Thursday, January 31, 2008

Forsberg returning to NHL

The Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported ex-Flyers star Peter Forsberg has told his former team in the Elite League that he will be returning to the National Hockey League this season.

Meanwhile, TSN of Canada is reporting Forsberg's agent, Don Baizley, has been given permission by his client to start talking with NHL teams.

Soul signs former NFL WR Watts

The Philadelphia Soul signed former NFL wide receiver Darius Watts on Thursday.

A newcomer to the AFL, Watts’ career took off with his debut as the wide receiver for the Denver Broncos in 2004 and continued with the New York Giants in 2006.

During his time with the Broncos, Watts appeared in 16 regular-season games, starting twice during his rookie year. He ended that season with 31 catches for 385 yards with one touchdown. His best game that year came against Atlanta, as he had a career-high seven catches for 86 yards.

Watts was a standout wide receiver at Marshall. During his sophomore season he had 91 catches for 1,417 yards and 19 touchdowns. He followed that with 71 receptions for 1,030 yards and 12 TDs as a junior, earning first-team All-MAC honors. He ended his career with 272 catches, which was fifth-best in NCAA history at the time, for 4,031 yards and 47 touchdowns.

Deep thoughts

By John Gottlieb
The Phanatic Magazine
There’s a lot going on so I’ll play the role of Greg Wiley and give you a stream of consciousness.
There is a great in-depth article by Ian O’Connor of the Bergen Record about Tiki Barber and how he is portrayed by Giant fans. You should take a look if you’ve got the chance.

That being said, the Giants are a better team without Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey. Barber can say that he saved Coughlin’s job after a one-on-one meeting with John Mara after last year’s playoff loss, but Barber was a bad teammate and this team wouldn’t be here with him. Nothing was ever Tiki’s fault. It was all big, bad Tom Coughlin. These athletes are highly paid adult men. They should be able to deal with a stern commander. We don’t need to hear from the peanut gallery.

Shockey going down was a blessing for this team. Every week, not including of course the week they played the Jets, you could count on Shockey complaining about his lack of touches. I think Coughlin loves the quiet approach he gets from Kevin Boss. He makes his statements on the field…not in the press.

Look for Jerry Reese to try and get rid of him this offseason.
What’s with all the Giants’ trash talk? They are going up against a team that hasn’t lost. Let’s look real far back to Igor Olshansky or Anthony Smith…how did that work out for them? Just keep you mouth closed and play the game.

Now we’ve got Osi Umenyora, among others, labeling the Pats as dirty players; Lawrence Tynes goes on Letterman; Giant players are seen all over the place at MSG; and finally we have a score prediction from Plaxico Burress (figures the one guy with a ring is letting the scene get to this head). This is a little bit of a relapse from the Giants of the last few years. Coughlin should’ve tightened the reigns a little bit to prevent Belichick from getting fired up.
Big surprise that Tom Brady’s not on the injury list; so much for the ankle injury that carried us through the worst week of the sporting year. Brady has been on every injury report for the last four years and now he’s not? This was definitely Bill Belichick and Tom Brady pulling one over on us.
I’m not sure what’s more amazing…the fact that the Pats are undefeated (I jumped on the bandwagon on October 16), or that the Giants have won 10 straight games on the road, tying the 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers. New York is trying to make history since they are the road team in Glendale.

It’s impossible to pick Eli Manning over Tom Brady, right? But didn’t you say the same thing about Brett Favre, Tony Romo…and even Jeff Garcia? Maybe this is Manning’s year.

Nah. The Patriots are too good. They’ll win but they won’t cover. The Pats haven’t covered in months and I don’t think they’ll do it now. Bill Belicheat hoists his fourth Lombardi Trophy as a head coach in a 38-27 victory.
I think we should give them the trophy and then tell them to keep it next year too. There are four tough games on the docket and three of them are on the road for the 2008 Patriots: San Diego, Seattle, an AFC South team (I wonder if it will be the Colts), and at home against a random AFC North team (can you say Steelers?). Other than that there is nothing. Can anyone derail them next year? 38-0?
I look for Eli to continue making excellent strides in his progression as a quarterback. I don’t think they’ll lose this game because of him. It’ll be because no defense is better than Tom Brady, Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk, Wes Welker and Randy Moss.
The over-under on appearances by Chris Hanson has got to be 1½. A better prop bet is will Juwan Howard score more points for the Mavericks against Detroit on Sunday than Chris Hanson punts? Or who will be on the field longer: Hanson or Jordin Sparks, whoever that is. Either way I couldn’t pick either of them out of a room.

Best prop bet has to be: How many times will Joe Buck mention Peyton Manning’s name during the broadcast? Joe Buck must mention full name in order to count. (Courtesy of

The over/under is 5 (-120 in either direction). This is a tough only because we’ll definitely hear an additional three "Peyton" references. I’d go with the over.
There is an exclusive club of media members that has covered every Super Bowl and the list keeps getting smaller. There are now just four writers and four photographers that have covered every Super Bowl. Congratulations to a lifetime of excellent work from Jerry Izenberg from the Newark Star-Ledger, Jerry Green from the Detroit News, Edwin Pope from the Miami Herald, and Dave Klein from The list of photographers includes Walter Iooss Jr., Tony Tomsic, Mickey Palmer, and John Biever. (Dick Raphael, who covered the first 41 contests, passed away within a few weeks after Super Bowl XLI.) This is a group of living legends that should get togehter every year possible to let people know how the NFL has evolved and progressed.
Bill Smith is rapidly positioning himself in the horrible sports executive fraternity. He’s not pulling up a chair next to Isiah (yet), but he’s sitting at the kiddie table. Why wait so long to pull the trigger on a subpar deal. Kudos to Omar Minaya and the Mets for getting the best pitcher in baseball in exchange for a weak-hitting center fielder, two back-of-the rotation pitchers and a kid that can barely vote. That’s not a good way to start a job.

Smith could’ve had Phil Hughes or Jacoby Ellsbury or Jon Lester, but instead got Deolis Guerra. I understand the PR coup taken by the Minnesota executives by signing Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer, but their starting rotation consists of Boof Bonser, Scott Baker, and Kevin Slowey as the only pitchers on the club with at least 10 starts last seaosn. Francisco Liriano will be back but when and at what strength remain to be seen. At this point I’d rather have the Royals rotation.

That being said I’m still not sure the Mets are the best team in the NL. They got the ace they so desperately lacked, but let’s not forget Santana’s struggles last season. They still need a full season out of Pedro and a solid contribution from Duaner Sanchez. The Mets will have to be prepared to find replacement parts because outside of Reyes and Wright this team is old. “El Duque” is going to land on the DL (at least twice), and you can include Moises Alou in that category as well. What is Carlos Delgado going to give the team? What kind of offensive production will they get out of right field and catcher?

I don’t think the Mets have pulled distanced themselves from the Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Cubbies. Let’s not anoint them the NL Champs just yet. This is still the same team that choked their season away.
Top five free agents still available are Barry Bonds, Livan Hernandez, Freddy Garcia, Luis Gonzalez and Sean Casey.
Andy Pettitte ratting out Roger Clemens would be the straw that broke the came’s back. How could anyone then deny that Clemens is a juicer? Pettitte is now going to go in front of Congress and be forced into corroborating someone’s story. They only thing he can do is say that he doesn’t know what other player’s did. But the blowhards at Congress aren’t going to be interested in that story.

It’s pretty interesting that Brian McNamee’s lawyer keeps making comments about what he expects Pettitte to say to Congress on Monday. He setting himself up for a huge letdown if Pettitte says he doesn’t know anything. I don’t think Andy’s going to be going to Roger’s Christmas party this year.

Much like Jason Giambi, if Andy Pettitte is upfront and tells the truth then the New York fans will forgive him, if they haven't already.
I was at the event the other night at William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ, where Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman took part in a lecture series. Some of the more interesting notes include Joba Chamberlain possibly starting the season in the bullpen to limit his innings. The Yanks have an abundance of starters and need help getting the ball to Mariano, unless you all of a sudden trust Kyle Farnsworth and his sidekick LaTroy Hawkins. If Chamberlain starts the season in the bullpen then he will end the season in the bullpen…and that’s what New York should do. Put him where he will be the most effective. There is no way they are going to tinker with moving Chamberlain to the rotation in the middle of the season.

Also, Cashman made reference to the Yanks’ first-half struggles last year and how they were a byproduct of Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon coming to camp out of shape. Interesting that he volunteered that information instead of saying that they were both hurt and tring to recover.

Finally, there were a number of good questions from the audience members, including the one written about regarding Bernie Williams and his music, but my favorite was the season ticket-holder asking why is $125 seats have been bumped up to $250 despite the Yankees not winning the World Series. It was fun to see Cashman squirm a little before saying that that was not his department.

I know that SNY’s Kevin Burkhart is being groomed to be the next Mike Francesa of New York sports, but how did he not ask about the Alex Rodriguez situation?

This will be Cashman’s last year…unless they win the World Series…which they won’t.
Who would’ve thought that Lawrence Frank would get fired before Isiah Thomas? Seems unrealistic but the Nets are a bad team (despite holding the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference). For some reason the Richard Jefferson-Vince Carter experiment has run its course. (It would’ve been nice to know that before the Nets handed the bank to Vinsanity last season.) The injury to Nenad Krstic was a killer. Now Jason Kidd wants to leave and the Nets, who will have to be real creative to spin this properly. They are still smarting from delaying the groundbreaking of their new arena in Brooklyn, and now it looks as if Kidd won’t be there when it opens.
One person that will not be sitting with Isiah Thomas, Bill Smith, Matt Millen, Kevin McHale, etc. as one of the worst sports executives is Rod Thorn. He is shrewd talent evaluator and will not give up one of the top point-guards in the game without getting some excellent pieces in return.

Kidd makes his teams better and the Nets won’t give him away for nothing, no matter how much he wants to be with LeBron in Cleveland. I don’t buy the Jerry Stackhouse rumor. I know his contract is expiring but where is he going to fit in with fellow UNC-alum Carter and RJ? Also why would the Blazers want to give a bunch of good, young players when they are finally playing well again?

That’s not enough to score Kidd, who is about to become the third player in NBA history with at least 100 triple-doubles. Thorn will keep Kidd and deal with the repercussions rather that destroying this franchise to appease one player.
Hillary, who seems to be creating some distance between herself and Barack Obama, is so polarizing that she will wind up giving the election to John McCain. People will not care that she will bring “Wild Bill” with her back to Pennsylvania Avenue. And just when you though there was no way for the Democrats to give away this election…
Don’t forget to tune in to Johns on Sports this Saturday from 5-7 pm on the new WTBQ-FM 99.1 or at McMullen and I won’t be live from Phoenix, but we’ll be talking like we’re there.

Phils officially ink 3B Feliz

The Phillies officially signed third baseman Pedro Feliz to a two-year contract with a club option for 2010 on Thursday. Feliz is $8.5 million plus incentives.

The 32-year-old Feliz batted .253 with 20 home runs and 72 RBI in 150 games with the San Francisco Giants in 2007.

"We said from the beginning of our offseason that we would try to improve the club in any way we could," said Phillies assistant GM Reuben Amaro. "We feel that with the acquisition of Feliz, we have helped to solidify an already productive infield. Pedro is an above average defender who will provide some overall balance to our lineup."

A native of the Dominican Republic, Feliz was originally signed by San Francisco as an amateur free agent in 1994. He has a career batting average of .252 with 109 home runs and 418 RBI in 874 games.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Alycia Lane to WWE?

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magzine

Philadelphia, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Don't laugh...According to Alycia Lane's boyfriend, Q102's Chris Booker, the former CBS3 news vixen has been offered a job by World Wrestling Entertainment kingpin Vince McMahon.

Both Lane and Booker were backsatge at the WWE's television taping at the Wachovia Center on Monday.

The WWE is denying any offer was extended, however. "Vince introduced himself and said hello," WWE spokesman Kevin Hennessey told The Phanatic Magazine on Wednesday. "That was the extent of things. He (Vince) is aware of who she (Lane) is and what went on but to tell you the truth, I had to remind him that they met backstage."

"That's not to say she won't be offered a job," Hennessey said. "This whole thing (the media scrutiny) has made us take notice."

Lane was arrested in New York in December after allegedly slapping a female cop and calling her a "f***ing d*ke" in a traffic spat.

She was subsequently fired by CBS 3 in January.

"We have concluded that it would be impossible for Alycia to continue to report the news as she, herself, has become the focus of so many news stories," CBS 3 president and GM Michael Colleran said in a statement after releasing the anchor.

The fetching Lane also gained notoriety last year for sending pictures of herself in a bikini to NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen, pictures Eisen's wife, Suzy Shuster, found.

Paybacks are a bitch

By Steve Lienert
The Phanatic Magazine

I'm not writing this from any sort of journalistic, impartial, here's-what-happened perspective.

I'm writing this from the season-ticket holder, I-still-hate-your-existence point of view.

Terrell Owens was ordered by an arbitrator to payback part of his signing bonus to the Eagles yesterday.

Just like the cameras were rolling the day T.O. did sit-ups on his front lawn, I wish there would be a camera recording T.O. signing that check.
And since we all know the Eagles are practically printing their own money at this point, meaning they're not exactly hurting for the $769,120, here are some ideas on what the Birds should do with money, some of which was inspired from Cubs' fans and their Bartman Ball:

- Jeff Lurie and Donovan McNabb can begin a search for they moron that bought T.O.'s NFC championship ring off ebay and buy it back for him. It's the closest T.O. will come to getting a ring that he didn't have to purchase.

- The Eagles could cash it and then give each season-ticket holder from 2005 a rebate check. Sure, each of us would get $11.65 (that's right, I did the math - 769120/66000 = 11.653), but wouldn't that be the sweetest $11.65 you ever got?

- The Birds can get Kleenex to ship a lifetime supply of tissues to T.O.'s house, and they can do it so a box-a-day is delivered for infinity. This way, when Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson break up, T.O. can have his quarterback over for a Brokeback Mountain marathon.

- They should put it in a display case behind bulletproof glass in the space that is currently occupied by ticket sales booths at the Linc. Let's face it - it's not like the Eagles have anything else to put on display, like, say, a Lombardi Trophy. And there haven't been Eagles tickets bought from those windows since the Linc opened. There's already bulletproof glass there and just think of the future generations that could look at that check and have the hate passed down.

Some kid: "Daddy, who was Terrell Owens?" Dad: "He was an asshole that derailed what could have been an Eagles championship team. Then he went to Dallas." The kid:"And Dallas sucks, right Dad?" Dad (with a tear coming to his eye): "That's right, son. Dallas sucks."

The best part about this is that you know at least a tiny, tiny bit of that money was Jerry Jones' at some point. So, through the transitive property of mathematics, Jones is giving the Eagles money. You sold your soul to the devil, Jerry. Twelve years, no playoff wins and you're paying a guy that twice danced on your precious midfield star. You sold your soul.

It's always nice when the Eagles can stick it to T.O. a little bit, even this far removed from what transpired. He's a Cowboy, so the blood still boils and the ire rises. I still despise Terrell Owens.

Besides, you didn't think I was going to ask the Eagles to spend the money on a wide receiver, did ya?

Yeah, like that would happen.

Soul stays on Sports Radio 950

The Philadelphia Soul and Sports Radio 950 announced Wednesday that all 16 of Soul’s 2008 regular-season and any postseason games will be broadcast live on the radio station and on the web at

Sports Radio 950 (WPEN) has been broadcasting Soul games since 2006. The broadcast schedule will begin on Saturday, March 1 when the Soul opens their season at home against the Orlando Predators at 7 p.m. (et). The club’s first road broadcast will be on Sunday, March 9 at Chicago beginning at 1 p.m. (et).

“We are very excited to continue our partnership as the radio flagship for the Philadelphia Soul,” Sports Radio 950 Station Manager Bob DeBlois said. “Sports Radio 950 thrives on the passion and excitement of Philadelphia sports, and no team epitomizes this attitude quite like the Soul.”

Each broadcast will include pre- and post-game coverage.

“Sports Radio 950 is a great outlet for fans to follow the team,” Soul President Ron Jaworski said. “We are extremely happy to be partnered with 950 and look forward to a very successful season.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

'Nova transfer heading to Penn State

-Courtesy of Penn State University

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA., Jan. 29, 2008 – The Nittany Lion basketball added size to its front line Tuesday when coach Ed DeChellis announced the addition of 6-10, 230-pound forward Andrew Ott (Abington, Pa.) to the program. Formerly a redshirt freshman at Villanova, Ott announced his decision to transfer from the Wildcat program on Sunday. He was registered for classes on Penn State’s University Park campus beginning on Tuesday.

“We’re very excited to have Andrew join our program,” DeChellis said. “We recruited him pretty hard coming out of high school, so we know Andrew and his family pretty well. He’s a great kid who really fits well with our program and on our roster. We were looking to add a big front line player in the late spring singing period and Andrew is the kind of big, skilled player that is hard to find.”

Ott will be eligible to play for the Nittany Lions following the completion of finals in the 2008 fall semester. He will begin next season as a sophomore and have 2 ½ years of eligibility remaining at Penn State.

“We plan on Andrew being eligible to play for us in late December next year,” DeChellis said. “He’s already a pretty seasoned player having been in the college game for the last year and a half and brings a big body and strong skill set with him. He can step our away from the basket and shoot it, has good post moves and is a strong rebounder.”

A skilled big man with excellent shooting touch, Ott redshirted the 2006-07 season at Villanova and played sparingly for Jay Wright’s Wildcats this season seeing action in four games, a total of 16 minutes of action and scoring three points. He last played in an 81-71 Villanova win at Syracuse last Saturday.

“Andrew has been an outstanding member of the Villanova basketball family and we are going to miss him,” said Wright in a Villanova press release. “While we are sad to see Andrew go, it is important to our coaching staff to support our players in pursuing their goals.”

Ott was a 1,000-point scorer at Germantown Academy outside of Philadelphia, a school that produced such recent college standouts as Matt Walsh at Florida and Lee Melchionni at Duke. He helped a young team to a 17-12 record in his senior season. He averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds as a junior and improved to 19.2 points and 15 rebounds a game as a senior scoring 1,074 career points. He was recruited by Penn State, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Purdue, Notre Dame and Illinois among others out of high school. Ott is familiar with the Big Ten with his older brother, Ryan, and father, Michael, both attending Purdue.

Santana shuts the door

That loud noise you heard around dinner on Tuesday was the door slamming shut on the Philadelphia Phillies chances in the NL East this season.

If there is anything equivalent to a nuclear bomb in the sports world, the NewYork Mets acquiring the game's best pitcher -- Johan Santana -- was it.

In one fell swoop, the Mets lapped the Phillies and aren't even worried about checking the rear view mirror. And, all it took was pitchers Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, Deolis Guerra and outfielder Carlos Gomez.

I suppose you can play optimist and hope the Mets can't sign Santana to an extension over the next 48 to 72 hours or when they do, hope even harder that he breaks down.

But, it's really not even about the player. Santana is a human being and while the two-time Cy Young Award winner will dominate for a few more years, his contract will eventually be an albatross to the Mets.

But, New York doesn't care. Like its big brother in the Bronx and the defending World Series champs in Boston, the Mets don't mind spending to chase a ring.

The Phillies? Come on...

Santana in Philadelphia probably means a World Series championship in 2008, but your Fightins' would never dare compete with the big boys for the big names.

And the local fishwraps, the same papers that never miss an opportunity to call out Phillies ownership for being frugal is an unwitting pawn in the game.

Think about it...

How many times have you read about how bad the Phils' farm system is? The same much-maligned farm system that gave you Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels by the way.

You know the drill. Carlos Carrasco, Josh Outman, Kyle Drabek and Adrian Cardenas just aren't good enough to acquire Santana...and maybe they're not...but wouldn't it have been nice if the Minnesota Twins got to make that decision instead of Bill Conlin or Howard Eskin?

Not in Philadelphia -- Santana's price tag is just too high so the Phillies aren't in the game.

Reuben Amaro has actually done a pretty good job this offseason finding the best deals he could while Pat Gillick continues his spot-on impression of Doug Moe.

The defending NL East champions shored up third base yesterday by picking up veteran Pedro Feliz and also added outfielders Geoff Jenkins and So Taguchi in free agency. The Phils also acquired a legitimate closer, Brad Lidge, and utility man Eric Bruntlett from Philly's favorite son Ed Wade.

Problem is, Amaro is shopping in the Wal-Mart clearance aisle while the Mets are in Saks Fifth Avenue.

Soul sign three

The Philadelphia Soul signed defensiveve back/wide receiver Larry Kendrick, defensive lineman Tom Johnson and offensive lineman/defensive lineman Harrison Nikolao on Tuesday.

Kendrick, 28, joins the Soul after a successful season in the af2 with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers. He was a multiple recipient of the Ironman award, as he finished the season with 15 touchdown catches as a wide receiver and five interceptions (two returned for TDs) as a Jack linebacker. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown and returned 24 kicks for a 19.4 yard average with a score.

The Winter Haven, Florida native attended Pearl River Community College, where he was an All-American wide receiver and defensive back. Kendrick (6’0”, 295 pounds) was also named the NJCAA’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Johnson, 27, started 12 of 19 games he played in two seasons at Southern Mississippi. In his senior season, the 6’2”, 295-pounder recorded 57 total tackles, 26 solo, and three sacks. He spent the 2006 preseason with the Indianapolis Colts.

Nikolao, 23, is entering his first season of professional football. He signed with the Cincinnati Bengals on May 5, 2007, but was released before the start of the season. The 6’3”, 305-pound Nikolao, attended Eastern Washington where he earned second-team All-Big sky honors in his senior season (2006).

Santana to Mets

The New York Daily News is reporting that the are poised to acquire two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins for four prospects.

The Mets are expected to send pitchers Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra and outfielder Carlos Gomez to Minnesota.

For the trade to be completed the Mets must sign Santana to an extension over the next 48 to 72 hours.

Warriors officially sign former Sixer

-Courtesy of the Golden State Warriors

OAKLAND, CA - The Golden State Warriors have signed free agent forward/center Chris Webber to a contract, Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Mullin announced today. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not announced.

Webber, 34, appeared in 61 games (60 starts) last season with Philadelphia (18 games) and Detroit (43 games), averaging 11.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 29.9 minutes per contest, while shooting 50.9% from the field. The Detroit native registered 13 double-doubles (points/rebounds), highlighted by a 20-point/11-rebound effort versus Cleveland on March 7. He scored a season-high 24 points at Seattle on March 13 and registered double-figures in scoring 34 times overall. Additionally, Webber dished out four or more assists on 21 occasions, grabbed 10-plus rebounds 15 times and registered multiple blocked shots in 10 outings. His .509 field goal percentage would have ranked 24th overall in the NBA had he met the statistical minimums to qualify. Webber started all 16 playoff games as the Pistons advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, averaging 9.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 25.3 minutes, while shooting 52.4% from the field. He scored a playoff-high 22 points (10-11 FG) during the Pistons' Game 2 victory over Chicago on May 7 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

“We’re glad that Chris has elected to sign with our club and feel fortunate to add a player with his ability,” said Mullin. “We think he will be a nice addition to our team and provide additional depth to our frontcourt and an added veteran presence on the floor. Chris has enjoyed a lot of success in this league and certainly has many aspects to his game – in particular his mid-range shooting and passing ability - that will fit in well and provide us another dimension.”

“It is with great pride and humility that I announce my return to the Golden State Warriors, the place where it all started,” said Webber. “This organization and city has always had a special place in my heart because it is where my dream of being an NBA player first came true. I am looking forward to playing with Baron, Stephen and the rest of the crew and I am extremely excited to be reunited with the fans of Oakland along with Coach Nelson and my former teammate, Mully. In playing for Nellie before, I know how much fun his style of ball can be. I believe great things are in store and I can’t wait to get on the court.”

A 14-year NBA veteran, Webber is a five-time NBA All-Star selection (1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003) and a five-time All-NBA selection, having earned first team honors in 2001, second team honors in 1999, 2002, 2003 and third team honors in 2000. In 822 career regular-season games (819 starts) with Golden State, Washington, Sacramento, Philadelphia and Detroit, the University of Michigan product owns averages of 20.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.45 blocks and 1.45 steals in 34.7 minutes per contest. Additionally, Webber has participated in the NBA Playoffs 10 times during his career, appearing in 80 games with averages of 18.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 36.3 minutes per game.

The 6’10’’ 245-pound forward/center returns for his second stint with the Warriors, having spent his rookie season (1993-94) in Golden State after originally being selected by Orlando with the first overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft and then being acquired by the Warriors in a draft night trade. In his one season playing for the Warriors and head coach Don Nelson, Webber was named NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 17.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.22 steals and 2.16 blocks.

To make room on the roster for Webber’s arrival, the Warriors have waived guard Troy Hudson. Originally signed as a free agent on September 24, 2007, Hudson appeared in nine games this season, averaging 3.1 points and 1.0 assists in 10.4 minutes per contest. He last appeared in a game on December 12 and underwent surgery on his left hip on January 10.

Rutgers to expand football stadium

The Board of Governors of Rutgers approved a plan to expand Rutgers Stadium Tuesday.

The $102 million project, which will increase the stadium’s seating capacity to nearly 56,000, will be funded entirely by the revenue generated from ticket sales for the 14,000 new seats and from private donations. Rutgers students will continue to have access to football tickets free of charge.

“The continued success of the Scarlet Knights football program is an important goal for the university,” said Rutgers president Richard L. McCormick. “Academics and athletics reinforce each other and Rutgers is committed to excellence in both endeavors. At great research universities, both contribute to the institution’s quality and reputation.”

The project is expected to be completed by fall 2009.

Victorino gets involved at WWE taping

World Wresting Entertainment was in town last night, taping Monday Night Raw at the Wachovia Center, and Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino was in the crowd.

The new Phils centerfielder even got involved in a bit of an angle. WWE diva Jillian Hall, who's gimmick is part Britney Spears, part Brooke Hogan (very hot, thinks she can sing but she can't) pointed out Victorino during a commercial break and began singing to him.

Shane then grabbed the mic away from Hall and led the crowd in "Na Na...Hey Hey...Goodbye" chant.

Rutgers Coburn is Big East Freshman of the Week

-Courtesy of Rutgers University

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (January 28, 2008) - Rutgers freshman guard Mike Coburn (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) has been named the BIG EAST Conference Men’s Basketball Rookie of the Week for his play in wins over No. 18 Villanova and No. 13 Pittsburgh. Coburn averaged 20.0 points and 4.0 assists in the victories, as RU defeated ranked teams back-to-back for the second time in program history.

Coburn posted a career high 23 points to lead RU to an 80-68 defeat of the Wildcats before the home crowd Wednesday night. He was eight of 13 from the field and a perfect 2-2 from behind the arc, while grabbing four rebounds. It marked the first victory over a ranked opponent for RU since a 65-56 home defeat of No. 22 Louisville on Jan. 28, 2006.

At Pittsburgh Saturday evening, Coburn scored 17 points on five on nine shooting, including a perfect three of three from long range, to help lead Rutgers to a 77-64 win at the hostile Peterson Events Center. He also had five assists. The victory marked the highest ranked foe that RU has ever defeated on the road in program history and snapped UP’s 13-game home winning streak.

Coburn (6-0, 195) has played in all 21 games, making 11 starts this season. He is averaging 7.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 25.5 minutes, while leading the team with 49 assists. In the eight BIG EAST games, he is averaging 10.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 33.6 minutes, while shooting 52.9 percent (9-17) from three point range and 78.3 percent (18-23) from the free throw line.

Flyers Beyond The Break

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Record: 27-16-5, 59 points.

Position: Tied for 1st in Atlantic Division, 2nd to Ottawa in Eastern Conference playoff seedings.

Of the Flyers’ 34 remaining contests, 16 are within the division. Seven are home, nine on the road, while the final eight and nine of the last 10 regular-season games come against Atlantic Division opponents.

While the hurting the club has put on the Penguins so far this season (4-0-0, 20-8) and the inexplicable tanking against the Devils (1-5-0, two combined home losses by a 13-5 count) can be projected to finish as they started, the matchups against the Rangers and Islanders (5 games against each) are the keys here.

Philly is 3-for-3 against Ted Nolan’s club thus far, but has three road games to play on the Island, and the Flyers welcome the Blueshirts for three home games during the back-end of the schedule.

With 11 wins and 11 losses on South Broad Street, hammering out a few ugly home victories over the mystifying Rangers, who have given the club fits at Wachovia over the last two-plus seasons (1-5-3), may be tough.

Nonetheless, the conference and out-of-conference home contests could provide a much-needed salve against the possibility of stinging division defeats.

Beginning with Tuesday’s tilt against the Los Angeles Kings, only two of the next 12 home dates are of divisional nature. Anaheim comes in on Saturday, Washington on February 6th. Tampa (twice), Montreal, San Jose, Florida, Ottawa and Buffalo have all suffered wild inconsistencies this season, and can be had with a full effort much like the 6-1 thrashing of the injury-decimated Sens on January 20.

On the road, back-to-back games in Pittsburgh and Uniondale February 10 and 12 provide a test, and despite a strong showing as the visitor recently, the club may have to find a way to circumvent unfavorable results in future February road games in Montreal, Ottawa and Buffalo. March 1-2 at the Islanders and Rangers on consecutive days will be huge with a possible eight-point swing in the balance.

March 25 at the Garden, March 28 at the Rock, and March 29 on the Island could mean the difference between first and fourth place, between a playoff berth and looking up at the rest of the pack.

What Could Push Them Over The Top: A fully-healthy Joffrey Lupul for extra scoring punch, provided he stays out of Derian Hatcher’s way; John Stevens settling on a starter/backup dynamic instead of sticking with the “hot goalie” for indeterminate periods; three wins against New Jersey; continued power-play success; Simon Gagne recovering his full abilities and confidence with steady linemates; Peter Forsberg.

What Could Hold Them Back: If Gagne and Lasse Kukkonen don’t return to form following injury; if Gagne isn’t reunited with Danny Briere and Mike Knuble on the top line; if any other player which has carried the club thus far goes down to a serious injury; penalty killing which has slid to the bottom third of the league; losing to Pittsburgh with or without Sidney Crosby; sputtering to the finish with the slate of divisional games; any stretch like the inability to win at home in November/December; any prolonged losing streak like the six-gamer prior to Christmas.

College Football weekly news and notes

-Courtesy of the National Football Foundation

Hall of Famer Holovak Dies at 88

College Football Hall of Famer Mike Holovak, 88, died in Ruskin, Fla., last weekend after legendary college and pro football playing and coaching careers. He signed with Hall of Fame coach Frank Leahy and starred as a running back at Boston College. As senior co-captain in '42, he ranked second in the nation in rushing and received consensus All-America honors. He set records in the 1943 Orange Bowl for touchdowns (three) and average yards per carry (15.0) against Alabama. Holovak served in the Navy during World War II and later played professionally with the Los Angeles Rams and the Chicago Bears. Holovak returned to BC as head coach from 1951-59. He was coach of the New England Patriots from 1961- 68 and was later general manager of the Houston Oilers. He was a special assignment scout for several years before retiring in Florida.

Bowl Game Notes

With more than 1.7 million combined fans attending a bowl game and close to another combined 129 million households tuning in to watch the bowl games on television, bowl payouts ran an estimated $225 million in 2007-08 and have totaled $1.6 billion over the last nine seasons. Over the next ten years, bowls are projected to pay $2.4 billion to participating teams and conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Final attendance for all bowls in '07-08 was 1,733,499 for a game average of 54,172. Of the 64 teams competing, 28 sold out their allotment of tickets, 11 bowls sported record attendance figures, eight postseason games drew 65,000-plus fans, and eight bowls were proclaimed sellouts within 24 hours of their matchup announcements.

NFF News

Indiana head coach Bill Lynch will be the featured speaker at the NFF Central Indiana Chapter Scholar-Athlete Banquet on Feb. 23 at the Indianapolis Colts Complex. Jane Hoeppner, widow of late IU head coach Terry Hoeppner, also will participate in the festivities.

The 37th James Fitzpatrick Trophy Dinner was held on Jan. 20 in Portland, Maine, by the NFF Maine Chapter. It included the Fitzpatrick Trophy for Maine's top high school player - Jack Hersom of Lawrence High School.

Syracuse senior Dowayne Davis and former Orange football standout John C. Cherundolo were honored at the NFF Central New York Chapter banquet last Sunday at the Turning Stone in Verona, N.Y. Davis was the chapter's Scholar Athlete of the Year, and Cherundolo received the Distinguished American Award for civic presence in the community.

Members of the College Football Hall of Fame staff are taking on new titles under new executive director Lisa Malin. The new titles include: Katie Berrettini, Assistant Director, Marketing & Development; Kent Stephens, Museum Curator & Historian; Richard Allen, Multimedia & IT Manager; and Patti Glascoe, Financial Services Manager.

Two-Minute Drill

Miami (Fla.) has most players on combined rosters of Super Bowl XLII participants New England and New York with seven while Arizona, Marshall and Michigan sport five alumni each on the two squads... USF will play at Notre Dame in 2011 for their first-ever meeting. The Fighting Irish will begin playing three Big East Conference schools annually on the gridiron beginning in '11... Florida Atlantic has seen a significant rise in individual giving and anticipation for the 2008 season ticket drive after winning both the Sun Belt Conference crown and R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl last year... Boston College QB Matt Ryan has won the coveted 2008 Manning Trophy presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl... Recently retired Northern Illinois head coach Joe Novak will be inducted into the 2008 Miami (Ohio) Athletics Hall of Fame.

Over 50,000 fans gathered for a commemorative final flag football event last Saturday at the historic Orange Bowl, which will be demolished later this year after 71 years of usage. The Hurricanes' alumni and former Miami Dolphins competed in the flag football contest, coached by Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Shula (John Carroll)... Tennessee recently dedicated its Pratt Pavilion athletics facility - made possible by 342 individual contributions... Wittenberg dedicated the Pam Evans Smith Arena and Healthy Physical Education and Recreation Complex in Springfield, Ohio, last week.

Blaine Bennett was selected as head coach at Central Washington... Mike London has taken over the top coaching post at Richmond... Frank Hood was named head coach at Eastern Kentucky... Mike Kelly is retiring after 27 seasons as Dayton's head coach and the fourth-highest winning percentage (.819, 246-54-1) among all- division college head football coaches with 25 seasons of experience. Defensive coordinator Rick Chamberlin has replaced Kelly... Sacramento State head coach Marshall Sperbeck has signed a contract extension through 2012... Temple tabbed Mark D'Onofrio as assistant head coach... Colorado State named Greg Peterson offensive coordinator... Jeff Mullen is headed to West Virginia as the Mountaineers' new offensive coordinator... South Carolina named Ellis Johnson as defensive coordinator... Ruffin McNeill officially has been tabbed as Texas Tech's defensive coordinator after serving as interim DC since midseason 2007... Gary DeLoach is returning to North Texas as defensive coordinator, a post he previously held with the Eagles from 1998- 02.

Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White is the new director of the Sports Management Institute, the executive management program for sports management professionals... Northern Iowa director of athletics Rick Hartzell has resigned effective July 31, 2008, and will end a nine-year tenure with the Panthers... Florida State selected Bill Shults as head of the athletics academic support program.

Bowling Green's official athletics Web site is promoting "Listen Up" - a new online audio service for BGSU fans... FSN Southwest and selected regional Comcast Sports outlets aired a 30- minute recap last Saturday and interview highlights from the 2008 Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year Award banquet... East Carolina has inked a three-year agreement with WNCT-FM Radio in Greenville, N.C., as football network flagship station... San Francisco has retained J.P. Holland Sports Properties as its official marketing firm.

The Davey O'Brien Foundation has named Jack Squiers of Cistercian Preparatory School in Irving, Texas, as the recipient of the 2007 Davey O'Brien High School Scholarship. The Foundation presents a $20,000 scholarship to an outstanding senior student-athlete in the North Texas area and $1,000 scholarships to each of three other finalists. The recipient is chosen on the basis of scholastic achievements, community service, character, leadership and varsity sports participation.

Former Huntington (Ind.) director of athletics Richard Klopfenstein, 85, died.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Phils get a third baseman

Free-agent third baseman Pedro Feliz and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to an $8.5 million, two-year contract Monday...

Eagles adjust coaching staff

The Philadelphia Eagles named Sean McDermott secondary coach, Bill Shuey linebackers coach, Otis Smith assistant secondary coach, Mike Caldwell defensive quality control coach and Mark Whipple an offensive assistant coach Monday.

Heading into his 10th season as a member of the Eagles coaching staff, the 33-year-old McDermott spent the 2007 season as the team’s linebackers coach. Under his watch, the 2007 linebacking group flourished as two youngsters – Omar Gaither and Chris Gocong – progressed into full-time starters for the first time in their career. Gaither led the team with 170 tackles and 14 quarterback hurries, while recording 14 knockdowns in the pass game. Gocong totaled 92 tackles, including seven behind the line of scrimmage, while posting one sack. In addition, veteran LB Takeo Spikes tallied 139 tackles in his first season in Philadelphia.

From 2004-06, McDermott served as the Eagles secondary/safeties coach. In 2004, he saw both of his starting safeties (Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis) earn Pro Bowl berths for the first time in team history. Under McDermott’s watch, Dawkins went on to earn two more Pro Bowl berths following the 2005 and 2006 season. In addition, McDermott has been credited in the development of Eagles S Quintin Mikell.

From 2002-03, McDermott served as the team’s defensive assistant/quality control coach. A safety at William and Mary from 1994-97, he began his coaching career at his alma mater in 1998 before joining the Eagles as a scouting assistant later that year. McDermott is a 1993 graduate of LaSalle High School in Philadelphia.

Shuey, 33, worked as the club’s defensive quality control coach in 2007, after spending the previous four seasons as the team’s offensive assistant/quality control coach. He was promoted to that post in 2003 after a two-year stint as the assistant to the head coach. A native of Bethlehem, PA, Shuey earned a B.A. in sports management from Slippery Rock and a M.S. in education from West Virginia.

Smith, 42, spent the entire 2007 season as an intern coach with the Eagles, working with the team’s secondary. In 2006, Smith served in a similar role with the New England Patriots. Smith entered the coaching ranks after enjoying a 13-year NFL career as a cornerback with the Eagles (1991-94), New York Jets (1995, 1997-99), Patriots (1996, 2000-02), and Detroit Lions (2003). In 180 regular season games (108 starts), Smith registered 29 career interceptions for 645 yards and 7 touchdowns. Smith earned a Super Bowl championship ring with the Patriots in 2001. A native of New Orleans, LA, Smith entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Eagles in 1990 from Missouri.

Caldwell, 36, served as an intern coach during the Eagles 2007 training camp, working with the team’s linebackers. He enjoyed an 11-year NFL career as a linebacker with Cleveland (1993-95), Baltimore (1996), Arizona (1997), Philadelphia (1998-2001), Chicago (2002), and Carolina (2003). He played in 159 career regular season games and posted 14.5 sacks and eight interceptions, while proving to be a top special teams performer. A native of Oak Ridge, TN, Caldwell played collegiately at Middle Tennessee State before becoming a third round draft pick of the Browns in 1993.

A veteran of 26 seasons as a coach on both the collegiate and professional levels, Whipple spent his last three (2004-06) as the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks coach. In that capacity he was instrumental in the development of 2004 first-round draft pick Ben Roethlisberger, who became the Steelers starter as a rookie after an injury to Tommy Maddox. That season, he became the first quarterback in league history to finish a regular season undefeated with a 13-0 record in games he started. With Whipple¹s guidance, Roethlisberger became the youngest starting quarterback to win a Super Bowl the following year, as the the Steelers defeated the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL.

Whipple spent 16 seasons as a head coach at the collegiate level (New Haven, 1988-93; Brown, 1994-97; Massachusetts 1998-2003), where he compiled an overall record of 121-59 (.672). His most recent college stop came at Massachusetts where he posted five winning seasons, two conference championships and led the team to a Division I-AA national championship in 1998. That year, Whipple earned the American Football Coaches Association¹s Division I-AA National Coach of the Year Award.

The Tarrytown, NY, native's coaching career began in 1980 as an assistant at St. Lawrence University. Whipple made four more stops over the next seven years (Union College, 1981-82; Brown, 1983; Arizona Wranglers of the USFL, 1984; New Hampshire, 1986-87) before landing his first head coaching appointment. A 1979 graduate of Brown, he was the Bears starting quarterback from 1977-78, leading the team to a 13-5 record as a starter. He was inducted into the Brown Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996.

Agent working hard to clear Clemens

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

Roger Clemens' agent released a 49-page statistical report Monday to rebut allegations that Clemens' career had a resurgence after he was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Randy Hendricks and two associates at his law firm issued the report in hopes of explaining Clemens' unique career arc, and to refute allegations in Major League Baseball's Mitchell report.

George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader and director of the Boston Red Sox, was hired by MLB to investigate steroid use in the game. Mitchell reported that Brian McNamee, a former personal trainer of Clemens, claimed he injected the pitcher with steroids and human growth hormone at least 16 times between 1998 and 2001.

Clemens has consistently denied taking any performance enhancing drugs, but his career did seem to take an upturn during the time frame McNamee claims he was injecting the seven-time Cy Young Award winner with illegal substances.

"Clemens' longevity was due to his ability to adjust his style of pitching as he got older, incorporating his very effective split-finger fastball to offset the decrease in the speed of his regular fastball caused by aging," Hendricks' report said.

Clemens was 192-111 with the Boston Red Sox from 1984 through 1996, winning three Cy Youngs and a Most Valuable Player award but the fireballer went just 40-39 in his last four seasons with the club, sparking then general manager Dan Duquette to say Clemens was in the "twilight of his career."

Instead, the pitcher went on to compile a 162-73 record in stints with Toronto, the New York Yankees and Houston, winning four Cy Youngs in the process.

Hendricks' report tries to explain the statistical anomalies.

"Over the course of his career, Roger Clemens was able to maintain a high quality of pitching by continuing to work on his technique and adjusting his style of pitching to his physical abilities," the report said. "Had he not mastered the split-finger fastball, it is unlikely that he would have maintained the high level of effectiveness that he displayed during his 24 years on the mound."

Clemens is expected to give a deposition to a Congressional committee looking into the Mitchell Report on February 5.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Penn State's Connor captures Senior Bowl Under Armour Award

-Courtesy of Penn State University

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., January 27, 2008 – Two-time All-America linebacker Dan Connor (Wallingford, PA) made a game-high nine tackles and grabbed an interception in a superb performance in Saturday’s 59th Senior Bowl.

Florida’s Andre Caldwell scored on a the final play of the game to the lift the South to a 17-16 win over the North at The Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.

Penn State’s career tackle leader with 419, Connor was presented the Under Armour Award, symbolic of the overall North MVP. He was a strong candidate for game MVP honors until the South’s game-winning drive in the final minutes. Connor made five solo stops among his nine tackles.

Connor made a big play to set-up the game’s first score. On the South’s first possession of the game, he intercepted a Colt Brennan press at the South 40, returning the ball four yards. On the next play, Chad Henne connected on a 36-yard touchdown pass to Lavelle Hawkins to give the North a 7-0 lead just 3:00 into the game.

The 2007 Bednarik Award winner, Connor was the 13th Nittany Lion to play in the Senior Bowl in the past five years. In 2007, Penn State standouts Levi Brown, Tony Hunt and Paul Posluszny played in the game, with Hunt earning MVP honors. Former Nittany Lion All-American Larry Johnson was MVP of the 2003 Senior Bowl.

Connor led the Nittany Lion defense to top 15 national rankings in rushing (No. 7, 93.8 ypg), scoring (No. 7, 17.5 ppg) and total defense (No. 11, 308.2 ypg), as well as No. 2 in sacks (46) and No. 10 in tackles for losses (102). Penn State, Ohio State and USC were the only teams to finish in the top 15 in all five categories. A finalist for the 2007 Butkus Award, Connor and the Nittany Lion defense held seven teams to 17 points or less this past season, including a 24-17 win over Texas A&M in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Connor posted nine tackles vs. the Aggies to finish the 2007 season with 145 stops, the second-highest season mark in Penn State history behind All-American Greg Buttle’s 165 in 1974. The former Strath Haven High School All-American also had one tackle for loss vs. Texas A&M and ended his career with 34, tied for the 12th best mark at Penn State with Posluszny. Connor was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week four times in his outstanding career.

Former Phils catcher Lieberthal retired

Two-time All-Star catcher Mike Lieberthal retired from baseball Saturday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The 36-year-old Lieberthal, who was a career .274 hitter with 150 home runs and 610 runs batted in, played his first 13 big league seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies.

He won a Gold Glove in 1999 and made the 1999 and 2000 National League All-Star teams with the Phils.

Lieberthal, a Southern California native, spent last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, backing up Russell Martin. The backstop played in only 38 games in 2007, hitting .234 in 77 at-bats.

St. Joe's Calathes and Temple's Christmas earn A-10 Player of the Week honors

Pat Calathes - Saint Joseph’s
Senior, Forward, 6-10, 210 lbs.
Casselberry, Fla./Lake Howell HS

Calathes averaged 20 points and 9.5 rebounds in leading Saint Joseph’s to a pair of victories...scored 24 points, including the game-winning three-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining in the Hawks’ 68-67 win at Temple on Jan. 26...was 8-of-14 from the field and added nine rebounds versus TU...scored 16 points, grabbed ten rebounds, dished out five assists and added three steals on Jan. 23 as Saint Joseph’s edged Massachusetts, 81-77...named the A-10 Player of the Week for the second time this season.

Dionte Christmas - Temple
Junior, Guard, 6-5, 190 lbs.
Philadelphia, Pa./Philadelphia Lutheran Christian Academy

Christmas averaged 21.7 points and knocked down five three-pointers in each of Temple’s three contests on the week...scored a game-high 20 points on Jan. 20 in the Owls’ 54-53 (OT) victory at Saint Louis...scored 24 points and added four rebounds and four assists as Temple downed Pennsylvania on Jan. 23, 80-64...scored a team-high 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Owls’ 68-67 loss to Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 26...earns his sixth career A-10 Player of the Week award and second of the season.

Jerrell Williams - La Salle
Freshman, Forward, 6-8, 210 lbs.
Patterson, N.J./Northfield Mount Hermon (Mass.) HS

Williams earns his third A-10 Rookie of the Week award after registering a pair of double-double efforts on the week...scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds in La Salle’s 84-78 loss to Charlotte on Jan. 23..scored 14 points and pulled down 11 boards on Jan. 26 in the Explorers’ 81-74 setback to Saint Louis...made 6-of-11 field goal attempts versus the Billikens...leads all A-10 freshmen with six double-doubles.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Prepare for the worst Super Bowl in 7 years

The Phanatic Magazine

There better be some really good beer and decent but copious amounts of food at the Super Bowl party you're going to next Sunday.

You're going to need something to fill the time, because February 3rd may just be the most anticlimactic day in sports since the public was force-fed a lousy Ravens-Giants contest in Super Bowl XXXV.

All of a sudden, Eli Manning is as good as his brother, Tom Brady is as good (or better than) Joe Montana, the Patriots are the only thing interesting to write about and Tom Coughlin has gone from Rich Kotite to Mike Holmgren (circa 1996).

Is anybody else rooting for a terrorist attack in this game?

At least the game is on Fox, so there's an above average chance of a wardrobe malfunction. Unfortunately for the public, Tom Petty isn't as sexy as he used to be.

Here's how this thing plays out: Eli dinks and dunks his way down the field, avoiding mistakes (for the most part) and the Giants put points on the board.

The Patriots, however, will show the Giants' defense things that aren't on any film from this season whatsoever. Something tells me that Bill Belichick wants to end this season orchestrating one of the greatest offensive displays of power and precision possible. What makes bile shoot up my throat is the fact that he can. The Pats might break out the Wing-T or solely run plays out of the option.

Brady goes 30-for-30, Randy Moss explodes for over 200 yards and three scores, the Patriots score on every drive except when they kneel down to run out the clock and win 56-17. It's 37-7 by halftime. And Boston can just float off into the Atlantic and sink already.

At least last year, Eagles fans could look at the Bears and say "things woulda been different if we went to Soldier Field. The freakin' Saints? I mean, c'mon."

In 2005, it was "When Donovan went down, so did we. Andy won't let that happen again."

In 2004, the Birds were there. Three years removed, though, it's "the Patriots stole our Super Bowl."

In 2003, the denizens cared because Carolina came into the Linc and wiped the 4th-and-26 smiles off the faithful's faces.

In 2002, Ronde Barber's return sealed the Eagles' history at the Vet, and his Bucs went on to destroy a thoroughly out-coached Raiders team. In hindsight, that was the big fish that ultimately got away.

In 2001, when a skinny, 6th-round pick from Michigan was marching the Patriots down the field against the Rams' and their Greatest Show on Turf, Eagles' fans could see their defense halting the drive and forcing overtime. That was if they could have stopped the Rams on their final drive of the NFC Championship game a week prior.

Which brings us to Super Bowl 35, when Kerry Collins and Jason Sehorn led the Giants to a divisional playoff win over the Birds before shutting out a stunned Randall Cunningham-led Vikings squad in the NFC title tilt. Everybody knew the Ravens' defense would completely shut down the Giants. The only question was whether or not Trent Dilfer would mess up in the worst way imaginable. He didn't. The result? A boring snooze fest that was over by halftime.

For six of the past seven years (let's face it -- 2005 sucked) the Eagles have had some say in some way, shape or form in the NFL's penultimate game. Even though the Birds weren't in the game, there's been a side to stand on.

This year, though, the Giants are once again the lambs being led to the slaughter. They looked
totally beatable until the last game of the regular season and, granted, Eli has been decent for four consecutive games. But four consecutive hot games do not a Peyton make.

Eli and the Giants will be exposed on the 3rd. Another Super Sunday will troll by like the years between Super Bowl XVIII to XXIX, when two of those 11 games were competitive.
The Patriots will put a punctuation mark on this season come Super Bowl Sunday, and it will be their first crown that was achieved by more than three points.

And it will totally suck.

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 plush studios of WTBQ 1110 AM in New York.

It is a special day, as today marks the debut of Johns on Sports on the FM dial, where we can be heard at 99.1.

The teams are getting ready to head out to sunny Glendale for a week of festivities, and we'll cover all the pre-game hype from this off-week.

Ralph Vacchiano, Giants beat writer from the Daily News will join us at 5:20 to discuss the mindset of this team.

We'll also talk about a piece of interesting news coming from Brian Cashman yesterday at William Paterson, what Tiki Barber must be feeling, and where are you Chuck Knoblauch?...Congress wants to know.

Talk about that and much more during Johns on Sports at 5:00 (et) on WTBQ 1110-A, M in New York. You can join the program by logging on to, calling in at (845) 651-1110, or writing an e-mail to

Flyers at the break

By Michael Rushton
Phanatic Magazine

My, how quickly things can turn around.

At this time last year, Flyers fans everywhere were wondering just what the heck happened to their team. Despite a roster that featured one of the best players in the world in Peter Forsberg and goal-scorer Simon Gagne, the Flyers were at the bottom of the East with no help on the horizon.

A banged up and inexperienced defense coupled with shaky goaltending was to blame and the Flyers addressed that and more this past offseason. While Forsberg and his nagging foot was shipped off, Philly brought in Martin Biron to shore up the net, Kimmo Timonen to add experience to the blue line and Daniel Briere to replace Peter the Great as the playmaking center.

Obviously, the Flyers were expected to be better than last year's 22-48-12 version, few expected all the new pieces to fit together this quickly.

Yet, at the All-Star break, the Flyers are tied with New Jersey atop the Atlantic Division with 59 points, three more than they had all of last year.
So, how did they get to this point?

1st Half MVP: Mike Richards

Statistically, Richards had been underachieving in Philadelphia. While even last year he was showing he was an every-situation player, the points just weren't coming. An abdominal injury also cost him some time, but the future captain has been everything the Flyers could have hoped for and more this year.

Richards leads the team with 21 goals, 34 assists and 55 points, all career highs. He kills off penalties with deadly precision and has four shorthanded goals on the season. He also plays the point on the power play, is already an assistant captain, and will drop the gloves when he thinks it is necessary. Oh, and you can catch him in this year's All-Star Game for the first time in his career this weekend as well.

At this rate, few Orange and Black faithful will think the 12-year extension that Richards got was a bad idea.

Best forward (other than Richards): Joffrey Lupul

Instincts says Briere gets this spot, and while his 48 points (25 on the PP) are great, his minus-13 rating and 50 penalty minutes leave something to be desired. Instead, lets go with Lupul, another player far exceeding expectations.

Lupul is tied for third on the team with 35 points, has a pair of hat tricks this season and his 16 goals already matches last season's total with Edmonton. Assuming he comes back from his spinal injury okay (it took a Flyer to slow him down), he has a good shot of reaching 30 goals for the first time in his career.

Lupul's play this year is just another reason general manager Paul Holmgren is a genius. Holmgren turned the underachieving Joni Pitkanen and expendable Geoff Sanderson into Lupul and captain Jason Smith.
Speaking of which…

Best defenseman: Jason Smith

Yes, Timonen is going to Atlanta for the All-Star game, but it is Smith who is making the difference at the blue line. He blocks shots like a magnet and brings a gritty, tough edge to Philly's defensive unit that was missing big time last year.

Smith finds himself in the penalty box a tad bit too much and he isn't going to rack up points (just six so far), but he is fierce and a great leader.

Most improved: R.J. Umberger and Antero Niittymaki

Flyers' broadcasters Jim Jackson and Keith Jones have made no secret that Umberger worked very hard this summer to improve his conditioning and speed, and it has paid off in a big way. Umberger is constantly finding himself behind the defense and is generating scoring chances at a great rate.

After a great freshman campaign in 2005-06, he took a step backwards last year, posting 10 less points than the year before and a minus-32 rating.

This year, his 35 points are tied for third on the team and if he can develop a finishing move to compliment his now breakaway instincts, he could turn into a 25-goal scorer easily.

As for Niittymaki, a hip injury hindered him last year and prompted the Flyers to go and get Biron. Nitty went just 9-29-9 in 52 games last year with a 3.38 goals-against average, but has been the perfect backup this year.

9-5-1 with a 2.59 GAA in 17 games this year has Nittymaki pushing Biron for playing time.

Michael Rushton can be reached at

Friday, January 25, 2008

SHOXC Elite Challenger Series - Trump Taj Mahal - Live results

By John McMullen

Atlantic City, NJ (The Phanatic Magazine) - Kensington native Eddie Alvarez, the former BodogFIGHT welterweight champion, stopped Ross Ebanez in the second round of the main event at the SHOXC Elite Challenger MMA Series at Mark Etess Arena.

With the partisan crowd chanting Eddie...Eddie...Eddie, Alvarez established control early and dominated his Hawaiian challenger.

Alvarez dropped Ebanez late in the first round and has his corner rushing the cage, anticipating victory but Ebanez held on for the time being.

Ebanez scored with a stiff left early in round 2 before things went to the ground. It was there that Alvarez imposed his well, dropping three straight brutal rights on Ebanez before things were stopped at 2:32.

"He had me a little hesitant to step inside, Alvarez said. "I was just being patient. I knew I won the first round and he would have to pressure me and make a mistake."

A pair of veterans were in the welterweight semi-final, England's Paul Daley and St. Paul, Minnesota native Sammy Morgan, with Morgan earning the trash-talking crown coming in.

“Some people may think Daley is something special, but I don’t," Morgan said. "I’m going to knock him out and send him home to England to his ‘mummy’ so they can have their tea and crumpets together."

Well, Daley (17-6-2) certainly looked like something special and might be planning that tea and crumpet party as a celebration. After weathering a quick storm by Morgan (19-10), Daley caught the loud-mouth fighter at 2:10 of the first round with an elbow and the bout was quickly waved off.

"I'm a striker," Daley said. "No one can fight with me standing up. I believe I am the best. All I will be delivering is the knockout. I am the fuckin best."

Military veteran Bobby McMaster, who served in Irag, battled Bao Quach in a lightweight encounter. McMaster (8-3) was trying to recover from a guillontine choke loss to Muhsin Corbbrey in his last fight. “It took me a few weeks to put that last fight behind me, but I have, McMaster said. "Still, it’s hard to believe it ended the way it did. But that’s what happens when you get overanxious."

McMaster went to the other extreme Friday and it hurt him. Both fighters seemed overly cautious in the opening round until McMaster unloaded some bombs that missed late. Quach (12-8-1) staggered McMaster midway through round 2 and looked like the better-conditioned athlete. The final round saw Quach take advantage of the worn out McMaster to earn the unanimous decision, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27.

"I thought he would be a little more aggressive," Quach said. "I have been working on my kicks and it really helped tonight."

The lone women's match of the night pitted Julie Kedzie and Tonya Evinger at 140 pounds. Kedzie was anxious to get her loss to Gina Carano, who has moved on to star in NBC's American Gladiators as Crush, out of her system.

“After my fight with Gina, she became a superstar and I am very happy for her and I appreciate her giving me the chance to fight her," Kedzie said. "But even though I got my butt whipped, I didn’t feel like I lost. I came away from that fight feeling good about myself and my ability to compete."

Not good enough to deal with Evinger (6-3), who now trains at Ken Shamrock's Lion's Den. Evinger let Kedzie (9-7) over commit and caught her in a rear naked choke at 1:43 of the first round.

"It went exactly as I planned," Evinger said. "She got her chin down but I got my legs in (the choke)."

The SHOWTIME special kicked off with a light heavyweight bout between the highly-regarded Kala Kolohe Hose of Honolulu and France's Frederic Belleton.

“All people want to talk about is me fighting Robbie Lawler and all the postponements. But I am not even thinking about Lawler now," Hose said before the fight. “My only focus is on winning. To underestimate or look past anybody would be a big mistake for any fighter.’’

Hose (5-1) certainly didn't underestimate Belleton (5-2), who seemed just happy to be in the fight. "“This is a great opportunity for me to make a good name for myself against a quality opponent," Belleton said. "I am more excited than nervous. It is quite an achievement for me to make it all the way to a SHOWTIME card."

Belleton had quite the height advantage and scored with some nice kicks early but it became apparent quickly that Hose would overwhelm the Frenchman with his powerful punching ability and sure enough, the Hawaiian caught him at 4:32 of the first round.

"I give him respect. He had some weight in those leg kicks," Hose said. "I am looking forward to go after the title now."

The non-televised portion of the card featured a theme of local fighters. Philadelphia native Matt Makowski opened the night by taking on Joe Shilling of Los Angeles in a welterweight encounter. Matkowski (2-0) blitzed Shilling, who was making his MMA debut, from the outset and won via choke at 4:01 in the opening round.

A pair of young New Jersey fighters, Sergio Vinagre from Brick and Brett Linebarger from Ewing squared off in an entertaining light heavyweight bout. Linebarger (3-1) seemed to be the better conditioned fighter and scored quite a bit with knees in the midsection during the first two rounds. Both fighters look gassed in the third but Vinagre(2-2) had nothing left and was caught with a devastating left hook at 2:29 of the round to end it.

Another Philly fighter, Mark Getto travelled down the AC Expressway to battle Baltimore's James "Binky" Jones at 160 pounds but it wasn't much of a contest. The veteran Jones(5-5) was just too savvy for Getto (1-4-1) and caught the local favorite in a kimura at 1:14 of the first round.

Another pair of Philly fighters, Zach Makovsky and Wilson Reis, were next at 140 pounds. Reis (3-0) dominated with ground and pound in the opening round and nearly submitted Makovsky (3-1) on a couple of occasions. Round 2 was more of the same Reis showed superior athleticism until catching Makovsky in a side choke at 1:15 to end it.

The last dark match featured Pennsylvania's Charlie Brenneman and Lakewood, New Jersey's Drew Puzon in a welterweight clash. Puzon (1-2) brought a vocal cheering section to help battle the undefeated Brenneman (5-0) and they were the only ones making any noise in what turned out to be a rather lackluster affair. The first two rounds were really a wrestling match with neither fighter coming close to a submission. The third featured a little more action but nothing earth-shattering. First decision of the night with Brennerman taking a split decision, 29-28, 28-29, 30-27.

Notes: Ken Shamrock was at the show and made it official that he would be fighting as a heavyweight for EliteXC when he returns to the cage in London on March 8.

Soul signs af2 Rookie of the Year

The Philadelphia Soul signed defensive back Chris Royal and linebacker Clifton Smith on Friday.

Royal spent last season with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers in af2, earning Rookie of the Year and first-team All-af2 honors after totaling a league-leading 14 interceptions and returning three for touchdowns. He also tallied 117 tackles, which was the third highest total in the league, while recording 43 pass breakups.

Royal, a 5’10”, 205-pound product from Marshall, also recorded three tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 16 games played.

With the Thundering Herd, Royal ended his career with nine interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 106 tackles and two sacks in 35 games. In his senior season of 2005, Royal tallied three interceptions and one sack.

Smith, 27, joins the Soul as a rookie to the AFL. He has spent time in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins. He signed with Washington as an undrafted free agent in 2003 and appeared in one game that season, making one tackle. After not playing in any games with the team the next season, Smith went to the Browns for parts of the next two campaigns and appeared in one contest.

The 6’3”, 253-pound Smith played in NFL Europe in 2007 with the Cologne Centurions and ended the season with a league-high three interceptions. He also had 38 tackles, five pass breakups, a forced fumble and a pair of special team takeaways.

A Freeport, NY native, Smith played collegiately at Syracuse. A four-year letter-winner, he ended his career fifth on the school’s all-time tackles list with 405 and sixth in solo tackles with 244. He was a three-time first-team All-Big East selection and was a freshman All-American.

Delaware's Flacco in Senior Bowl

RICHMOND, Va. (Jan. 25, 2008) -- CAA Football will again be represented in this weekend's College Football All-Star game Saturday, Jan. 25, when Delaware's Joe Flacco takes part in the Senior Bowl. Flacco, CAA Football's 2007 Co-Offensive Player of the Year, will be one of three quarterbacks on the Senior Bowl's North roster. The contest is slated to kickoff at 4 p.m. (Eastern) and will be shown live from Mobile, Ala., on NFL Network.

Flacco will be joined by fellow quarterbacks Chad Henne of Michigan and John David Booty of USC. Oakland Raiders' head coach Lane Kiffin and his staff will lead the North team. The Audubon, N.J., native becomes the third player in Delaware history to be selected for the game, joining defensive tackle Dennis Johnson in 1973 and tight end Ben Patrick following the 2006 season.

The senior signal-caller enjoyed an outstanding 2007 season for the Blue Hens, leading the team to an 11-4 record and a berth in the NCAA Division I National Championship game while earning CAA Football Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Eastern College Athletic Conference Eastern Player of the Year and Third Team All-America honors by the Sports Network.

He completed 331-of-521 passes for 4,263 yards and 23 touchdowns with just five interceptions during the 2007 season as he ranked sixth nationally in passing yardage per game (284.2), No. 10 in total offense per game (285.7), and No. 18 in passing efficiency (144.91).

A two-year starter after transferring from Pittsburgh, Flacco posted a record of 16-10 as a starter and established a total of 20 Blue Hen records, including season marks for completions, attempts, passing yards and total offense as well as a career mark for completions. In 26 career games, he notched 200+ yards passing in 21 games, 300+ yards through the air 11 times and garnered a career-best 434 yards in a 59-52 win over Navy in 2007.

Rutgers' Foster in Texas vs. the Nation game

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (January 25, 2008) – Rutgers defensive lineman Eric Foster (Homestead, Fla.) will play his final game as a collegiate player in the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Challenge February 2 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. Foster, a two-time All-American at Rutgers, will play for Team Nation as a defensive end.

CSTV will broadcast the game to a national audience with Tom Hart, Trev Alberts and David Pollack calling the action. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. (ET).

Foster, a Second Team All-America selection by The Sporting News registered 64 tackles and led RU with 15 tackles for loss in 2007. The All-BIG EAST First Team selection finished second on the squad with seven sacks, including two in the 52-30 International Bowl victory vs. Ball State.

The game will feature the collegiate players originally from Texas or who play college football in Texas against top players from around the nation. Foster’s team will be coached by former Eagles mentor Buddy Ryan.

Foster is the third Scarlet Knight to be selected to a postseason all-star game this year. Offensive linemen Jeremy Zuttah (Edison, N.J.) and Pedro Sosa (Union City, N.J.) were invited to the East-West Shrine game. Zuttah started at right tackle for the East Squad while Sosa practiced the entire week, but did not play in the game.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Slurp, Slurp, Slurp

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

Confession time...I love Eli Manning and the New York Giants.

No, I am not a Giants fan and if I being honest I still think Eli stinks, but give the devil its due, Big Blue saved me from two straight weeks of incessant Brett Favre slurping.

For that...I will forever be grateful.

I'm not sure when criticizing Favre became an indictable offense in this country. Somewhere between his vicodin addiction and his many personal travails I'm sure. Still, the endless lovefest borders on the absurd.

Favre wasn't always like this. In my years in Minneapolis, I had the pleasure of seeing him play twice a year and it was breathtaking. In his prime, Favre was one of the best ever -- second only to Joe Montana in my mind.

Year in and year out, the Vikings had more talent than the Green Bay Packers but when people asked for my prediction, I always went with Favre. He was that good.

Today, I feel silly for ever lauding Favre -- a pariah that may even trump T.O. as the most selfish player in the NFL.

He might not be doing situps in the driveway but he's held the Packers hostage for the past few offseason as football's version of Roger Clemens.

Sure, he had a nice comeback season in 2007 when he was surrounded by a number of receivers able to overcome his penchant for throwing into double coverage two to three times a game. Yep, those same "playmakers" he shoved under the bus last offseason while pining for Randy Moss.

And, his apologists that dot the network airwaves look more and more foolish when defending him at the expense of every other player on his team -- most of which actually listen to their coaches and try to carry out an assignment properly.

Of course the future Hall of Famer's status in the game makes it impossible for his own coaches to call him out for his willful ignorance of their game plan -- something every other NFL signal caller would get lambasted for on a daily basis.

In the woeful NFC, the Packers should be preparing to be sacrificed at the hands of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII if Favre just managed his own ego in the NFC Championship Game.

I mean, let's face it. Eli is not as unstoppable as Citizen Watch would have you believe. In fact, he's the fourth option at the Manning family pick-up games, a notch below Cooper. So, instead of waiting for the patented Manning playoff implosion, every one's favorite gunslinger just hurls the ball into coverage and waits for his minions to blame his young receivers or a case of the sniffles.

Simply put, Favre’s play in the NFC title game was the ultimate act of selfishness on the football field and forget mapquesting Glendale, Favre is now preparing for his upcoming nuptials.

No, he's not renewing his vows with Deanna... He's finally making things official with Joe Buck.

Slurp, slurp, slurp.