Monday, December 31, 2007

Andy Reid's season ending press briefing

Opening Remarks:
“There are really no injuries to talk about. We will do exit physicals today; we’ll give you an update on those at a later date. Obviously, I’m happy about the way we finished the season. However, I’m definitely not satisfied with the way the season went. Our objective is to be in the playoffs and to win Super Bowls. This year, we’re going to have to watch [the Super Bowl]. That’s a disappointing fact of the season. There are quite a few things that we need to address this offseason, starting with the coaching and the playing; the personnel side of things. We will attack that after we get the players out of here today and restart on Wednesday. We will cover everything from A to Z.”

On the offense:
“There were some good things that did come out of the season, obviously. On offense, the improvement of [QB] Donovan [McNabb], coming off of a serious injury. He made improvement throughout the year. He finished strong, and he’ll be able to carry that into the offseason. I was proud of the way he handled himself, on and off the field, this season—like a real pro. [RB] Brian Westbrook just had a fantastic season—really the best in Eagles’ history and the Eagles have been around a couple years. He did a phenomenal job on the football field. I’ve mentioned the blocking and the running and the catching, but also his ability to lead the football team. He’s evolved into a very good leader. It was good to see some of the young guys have a chance to play on the offensive side. We would have liked to have seen a couple others have a chance to get in there. It didn’t work out that way with [QB] Kevin [Kolb] and [RB] Tony [Hunt], but they’ll have their day and reps will have to wait until later. Again, I thought one of the strengths of the offense, down the stretch, was the offensive line. While we do have a little bit of age at the tackle positions, we finished the season healthy. I know [T] Jon [Runyan] had the concussion, but we finished the season healthy there and had that continuity, which is so important there. We can take that into the offseason.”

On the defense:
“Defensively, I though the improvement of the young linebackers can do nothing but help us on the defensive side. I thought it helped us down the stretch. The improvement of the defensive line; I thought they really hit their stretch about six games ago. They really started dominating up front and put the pressure on the quarterbacks. They really did a nice job against runners. I thought [LB] Takeo [Spikes], coming into this system, was able to pick things up fast. He brought in some good senior leadership; he was good for the young guys. He did a nice job there. [DT Brodrick] Bunkley, coming off of the season that he had last year—which was really a zero season—and improving to where he was this year, including the leadership and energy that he brought into the huddle, I thought it meant a lot to our defense. I can bring out stories like [S] J.R. Reed. You need those kind of guys on your football team. Guys that have been though some adversity, have overcome the adversity and cherish every day that they have to play this game. [S] Quintin Mikell is another one. Quintin, by the end of the season, was playing at a Pro Bowl caliber level as a safety. We knew what a great special teams player he was. He became an even better safety.”

On the special teams:
“Special teams, I thought we improved as the season went on. What ends up happening is, if you get a couple guys nicked up here and there, those special teams guys become starters. Your special teams, at times, can become weakened. I thought the guys that stepped in battled, they didn’t get down on themselves, they improved, and they continued to make plays. [P] Sav Rocca improved. For a guy that’s just learning this game he got better every week and did some nice things. [LS Jon] Dorenbos came in as kind of a journeyman long snapper where he worked like crazy to get himself into a position where he just signed a nice contract and will be with us for a few years.

So, there were some good things, but that doesn’t mask the fact that I’m sitting here way too early for our standards. I don’t like it, our team doesn’t like it and we’re going to go into this offseason wanting to change that so that it doesn’t happen again.”

On balancing the good finish versus the bad start:
“You analyze the whole situation. As the head coach, as we’ve gone through the season, I tried to be realistic on the problems that were there. We set a few offensive records, but the fact is that we didn’t score enough touchdowns and we didn’t score enough points. We have all those nice records, but unless you score points, things don’t matter. We’ll go through and we’ll analyze those things and make sure that we get it taken care of. All the records won’t mask the fact that you need to put more points on the board.”

On whether there will be any changes to the coaching staff:
“I haven’t even gotten into all that yet. It’s not a yes or a no, I just haven’t been there yet. I will say this, I thought our coordinators did a nice job this year. We’ll go back through and analyze all that, but I was proud of their consistency and, when there were problems or we had new players come in, they made the adjustments and they tried to put the players in the best position that they could to perform at the best of their ability.”

On whether the coaching staff contributed to the poor season:
“We’re sitting here at 8-8. The season’s over and we all could have done a better job. We tried to emphasize that throughout the year. That’s starts with me. I’m responsible for the 8-8. I’ve got to do a better job, the coaches have to do a better job and my players have to do a better job. We’re going to do that, that’s the way we’re going to approach the offseason.”

On whether the organization’s philosophies will have to change:
“You do that every year. Whether you win or you go to the Super Bowl or you’re sitting here at 8-8, you go through everything. Normally, your fundamental principles stay intact, but you go through it and you re-evaluate everything.”

On getting more help on the defensive line:
“That’s a position we’ll look at. It’s always possible to do a better job; we can do a better job at a couple spots. We can do a better job in the red zone—these are all things that I think you know—in the red zone we weren’t consistent enough. We had our spurts, here and there, but we weren’t consistent enough at that. We need to do a better job of scoring on defense and on special teams. Our takeaway-giveaway ratio was horrendous; we have to do a better job there.”

On whether scoring more points is the main offseason objective:
“The main objective is that you score more than the other team scores. Those are the things you look at. How do you keep them out of the end zone and how do you score more points? There’s a lot that goes into that, so, we’re going to study all the things that go into that.”

On whether the secondary needs help for next season:
“I think one plus is that we saw that [S] J.R. [Reed] can play. He had a chance to start for us a couple games and has a chance to be a legitimate guy. [S] Sean Considine is going to come back off the injury and is working hard now. You have a guy there and then we’ll look at the draft and free agency and everything else. I think [S Brian] Dawkins will work his tail off this offseason, which he didn’t have a chance to do last offseason. He’ll come back in better shape, better playing shape. We’ll see about [CB] Lito [Sheppard]. I can’t tell you he’s going to have surgery or not have surgery. We have to see how his knee is and the doctors will determine what’s going to happen there, one way or another.”

On whether big changes or small changes are in order for this team:
“I really haven’t gotten into all that yet. The thing you have to do, and [general manager] Tom [Heckert] has been doing it the last couple of weeks, is blending the draft and free agency. You have to see what the strengths of the draft are, you have to know the juniors that are coming out—you’re kind of guestimating that right now. And with free agency, you have to know which guys are going to sign back with their teams which guys aren’t. You’re going through and you have to blend that together at this point and see what’s available. Then you go from there. It’s too early to tell you one way or another.”

On how to improve the turnover ratio:
“Obviously, what we saw the last three games is what we expected to see earlier in the year. It didn’t work out that way. For a number of reasons it didn’t work out that way. Am I satisfied with it? No. Am I going to analyze everything? Yes. I’ll come up with what I think is the right decision to make there. You go back and you count how many dropped balls you had. You look, number one, at the pressure. Pressure has a tendency to cause turnovers. If you get up in the quarterback’s face, that ball has a chance of going crazy places. You have a greater chance of making the interception. We’ve got to look at all that.”

On QB Donovan McNabb’s health:
“I thought it was big for him to get through this season the way he did; that’s why I played him yesterday as much as I did. I thought it was important for him to get through this year and I think next year he’ll be right back to where he’s always been—maybe even a little bit better. I think it was a great experience for him to have all mobility taken away early. Where, in his mind, he had to become an in-pocket passer. He didn’t have 100% of his capacity to run. For somebody in his ninth year to have a chance to be even better than he was is a great thing. Now he’s getting the mobility back and he’s becoming an even better thrower than he was before—and I think he was pretty good before.

On whether he and McNabb have discussed being more of a pocket passer coming back from his injury:
“No. He played the offense. He knew that it was tough to get out and outrun people early. He knew that early and it even makes you a little bit better as you go on.”

On whether McNabb can ever be back to 100%:
“The knee, after you have surgery, is never the same. But it can still be pretty close. As time goes on here and he’s able to let that thing rest a little bit, just like he was when he had the ankle injury. He came back and all of a sudden, the legs were a little bit more alive. Now he has a whole offseason to go back and take a little time off and get into his workouts. He’ll come back this next year and it will be way better than it was this year.”

On McNabb’s comments that the team could use an impact free agent:
“I haven’t heard Donovan talk about that, so I’m not answering it. I know, as players, you have to be careful about saying that because those are your teammates that are being replaced. Most players don’t get into that who really care about their teammates on the other side.”

On whether he is looking for an impact return man:
“We’ll see how that goes. That’s one position I will look at closely. We’ll see how it all works out. It was good to have [RB] Reno [Mahe] back in there; somebody you can trust, who would do the right things with it. He showed his value, as did [RB] Brian [Westbrook], when he had opportunities to do that.”

On the draft and free agency:
“We’ve always said the draft is the most important thing. That’s number one. You have to draft well if you’re going to keep the thing going. The better team you become, it’s harder for draft picks to make your team, especially when you accumulate the numbers that we have. However, we’ve had a few make it over the years, and we’ve made room for those guys. The draft is number one, and then free agency, I think you have to be very selective on who you take and where you plug them in.”

On whether McNabb needs more weapons around him in the red zone:
“I guess if you look at things statistically, here’s a guy who had his second-highest completion percentage, a 1,000-yard receiver and a running back who broke a lot of records. We need to get a little more production out of the tight end spot. With [TE] L.J. [Smith] being banged up, we didn’t get quite as much out of utilizing a rookie, who will improve, who has the ability to do that. But, we could use a little more production there. I think he has some good weapons. [WR] Reggie [Brown] stepped it up and had a career year, which was a positive. Really, that happened more in the latter half of the season than it did in the first half. He needs to continue on and have a good season and pick up where he left off.”

On whether L.J. Smith could be re-signed:
“We’ll see how that goes. That’s not out of the question at all.”

On why it helped McNabb to not have his mobility in the first half of the season:
“It takes away [his ability] where he could roll out of the pocket and make huge plays. That was a lot of pressure on defenses. Defenses wouldn’t try certain things on you. When they either don’t think you can do that, or you can’t do that as well, you are going to have to see a few more things than what you’ve seen in the past. He overcame that. Teams were throwing a lot of different looks at him than they did in the past. I thought he did a phenomenal job with it. I can’t help but think that it adds to his game down the road.”

On what the team could have done better in hindsight:
“I’m not big on the hindsight part, but I take a lot of pride here, that going into the fourth quarter with the lead, you finish the game off. Those games that we were ahead in the fourth quarter, that’s my responsibility to put our players in a position to finish those things off. We’ve got to get back to that mentality as a football team. I thought we did that better down the stretch. But, there has to be an intensity, a want to dominate, an aggressiveness, both from coaches and players, not to allow that kind of thing to happen, nor a season like this to happen.”

On whether he or offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg had to change their playcalling to account for McNabb’s lack of mobility in the first half of the season:
“No, that’s not what I mean. The same plays were called. There were things Donovan would do, where if he didn’t see somebody, he could escape and get outside the pocket and do certain things. It wasn’t a different play that needed to be called, or any of that. It was just something in his game, a small thing in his game that he’s always had and knew that he could utilize, but wasn’t there at the capacity that it had been before. Teams knew that. Teams saw it, they knew it, so they tried to do different things. He handled it. I just think that he can take that as a real positive going into this offseason. He took everybody’s best look, blitzes that he hadn’t seen before, and did some nice things with them. We did a little bit more shotgun than we had done in the past; he handled that well. There were just some good things that came out for him that I think, this next year, will make it a very good year for him.”

Closing remarks:
“Everybody have a safe and happy new year. I appreciate everything this year.”

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Classy Korver wasn't helping Sixers

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

In an effort to create what everyone in the NBA wants -- more salary cap space -- the Sixers new personnel czar, Ed Stefanski, traded one of the franchise's most popular players Saturday.
Stefanski sent sharpshooter Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz for disgruntled guard Gordan Giricek and a future first round draft pick.

Trading the well-liked Korver for the sullen Giricek, a guy who can't get along with one of the best coaches in the game, Jerry Sloan, is a ballsy move for a team that is already last in the minds of the local faithful.

But, the deal has nothing to do with the ability of the Croatian star. Giricek is making $4 million in 2007-08 but has an expiring deal. Meanwhile, Korver is pocketing $4.4 million this year and still has nearly $10 million guaranteed to him in a deal forever labeled "Korver Money" by irreverent ESPN columnist Bill Simmons.

The contract was just one example of Billy King's legendary ineptitude and B.K. was so proud of a acquiring a contributor on a draft night deal in 2003, that he would have never given up on Korver despite the obvious deficiencies brought to the floor on a daily basis.

Korver was a late second round pick for a reason, he does one thing well and struggles at everything else.

Kyle can't create his own shot, is a porous defender and laughable rebounder. Despite that, he got over 25 minutes a game and was consistently on the floor in crunch time.

At the offensive end that is not necessarily a problem. Although Korver was struggling with his stroke this season, he is still too dangerous to ignore and his presence created some nice spacing on the floor. It would have been even better if the Sixers actually had a low-post offensive threat. In that scenario, Korver could have stationed himself on the weak-side and waited for the a good look at a stationary three.

But, it was often painful watching Korver trying to check even the most pedestrian of players at the defensive end. And, Maurice Cheeks evidently just doesn't like shuttling players in-and-out to match-up at each end.

Korver's exit should open up minutes for rookie Thaddeus Young and second-year man Rodney Carney, athletic players that can make a difference in the running game and on the defensive end of the floor.

In Sacramento, we got to see Young playing with Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and Samuel Dalembert for some extended minutes and the athleticism on the floor was breathtaking. Add Carney to that mix and the Sixers will be able to run on just about anyone.

Rebuilding is a painful, often tedious process but Stefanski is off to a good start and he did it in a classy way, praising Korver as he showed him the door.

"On behalf of the entire Sixers organization, I want to thank Kyle for the positive impact he has made on this team and the city of Philadelphia through his play on the court and, even more importantly, his philanthropic efforts off of it," Stefanski said.

Well done, Ed.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Join us on the radio

Join The Phanatic Magazine's John Gottlieb and John McMullen Saturday at 5:00 p.m. (et) for another edition of Johns on Sports, coming to you live from the new, plush studios of WTBQ 1110 AM in New York.

We return from a brief holiday hiatus just in time for the Giants feeble attempt to stop the greatest team in football history. Should the Giants play Eli, Plax and Osi? We'll chat about that, Tom Coughlin's job security, are fans right to sell their tickets to Pats fans, and so much more.

UFC 79 takes place tonight in Las Vegas, and we'll talk about the return of Wanderlei Silva to take on fading star, Chuck Liddell. Matt Hughes-GSP III will not be a disappointing rubber match for the interim Welterweight belt while Matt Serra heals.

The Jets season mercilessly ends tomorrow; the Nets inch closer to .500; and the Knicks fall deeper into the abyss. Talk about that and so much more during Johns on Sports at 5:00 (et) on WTBQ 1110-AM in New York.

You can join the program by logging on to, calling in at (845) 651-1110, or writing an e-mail to

Eagles sign Dorenbos to 5-year extension

The Philadelphia Eagles signed long snapper Jon Dorenbos to a five-year contract extension Saturday. He was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent following the 2007 season.

“Jon has been a very good long snapper for us over the last year and a half,” said Eagles general manager Tom Heckert. “Good, consistent long snappers are hard to find and we wanted to shore up that position for the next several years. He has worked very well with David Akers and Sav Rocca and we’re happy to have him back.”

he 27-year-old Dorenbos battled a tremendous amount of personal adversity early in life and worked hard and stayed focused enough to carve out a five-year career as a NFL long snapper. The Eagles signed him late in the 2006 season to replace an injured Mike Bartrum and has gone on to snap for the Eagles in 22 games (including two playoff contests).

Dorenbos, who endured the murder of his mother by his father at a young age, took up magic to help ease his mind throughout the tough times. Dorenbos, in fact, has become so good at his craft that he has been hired for shows in Hollywood and Las Vegas. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent with Buffalo in 2003, Dorenbos has also snapped for the Bills (2003-04) and Titans (2005-06).

Sixers send Korver to Jazz for Giricek, 1st round pick

Philadelphia, PA - Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that the Sixers have acquired guard Gordan Giricek and a first-round pick from the Utah Jazz in exchange for guard Kyle Korver.

“We are excited about acquiring a player of Gordan’s ability, as well as an additional asset in the form of a first-round draft pick,” Stefanski said. “This move will provide us with increased salary cap flexibility this off-season and also allows us to continue our evaluation and development of the young talent we have on this team.”

In his sixth NBA season, Giricek has appeared in 350 games with 191 starts and has posted averages of 9.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 23.6 minutes per game. This season, the 6’6”, 220-pound guard has played in 22 games and averaged 4.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in 12.7 minutes per game, while shooting 40.2% (40-104) from the field and 35.3% (12-34) from three-point range.

The Croatian native was acquired by the Jazz on February 19, 2004 from Orlando and appeared in 226 games for Utah, where he compiled averages of 8.9 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 20.7 minutes per game.

Giricek played for the Croatian National Team in the 2005 European Championships and was named to the 2005 All-Eurobasket Second Team. He also competed in the 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 Croatian League All-Star Games (named MVP of the 1998 and 2000 All-Star Games). Additionally, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team and during the 2003 All-Star Weekend, he competed in the got Milk? Rookie Challenge and won the Rookie Hoopz Skills competition.

Korver has appeared in 25 games this season and has averaged 10.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 26.3 minutes per game. He played four seasons with the Sixers, who acquired his rights via a trade with the Nets during the 2003 NBA Draft. The 6’6”, 211 pound forward has career averages of 10.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 41.8% (1,221-2,919) from the field.

“On behalf of the entire Sixers organization, I want to thank Kyle for the positive impact he has made on this team and the city of Philadelphia through his play on the court and, even more importantly, his philanthropic efforts off of it,” Stefanski said.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Flyers recall Ruzicka

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have recalled forward Stefan Ruzicka from the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms, according to club General Manager Paul Holmgren. Ruzicka has been assigned uniform number #14 and will be available for Saturday’s Flyers-Tampa Bay Lightning game at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Florida (Comcast SportsNet and 610 WIP at 1:00 p.m.).

Ruzicka, 22, was scoreless in seven games for the Flyers this season. He has recorded nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points and 45 penalty minutes in 25 games for the Phantoms this season. He is second on the team in points with 23. In 40 regular season games for the Flyers last season, Ruzicka registered three goals and 10 assists for 13 points and 18 penalty minutes. He also posted 27 points (16G,11A) and 29 penalty minutes in 32 games for the Phantoms during the 2006-07 season.

Over parts of three seasons with the Flyers (2005-06 through 2007-08), Ruzicka has recorded three goals and 10 assists for 13 points and 39 penalty minutes in 48 regular season games. He was originally drafted by the Flyers in the third round (81st overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Runyan to receive PSWA Humanitarian Award

-Courtesy of the PSWA

Jon Runyan, who has not missed a game since joining the Eagles before the 2000 season, has also not missed an opportunity to give his time to numerous causes.

The Eagles' big right tackle, who will start his 194th consecutive NFL game on Sunday against Buffalo, will be recognized for his untiring charitable efforts as the recipient of the Humanitarian Award at the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association's 104th annual Award Dinner on Monday, January 28, 2008 at the Crowne Plaze Hotel in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Among the many organizations Runyan works with are the American Cancer Society, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Children's Miracle Network, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and St. Jude's Children Hospital.

Runyan will join a star-studded dais that already includes Jimmy Rollins, Kyle Korver, Matt Ryan, Daniel Briere, Charlie Manuel and Herb Magee, with more to come, with Harry Kalas again serving as Master of Ceremonies.

Tickets cost $75.00 and are available from Robbie Kenney at 609 - 702 - 7473, or online at

Eagles pluck CB Davis off Panthers practice squad

The Philadelphia Eagles today announced that they have signed cornerback Tanard Davis to a four-year contract. In order to make room for Davis on the active roster, wide receiver Michael Gasperson was released. Davis will wear jersey number 41.

Davis (5-9, 184) was signed by the Eagles off of the Carolina Panthers practice squad, where he spent weeks three through 16 of this season. He was originally signed by Indianapolis as an undrafted rookie in May of 2006, and went on to attend training camp with the Colts that year only to be released prior to the start of the regular season. Davis was later re-signed to the team’s practice squad where he spent a majority of the 2006 season, earning a Super Bowl ring. He again attended training camp with the Colts in 2007, but was released prior to the regular season.

The 24-year-old cornerback, played collegiately at the University of Miami (FL). Davis walked on to the Hurricanes program as a sophomore wide receiver and went on earn a scholarship prior to his junior year switching to defensive back. As a track standout, he won the Big East title in the 60-meter dash in 2004. Davis grew up in Miami where he attended Southridge HS.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Flyers Lost in a Holidaze

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Viewed through the prism of where the Flyers were one year ago today, there are many encouraging signs that the club is on their way to bigger and better things.

On December 24, 2006, the team was 8-23-4, coming off a 6-3 setback to Ottawa at home which was the ninth of 10 consecutive losses. They were dead-last in the NHL with 20 points, six away from the next nearest worst club.

New head coach John Stevens was embroiled in a baptism by fire up to his neck in injuries, Phantoms call-ups, and a high-scoring conference eager to feast on the downtrodden.

December 24, 2007 finds the orange and black with a 16-14-4 mark and a positive goal differential, and only two points out of second place. After dropping all eight games to the Penguins last season, the Flyers have scored three emphatic victories over their Western neighbors.

True to this year’s slogan, they have been “back with a vengeance,” ranking second only to Anaheim in penalty minutes. Mike Richards has been, far and away, the team’s breakout star. If not for Danny Briere and his commercial, Richards may also be the official face of the franchise. Richards, Briere, Scottie Upshall and others comprise some of the most fearsome short-handed units in the league.

The club even pulled off a little history. Martin Biron became the first goaltender to record back-to-back shutouts in consecutive games since John Vanbiesbrouck threw three straight goose eggs early in the 1999-2000 season. Joffrey Lupul and R.J. Umberger became the first Flyers to post two hat tricks in one game for the first time in almost 21 years.

They even blitzed Vancouver and Pittsburgh with eight goals, and tallied at least four goals on 10 occasions, making them one of only a handful of teams to put on the red light on a regular basis as the NHL sees scoring down dramatically already this season.

All is far from calm and bright on South Broad Street, though.

The only thing which has stopped a season-worst six-game losing streak was the NHL’s traditional two-day holiday break. Despite a record officially above .500, they are in last place in the Atlantic Division.

Even though he is averaging over a point-per-game, Briere has put together one of the quietest 36-point performances of any Flyer in recent memory. Being a minus-10, and failing to score in any shootout this season including the one on Saturday night and looking very uninspired doing so -- may begin to sour some fans who have been living on the hopes of his game-breaking skills.

Without Simon Gagne, Mike Knuble has been unable to generate the room he needs to pass and score, relegated to picking up the trash on the second power-play unit. Scott Hartnell’s passion and enthusiasm has translated into more senseless penalties and one suspension than it has to his anticipated value.

Randy Jones’ edge has noticeably vanished, and the Patrice Bergeron hit is the most obvious culprit. Rory Fitzpatrick, ostensibly brought in for depth on the blue line, is a team-worst minus-12 with one assist in 18 games.

Biron hasn’t yet found a game-to-game consistency, but that has as much to do with his defense deserting him during key stretches of most games over the last six weeks as it does with his inexplicable inability to perform in shootouts. He is tied for 28th in goals-against average at 2.78.

Gagne’s lingering concussion symptoms seem to defy any plan for his return, and he is sorely missed after being absent for 24 of the last 26 games. The power play, despite its standing as tops in the NHL at 23.4 percent, looks like it requires an engraved invitation before anyone shoots.

Whatever killer instinct the franchise preached in the days before defensive hockey took emotion from the game, still has not taken root with this year’s edition.

The suspensions and line drawn between hard play and illegality are one thing, but certain performances in December could spell future trouble.

In both the Carolina and Buffalo home games, the team fell asleep and found themselves down
3-1, only to fight back to tie, then fall apart at the end with missed opportunities. In the Dallas and Montreal home games, poor starts doomed the club and sucked the emotion right out of the building. After taking a one-goal lead at New Jersey two Sundays ago, the team played its worst 15 minutes of the year in letting the Devils take a 3-1 edge with wave after wave of odd-man rushes and uncontested chances.

The road ahead doesn’t get any easier. A home game Thursday against Toronto is a prelude to a six-game road swing into the New Year. Each of the next seven on the slate has consequences for the playoff picture, as the Flyers have played themselves from the five-seed to 13th place in a matter of two weeks.

As the year winds down, we can’t really argue too hard that the team is doing so badly, though. Simplicity and positive thinking is key here.

While you hand out the gifts and raise a glass for holiday cheer, make sure to send a silent message to whatever higher authority you believe in for Kimmo Timmonen to shoot, instead of filling your house with profanity urging him to do so.

When Martin Biron gives up yet another shootout-deciding goal while looking like a backward-skating version of the Statue of Liberty, give thanks that there is no such thing as the shootout in the playoffs. Express hope that beneath his wooden exterior and bland demeanor, Stevens has the heart and brain of a real NHL-caliber coach.

As the ball drops in Times Square, keep reminding yourself that the organization’s plan is already set in motion for the best, and is designed for better results than even now come December 24, 2008.

If that fails, you can always fall back on the old chestnut that it’s never a bad game if our guys beat up and hurt their guys.

Phils ink Taguchi

Outfielder So Taguchi signed a one-year contract with the Phillies on Monday. The deal includes a club option for 2009.

Taguchi, 38, hit .290 with three home runs and 30 RBI in 130 games for St. Louis last season. As a pinch-hitter, Taguchi led the National League with a .406 (13-32) batting average. With runners in scoring position, he batted .323 (21-65). Of his 64 starts in 2007, 41 were in center field, 21 were in left field and two were in right field.

"Taguchi gives our team more defensive versatility in the outfield," said Amaro. "And he has proven over his career that he can get key hits in big situations."

As a member of the World Champion Cardinals in 2006, Taguchi hit .400 (6-15) with two home runs and four RBI in the playoffs that year, starting three of the five World Series games.

A native of Japan, Taguchi is a .283 career hitter with 19 home runs and 154 RBI in 578 games, all with St. Louis. He has a career pinch average of .284 (29-102) and has hit .337 (98-291) with runners in scoring position.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Temple's Christmas A-10 player of the week.

Christmas registered his team-leading third double-double performance of the season on Dec. 22 with 22 points and 11 rebounds as Temple edged Eastern Michigan, 58-55...shot 8-of-13 from the field, including 6-for-10 from beyond the arc...tied his career high for rebounds in a game...added an assist and a steal...marked his fifth 20-point performance this season.

The Big Get?

When you break a story or secure that elusive interview, it's called a "Big Get" in the world of journalism.

In today's 24-7 news cycle, the conventional media (newspapers and magazines) rarely beat the electronic media to any "Big Get."

So, when the boys at Philly Magazine looked like they got "the biggest get" in this town -- at least in the sports world -- people took notice.

And you can bet Larry Platt was breaking out the champagne.

Instead of relaying the latest gossip on our favorite news vixen or bolding telling us what the best cheesesteak or microbrew is, Philly Mag was about to get back in the journalism business.

They convinced Andy and Tammy Reid to sit down and finally discuss the mess that is their two oldest children.

Not so fast...

Reid and his wife were given the ability to read the interview and "suggest"changes before it was published. And, apparently, the Reids exercised their right to make revisions. The magazine also donated money to a charity of Reid's choice.

In other words, Platt paid off Reid and gave him creative control over a fictional piece of work.
Here's how "Big Red" spun his story:

"For the last several months, Tammy and I have struggled with the proper way to handle our family’s personal situation in a public platform," Reid said in a release about the interview. "As many of you know, I chose not to answer or field questions for various legal and personal reasons. I wanted to instead focus on football-related matters.

"However, as time has gone by, the tremendous level of support and interest that was shown by many people -- even by those without any interest in our football team -- was stunning. Tammy and I are very humbled and thankful for that. Obviously, we are not the only family that has or will at some point struggle with these situations in their own households. The outpouring of letters, emails, and phone messages made me realize that our personal situation, as difficult as it is, could actually have a positive impact on many other people’s lives.

"With that in mind, we decided that it was important to share some of our family’s story. Because of open legal issues, there is still much we cannot discuss. The story is long and complex and we felt that a magazine was the best format to tell such a story. Therefore, we decided to let Philadelphia Magazine publish our story."

Both sides of this saga can be argued. Many feel for Reid and support him,while many others believe the coach's problems affected his job performance and he should be shown the door.
This puff piece did nothing to clear up the legitimate issues that Reid, a public figure, should have addressed in an honest matter many months ago.

Simply put, it's not Philadelphia Magazine's job to act as a public relations arm for the Philadelphia Eagles or Reid.

Derek Boyko and his minions at the NovaCare Complex are doing that job just fine. The Eagles' public relations staff has already created a bunker mentality that protects Reid at all costs.

I hope the small spike in circulation is worth it to Platt because he just joined Howard Eskin and Dave Spadaro as card-carrying members of the Reid Kool-Aid club.

The price of admission?


Friday, December 21, 2007

Flyers give Stevens one-year extension

The Philadelphia Flyers reached an agreement on a one-year contract extension with Head Coach John Stevens, according to club General Manager Paul Holmgren.

“John (Stevens) has built strong relationships with many of our young players as well as with the players that joined us over the summer,” said Holmgren in making the announcement. “We believe that he is the right coach to lead our team in a positive direction.”

"Obviously, I am very excited,” said Stevens. “I have a great relationship with Paul Holmgren and I am thrilled with the opportunity to continue to work with Mr. Snider and Peter Luukko. They have the team going in a real positive direction. They have a long history of winning here and I am excited to be a part of that moving forward.”

Stevens, 41, is in his first full season as the club’s head coach after being promoted from assistant coach on October 22, 2006. He has a 37-55-14 record in 106 career NHL games coached. He is the 16th head coach in Flyers history and the fourth former Flyer to be named the team’s head coach. He was named assistant coach of the Flyers on June 5, 2006.

Prior to joining the Flyers’ coaching staff, he was the head coach of the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms, for six seasons (2000-01 through 2005-06) and led the team to the Calder Cup Championship in 2005. Stevens’ career AHL coaching record is 230-181-33-25 in 480 regular season games, not including 11 shootout losses. He has a 29-19 record in 48 career AHL playoff games. Stevens was named the second-ever head coach of the Phantoms on June 8, 2000. His 480 games coached and 230 career wins are the most in Phantoms history. He was named an assistant coach for the Phantoms on February 10, 1999, after announcing his retirement from hockey due to an eye injury.

A native of Campbellton, New Brunswick, Stevens played 15 seasons of professional hockey as a defenseman (1984-85 to 1998-99), including 53 career NHL games with the Flyers and Hartford Whalers. Over parts of five seasons (1986-87 and 1987-88 with the Flyers and 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1993-94 with Hartford), Stevens recorded 10 assists and 48 penalty minutes in 53 games. He was a member of three Calder Cup Championship teams as a player (Hershey - 1988, Springfield - 1991 and Philadelphia - 1998) and won the Barry Ashbee Award as the Phantoms’ top defenseman for the 1996-97 season. He was named the Phantoms’ first-ever captain on October 1, 1996. Stevens was originally drafted by the Flyers in the third round (47th overall) of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft.

Reid press conference on Philly Mag article

“Before I get started on the injuries, I would just like to address the article that is coming out in Philadelphia Magazine. Some of you folks already have it. As I told you in the press release, it was a way for us to share our story with others. We’ve gotten tremendous support through this whole event. It was a way to reach out to those who are going through similar situations. It was an opportunity to do this while the players were still in town, and give them an opportunity to read about it so that there would be no gray areas as they left town. With that, you can go ahead and proceed to read the article, if you already haven’t, and go from there. I’m not going to open this up for questions. Obviously, there are things still pending and I don’t want to get into a verbal debate here about anything. I’m just going to leave it at that. I appreciate you helping me out with that and we’ll try to talk here about the upcoming football game.”

On the timing of the upcoming article in Philadelphia Magazine:

“Everybody’s here. Everybody is here that went through this. It was an opportunity, before the season is over, to make sure that everybody saw it and that there was no hearsay. Everything’s right here and I thought that was an important thing to do.”

On whether the article would have been a distraction had the Eagles been in the playoff hunt:

“I don’t think so. I wouldn’t have done it if I thought that.”

On what advice he would give to other families in similar positions:

“I really can’t get into all that. I would love them to read the article. I would love for them to do that; it’s all explained in there. I would say, on the other hand, that we’re so grateful for those that have reached out; people with similar situations. That was one of the leading forces in doing this. I would like to leave it at that.”

On what he wants people with similar situations to take from the article:

“That they’re not the only ones. That this happens everywhere.”

On why he chose Philadelphia Magazine for his story and not the general media:

“People have reached out. It’s been phenomenal. I can’t tell you how, it’s been unbelievable, the people that have reached out. I felt that was the only way to reach everybody in one shot. I think this does that. Let’s move on to the Saints.”

On whether he was surprised at how people have responded to the situation:

“They’ve been great. I think you all know how I feel. I appreciate the concern and let’s leave it at that.”

On what he would tell people who aren’t able to read Philadelphia Magazine:

“I’m just so appreciative of everything and the way people have handled it. That’s all. I appreciate it.”

On the contributions the magazine decided to make to a charity of Reid’s choice:

“I’m not going to go into all that right now. We have an idea. That will all come out later.”

Philly Magazine Andy Reid preview

You can read it here...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reid discusses Philly Magazine article regarding family situation

“For the last several months, Tammy and I have struggled with the proper way to handle our family’s personal situation in a public platform. As many of you know, I chose not to answer or field questions for various legal and personal reasons. I wanted to instead focus on football-related matters.

"However, as time has gone by, the tremendous level of support and interest that was shown by many people – even by those without any interest in our football team – was stunning. Tammy and I are very humbled and thankful for that. Obviously, we are not the only family that has or will at some point struggle with these situations in their own households. The outpouring of letters, emails, and phone messages made me realize that our personal situation, as difficult as it is, could actually have a positive impact on many other people’s lives.

"With that in mind, we decided that it was important to share some of our family’s story. Because of open legal issues, there is still much we cannot discuss. The story is long and complex and we felt that a magazine was the best format to tell such a story. Therefore, we decided to let Philadelphia Magazine publish our story.”

Phils sign Jenkins, Durbin

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

The Philadelphia Phillies signed outfielder Geoff Jenkins and pitcher Chad Durbin Thursday.
The 33-year-old Jenkins signed a two-year contract with a mutual vesting option for 2010, while Durbin signed a one-year deal.

Jenkins has spent his entire 10-year major league career with the Milwaukee Brewers and is a .277 career hitter with 212 home runs and 704 RBI in 1,234 games.

He hit .255 with 21 home runs and 64 runs batted in during 132 games last season.

"Geoff gives us that left-handed power bat in the outfield that we were looking for," said general manger Pat Gillick. "He can play right or left field and will give Charlie some lineup options on an everyday basis."

Durbin went 8-7 with a 4.72 earned run average in 36 games (19 starts) for Detroit last season.

"Chad can either be a starter or reliever, so we feel he is a very good addition to our club," said Gillick. "He pitched in both roles very effectively last season."

In parts of eight major league seasons, Durbin is 25-37 with one save and a 5.75 ERA in 114 games for Kansas City (1999-2002), Cleveland (2003-04), Arizona (2004) and Detroit (2006-07).

Eagles place Spikes on IR

The Philadelphia Eagles placed LB Takeo Spikes on injured reserve with a torn rotator cuff Thursday. To replace him on the 53-man roster, the team signed WR Michael Gasperson from the practice squad.

Spikes, who was injured in last Sunday’s win at Dallas, ranked 2nd on the team with 139 tackles in his first season in Philadelphia. Acquired in a trade with Buffalo last offseason, Spikes has helped the Eagles defense rank 9th overall in terms of total yards allowed and 6th in rushing defense.

Gasperson has been a member of the Eagles practice squad since the start of 2005 season after being signed as a rookie free agent from the University of San Diego on August 27, 2005. The 6-4, 220-pound receiver is a native of Monterey, Ca.

In addition, the Eagles re-signed William Kershaw to the practice squad. Kershaw, a 6-3, 240-pound linebacker from Maryland, had spent four weeks earlier in the season on the Eagles practice squad before Houston signed him to their active roster on November 28. He was released by the Texans on December 18.

West Chester graduate to coach San Francisco in MLL

Burlingame (CA) – The San Francisco Dragons of Major League Lacrosse announced today that Tom Slate has been hired as the team’s Head Coach for the 2008 season. Slate has served as assistant coach for the Philadelphia Barrage since 2005 and helped lead the Barrage to two consecutive MLL Championships (2006 and 2007). In addition to his duties with the Barrage, he is also the Head Coach at Downingtown East High School where he has been since 2004. His 2007 team won the Pennsylvania State Championship and in doing so he became the first person to win a State Title as both a player (Springfield HS '92) and coach in Pennsylvania history. Prior to coaching at Downingtown East he served as Assistant Coach at Radnor HS (PA) helping to take Radnor to the State semis and finals in consecutive years.

Slate graduated from West Chester University with a degree in Health and Physical Education with an emphasis in fitness. He was selected as a 1st team All American selection at Essex Community College (MD) and as a 1st team High School All American for Springfield HS (PA) which he captained to the State Championship. He played for seven years with the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League where he helped the team win two World Championships in 1998 and 2001. He then played for the MLL’s Baltimore Bayhawks for one season. Additionally, he was selected to represent the USA at the Heritage Cup.

Currently he is the Owner of Lacrosse Evolution ( in Downingtown, Pennsylvania where he lives with his wife Stacy and daughter Rylee and son Lucas.

“We are extremely fortunate to have a person of Tom's background and experience joining our organization” commented Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Locker. “Tom brings a great deal of experience and enthusiasm, and we could not be happier having him as our Head Coach” Locker continued.

"I'm privileged and excited to be selected as Head Coach of the San Francisco Dragons, and am eager to get started." commented Slate. "I have set goals in my mind for the team, and those goals are high. We have a lot of work to do and I'm excited to get the Dragons into the elite teams in Major League Lacrosse" continued Slate.

Sixers welcome back Dr. J

The 76ers will honor Julius "Dr. J" Erving and Clint Richardson this Friday, December 21, in the first of four nights this year that will honor the 25th anniversary of the 1982-83 NBA Championship team. Serving as a backdrop for Erving's and Richardson's return to the City of Brotherly love is a clash between the Sixers and Philadelphia-native Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers. Tickets are available at and at the Sixers box office.

During the Sixers morning shootaround, Erving and Richardson will take time to speak with the current Sixers, sharing their wisdom and championship experience with today's team. Then, at halftime of the game, Erving and Richardson will be honored by the same organization they helped bring a championship to 25 years ago. Also during the game, the two will take time to meet with Sixers season ticket holders, both current and those who have been here since the 1982-83 season.

As part of the night's festivities, the Sixers will wear their adidas Hardwood Classics uniforms from that historic 1982-83 season for the third time this year. The replica throwback jerseys will be available for sale beginning Friday night at the Fan Gear store located inside the Wachovia Center.

This special night is meant to reflect back on that title season of 1982-83, while also paying tribute to Erving and Richardson individually. During that memorable run, the Sixers lost just one game in the post-season, ultimately sweeping the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Over the course of the regular season, Erving averaged 21.4 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game and 1.6 steals per game. Richardson finished the year averaging 7.6 points per game and 2.4 rebounds per game.

Phils reach deal with OF Jenkins is reporting that The Phillies have reached an agreement with outfielder Geoff Jenkins on a two-year deal.

According to the report, the contract is worth $13 million with a third year vesting option on plate appearances that could increase the total package to $20 million.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Eagles' Spikes done for season

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid announced that linebacker Takeo Spikes is scheduled to have season-ending surgery on his rotator cuff and will be placed on injured reserve.

Spikes suffered the injury in last Sunday's 10-6 win at Dallas.

Surgery is tentatively set for Friday and will be performed by Dr. James Andrews.

Rookie Akeem Jordan will get the start at weak side linebacker in place of Spikes while fellow rookie Stewart Bradley will play in nickel situations.

To replace Spikes on the roster, the Eagles plan to promote wide receiver Michael Gasperson from the practice squad.

Spikes finished the year with 86 tackles and one sack

Flyers bring back Vandermeer

The Philadelphia Flyers today announced that they have acquired 6’1”, 210-pound defenseman Jim Vandermeer from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for left wing Ben Eager, according to club General Manager Paul Holmgren.

Vandermeer, 27, recorded two goals and seven assists for nine points and 44 penalty minutes in 26 games for the Blackhawks this season. He was second on the team in penalty minutes.

In 218 career NHL games over the last five seasons with the Flyers and the Blackhawks (2002-03 to 2007-08), Vandermeer has registered 16 goals and 44 assists for 60 points and 323 penalty minutes. He played parts of two seasons with the Flyers (2002-03 and 2003-04), posting eight points (5G,3A) and 52 penalty minutes in 47 games. He was traded by the Flyers, along with the rights to Colin Fraser and Los Angeles’ second round pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, to Chicago in exchange for Alex Zhamnov and Washington’s fourth round pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft on February 19, 2004. He was originally signed by the Flyers as a free agent on December 21, 2000.

Eager, 23, was scoreless with 62 penalty minutes in 23 games for the Flyers this season. His 62 penalty minutes were third on the team.

Over parts of three NHL seasons with the Flyers (2005-06 to 2007-08), Eager registered nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points and 313 penalty minutes in 111 regular season games. He was acquired by the Flyers, along with Sean Burke and Branko Radivojevic, from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for Mike Comrie on February 9, 2004. He was originally drafted by Phoenix in the first round (23rd overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oliver stands by McNabb report

"I just feel like our relationship is definitely broken," Oliver told the Wilmington News Journal. "It's not easy to be called a big, fat liar. You wake up to that and it's unpleasant."

Oliver also said that McNabb's comments were actually even stronger and that she toned them down to help McNabb..

"My only professional regret is: Why on Earth did I bend over backwards to make it less impactful?," she said. "And then wake up to . . . to someone throwing you under bus like that. All I can tell you is I stand by it 100 percent. It's on-my-mother's-grave accurate. That's the bottom line."

Westbrook, Andrews make Pro Bowl

Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook and right guard Shawn Andrews were named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad Tuesday. For Westbrook, it is his first selection to the Pro Bowl, after being named as an alternate in 2004 and 2006. He played in game after the 2004 season when he replaced the injured Shaun Alexander. For Andrews, it is his 2nd-straight selection after being voted a starter in 2006. He was also selected as an alternate in 2005.

Westbrook has enjoyed a terrific season in which he has proven to be one of the most explosive and complete running backs in the NFL. He currently leads the league with 1,896 yards from scrimmage (145.8 per game), and ranks 5th in the NFL (2nd in the NFC) with 1,191 rushing yards (91.6 per game).

"I think it’s a big deal for me to make it," Westbrook said. "I’ve worked hard. My teammates have worked very hard to put me in this position and it’s a big deal for us as a team, and us as the players, and myself as a player as well. I continue to take my hat off to my teammates who have provided the way and have shown me the way to work hard and providing the opportunities to do the great things that I’ve been able to do on the football field."

Andrews has duplicated his tremendous 2006 season, in which he earned All-Pro honors and was voted a starter on the NFC Pro Bowl squad, but was unable to play in the game due to injury. His 2007 season has been highlighted by his ability to neutralize defensive lineman and open holes for the NFL’s yards-from-scrimmage leader.

Westbrook’s 2007 and career highlights:

*Averages 5.6 yards per touch, which leads all NFL players with at least 225 touches.
*With 1,896 yards from scrimmage this season, is 111 yards shy of breaking Wilbert Montgomery’s team record set in 1976.
*Has accounted for a league-leading 94 first downs.
*His 83 receptions on the season are the most by any NFL running back, and are 5 shy of the Eagles single-season team record of 88 set by Irving Fryar in 1996.
*Leads all NFL running backs with 705 receiving yards and 5 touchdown receptions.
*With 12 total touchdowns in 2007, he ranks 2nd among all NFC running backs.
*Since becoming a full-time starter in 2004, he has amassed 6,416 yards from scrimmage, the 3rd-highest total in the NFL.

Andrews’ 2007 and career highlights:

*Paced an offensive line that contributed to the league’s 8th-ranked offense (9th in rushing, 13th in passing). The offense also ranked 2nd in the league in rushing average behind his efforts.
*Landed a key block in the 4th quarter on 11/11 at Washington to spring Westbrook on a game-winning 57-yard touchdown reception.
*Was voted to the Pro Football Writers Association Midseason All-Pro team.
*Was voted by fans as the starting right guard on the Eagles 75th Anniversary Team.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Phillies Hot Stove League news

ESPN's Jayson Stark is reporting that the Phillies are interested in center fielder Mike Cameron, now that the Padres are out of the mix.

Meanwhile, the Phils are one of many teams watching Kris Benson throw today. The Yankees, Cardinals, Royals, and Marlins are also expected to be taking a look at Benson.

Also, The Phils could take a trip down the Walmart clearance aiale and give a minor-league deal to Sidney Ponson.

Finally the San Diego Union Tribune's Tom Krasovic says the Padres' offer to Geoff Jenkins will likely to be inferior to that of the Phillies.

McNabb denies Oliver report

Fox TV sideline babe Pam Oliver reported that she spoke to Eagles QB Donovan McNabb Saturday and was convinced that DMac believed he was being phased out of Philly. Oliver also reported that McNabb said he would be a "winner" wherever he played next season.

"Donovan really seems to believe that his days in Philadelphia are numbere," Oliver said in her report. "When I spoke with him before the game, I got the impression that Donovan is a little hurt by what he sees as an organization distancing itself from him and an organization that’s overly concerned about the negative fan reaction to him.

"But Donovan told me point blank: 'My knee is not an issue. The next place I go, I will win,' and also that he will keep a smile on his face for as long he's in an Eagles uniform."

In typical DMac fashion, he then threw Pam under the bus after the Eagles surprise victory over the Cowboys.

"I didn't say that," McNabb said. "I don't feel that way. I've said I want to be here eight more, nine more years. If that's possible, we'll see."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Postseason honors for Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; December 14, 2007 – Three members of Penn State’s nationally ranked defense have earned All-America recognition from a pair of media outlets.

Senior middle linebacker Dan Connor, sophomore defensive end Maurice Evans and junior outside linebacker Sean Lee were recognized for their efforts in helping the Penn State defense earn Top 10 national rankings in five categories: rushing (6th, 87.9 ypg), scoring (8th, 17.6 ppg) and total defense (9th, 396.5 ypg), as well as sacks (2nd, 45) and tackles for loss (10th, 96).

In addition, four Penn Staters were selected to The Sporting News Freshman All-Big Ten team: defensive end Aaron Maybin (Ellicott City, Md.), defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu (Staten Island, N.Y.), tailback Evan Royster (Fairfax, Va.) and guard Stefen Wisniewski (Bridgeville).

Connor was selected a first-team All-American by and a second-team All-American by The Sporting News. He previously was named a first team All-American by the Associated Press and Walter Camp Football Foundation, becoming Penn State’s 14th two-time first team honoree. The Wallingford, Pa. native won the 2007 Bednarik Award as the nation’s top defensive player and is Penn State’s career tackle leader with 410. He leads the Big Ten with 136 tackles this season, good for No. 7 in the nation.

Evans and Lee were chosen third-team All-Americans by A first team All-Big Ten selection, Evans was a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End Award. The Brooklyn, N.Y. product is No. 5 in the nation in sacks (12.5) and No. 6 in tackles for losses (21.5) and also has forced three fumbles to go with his 48 tackles. Lee earned second team All-Big Ten honors after tying for third in the conference during the regular season with 124 tackles. The Pittsburgh product has recorded double figure tackles in nine of the last 10 games this year, topped by a career-high 17 at Illinois. He has 9.5 TFL, forced three fumbles and recovered three fumbles.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Flyers recall Picard

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have recalled 6’2”, 220-pound defenseman Alexandre Picard from their American Hockey League affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms, according to General Manager Paul Holmgren. In addition, the Flyers announced that forward Ryan Potulny was reassigned to the Phantoms.

Picard, 22, has recorded five goals and 15 assists for 20 points and six penalty minutes in 24 games for the Phantoms this season. He leads Phantoms defensemen in scoring with 20 points (tied for fourth among AHL defensemen). His 20 points are tied for third on the team and he is tied for first on the team in assists with 15.

Over parts of the last two seasons, Picard has registered three goals and 19 assists for 22 points and 21 penalty minutes in 68 regular season games for the Flyers. A native of Gatineau, Quebec, Picard was drafted by the Flyers in the third round (85th overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Potulny had posted an assist in three games for the Flyers this season.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Selig responds to Mitchell report

By David Walter
The Phanatic Magazine

Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig responded to former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell's report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball that was released Thursday and said action will be taken.

From the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, Selig addressed the media and thanked Mitchell for his findings and said he plans to carry out every recommendation to the best of his ability that Mitchell outlined in his report.

Earlier Thursday, Mitchell unveiled the much-anticipated 311-page report that revealed the names of numerous players who purchased and possibly used performance enhancing substances after a 20-month investigation.

Mitchell, also a director of the Boston Red Sox, was tabbed by Selig in early 2006 to head an investigation into steroid use by MLB players.

"The report is a call to action, and I will act," Selig said. "Those recommendations that I can implement independently, I will do immediately."

Selig, who explained he has not read the report in its entirety, also stated on Thursday that any possible discipline of current players listed in the report will be determined on an individual and case-by-case basis.

"Senator Mitchell acknowledges in his report that the ultimate decisions on discipline rest with the commissioner and he is correct," said Selig. "Discipline of players and others identified in the report will be determined on a case-by-case basis. If warranted, those decisions will be made swiftly and I, of course, will give thorough consideration to Senator's Mitchell's views on the subject."

Mitchell's examination also described a "serious drug culture within baseball, from top to bottom," and blamed both the commissioner's office and the players' union for fostering the problem.

The report detailed how the players, as well as clubhouse personnel, allowed steroids and other banned substances in clubhouses, or knew about it and stayed silent.

"I will deal with the active players identified by Mitchell as users of performance-enhancing substances," said the commissioner. "I will also review the comments made by Senator Mitchell regarding club personnel and will take appropriate action."

Mitchell also recommended MLB implement new policies, including investigations without positive tests, improved educational programs, and enhanced year-round testing as well as hiring an independent drug-testing company that advocates transparency.

"We will always have to monitor our programs and constantly update them to catch those who think they can get away with breaking baseball's rules," Selig added. "In the name of integrity, that's exactly what I intend to do."

The league's current testing program is overseen by a joint management-union Health Policy Advisory Committee, with an independent administrator approved by both sides.

The biggest names not previously tainted by rampant accusations that were included in Mitchell's report were future Hall of Fame pitcher Roger Clemens along with his friend and former teammate with the New York Yankees and Houston Astros, Andy Pettitte.

Phillies named in Mitchell report

Former Phillies Lenny Dykstra, Todd Pratt, Ryan Franklin, David Bell, Jason Grimsley, Paul Byrd, Bobby Estalella, Benito Santiago and Gary Bennett were named in the Mitchell Report on steroids in baseball.

Only Dykstra and Bell were explicitly linked to performance enhancing drugs while playing for the Phillies, however.

Baseball responds to Mitchell report

-Philadelphia Phillies

“The Phillies join Commissioner Selig in thanking Senator Mitchell for his comprehensive work and the resulting report issued earlier today. We agree with the Commissioner’s desire to rid our game of performance-enhancing drugs and support his willingness to accept Senator Mitchell’s recommendations.

“Our fans’ trust in the integrity of the game is of utmost importance to the Phillies. We hope that our game took a significant step forward as a result of today’s developments.”

-MLB commissioner Bud Selig

"I want to thank Senator Mitchell and his team of investigators for the exhaustive effort they made in tracing the use of performance-enhancing substances in baseball. Twenty-one months ago, when I asked Senator Mitchell to undertake this assignment, I said that nothing is more important to me than the integrity of this game. I knew it was important for Baseball to face the issue of steroids head on. Senator Mitchell had complete autonomy to pursue the evidence wherever it led and he has done so.

"If there were problems, I wanted them revealed. If there were individuals who engaged in wrongdoing, I wanted those facts to come to light. If there were recommendations that would improve our drug testing program, I wanted to hear them.

"Senator Mitchell is one of the most respected public figures in the nation. His career in public service –as the Senate Majority Leader, Federal Judge, U.S. Attorney, and the leading international diplomat of ourgeneration – is exceptional. He is a man of integrity.

"His report is a call to action. And I will act.

"I will continue to deal with the issue of performance-enhancing substance abuse. Today I announce that we will take the following three steps.

"First … Senator Mitchell has made twenty recommendations, all of which I embrace. In fact, we have already adopted one of the recommendations and have eliminated the 24-hour notice that testers were giving clubs. Those recommendations that I can implement independently, I will do immediately. There are other recommendations that are subject to collective bargaining. I am also committed to thoserecommendations, and we will be reaching out to Don Fehr and the Players Association in the immediate future to urge him to join me in accepting them and to begin a positive dialogue on these matters.

"Second… I will deal with the active players identified by Senator Mitchell as users of performance enhancing substances. I will also review the comments made by Senator Mitchell about club personnel and will take appropriate action. Senator Mitchell acknowledges in his report that the ultimate decisions on discipline rest with the Commissioner and he is correct. Discipline of players and others identified in the
report will be determined on a case-by-case basis. If warranted, those decisions will be made swiftly and I, of course, will give thorough consideration to Senator Mitchell’s views on the subject.

"And third… I will continue to be proactive about proposing new ways to detect and rid our sport of the use of performance-enhancing substances. Senator Mitchell has found that our present testing program is, "effective in that detectable steroid use appears to have declined." Baseball currently has the most aggressive drug program in professional sports, banning steroids, amphetamines, and human growth hormone, and imposing the stiffest penalties for use. We have been testing in the minor leagues for seven seasons. We are also taking part in major campaigns with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the Taylor Hooton Foundation to educate America’s youth and their parents about the dangers of performance enhancing substances. Just this week, the Partnership for a Drug Free America announced that steroid use among youngsters is down. I’m proud of the role Major League Baseball has played in contributing to this decline.

"But as Senator Mitchell’s report reveals, these efforts are not enough. Players who are set on cheating have apparently moved from steroids to HgH. As we previously announced, we, along with the National Football League, are funding Dr. Don Catlin in his efforts to find a valid urine test for Human Growth Hormone. We will do more to combat the use of HgH and to investigate and detect new substances. We will announce shortly an HgH summit to bring together the best minds in sports and science whose mission will be to fight and detect this undetectable substance.

"I would like to thank all of those who cooperated with Senator Mitchell’s investigation – from clubhouse attendants, to the owners, to doctors, writers and law enforcement. It is the forthright voices of these people that enabled Senator Mitchell to get to the bottom of questions of steroid use and make the findings that he did. And, of course, I want to thank Senator Mitchell and his staff for their dedication and hard work and perseverance in investigating and making this report.

"Baseball is America’s pastime because of the trust placed in this sport by its fans. And I’m proud to say Baseball has never been more popular. Our attendance continues to break records, year after year, and our fans continue to love the game. But our fans deserve a game that is played on a level playing field – where all who compete do so fairly.

"So long as there may be potential cheaters, we will always have to monitor our programs and constantly update them to catch those who think they can get away with breaking Baseball’s rules.

"In the name of integrity, that’s exactly what I intend to do. As we implement the Senator’s
recommendations, we will do even more. We will not rest. Major League Baseball remains committed to this cause and to the effort to eliminate the use of performance-enhancing substances from the game."

-Detroit Tigers

“Now that the Mitchell Report has been released, the Tigers will take time to review its contents completely. The Tigers support the process that has taken place to compile this report and Senator (George) Mitchell for leading the effort.

“The eradication of performance-enhancing substances in baseball and protecting the integrity of the game are the ultimate goals of the industry.”

-MLBPA executive director Donald Fehr

“For many years now, the players have worked consistently and cooperatively with the Commissioner’s Office to address the use of steroids in baseball. In 2002, the union agreed to a joint drug program that included provisions for random drug testing of players; and we did so the first time the owners seriously advanced such a proposal. In 2004, we renegotiated that agreement, in response to requests from the owners and the Congress, and then did so again in 2005. In November, 2005 we announced a revised Program that included a strict penalty scheme, a greater number of tests and an expanded list of prohibited substances. At the time, that program was praised by members of Congress and others. We retained an independent doctor with experience in the drug testing field to administer our Program. For several years, we have employed the well-respected and WADA-certified laboratory in Montreal to analyze our collected samples.

“This history demonstrates that the players have recognized for many years that new steps were required to address performance enhancing drug use in Major League Baseball. Perhaps we and the owners could have taken these steps sooner. But the Program in place today is a strong and effective one, and has been improved even in the last two years. The report does not suggest that the program is failing to pick up steroid use which it is possible to detect. The current commitment of the players and the owners on this subject cannot be fairly questioned.

“In March 2006, before our newly negotiated Program had even begun to operate, Commissioner Selig named former Senator George Mitchell to investigate steroid use in baseball. This decision was made unilaterally, without prior consultation with the MLBPA. We made plain to the Commissioner his unilateral decision left us no choice but to represent our members in this inquiry, as any union is by law obligated to do in response to a management-initiated investigation with potential disciplinary consequences.

“We did represent our members, and we make no apologies for doing so. We advised our members of their rights under the collective bargaining agreement and relevant federal labor law. Moreover, given the ongoing federal and state criminal investigations, with which Senator Mitchell had open relationships, we urged players to seek their own counsel. While we did give advice to players - we would have neglected our representational responsibilities if we did otherwise - ultimate decisions always were made by the individual players. We did not hesitate to point out to Senator Mitchell or the Commissioner’s Office investigative measures we viewed as unfair or unlawful. Even Senator Mitchell today referred to our actions as “largely understandable”.

“We did request a meaningful opportunity to review his lengthy report prior to today, but that request was denied both by Senator Mitchell and the Commissioner’s Office. We saw this report only an hour before it was made public. Accordingly, we have not yet had an opportunity to review and study the report in any detail. For now, however, we can say the following:

“Many players are named, their reputations adversely affected forever, even if it turns out down the road that they should not have been. Anyone interested in fairly assessing the allegations against a player should consider the nature of the evidence presented, the reliability of its source, and the absence of procedural safeguards individuals who may be accused of wrongdoing should be afforded. Senator Mitchell’s suggestion that players not be disciplined is welcome. However, we will make certain that should any player be disciplined he will have a right to a hearing and the full panoply of due process protections our agreements contemplate, and we will represent him in that process.

“Senator Mitchell recommends certain changes in our Program. We will review and consider what he has to say. We have demonstrated a willingness to continue to improve the Program, and the Program itself allows for certain mid-term modifications. However, we must remember that a strong collective bargaining relationship requires mutual respect for the agreements that have been reached.”

-Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Coonelly

The Pirates have fully supported the Commissioner’s efforts to eliminate performance enhancing substances from our game. We understand the seriousness of this issue, not only for our organization and our players, but for the entire game of professional baseball. The use of performance enhancing substances goes to the core of the integrity of the game and cannot be tolerated.

"The Pirates provided full cooperation to Senator Mitchell and his investigative team. Indeed, the Pirates spent a countless number of hours working to assist in the efforts of this investigation by providing thorough and accurate information to Senator Mitchell and his team. We appreciate the Senator’s exhaustive work and his thoughtful recommendations.

"We view the release of the Senator’s findings as a positive step forward for the game. The Commissioner concluded that it was important to learn as much as we could about what happened in the past, and Senator Mitchell has conducted a comprehensive investigation. Senator Mitchell concluded that the use of performance enhancing substances was widespread in baseball. Critically important to the Pirates, however, is the Senator’s conclusion that baseball’s current drug testing program has been effective. The Senator has, nevertheless, made several recommendations regarding how the program can be strengthened even further, and the Commissioner has embraced all of these recommendations. The Pirates support the Commissioner’s desire to have the most effective and transparent drug program in all professional sports. Protecting the integrity of the game is the Commissioner’s most critical responsibility.

"The Pirates do not and will not tolerate the use of any substances banned by baseball’s comprehensive drug testing program by our players at any level, and we will continue to go to great lengths to educate our players on the dangers of using such substances. The Pirates work closely with the Commissioner’s Office in the education of our players. Our medical, training, strength and conditioning, and clubhouse staffs all stress a “food first” approach to nutrition and supply our players only with those supplements that have been approved as steroid-free by Major League Baseball. The Senator has recommended additional education for players and the Pirates strongly support this recommendation and will work with the Commissioner’s Office as it implements this recommendation.”

-Tampa Bay Devil Rays

“Upholding the integrity of the game is paramount to the Tampa Bay Rays. We are supportive of Senator Mitchell’s recommendations, and we will work in concert with the Office of the Commissioner to help implement them.”

-Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin

"The Milwaukee Brewers organization is fully committed to eliminating the use of performance enhancing substances from baseball, and we fully support Senator Mitchell’s report. We also fully support Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Player's Association's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. In both the Major and Minor Leagues, our organization regularly educates our players about the dangers of performance enhancing substances, strongly encourages players to avoid their use and outlines the repercussions that these substances will have on their health and career.

"In regard to any players that we have signed, traded for or will acquire in the future, our goal is to field the best team possible based on information we have in hand. Our recent signing of Eric Gagne was based on an analysis of our needs and how he could help fill a key role. While we were disappointed to see information from 2004 related to Eric in the report, we still firmly believe that his addition to the Club makes us a much stronger team as we head into the 2008 campaign.

"Senator Mitchell’s report credits the Commissioner for laying the groundwork for the testing program and found that the current program has been effective. The report contains historical information from which we can learn and outlines several steps for improving Major League Baseball’s drug testing program. We fully support these measures. "

-Cleveland Indians

“The Cleveland Indians are in full support of Commissioner Selig’s response to the Mitchell Report. Our organization has been committed to eliminating the use of performance enhancing substances from the game of baseball. We have fully supported the adoption and implementation of the Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Players Association Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, and will continue to educate our players of the dangers of performance enhancing substances. We ask that you contact the offices of Major League Baseball or the MLBPA for any further comment.”

-Boston Red Sox

"The Boston Red Sox have supported and fully cooperated with this investigation initiated by Commissioner Selig and conducted by Senator Mitchell. The Senator and his staff should be thanked and commended for their dedicated and independent efforts in producing this important report.

"It is imperative that we continue to educate our players on the dangers and unfairness of performance enhancing drugs and to do everything we can to eliminate them entirely from the game of baseball.

"We are confident that that adoption and implementation of Major League Baseball’s and the Major League Baseball Players Association’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the toughest in all of professional sports, will also result in helping to achieve this goal. .

"Until we have had the opportunity to read and review more thoroughly the Mitchell Report released today, we will have no further comment at this time."

-San Francisco Giants managing general partner Peter A. Magowan

“The Giants supported Commissioner Selig’s decision to appoint Senator George Mitchell to conduct an independent investigation into the use of performance enhancing drugs in our sport. We shared the Commissioner’s view that an independent and thorough investigation was a necessary step in the overall effort to combat the serious problem of performance-enhancing drug use in baseball. Our organization has diligently and fully cooperated with Senator Mitchell throughout his inquiry. We believe that Senator Mitchell’s thoughtful and comprehensive report will serve as a meaningful tool in the fight against the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The Report clearly demonstrates the pervasiveness of the problem. The Giants accept our fair share of responsibility. Our entire organization, from front office to field staff, pledges to work closely with Commissioner Selig and Senator Mitchell to implement the Report’s recommendations and to institute whatever reforms are necessary to restore confidence in the integrity of the game.”

-New York Mets

"The Mets support Major League Baseball's ongoing efforts to eliminate the use of illegal performance enhancing substances. We fully cooperated in the Mitchell investigation and commend the Senator for his efforts in issuing his report."

-Los Angeles Dodgers owner and chairman Frank McCourt

“As the steward of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I am steadfast in the belief that performance-enhancing drugs have no place in baseball. The Dodgers have supported and fully cooperated with this investigation, initiated by the commissioner and conducted by Senator Mitchell. We wholeheartedly support Commissioner Selig’s efforts to rid the game of these substances and we commend Senator Mitchell on a thorough investigation. Our commitment to our fans during our stewardship has been and always will be to do everything in our power to maintain the game’s integrity.

“With that said, I have not had the chance to read the report in its entirety and once I am able to do so, I’ll be willing to share any further thoughts.”

-Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

"Now that the Mitchell Report has been released, the Angels are currently reviewing its contents. We support the process that has taken place to compile this report and Senator Mitchell for leading the effort.

"The Los Angeles Angels organization has been committed to eliminating the use of performance enhancing substances from the game of baseball. We have fully supported the adoption and implementation of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Player's Association's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

"We are in full agreement with the recommendations from Sen. Mitchell as listed in the report, and the Angels will continue to support Commissioner Selig in his on-going efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing drugs from baseball. There is no place in the game for such substances, and we have and will continue to do what we can to eliminate them."

-Colorado Rockies

"Obviously, we were very disappointed to learn of the depth and breadth of the findings of Senator George Mitchell’s report on the alleged illegal use of steroids and other performance enhancing substances in baseball, including references to alleged use by former members of our team, as well as, one current player and one current member of our coaching staff.

"As an organization, we have fully supported the investigation initiated by Commissioner Bud Selig and conducted by Senator Mitchell. Our organization remains committed to eliminating the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing substances from the game. We have and will continue to fully support the adoption and implementation of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Player’s Association Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We will continue to work to educate our players about the dangers of steroids and other performance enhancing substances and strongly encourage all players to avoid their use.

"We believe that baseball and its various entities must work cooperatively and in a sustained effort to remove and keep steroids and other performance enhancing drugs out of the game. Like other organizations throughout the League, we will review the results of the investigation, study those findings and recommendations and continue our ongoing efforts to eliminate the use of steroids and other performance enhancing substances from the game of baseball."