 1 ranking on February 26, and unless he succumbs to injury it's only a matter of time before he wins the five more majors he needs to surpass Pete Sampras (14) for the most all-time.

There is only one shortcoming to Federer's game, and that's the French Open championship that has eluded his career. This may be the year that Federer becomes the first men's player to win the Grand Slam since Rod Laver did it in 1969, which is something Tiger's never done in a single season.

However, Tiger has won all four majors twice in his career and has to do it against 145 golfers in each tournament with stiffer competition. Woods not only plays against himself and the challengers, but he plays on different courses.

Federer only has to play the five or seven opponents depending on the luck of the draw, and while the surfaces may changes, the dimensions of the tennis court do not. Also, Federer has no control over the outcome of a Rafael Nadal-Paradorn Srichaphan match with the winner facing the top-ranked Swiss, while the only circumstance limiting the field against Tiger is who makes the cut.

Woods has to go up against Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els, who can all tackle Tiger week-in and week-out.

Tiger has 12 majors under his belt, including four Masters titles, and is six behind his idol, Jack Nicklaus.

Ever since he was two and made an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show, the world has known about Tiger Woods. The prodigy has certainly lived up to expectations, as the only player to win three straight amateur titles and becoming the only amateur to make the cut at the Masters in 1995.

Each golf course is different, and while the surfaces may changes, the dimensions of the tennis court do not.

Woods is four PGA tournament wins shy of tying Byron Nelson's consecutive victories mark (11 in 1945) for the all-time record, two Green Jackets away from matching the Golden Bear and 27 PGA victories from equalling the record set by Sam Snead.

The consecutive wins streak is phenomenal, but let's not forget that he lost once in Europe and twice in Asia during that span.

We are in the presence of greatness with these two icons demolishing the competition, but I'll give the nod to Federer, who at 25 is younger than Tiger (31), and plays a more physically demanding sport.

I was truly torn as to which is better until I thought of Rich Beem, Ben Curtis, Shaun Micheel, and Michael Campbell, all of whom have won major golf tournaments since 2002. Meanwhile, if you take guys with similar talent and put them against Federer they would get destroyed.

When Roger Federer is in the draw, tournaments are over before they start.

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Can Burrell SEE the ball?

It's an easy enough philosophy. In order to hit the ball, you better be able to see it. Longtime Philadelphia Daily News columnist/staff writer Paul Hagen delved into this issue in an interesting read in the Monday edition.

Is it possible that Burrell's problems at the plate come from poor vision? Players do take simplistic eye exams during Spring Training, but even Mike Arbuckle wonders aloud if a more professional, thorough eye exam would help the Phillies left-fielder in the long run.

Is this a possibility? Does Pat the Bat have problems "seeing" the ball out of the pitcher's hand?

Sound off below.

DMac to speak on Wednesday

Donovan McNabb will make his first public appearance since suffering a season-ending knee injury back in November when he appears at a Super Bowl function in Miami for Chunky Soup at 4:45 p.m (et) Wednesday.

McNabb will be there to present a charitable check in behalf of the soup company. But, the ensuing question and answer session could be explosive.

McNabb likely will be fielding questions concerning his leadership skills, the backhanded endorsement Brian Westbrook gave to Jeff Garcia, his relationship with Andy Reid and even his Mom's blogging skills.

Make sure to check out The Phanatic for all the details.

Motor City may be Forsberg's new home

"I think Detroit is the front-runner to get Forsberg," said NBC and TSN of Canada hockey analyst Pierre McGuire. "I think (Detroit general manager) Kenny Holland is going to offer a player and a first-round pick for him."

Barbaro was Sports' Best Friend

By Jared Trexler
From draped in roses after a multi-million dollar victory to showered with roses at his bed side in Kennett Square, Barbaro's true "life" began and ended with love.
That's why I'll never understand the bitter connotations behind the phrase, "You treated her/him like a dog." My own miniature collie, Maggie, was buried just over one month ago after a life filled with eating, sleeping, Frisbee sessions and adoration.
If only our lives could be filled with so much joy, and so little hurt.
Barbaro made a name for himself on a brisk Saturday in early May, as big wigs and gambling experts flooded into Louisville, Kentucky for the annual champagne toast known as the, "Run for the Roses."
The Philadelphia horse started fast, but unlike other area sports stars and professional teams, he ended faster. While winning the Kentucky Derby is quite an accomplishment, dominating a race by 6 1/2 lengths to capture a sixth victory in six starts is Sea Biscuit territory.
Enter MGM.
Yet the storybook never reached Chapter 2. Two weeks later, on an in-town track near the Baltimore Harbor, surrounded by a tent party that would make Phi Beta Flip Cup salivate, the horse with so much to gain lost it all.
Barbaro fractured his right hind leg in three places barely out of the starting block, ending his career and putting his life in jeopardy.
An emergency procedure led by chief surgeon Dr. Dean Richardson began an eight-month struggle for the area's new sports star. A plate and screws were inserted in the hind leg at the New Bolton Center at Kennett Square, and so began America's love affair with an ailing animal.
There is a reason the sympathy meter scales off the charts for dogs and cats, fish and horses. They are best friends, always there to listen without finding the need to prove you wrong.
And so Barbaro sat in the hay at the luxury complex with top-flight physicians and team owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson there around the clock. Yet, the story wasn't necessarily the team of Med school prodigies or wealthy owners, but the area fans who came to Kennett Square to offer their support.
Many didn't even watch Barbaro's emphatic win in Louisville. Others would have been hard pressed to offer insight into the sport of horse racing at all.
Yet, here they were. With cards and cakes, signs and sympathy. Flowers flooding the outside of Barbaro's "hospital room." All from people who strongly felt they were part of the family.
"Animals are sacred creatures," one woman told me some eight months ago. "We feel a strong affinity to them, no matter who they are or where they are from."
The story took on a nationwide slant because of WHO Barbaro was -- a talented thoroughbred with the genes for racing. And because of WHERE he was from -- a populous sports area with fans dying to embrace a winner.
Even if it was just a horse.
After many turns for the better and worse, Barbaro finally lost the battle for his life on Monday.
"We just reached a point where it was going to be difficult for him to go on without pain," co-owner Roy Jackson said. "It was the right decision, it was the right thing to do. We said all along if there was a situation where it would become more difficult for him then it would be time."
The situation occurred over the weekend when a series of complications, including laminitis in his left rear hoof and a recent abscess in the right rear hoof, started taking their toll.
After a Monday morning consultation, the grave decision to end Barbaro's life was made. In the aftermath, Jackson's first words were to US -- Barbaro's fans.
"I would say thank you for everything, and all your thoughts and prayers over the last eight months or so," Jackson said.
Barbaro lasted longer than the odds suggested at the beginning, leaving behind a legacy as a fighter more so than as a winner.
Sounds like typical Philadelphia. And that's why he'll be forever missed.

Barbaro loses struggle for his life

Animals truly are men's best friends.

"We just reached a point where it was going to be difficult for him to go on without pain," co-owner Roy Jackson said. "It was the right decision, it was the right thing to do. We said all along if there was a situation where it would become more difficult for him then it would be time."

Team owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson, along with chief surgeon Dean Richardson, met on Monday morning to make a decision.

The Phanatic's Jared Trexler will have his look at Barbaro's life in the coming hours.

Trotter to retire?

Buried deep down in a piece by's Bob Glauber, the columnist states that team officials are concerned with Jeremiah Trotter's knees and that there's a chance he might have to retire.
More from The Phanatic when it becomes available.

Forsberg, big wigs meet today

Peter Forsberg's future with the Flyers franchise will be a lot clearer after today. The captain is slated to meet with Comcast-Spectacor president Peter Luukko and Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren at some point Monday.

The two topics that are expected to be explored are Forsberg's health, and whether or not the standout wants to be traded.

Trade rumors involving Forsberg have been intensifying as of late, with reports linking him with New York and Colorado most notably. Also, there was a report -- later denied by Holmgren -- that Forsberg waived his no-trade clause.