Friday, February 29, 2008

De La Hoya - Forbes press conference

Six-division and Ten-time World Champion boxer and president of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar de la Hoya (right) and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer (left) visit The NASDAQ Marketsite in New York City on February 28, 2008. De La Hoya and Schaefer rang the NASDAQ's closing bell while in New York to promote the upcoming bout between De La Hoya and Steve Forbes on May 3, 2008 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California.

Six-division and Ten-time World Champion boxer and president of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar de la Hoya poses in front of The NASDAQ Marketsite in New York City's Times Square after ringing the NASDAQ's closing bell on February 28, 2008. De La Hoya was in New York to promote his upcoming bout against Steve Forbes on May 3, 2008 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California.

Six-division and Ten-time World Champion boxer Oscar de la Hoya (left) speaks to the media as Former World Champion Steve Forbes (right) looks on at today's press conference at The Nokia Theater in New York City to announce their upcoming May 3, 2008 bout at The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA.
Six-division and Ten-time World Champion boxer Oscar de la Hoya (left) and Former World Champion Steve Forbes (right) face off at today's press conference at The Nokia Theater in New York City to announce their upcoming May 3, 2008 bout at The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA.

-all photos courtesy of Boy Promotions

Soul celebrate new practice facility

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia Soul

VOORHEES, NJ– The Philadelphia Soul celebrated the move of its home of football operations to the Coliseum in Voorhees, NJ on Friday. A ribbon-cutting ceremony honored the facility as the Soul’s new home for practice, training and coaching.

Soul co-majority owners Jon Bon Jovi and Craig Spencer, along with team president and minority owner Ron Jaworski, were joined at the ceremony by Coliseum owner Charles Gallub, Voorhees Township Mayor Michael Mignogna, Camden County Board of Freeholders Director Louis Cappelli Jr. and other Voorhees Township officials.

The Coliseum, located at 333 Preston Avenue in Voorhees, has a proud history of hosting area sports organizations such as the Philadelphia Flyers as well as many local youth sports groups.

“We are extremely excited to learn that the Philadelphia Soul has agreed to make the Coliseum its new home,” announced Mayor Mignogna. “The Township Committee looks forward to working with the new owners of the Coliseum (Develcom) and the Philadelphia Soul to ensure that this facility is improved and revitalized so that it may once again return the Coliseum to its former prominence.”

The players and coaches believe the new facility is contributing to the buzz surrounding the much anticipated 2008 season. The team ran its first pre-game run through on the field Friday morning and beginning next week with Coliseum will be the full-time practice facility for the Soul.

“This is just an absolutely wonderful facility to be in from an arena football point of view,” said Jaworski, a long-time South Jersey resident. “The Coliseum will give our players and coaches the added edge they will need to be successful on the field every week.”

“It’s an exciting acquisition for us,” added Soul head coach Bret Munsey, “We have a great fan base, great home arena and now one of the top practice facilities in the league. You combine all of that and it’s just a great place to be.”

The Coliseum allows for the coaching and training staff to have new offices. The facility also includes a state-of-the-art weight and workout room, expanded locker room space, two video rooms and a brand new field.

“We are excited to expand our reach into South Jersey,” said Spencer. “We have a loyal following from the region and being in Voorhees is a great opportunity for us to develop those relationships further and create new ones. The Coliseum allows for the players and coaches to focus on the task at hand, which is winning football games, by allowing them to have a state-of-the-art facility that has everything they need in one place.”

Rich Lisk, General Manager of the Philadelphia Soul, believes that the move will grant the team a lot of success.

"The Soul is getting a brand new start to the 2008 season,” said Lisk, “This is an opportunity for our organization that will help us excel in every way possible now.”

The Soul will join Elite Caterers, Nexxt Level Sports and Youth Sports Alliance at the 100,000 sq. ft. recreational and entertainment facility.

“This is similar to the enhancement of the ice skating rink in Voorhees becoming a bright spot in our community when it became home base for the Flyers and the Phantoms as a training facility,” said Director Cappelli. “We’re thrilled the Soul picked a site in our community for its confirmation that Camden County is a great place to live and conduct business. We stand ready to provide any help we can to welcome this great new neighbor.”

Schiano adds to coaching staff

-Courtesy of Rutgers University

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (February 29, 2008) –
Rutgers head football coach Greg Schiano announced the addition of three coaches to the staff along with two promotions of current staff members. Joining the Rutgers football program is running backs coach Gary Brown, wide receivers coach Kirk Ciarrocca and defensive line coach Gary Emanuel.

Schiano also announced that Kyle Flood has been promoted to assistant head coach and will continue to serve as the team’s offensive line coach. Chris Hewitt has also been named Rutgers’ cornerbacks coach. He was the Director of Speed and Skill Development for the Scarlet Knights prior to the reorganization. Hewitt fills the vacancy created by the resignation of secondary coach Chris Demarest.

“I have enjoyed my time and have learned a great deal coaching alongside Cary, Chris and Robert,” said Schiano. “I wish them the best in their future endeavors. Looking forward, I am eager to work with our new staff. The three coaches we have added bring a wealth of experience to Rutgers and are great coaches and great people.”

Brown replaces former running backs coach Craig Ver Steeg, who accepted a coaching position with the Baltimore Ravens. A former standout running back and defensive back at Penn State from 1987-90, Brown spent the previous two seasons as offensive coordinator at Susquehanna University. A native of Williamsport, Pa., Brown played eight seasons in the NFL after the Houston Oilers selected him in the eighth round of the 1991 NFL Draft. Brown played for the Oilers, Chargers and Giants during his NFL career and rushed for 1,000 yards two times, including 1,002 in 1993 en route to All-AFC honors with Houston. During Brown’s senior season at Penn State, Schiano was a graduate assistant on the 1990 Nittany Lion squad.

Ciarrocca joins Rutgers as the wide receivers coach and replaces Robert Jackson, who retired from his on-field coaching position, but will remain with the program. Prior to Rutgers, the Red Land, Pa., native was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Delaware since 2002 and was an integral part in leading the Blue Hens to the 2003 Division I-AA National Championship. The Blue Hen offensive unit was impressive again during the 2007 season when Delaware posted an 11-4 record and advanced to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game. Delaware, paced by consensus All-Americans in quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Omar Cuff, and offensive tackle Mike Byrne, led the Colonial Athletic Association in scoring (36.2, 11th in NCAA), total offense (460.6, 6th in NCAA), and passing offense (289.5, 11th in NCAA). Ciarrocca has been in the coaching ranks since 1990, including stints at Penn and Princeton.

Emanuel returns to his native East Coast after spending the 2007 season as the defensive line coach at San Jose State. He takes over as defensive line coach at Rutgers for Cary Godette, who retired from his position. Emanuel has more than 20 years of coaching experience, including a two-year stint as the San Francisco 49ers defensive line coach in 2005 and 2006. A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Emanuel has coached for three BCS programs during his career. He spent three seasons coaching the defensive line at Washington State (1994-96), three at Syracuse (1991-93) as the defensive line coach and eight years at Purdue (1997-2004). During his time with the Boilermakers, he coached the defensive ends, tackles and later was promoted to assistant head coach for the final two seasons at Purdue. Emanuel has been part of 11 teams that participated in bowl games and has coached 12 players who have gone on to play in the NFL. He mentored defensive end Anthony Spencer at Purdue, who went on to be a first round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys.

Eagles snare Samuel

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - The Philadelphia Eagles made a big splash in the NFL's free agent market Friday, signing former New England Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel to a six-year contract.

"Obviously, I think the cornerback position is very important," Eagles head coach Andy Reid said. "When you have an opportunity to get the best one in the business, then you need to look at that. I welcome him aboard, and I know [defensive coordinator] Jim Johnson has great plans for Asante. I could easily see him doing what we do on defense when he was on the Patriots."

The 27-year-old Samuel has spent his entire five-year career in New England, where he has recorded 22 interceptions in 75 regular season games and five more interceptions in 14 career postseason contests.

"Today is an exciting day for my family and me," Samuel said. "I want to thank the whole Eagles staff for getting this done. I'm happy to be an Eagle, and I'm ready to get it rolling."

Since entering the league in 2003 as a fourth round draft choice from Central Florida, Samuel's interception total ranks sixth in the NFL behind Ed Reed (29), Champ Bailey (26), Darren Sharper (26), Dre Bly (24), and Ty Law (23). In that same time span, Samuel's six interception returns for a touchdown (including playoffs) are the most by any player in the NFL.

He is looking to take that big-play mentality to Philadelphia.

"What I know the most is that it's an aggressive defense and they like to get after the quarterback," Samuel said. "[Last year], our offense played against them first hand, when we played them in the regular season. They gave us some trouble on offense. They were pressuring and getting after the quarterback and playing an aggressive style of defense. I think I fit right in."

"We're obviously trying to strengthen the defense," Reid added. "[General Manager] Tom [Heckert] had targeted Asante and that allowed us to review all the film and we decided that if he does stay available, and we get to this date then we are going to go after him"

The two-time Super Bowl champion and 2007 Pro Bowl selection then talked about bringing that kind of success to the Birds.

"I'm going to bring a winning attitude, coming from my first five seasons in the NFL that have always been winning situations," Sameul said. "I’m going to come here and be a role model, work hard, give it my all, and give them what they deserve."

Former Sixers coach hired by Raptors

-Courtesy of the Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors announced Friday they have hired John Lucas as a basketball development consultant for the remainder of the 2007-08 season. He will assist the coaching staff with the development of the players’ on-court skills.

Lucas, 54, was the first overall pick in the 1976 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets. He played with six teams during his 14-year NBA career from 1976-90. He has also served as a head coach with San Antonio, Philadelphia and Cleveland, as well as an assistant coach with Denver.

Soul - Predators injury report


Orlando Predators
QB Jake Eaton (Calf); OL Jasper Harvey (Illness); OL Chris Jahnke (Illness); WR Ron Johnson (Hamstring); DL Doug Miller (Illness); OL Jim Sodano (Knee)

DB Jason Perry (Groin)

FB Michael Douglas (Shoulder); DL Cleveland Pinkney (Leg)

Philadelphia Soul
DL George Gause (Ankle); FB/LB John Peaua (Back); WR Darius Watts (Ankle)

Sixers waive Gordan Giricek

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that the team has waived guard Gordan Giricek. Per team policy, terms of the agreement are not disclosed.

In 12 games with the Sixers, Giricek averaged 3.1 points, 1.2 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 9.2 minutes, while shooting 31.7% (13-47) from the floor.

Eagles lose one; Tapeh bolts for home

The Minnesots Vikings signed fullback Thomas Tapeh.

Tapeh is headed home to replce Pro Bowl fullback Tony Richardson. He played at St. Paul. Minn. Johnson High School and also with the Minnesota Golden Gophers before being drafted by the Eagles.

Tapeh, a 5th-year pro, has started 16 games and played in all 32 regular season games and a pair of playoff contests over the past 2 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Tapeh helped open holes for Pro Bowl RB Brian Westbrook as he rushed for a career-best 1,333 yards in 2007 and 1,217 yards in 2006.

Tapeh was with the Eagles in 2004 and 2005 when Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress served as the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia.

He signed a five-year contract with the Vikings worth $6 million. Just over $1 million of his contract is guaranteed money.

'Wolves waive ex-Sixer Ratliff

-Courtesy of the Minnesota Timberwolves

Minneapolis/St. Paul - The Minnesota Timberwolves requested waivers on center Theo Ratliff after reaching a contractual buyout agreement. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"Theo indicated to us that he wasn't sure of his plans in the future - whether he was going to play or not - and there was an indication that he would not re-sign with us if he did choose to continue playing," said Timberwolves Vice President of Basketball Operations Kevin McHale. "This provides us an opportunity to play our younger post players - Craig Smith and Chris Richard - and give us more time to continue to evaluate them. I cannot say enough about Theo's professionalism throughout the entire season and we wish him the best of luck in the future."

Ratliff, in his first season with the Wolves, appeared in 10 games (six starts) for the team this season, and posted averages of 6.3 points (.511 FG%), 3.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 21.4 minutes per game. He missed 45 games this year due to soreness in his right knee, and underwent arthroscopic surgery on Dec. 18. The 13-year NBA veteran has career averages of 8.0 points (.497 FG%), 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game in 689 career NBA contests. The 6-10 center was acquired by Minnesota in a trade with Boston on July 31, 2007.

Player in the market? Some suggestions

By Jeff Glauser
The Phanatic Magazine

Asante Samuel? Impressive (unless your name is Brown or Sheppard).

Chris Clemons? Actually, not a bad under-the-radar decision.

If both of them come to fruition, it’s certainly a good start to a critical offseason, where many fans are expecting the Eagles to do whatever it takes to prove that the Renaissance period in this franchise’s history has not officially expired – and that the quest for the elusive Super Bowl is still in the immediate plans.

Here are just a few names we should hope to hear about, as the Eagles continue (we hope) to make the plunge into free agency:

(Plus - and here’s the bonus - none of the following should break the bank, either.)

Bobby McCray, DE, Jaguars: Sure, he’s coming off a sub-par season, where he fell out of favor with Head Coach Jack Del Rio. But he’s also just a year removed from a breakout 10-sack, 2006 campaign. He’s got good size (6'6'', 261) and is only 26. A change of scenery might do him some good and help add some much-needed depth behind presumed starters Trent Cole and Juqua Thomas.

Gibril Wilson, SS, Giants: This one isn’t a reach – the rumor mill indicates the Birds are, indeed, interested. And they should be. First, very few are convinced that there is a proven starter at strong safety already on the roster. Sean Considine has not impressed when he’s had the opportunity to play and Quentin Mikell, though solid, isn’t necessarily a game changer – and is probably best utilized as the Eagles’ main man on special teams coverage. Wilson makes plays – four interceptions and close to 100 tackles last year is not too shabby. And this secondary is currently one living on a fading reputation.

Bubba Franks, TE, Packers: Yes, L.J. Smith was just franchised. But who here is confident that the injury-proned and butter-fingered Smith will finally live up to his potential? Franks, although older and now somewhat injury-proned himself, at least provides a veteran presence who is sure-handed and willing to do the dirty work.

Sixers to honor Andrew Toney

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia, PA - February 27, 2008 - As part of the 76ers Hardwood Classics night on March 10, 2008 against long-time rivals the Boston Celtics, it is only fitting that the team will honor members of the 1982-83 NBA Championship team, highlighted by the return of "The Boston Strangler" Andrew Toney, along with current Sixers head coach Maurice Cheeks, Earl Cureton, Clemon Johnson, Reggie Johnson and Franklin Edwards.

Tickets for this game - which will feature the memorable halftime ceremony - are available for purchase at SIXERS.COM and at the Sixers box office.

During his eight-year career with the Sixers as a backcourt mate with Cheeks, Toney earned a berth on both the 1983 and 1984 Eastern Conference All-Star teams and finished with career averages of 15.9 points, 4.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game on .500 shooting from the field. He played a key role in the celebrated 1982-83 Championship team, when he averaged 19.7 points, 4.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game during the regular season followed that up with post-season averages of 18.8 points, 4.6 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. However, Toney may be best remembered for his play against the Celtics, most notably during the deciding Game 7 of the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals when he finished with 34 points.

Toney’s performances against the Celtics once prompted Larry Bird to say, "I wish we had him. He was a killer. We called him ‘the Boston Strangler’ because every time he got a hold of the ball we knew he was going to score. He was the absolute best I’ve ever seen at shooting the ball at crucial times. We had nobody who could come close to stopping him. Nobody."

In his third season as the team’s coach, Cheeks can be seen stalking the sidelines when the Sixers take to the floor today. But before Cheeks the coach there was Cheeks the player. A four-time All-Star, Cheeks was also a key component to the Sixers 1982-83 NBA Championship team. During that fateful season, the feisty point guard averaged 12.5 points per game, 6.9 assists per game and 2.3 steals per game.

Along with Cureton, C. Johnson, R. Johnson and Edwards, the team will also honor General Manager and architect of that 1982-83 squad Pat Williams that evening. Williams’ contributions in bringing the city its last professional championship included orchestrating deals that landed Julius Erving and Moses Malone in Philadelphia. The halftime ceremony will also feature former trainer Al Domenico.

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 purchase at the Fan Gear store located inside the Wachovia Center.

Samuel is a done deal

ComcastSportsNet is reporting that the Eagles have a deal in place with free-agent CB Asante Samuel. Terms of the deal have yet to be finalized.

Update: The deal is expected to be more than five years and $47.2 million.

And we're off...Eagles free agency 2008

Pats CB Asante Samuel is in town and will visit with the media today at 4:30 p.m. Here's the skinny on Samuel.

The 27-year-old Samuel has spent his entire five-year career with the Pats after being taken in the fourth round of the 2003 draft from Central Florida. He has recorded 22 interceptions in 75 regular season games, and five more interceptions in 14 postseason contests. He was also a member of two Super Bowl championship teams, following the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Meanwhile, WIP's Howard Eskin, who is closer to Andy Reid than his wife, is reporting that Raiders' defensive end/linebacker Chris Clemons will sign with the Eagles within the next 24 hours.

Pro Football Talk has a source that says Samuel will be inked today. The same source says the Birds made a run at receiver Larry Fitzgerald but the Cardinals wanted too much, and that cornerback Sheldon Brown likely will be moved to safety.

On other news, the Chicago Sun-Times' Brad Biggs is reporting that the Eagles are interested in 49ers running back Maurice Hicks, who is primarily a kick returner. Hicks has already set up a visit to Minnesota this weekend.

Finally, DMac was on ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike in Orlando this morning and said that he expects to be in Philly in 2008, and that it would be a shock if he wasn't.

Samuel to Birds? So says GCobb

Gary Cobb is reporting that Pats cornerback Asante Samuel has a deal in place to sign with the Eagles.

The New Orleans Saints and the New York Jets seem to be Philly's competition for Samuel, who wants $10 million per year.

Update: FOXSports'
Alex Marvez is reporting that Samuel will visit the Eagles on Friday.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dark Horse catches Gold and Blue Flu

By Steven Lienert
The Phanatic Magazine

The Dark Horse Cafe got an unexpected influx of Happy Hour bar-hoppers on Thursday afternoon.

That's where the Sons of Ben -- Philadelphia's soccer fans -- took their after-news conference party.

They were at the news conference in Chester in droves -- all wearing blue and gold (the city's colors), all singing and chanting -- as Major League Soccer officials announced that Philadelphia will get an MLS franchise starting in 2010.

But that didn't stop a bunch of SoBs from treating it as if Philly had just won an MLS Cup.

"We are thrilled to welcome Philadelphia to Major League Soccer," MLS Commissioner Dan Garber said. "Philadelphia brings in one of the most passionate sports markets in the country and provides a natural rivalry with the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United."

Especially since there was a supporters' group already in place.

The Philadelphia club will be owned by iStar Financial CEO Jay Sugarman, Swarthmore Group Chairman James Nevels, Philadelphia attorney William Doran, veteran sports executive Nick Sakiewicz and Christopher and Robert Buccini, founding partners of The Buccini/Pollin Group.
The team will play in a new 20,000-seat stadium in Chester, which the government hopes wil stimulate economic growth in the area.

"Major League Soccer is truly a league with the wind behind its sail," Sugarman said. "I am very excited to join the distinguished list of existing MLS owners and to help guide the League's growth into one of America's great sports cities. We're going to build a first-class organization on and off the field and we will create a development that makes the community proud."

Despite not having a name, colors, or a logo, there are 2,500 fans already signed up on the season-ticket waiting list and, as of Thursday, a new web site has been launched :

The first post on the message board said it all.

"It's about time," a guy named Lenn Dogs posted. "Hopefully the passion of the Philly sports fans will carry over to the MLS."

The Sons of Ben would argue that it already has.

Eagles sign Reed; tender Hanson

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms on a one-year contract with safety J.R. Reed and tendered a one-year contract to restricted free agent CB Joselio Hanson on the eve of free agency Thursday.

Reed, who was scheduled to become a restricted free agent at midnight, was originally a fourth-round draft pick of the Eagles in 2004. He re-signed with Philadelphia in 2007 and played in 15 games (three starts) as a reserve safety and kickoff returner, registering 23 tackles, including a career-high 11 against Seattle on December 2. Reed also returned 31 kickoffs, averaging 22.6 yards per return in 2007.

"It's good to get it done before the deadline," Reed said. "It means a lot, to have the Eagles standing behind me, and to be where I'm comfortable. I still have to make it through training camp."

Asked why he signed a one-year deal instead of accepting a tender, Reed was pragmatic.

"I think it could help me if it comes down to the wire, if they need to cut down ... (and) I'll be an unresticted free agent next year," Reed said. "If it becomes a numbers game again, I won't be touching the cap at all. That shouldn't have to be an issue.

"I've been around the block a couple of times, I've been with four different teams. I didn't really want to be anywhere else. I'll take a little bit less money to stay on a team where I like the family atmosphere, and the coach is great."

The 26-year-old Hanson joined the Eagles in 2006, after originally signing with the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie free agent in 2003. He played in all 16 games (four starts) in 2007, serving primarily as the team’s nickel cornerback and registered a career-high 45 tackles, adding 1 sack and 1 fumble recovery.

If another club signs Hanson to an offer sheet, the Eagles have seven days to match that offer. If they choose not to match, the Eagles will receive a second round draft choice as compensation.

It's official: MLS coming to Chester

-Courtesy of Major League Soccer

CHESTER, PA - Major League Soccer unveiled plans for the league's 16th team today, as MLS Commissioner Don Garber awarded Philadelphia an expansion team that will begin play in 2010. The Philadelphia MLS team will play in a new 20,000-seat stadium to be constructed as part of a major development project in Chester, PA.

The Philadelphia club will be owned by iStar Financial CEO Jay Sugarman, Swarthmore Group Chairman James Nevels, Philadelphia attorney William Doran, veteran sports executive Nick Sakiewicz and Christopher and Robert Buccini, founding partners of The Buccini/Pollin Group.

"We are thrilled to welcome Philadelphia to Major League Soccer," said Commissioner Garber. "Philadelphia brings in one of the most passionate sports markets in the country and provides a natural rivalry with the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United.

"Thanks to the steadfast commitment of Jay Sugarman's group and the vision of Pennsylvania government officials, MLS is coming soon to Philadelphia," Garber added. "We look forward to celebrating the world's most popular sport in the country's fourth-largest market and in a state-of-the-art soccer-specific stadium."

"Major League Soccer is truly a league with the wind behind its sail," said lead investor Jay Sugarman, CEO of iStar Financial. "I am very excited to join the distinguished list of existing MLS owners and to help guide the League's growth into one of America's great sports cities. We're going to build a first-class organization on and off the field and we will create a development that makes the community proud."

The MLS Philadelphia club will play their home matches in a 20,000-seat soccer-specific stadium in Chester, just 13 miles from downtown Philadelphia and easily accessible from Interstate 95 and public transportation via the R2 SEPTA train and SEPTA buses. The stadium will serve as the hub of a $500 million waterfront development project that will also feature townhomes, apartments, office space, a convention and exposition center, retail space, new streets, greenways and a riverside promenade that will include boat slips.

Eastern Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area have a rich soccer tradition that has produced some of the country's best players throughout the years, including 2006 U.S. World Cup team members Ben Olsen of D.C. United, Chris Albright of the New England Revolution and former D.C. United and current Reading FC midfielder Bobby Convey. Professional soccer in Philadelphia dates back to the 1920's and the formation of the American Soccer League with charter member Philadelphia F.C. In addition, the National Soccer Hall of Fame was organized by the Philadelphia Old-Timers Association in 1950.

"It's all about the fans and the community," said Nick Sakiewicz, CEO & Operating Partner. "And this ownership group is passionately committed to doing things in a major-league way. It will be the people's team, with a world-class stadium. You'll see a work-hard-play-hard mentality that will showcase attractive, winning football with a determination that Philadelphia-area sports fans demand and will be proud of."

With the announcement of the 16th team, MLS added its sixth team since the start of the 2005 season. Expansion conversations continue with approximately 10 markets throughout the United States and Canada. MLS officials will continue those discussions as the League could feature as many as 18 clubs by 2011.

"As evidenced by our patience in the case of Philadelphia, we will only expand when we believe the circumstances are right," Garber said. "We continue to seek the essential combination of strong ownership, an appropriate facility controlled by that ownership, and a market with a tradition of supporting the sport. St. Louis is one of the leading candidates we are considering and we are hopeful that all elements will come together soon for the city to join the League."

The fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States with 6.8 million people, the Delaware Valley features a diverse population and some of the most fervent sports fans in the country. Philadelphia has hosted many international soccer matches, including the Manchester United vs. Barcelona game in front of more than 68,000 fans that opened Lincoln Financial Field in 2003 and the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2003.

Majority Investor Jay Sugarman is the Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of iStar Financial, a publicly traded investment firm providing custom-tailored capital to high-end private and corporate owners of real estate in the United States. iStar also invests in other targeted areas through its European, AutoStar (auto dealership) and TimberStar (timber) platforms, and in the leveraged finance markets through its affiliate, Oak Hill Advisors. iStar's current investment portfolio exceeds $20 billion.

James Nevels is the Founder and Chairman of The Swarthmore Group, an investment advisor firm based in Philadelphia. Nevels was appointed by President Bush to the Advisory Committee to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and served a three year term, 2004-2007. He served as Chairman from 2005-2007. In December 2001, Nevels was appointed by the Governor of Pennsylvania as Chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission which has been charged with overseeing the turnaround of the Philadelphia School System, the eighth largest school district in the United States.

As a founding executive of Major League Soccer and part of the League since its inception more than 12 years ago, Nick Sakiewicz is a two-time winner of the MLS Executive of the Year award. He has served as the president and general manager for both the Tampa Bay Mutiny and MetroStars (now known as Red Bull New York). Most recently, Sakiewicz was responsible for all business operations for AEG in the New York/New Jersey region.

Rob Buccini is a founding partner of The Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc., a privately held, full-service real estate acquisition, development and management company with offices in Wilmington, DE, Washington DC, suburban Philadelphia, Baltimore, MD and New York City. Buccini/Pollin has developed and acquired office, hotel, multi-family, townhouse, industrial, retail, and parking properties in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States and is the largest privately held office landlord in the Philadelphia region.

Philadelphia's name, logo and colors will be unveiled at a later date, along with the coaching and administrative staff. For more information and season ticket availability, fans should visit or call 1-877-MLS-2010.

Join The Phanatic Magazine Team

The Phanatic Magazine is always looking for new writers and you can join Philly's fastest growing source for local sports news by joining our team.

Take a look at where some of the talent that helped build The Phanatic Magazine has landed:

John McMullen - The Sports Network NBA and MMA Editor; sports talk host on WTBQ Radio - New York; Real Football 365 senior writer; RealGM national correspondent; weekly contributor ESPN Radio, WHON Radio and Team 990 Radio.

Jared Trexler - Author of PENN STATE FOOTBALL: An Interactive Guide to the World of Sports and
99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Filling Out Your Hoops Bracket.

John Gottlieb - sports talk host on WTBQ Radio - New York.

Steve Lienert - ComcastSportsnet and

Tim McManus -update anchor and sports talk host on ESPN 950

Greg Wiley - director of communications - Philadelphia Soul

Drew Silverman - Philadelphia Evening Bulletin sports editor

David Walter - Sound of Sirens editor

Angelo Saggiomo - Delco Times

Meanwhile, content from The Phanatic Magazine has been featured by USA Today; The Chicago Sun Times; Reuters; The Atlanta Journal Constitution; Palm Beach Post; IBS; Austin American Statesman; Foster's Daily Democrat and CoxOhio.

Be the latest to use Philly's fastest growing source for local sports as a springboard.

E-Mail managing editor John McMullen at

Eagles sack Kearse

The Philadelphia Eagles released defensive end Jevon Kearse Thursday. Kearse played in 45 regular season games for the Eagles since 2004 and recorded 133 tackles and 22 sacks.

It's official: MMA to network TV

The CBS Television Network and ProElite, Inc., a Los Angeles-based entertainment and media company that produces mixed martial arts (MMA) events, jointly announced a multi-year agreement that will bring the fastest growing spectator sport to a major broadcast television network for the first time.

CBS will broadcast four MMA events per year, produced by ProElite's EliteXC fight division, as two-hour live primetime specials targeted for Saturday nights.

The agreement augments an existing relationship between CBS Corporation and ProElite, which began broadcasting its EliteXC live MMA events on CBS's SHOWTIME premium cable network in 2007. EliteXC events will continue to air on SHOWTIME.

Additionally, CBS Interactive and ProElite's new media division,, will collaborate on generating interactive content for both companies' platforms, including The online offerings could include streaming of events, clips syndicated across the CBS Audience Network, and other enhanced content to build an online community around each CBS broadcast and ProElite event.

"Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and a wildly popular entertainment vehicle for upscale, young adult audiences," said Kelly Kahl, senior executive vice president, CBS Primetime. "It's original programming for Saturday night; it's live, creating an event-atmosphere; and it’s something that hasn't been seen on network television, until now."

"This is a pivotal moment for the sport of mixed martial arts now that a major television network plans to broadcast live MMA events during primetime hours," added Douglas DeLuca, CEO of ProElite. "We are delighted to enhance our partnership with CBS to bring American audiences the very best in MMA competition through our EliteXC brand.

"The network television agreement with CBS is an important milestone for ProElite as we continue to implement our growth strategy and develop existing relationships with our international partners."

The industry leader, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, had been working on an upgraded TV deal for months with both HBO and CBS but failed to close things out. UFC preseident Dana White's refusal to give up control over the production and announcers was the deal killer with HBO and may have played a part with CBS.

"Our world-class fighters and the high production value of our events continue to drive ProElite as a global MMA organization that is fortified by the bedrock foundation of a partnership with CBS," said Gary Shaw, president of EliteXC. "Broadcasting our events on CBS will instantly engage a new fan base, as well as provide an opportunity for EliteXC to further establish itself as the world's premier MMA organization."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A team we know – and should like

By Jeff Glauser
The Phanatic Magazine

We won’t get ahead of ourselves, but it’s at least time to start talking about it.

It is safe to say the Sixers won’t end the championship drought in Philly this year, one that began 25 years ago, after Moses, Erving and current coach Maurice Cheeks helped take a juggernaut to the Promised Land.

It was once safe to say that basketball in this town would have to be put on an extended hiatus post-A.I., with fans reluctantly allowing the team to stink first and address needs later. Win big in the draft lottery, let those gawd-awful contracts created courtesy of Billy King expire and then become a player in free agency.

Let’s be frank: Even in the horrendously mediocre Eastern Conference, this team was not supposed to come within sniffing distance of the playoffs this year. But that’s exactly what that strong scent emanating from the Wachovia Center is right now.

For those out there who went into pro hoops hibernation around here long ago, I have an announcement:

Wake up!!

Something special is ever-so-slowly taking place. And if a 26-32 record doesn’t necessarily make you want to rise up and dance a jig, consider a few other numbers:

- Like offense? A 14-7 record when they score over 100 points.

- Prefer defense? A 25-13 record (including their last eight and an astounding 20-6 in their last 26) when holding the opponent to less than 100 (sure, that also means that they’re 1-19 when the opponent scores 100 or more, but no reason to dwell on the negative).

- A 21-20 since Ed Stefanski replaced King - perhaps a sign of things to come?

- Appreciate veterans? Over 30 Andre Miller – thankfully still here after the trade – and Samuel Dalembert are both enjoying career years, while Reggie Evans has the energy on court of a crackhead in withdrawal.

- Prefer developing youth? Try a Lou Williams, finally beginning to show why he was a Naismith winner, or the athletic Thaddeus Young, who is turning it up a notch at the time when most other rookies begin to hit a wall.

- Need yet another reason to make a worthwhile trip? A winning record at home (which is sadly far too barren on too many nights)

But the best things about the Sixers right now are twofold:

1) The players are disgustingly likable. There is not one person who you can’t root for.

2) They are delightfully transparent. What I mean is, we know what to expect from them each night – good, bad and ugly.

We know that a gritty effort will be given just as much as we know that they’ll struggle to hold on to big leads late in the game.

We know that they can run the fast break as good as anyone, but can shoot themselves in the foot at the foul line.

We know that they can stifle opponents with man-on-man defense, but will get killed nightly by good shooting squads behind the arch. We also know they can use a shooter or two, themselves.

But that’s the thing: We know all these things. The 8-8 Eagles could have just as easily won either six games or 12 this season. The Phillies, as successful a season they had, were a sports version of a roller coaster ride. And the Flyers can either win ten in a row or lose ten in a row at any given juncture.

The Sixers we know. Which also means it’s easy to pinpoint what needs they have and what needs to be done to take the next step.

I’m making it official: Basketball is back in Philly. That doesn’t mean a return to the glory days of Big Mo, Little Moe, Dr. J – just yet. But it does mean that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel once more.

And isn’t hope a good thing to have around here?

Let’s start talking about it.

Walker to Philly?

Comcast Sportsnet's Derrick Gunn is reporting that wide receiver Javon Walker could be cut by the Broncos.Walker is due a $5.4 million roster bonus due on March 4 and no significant progress has been made in trade talks. If he's released, the Birds would be interested.

Report: EliteXc has deal with CBS is reporting that that CBS and EliteXC have reached an agreement for live prime time shows to air bi-monthly.

UFC had been working on an upgraded TV deal for months with both HBO and CBS but failed to close things out. Dana White's refusal to give up control over the production and announcers was the deal killer with HBO and may have played a part with CBS.

NFL Combine: Bulls and Bears

-Courtesy of Frank Coyle -

NFL Combine ‘08 - Workouts Monday Feb 25
Prospects on the Rise

DE/LB Cliff
Avril - Purdue
Classic defensive tweener hopes to follow the Purdue tradition of top pro edge pass rushers. He ran fine 4.51 and 4.56 times at 253 lbs. with a very strong 6.91 three cone drill in addition to a 9’2” BJ and 17 reps.

DE Chris Long - Virginia
Blue chip defender ran excellent 4.71 and 4.77 times with a 34” VL. His agility drill numbers were equal to any linebacker in an excellent showing. His overall effort was one of the best of the event. He did not lift but will at the Va. pro day.

DE Vernon Gholston - Ohio St
Athletic tewener had one of the strongest showings at the combine. He ran an outstanding
4.67 time at 266 lbs. He also tied Jake Long with 37 reps for the most reps at the event. He added a good 35.5” VL that probably guarantees him a top 8 selection.

DE Quentin Groves - Auburn
Fast edge rusher displayed top athleticism with a blazing 4.52 and
4.57 sprint times. He added 33 reps in the lifting and had a 10’ BJ.

DT Trevor Laws - Notre Dame
Explosive tackle continued his terrific postseason at NFL Combine following a strong week at the Senior Bowl. He ran 5.08 and 5.09 times and 35 reps in the lifting. He performed very well in the agility drills and is the one shining light in a dismal ND football season.

DE Derrick Harvey - Florida
Quick athletic defefnder came in at 271 lbs. and ran a fine 4.80 sprint. He did 31 reps in the lifting and was impressive in the agility drills that could move him into the top 12 prospects.

Prospects on the Decline

DE Phillip Merling - Clemson
Big mobile base end came in at over 6’4” and 276 lbs. but did not run. He did only 17 reps and needs a big Clemson workout to maintain a top 30-40 draft grade.

DT Letroy Guion - Florida St
Athletic junior has been hyped since he declared in January but ran a subpar 5.30 time. He did well with 26 reps in the lifting. He needs a big FSU pro day to move into top rounds.

DT Frank Okam - Texas
Massive tackle came in at 347 lbs. and was totally out of shape. He ran a poor 5.35 time and looked worse in the agility drills. He may have eaten himself out of the Top 150 prospects.

LB Ali Highsmith - LSU
Mobile outside linebacker ran poor 4.95 and 4.96 times that will hurt his current grade. He did not lift and has to make up some ground at the LSU pro day in March. .

LB Jolonn Dunbar - Boston College
Savvy senior Mike backer ran a poor 4.92 time that makes his pro day critical if he expects even an early middle round grade.

Wings' Iannucci makes first NLL All-Star appearance

The National Lacrosse League announced the starting lineups for the 2008 All-Star Game, which takes place on Sunday, March 16th at 2:00 PM MST at Rexall Place in Edmonton. The starters were determined by a combination of fan voting, team General Managers/Head Coaches voting, and league media voting. Each accounted for one-third of the total vote for the starting lineups.

Philadelphia's Athan Iannucci will make his first career All-Star appearance. The second-year forward leads the league with 25 goals in five games, an average of five goals-per-game.

Congress going after Clemens

Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Ranking Member Tom Davis of the Committe on Oversight and Government Reform are going after Roger Clemens.

Waxman and Davis sent the following letter to Attomey General Mukasey today.

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

We are writing to ask the Justice Department to investigate whether former professional baseball player Roger Clemens committed perjury and made knowingly false statements during
the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's investigation of the use of steroids and
performance-enhancing drugs in pro fessional baseball.

We believe that his testimony in a swom deposition on February 5, 2008, and at a hearing on February 13, 2008, that he never used anabolic steroids or human growth hormone, warrants
further investigation. That testimony is directly contradicted by the sworn testimony of Brian
McNamee, who testified that he personally injected Mr. Clemens with anabolic steroids and
human growth hormone. Mr. Clemens's testimony is also contradicted by the swom deposition
testimony and affidavit submitted to the Committee by Andrew Pettitte, a former teammate of
Mr. Clemens, whose testimony and affidavit reported that Mr. Clemens had admiued to him in
1999 or 2000 that he had taken human growth hormone.

Mr. Pettitte's testimony and affrdavit fuither reported on two past conversations with Mr.
McNamee that support Mr. Pettitte's recollection of the 1999 or 2000 conversation with Mr.
Clemens. Mr. Pettitte's affidavit and testimony state that in a conversation with Mr. McNamee
shortly after Mr. Clemens alleged admission to Mr. Pettitte, Mr. McNamee became angry when
Mr. Pettitte told him that he knew that Roger Clemens had used human growth hormone because that was supposed to be confidential. According to Mr. Pettitte's deposition, he also had another conversation with Mr. McNamee in 2003 or 2004 in which Mr. McNamee told him that he had obtained steroids for Mr. Clemens. Independently, in his deposition, Mr. McNamee recalled two conversations with Mr. Pettitte, one that could have occurred in 2000 and one in2004, about Mr. Clemens's HGH and steroid use that were similar in substance to the two conversations described by Mr. Pettitte.

Other evidence in the record before the Committee may be relevant to an investigation
into the truthfulness of Mr. Clemens's assertions. That evidence relates to whether Brian
McNamee injected Mr. Clemens with lidocaine in 1998; whether Mr. Clemens received pain
injections from trainers on all four of his major league teams; whether he regularly received
vitamin B-12 injections from team doctors and trainers; whether he ever talked with Mr.
McNamee about human growth hormone; whether he was at Jose Canseco's home in Florida
during the period June 8 to June 10, 1998; and whether he ever received notice that Senator
George Mitchell asked to meet with him in connection with Senator Mitchell's independent
investigation of the illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in Major
League Baseball. We also understand that federal law enforcement off,rcials may have access to
additional evidence on these matters.

Under l8 U.S.C. $ 1621, a witness commits perjury if the witness "willfully" asserts "any material matter which he does not believe to be true" after "having taken an oath" to "testify ...
truly." Under 18 U.S.C. $ 1001, a witness commits a crime if the witness "knowingly and willfully" makes any materially false, flrctitious, or fraudulent statement or representation" with respect to "any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee . ..of the Congress."

Congress cannot perform its overiight function if witnesses who appear before its committees do not provide truthful testimony. Perjury and false statements before Congress are crimes that undermine the integrity of congressional inquiries. For these reasons, we take evidence that a witness may have intentionally misled the Committee extremely seriously. We are not in a position to reach a definitive judgment as to whether Mr. Clemens lied to the Committee. Our only conclusion is that significant questions have been raised about Mr. Clemens's truthfulness and that further investigation by the Department of Justice is warranted. We ask that you initiate such an investigation. The record of the Committee's proceedings will be made available to the Department of Justice to assist in the investigation.

Thank you for your assistance.

Henry A. Waxman
Tom Davis
Ranking Minority Member

Donald Fehr's opening statement to the House Energy and Commerce Committee

-Courtesy of the MLBPA

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

My name is Donald M. Fehr, and I serve as the Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). I appear today in response to the Chairman’s invitation to testify.

Let me begin by once again stating the MLBPA’s position. As I said when I appeared before this Committee nearly three years ago, the Major League Baseball Players Association does not condone or support the use by players - or by anyone else - of any unlawful substance, nor do we support or condone the unlawful use of any legal substance. I cannot put it more plainly. The unlawful use of any substance is wrong.

Moreover, the Players are committed to dispelling any suggestion that the route to becoming a Major League athlete somehow includes taking illegal performance enhancing substances, such as steroids. It does not take a physician to recognize that steroids are powerful drugs that no one should fool around with. This is particularly true for children and young adults, as the medical research makes clear that illegal steroid use can be especially harmful to them.

Playing Major League Baseball requires talent, drive, intelligence, determination, and grit. Steroids and other unlawful performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) have no place in the game.

I appeared before this Committee in May 2005. That same year I testified before the Senate Commerce Committee and also the House Government Reform Committee. In 2004 I appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee. And just last month I again testified at a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

At the hearings held in 2004 and 2005 I believe that I explained the Joint Drug Agreement (JDA) that we had reached in 2002 and which began to operate in 2003, would be effective in ridding the game of unlawful PEDs. But there was strong interest in the Congress for us to do more. Accordingly, the Players took the virtually unprecedented step of twice reopening the collective bargaining agreement in order to strengthen the JDA. We announced a stronger program in January 2005, and, then, in November, 2005, announced the Joint Drug Program that is in place today.

Among other things, the November, 2005 agreement greatly increased penalties, significantly increased the number and frequency of tests, added off-season-testing, and provided that the program would be run by an Independent Program Administrator (IPA). When our November 2005 agreement was announced, it was praised by members of Congress of both Houses, many of whom had taken part in the various hearings. It was said to be the standard against which other leagues’ programs should be measured; that it was what Congress was hoping for all along; and, that it was proof that the collective bargaining process had worked.

For his part, at the time that this agreement was announced, the Commissioner of Baseball said it was “the most stringent steroid testing program in sport.” In his testimony before Government Reform last month, the Commissioner said much the same thing, calling our program the “strongest in professional sports.” The agreement he praised is scheduled to run through December 2011, as do the other provisions of our collective bargaining agreements.

We agree with the Commissioner. Our agreement is the best in American professional sports. Our testing procedures are indeed state-of-the-art. The tests are conducted and the samples are collected by a well-respected independent company based in California, and the samples are analyzed by the world-class WADA-certified Olympic lab in Montreal.

Moreover, our agreement contemplates that we will discuss improvements during its term, and we have done so. For example, over the past two years, the parties have implemented changes - what Senator Mitchell calls “best practices” - including the following:

• We have added language confirming that players may be disciplined for “non analytical positives” i.e., - violations of the Program that are proven through means other than testing. And this has led to a number of publicly announced suspensions;

• We have improved our rules for processing therapeutic use exemptions.

• We have improved our collection procedures by adding player chaperones who are charged with watching players once they’ve been notified they are going to be tested that day.

• We have shortened the notice period given to Clubs that a collector is coming to the ballpark. Notice is now given the same day and only a few hours before the collector arrives;

And so, the program that in November 2005 was hailed as the standard for other sports has been strengthened over the past two years. As Senator Mitchell noted in his recent report (p. 276), baseball’s program has the toughest penalties. We require year round random testing, test players at the site of competition, test primarily on game days, test for stimulants in addition to steroids, and our program is run by an independent administrator.

Senator Mitchell also pointed out that our JDA is working to uncover the use of detectable performance enhancing substances. With respect to steroids, the numbers are clear: We have conducted more than 3,000 tests in each of the last two years, and the number of steroid positives we have had during that time is five. More precisely, during 2006 and 2007 we conducted 6,252 tests, and there were five steroid positives (two in 2006 and three in 2007).

But, some ask, what about undetectable PEDs, most notably Human Growth Hormone (HGH)? Have players switched to HGH, for which there is no currently available test, in order to avoid the testing regime? As I said last month, there is what appears to be well-founded concern about players using HGH. We have banned HGH.

We have agreed to test for it as soon as a scientifically valid urine test exists. We have developed and agreed to procedures under which players may be suspended for HGH use based on evidence other than a positive test, a so called “non-analytical” finding. In each of the last two years, players were suspended on that basis.

Of course, it is possible that a scientifically valid blood test for HGH will be developed and become commercially available before a valid urine test. However, as Senator Mitchell has indicated, if there is a blood test developed in the near future it may well be of very limited utility; i.e. a player will need to have used HGH a very short time before the test in order for it to show up. That remains to be seen. In addition there may well be very serious issues involved with blood tests for athletes, particularly with respect to tests on competition days, and in baseball we play nearly every day for seven months. As of now, no major professional sport has blood testing for PEDs.

Nevertheless, as I said at the Government Reform hearing last month, if and when a scientifically valid blood test becomes available, the players will consider it in good faith at that time based on the facts then known.

In addition, there clearly is more that we as players can do in the way of education. Telling our nation’s kids that drugs will destroy them is only half the battle. The nation’s high school athletes - - and their parents - - will still aspire to college scholarships and will still pursue their athletic dreams. Knowing what to do is as important as knowing what not to do. Ballplayers must lead the way in developing nutrition, strength, flexibility and wellness routines. In an era of child obesity, this may turn out to be an even more powerful idea than we can appreciate today.

I suggest, however, that the biggest problem with HGH is very probably its availability to the American public. Anti-aging clinics and others openly advertise in magazines stressing the benefits of HGH. We will continue to take steps against HGH, but this is a societal problem, not one limited to baseball, or even to sports. If we didn’t know that before, the investigations into internet pharmacy sales of HGH made public over the last year have made this apparent. The percentage of HGH sales to professional athletes evidently is a small part of the total.

All one needs do in order to appreciate the magnitude of this problem is to go onto Google’s website and type in the words, “Where can I buy HGH?” Last month, this search returned 349,000 options in a quarter of a second. Advertisements for HGH, or products touted as HGH, can be found in newspapers and magazines nationwide. For example, in a recent Continental Airlines magazine, on page 99, there appeared an advertisement with the following headline: “Choose life. Grow young with HGH.” (I understand that this ad appears in the current issue, too.) Plainly, abuse of HGH and other illicit (and licit) pharmaceuticals and supplements is not just a baseball problem, but a national one.

I understand that Senator Schumer and Representative Lynch have introduced legislation to reclassify HGH as a Schedule III drug, making its treatment comparable to that of anabolic steroids. This approach may well be worth consideration. But I hope consideration will also be given to addressing the dangers of online sales and marketing of HGH that are false and misleading and to determining why so much product is apparently available to organizations, such as Signature Pharmacy in Florida, which do not appear to be prescribing the pharmaceutical legitimately. And, as I have suggested before, serious consideration should also be given to doing a study to determine whether the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) is being adequately enforced and/or whether the law needs to be amended. Certainly a thorough review of DSHEA, and how it is interpreted and enforced, would appear to be warranted.

Let me now turn to the Mitchell Report. Since 2002, the players and owners have worked together effectively in many ways to deal with the problems involving PEDs in baseball. But the Mitchell Report was not such an effort. Senator Mitchell’s investigation was a unilateral action undertaken by management. Commissioner Selig hired former Senator George Mitchell and his law firm, DLA Piper, to conduct the investigation on behalf of the owners. We had no role in it whatsoever. In such circumstances a union, including one which represents baseball players, is obligated under federal law to represent its members – all of its members - in connection with the investigation.

The MLBPA fulfilled it responsibilities. Where we thought we could cooperate with the Mitchell investigation we did. Where the rights of our members needed to be asserted, we did that. We gave appropriate legal advice to the players (and to their individual counsel) with respect to the employment consequences of the investigation, and urged players to retain individual counsel where that was appropriate. In many ways, we thought the conduct of the investigation was unfair. But, for the most part, we have avoided speaking publicly about those issues, and it would serve no purpose to do so here.

Most of the media comment and reaction to what is contained in the report has focused on the individual players who were named by Senator Mitchell, and what they are alleged to have done. That is as unfortunate as it is understandable. But, in that process, an important point may have been lost. The Mitchell Report reveals virtually nothing about drug use under our current new agreement, i.e. 2006 and 2007. There is not a single allegation in the report about any individual who may have used steroids during that time. There is only one incident discussed involving a player and HGH during 2006. But that incident was publicly known at that time, and the player was disciplined. In short, whatever the case was prior to our November 2005 agreement, the
Report does not even remotely suggest that our current JDA is failing. To the contrary, it
confirms that it is working very well.

We have accomplished much in this area through joint endeavors. But due to the investigation which led to the Report, we were forced to assume our more traditional role of making sure that players being investigated by management were appropriately represented. Hopefully we will now be able to work together with the Clubs in a more collaborative way.

In light of the recommendations made in the Mitchell Report, we have now been asked to reopen our contract for a third time. That is something which neither unions nor employers often do. There are certainly strong policy reasons why an employer and a union should respect the sanctity of a collective bargaining agreement, including its term, and not engage in frequent mid-term renegotiations.

Even so, we have never refused to discuss changes to our JDA at any time during its term, and we will not do so now. We have already held meetings with the Commissioner and his representatives regarding possible changes in the aftermath of the Mitchell Report, and more meetings will be held soon. Indeed, the Commissioner made a proposal to us last week, and we expect to have further discussions, and proposals of our own in the near future. This subject will obviously be one of those discussed in our Spring Training meetings with the players on each of the 30 teams.

The Players will engage in these discussions in good faith. Our record over the last few years demonstrates a willingness to be flexible in this area in order to improve our program consistent with our bargaining responsibilities.

To summarize, clearly baseball has been through much in the last few years regarding performance enhancing drugs. We had a serious problem. Few, if any, appreciated the seriousness of that problem, including the MLBPA, and including me.

But since we began attacking this problem we have made significant strides. We have a strong program, and all available evidence indicates that it is working and the use of detectable PEDs has declined dramatically, as Senator Mitchell himself pointed out.

I am aware that some members of Congress, including perhaps some on this Committee, are considering introducing legislation to create federally-mandated drug testing in professional sports. With due respect, I do not think any such action is necessary, warranted, or appropriate.

When I testified before this Committee in 2005 I said then that we believed that we had negotiated a program that would work. I said then that all the evidence we had then indicated we were on the right track. Later that year we amended our program for the second time; and today we are considering amending it yet again. And now we have even more evidence, all of which indicates that our efforts are succeeding.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, the negotiation of terms and conditions of employment is committed to good faith collective bargaining between employers and the organizations selected by and representing employees. Needless to say, the agreements we have reached are a product of that process. We continue to believe that collective bargaining is the appropriate forum for consideration and resolution of these issues. A fundamental premise of our labor laws is that solutions devised by the parties in the workplace are more likely to be workable and enduring, precisely because they are forged by those parties, rather than by others outside that relationship, no matter how well intentioned they may be.

Accordingly, it should come as no surprise that the Players Association does not believe that any such legislation should be enacted. As Congress has repeatedly noted, collective bargaining is the appropriate forum in which to deal with matters affecting terms and conditions of employment, even matters as controversial and politically volatile as random suspicionless employee drug testing in the absence of significant concerns about public safety. And the recent record in baseball clearly shows that we are dealing with our problems.

Finally, it should be noted that any legislation governing drug testing in private industry surely raises troubling constitutional questions. Suspicionless drug testing, mandated by the federal government, can run afoul of the general Fourth Amendment requirement that searches must be based on individualized suspicion of wrongdoing. The reason asserted to justify deviation from this principle in the context of professional sports may well fall short under the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Chandler v. Miller, 520 U.S. 305 (1997). There, the court held that a Georgia statute requiring candidates for state office to submit to drug testing was unconstitutional. Among other things, the Court determined that the stated intention of having candidates set a good example was not sufficient to justify the inherent invasion of privacy. It is likely that a law governing drug testing in professional sports would face a serious challenge as well.

Let me conclude by stating the obvious. The last few years have been difficult for baseball as we have come to grips with this issue. We should have done more, and sooner. But the good news is that since we began to act several years ago, real progress has been made. Today, we have a strong, fair, and effective program in major league baseball, a program the players support and, most importantly, a program that works.

A-10 tourney to remain in Atlantic CIty

Atlantic 10 commissioner Linda Bruno announced on Wednesday that the 2009 Atlantic 10 Championships will remain in Atlantic City's famed Boardwalk Hall.

The 2007 A-10 Championship was in Atlantic City, as is the upcoming 2008 tourney

"I am extremely pleased to make this announcement," Bruno said. "Our first year in Atlantic City was a tremendous success and with the exciting season our teams are currently enjoying, this year promises to be even better.

"Boardwalk Hall provides a tremendous setting for college basketball and every seat puts fans right on top of the action. The feedback from students, alumni, fans, and the Atlantic City community last year was extremely positive and we look forward to a long and successful stay in Atlantic City."

Boardwalk Hall, which first opened in 1929, underwent a three-year, $90 million renovation to transform the building into a modern special events arena capable of variable seating for up to 14,500 people.

"We are thrilled that the Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Championship will be calling Atlantic City home for another year," said Jeffrey Vasser, executive director of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority. "It will be our pleasure to work with the A-10 staff in order to make the 2009 year as successful as these past years have been. I think fans will agree that Atlantic City is a perfect setting for the Championship."

The 2009 Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Championship will take place from March 11-14. This year's A-10 Championship will be held from March 12-15.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Soul tweaks roster

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Soul waived defensive tackle Michael Landry and signed offensive lineman Van Nelson and defensive back Rob Keefe to the practice squad on Tuesday.

Landry was acquired from the New Orleans VooDoo in exchange for wide receiver Chris Horn in a trade that was announced on Monday.

Rating the Sixers

By John McMullen

Philadelphia, PA (The Phanatic Magazine) - The Phillies are clearly the most talented team in Philadelphia sports but you can't help cringe at the karma emanating from Brad Lidge's spike. Meanwhile, Eagles fans are gearing up for their annual spring disappointment in free agency and the Flyers' faithful finally got a chance to step off the Ben Franklin Bridge when the team snapped a franchise-worst 10-game skid Monday.

Through it all, the one positive story in town comes from Ed Snider's red-headed stepchild -- the team no one cares about -- the Philadelphia 76ers. New general manager Ed Stefanski has convinced coach Maurice Cheeks to play an up-tempo game that has the surprising Sixers in the thick of the NBA Eastern Conference playoff race.

And, with 57 games under their belt, we also have a good feel for the players on the team. So, without further ado, that brings us to The Phanatic Magazine's annual Sixers player ratings.

5.0 - Superstar - Think Kobe and LeBron
4.0 - Consistent NBA All-Star
3.0 - Solid NBA starter
2.0 - Provides adequate NBA depth
1.0 - Should be in Turkey

1. - Andre Miller (3.5) - Miller is a prototypical point guard that makes things easier for everyone around him. He also has a knack for hitting the big shot. Perhaps, more importantly, he seems to sense when his young teammates are losing their collective heads and its time to call his own number. His biggest weakness is stopping the dribble penetration of quick guards.

2, - Andre Iguodala (3.4) - Iguodala's a little overrated. He's never going to be a star but he does a lot of things well. That said, there is room for improvement. He settles for the jumper far too often, he's lost his confidence at the charity stripe and his effort level can be best described as uneven on the defensive end.

3. - Samuel Dalembert (3.0) - Sammy's probably the most underrated Sixers player. His basketball IQ is never going to be great and it would be nice to see him hit the weight room harder while developing a go-to move on the offensive end. But, its not exactly easy to find a weak-side shot blocker like him. Dalembert is also an above-average rebounder and has developed a deft touch from the free throw line for a big man.

4. - Lou Williams (2.8) - The Sixers waited a year too long to get Williams into the rotation, He's already the team's most explosive scorer and is now finishing games. Lou still forces things too much and needs to take better care off the ball but those are things you only learn with consistent minutes.

5. - Thaddeus Young (2.6) - You hate to give Billy King credit for anything but he made the right choice with Young. Rarely do you see a 19-year-old kid exhibit such patience. Young never forces anything and let's the game come to him, reminiscent of a young Kevin Garnett. Thaddeus has a chance to be a real star in this league and I have a feeling he will be topping this list very quickly.

6. - Reggie Evans (2.5) - It's feast or famine with Reggie, a poor man's Dennis Rodman. Evans is one of the NBA's best rebounders and a pain in the rear for the opposition on the defensive end. The Sixers are one of the best rebounding teams in the league when he is on the floor and possess the game's best half-court trap. On the offensive end, you are playing four on five when Evans is on the floor.

7. - Willie Green (2.4) - Green is a one-dimensional player. He's a scorer but if things aren't falling for him, he's a detriment on both ends of the floor. Starting Green isn't the problem but Cheeks should have a quick hook on a daily basis.

8. - Jason Smith (2.2) - Nice draft pick who should be a solid rotational guy for years. He hit the rookie wall way too quickly, however. So, it would be nice if Smith works on his conditioning in the offseason.

9. - Rodney Carney (2.2) - Carney should be much higher on this list but the second-year pro just doesn't listen. Carney could be a top-tier defensive threat on the wing, igniting the fastbreak but he seems to sulk when he doesn't get touches on offense.

10. - Kevin Ollie (1.9) - Smart, disciplined point guard who takes care of the ball like its one of his kids. That said, Ollie just doesn't have the physical skill set to give you more than 10 minutes a night.

11. - Gordan Giricek (1.9) - Giricek is probably the team's best pure shooter but he just doesn't fit in with Stefanski's up-tempo plan.

12. - Calvin Booth (1.8) - Veteran shot-blocker who knows how to play NBA defense.

13. - Louis Amundson (1.5) - High energy guy that rarely sees the floor. Amundson is an above average NBA rebounder and can finish a little bit around the basket.

14. - Shavlik Randolph (1.0) - Shav was not an NBA player before a serious leg injury. BK's pet.

No rating - Herbert Hill - Let's see Hill take the floor before making any assessment.

Monday, February 25, 2008

NFL Combine news

Pool reporter Randy Covitz said Penn State quarterback Anthony Morelli's throws were crisp. He completed a short out to Kansas State's Jordy Nelson and he perfectly led Jaymar Johnson of Jackson State on a fly pattern. Both of his slants were on the money. He overthrew his next throw on a slant pattern but then made up for it with a completion. On the 45-yard bombs down the numbers, he laid out one pass the receiver had to slow down to catch. On the next one, he overcompensated and overthrew it. His passes on the 12-yard combacks were dead on.

Meanwhile, Geoff Mosher reported that Delaward QB Joe Flacco's arm strength stood out among the first roup of quarterbacks. He threw a sharp, tight spiral -- especially on deeper patterns -- and generally showed precision on routes along the sideline. Given that he ran a spread offense in college, footwork -- particularly on his three-step drops -- didn't appear to be a hindrance. His form and technique were on par. He also bounced back well after mistakes. In one drill (a 15-yard post corner), his timing was off and he threw wide of both receivers. On his second attempt, though, he completed both passes and looked much sharper.

Meet the Soul

The Philadelphia Soul will be hosting a Pep Rally on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. at the Commerce Bank located at 2201 South Broad Street.

Fans will have the opportunity to meet the 2008 team for the first time. You can bank on seeing QB Tony Graziani, WR Chris Jackson, DB Mike Brown along with the entire Soul team.

Join the Philadelphia Soul players, Soulmates and fans as the excitement builds for the 2008 regular season. Fans will have a chance to personally interact with the Soul players and Soulmates just a few days before the start of the much-anticipated 2008 season. There will also be fan giveaways and a contest to win a pair of tickets to the season opener against the Orlando Predators on March 1.

Vinny's Back

By Steven Lienert
The Phanatic Magazine

ESPN has reported on Monday night that the Philadelphia Flyers have acquired Vaclav Prospal from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Phantoms' defenseman Alexandre Picard and a conditional 2009 draft pick.

Prospal, who was dubbed 'Vinny' by the South Philly Phaithful in his first stint with the Flyers, has scored 29 goals and 28 assists in 62 games this season. He'll become the sixth Flyers player on their roster to have tallied at least 20 goals this season.

Prospal was originally drafted by the Flyers in the third round of the 1993 entry draft and spent his first two seasons in Philadelphia. Prospal also won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004.

Prospal, who has 175 goals and 365 assists in 774 career games with Philadelphia, Ottawa, Florida, Tampa Bay and Anaheim, will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Picard, who was in his third season with the Flyers' minor-league affliate -- the Philadelphia Phantoms -- has notched eight goals and 30 assists in 53 games played for a minus-8. Overall, he has 16 goalsand 58 assists in 134 career games with the Phantoms.

If the Flyers happen to reach the Eastern Conference finals, they will owe Tampa Bay their second-round pick in 2009. If not, the Lightning will receive Calgary's third-round pick, which is owned by the Flyers, in 2009.

Meanwhile, Flyers' fans can cross Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle off their wish list. Reports are that Boyle and the 'Ning have reached an agreement on a contract extension. Perhaps the Flyers will look to bolster their defense with the addition of Buffalo defenseman Brian Campbell, who remains on the trading block. Most likely, the Flyers will have to part with Jeff Carter to get that deal done.

Soul sets season opening roster

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia Soul

The Philadelphia Soul announced a number of roster moves Monday. The club re-signed linebacker Rod Davis; offensive lineman Steve Edwards; defensive back Dee Webb; defensive lineman George Gause; and wide receiver Darius Watts to undisclosed contracts, while trading wide receiver Chris Horn to the New Orleans VooDoo in exchange for defensive lineman Michael Landry and signing fullback John Peaua.

The Soul also waived offensive linemen Jason Thomas, Jabari Levey and Van Nelson; defensive lineman Delbert Cowsette; defensive back Rob Keefe; and fullbacks Cory Anderson and Matt Bernstein.

Head coach Bret Munsey then placed Watts, Peaua and Gause on the injured reserve, meaning the three will be sidelined at least the first two weeks of the season.

The moves bring the Soul’s roster to the 24-man limit.

Landry started 15 games at nose guard for the VooDoo last season and finished the year with 18.5 tackles and two tackles for a loss. In his return to the VooDoo, he appeared in more games than any other New Orleans defensive lineman. A year earlier, he appeared in 13 games with 10 starts for the Brigade and had 11 tackles (six solo), 1.5 tackles for a loss and a half sack. In 2005, Landry joined the VooDoo and was named to the AFL All-Rookie team as he made an immediate impact on the middle of the defense. He started in 15 games at nose guard and had 16 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Landry spent the end of the 2003 season and the 2004 offseason and training camp as a defensive end with the San Francisco 49ers. He spent the final game of the 2003 season on San Francisco’s active roster. He originally signed as an undrafted free agent with Kansas City in 2002 and spent time on the practice squads of both the Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers from 2002-03. He was allocated to the Scottish Claymores of NFL Europe by Kansas City in 2003 and registered 31 tackles and 6.5 sacks.

In college, he played in 25 games with 23 starts at defensive end and outside linebacker for Southern. Landry earned second-team All-SWAC honors as a senior in 2001, when he tallied 45 tackles (15 solo), five sacks, 14 tackles for a loss and two passes defensed.

Peaua was in training camp with the Colorado Crush, but was released this past Friday. He spent the last four seasons with the Crush, playing in 50 games over that period. Last year, he scored a pair of touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving.

He broke into the league with Arizona in 2001 and spent three seasons in the desert.

Forsberg returns to Avalanche

-Courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that it has come to terms with unrestricted free agent Peter Forsberg on a new contract through the 2007-2008 season.

“We’re proud to announce to our fans that Peter Forsberg has decided to come back and play with our franchise where he’s enjoyed so much success early in his career,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President and General Manager Francois Giguere. “His addition should complement our roster and will bring our team to an even higher competitive level.”

“Over the last several months, I have worked extremely hard in order for this to be possible. I am looking forward to putting this jersey on again,” said Forsberg. “I have so many great memories of my playing days in Denver. I’m excited about helping my new teammates and former teammates in the coming weeks, and hopefully I am able to do that in the very near future.”

Forsberg, 34, was selected sixth overall in the 1991 Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers before being dealt to the Quebec Nordiques on June 30, 1992. He made his NHL debut with the Nordiques during the 1994-95 season, where he tallied 50 points (15g/35a) in 47 games during the shortened season, earning him the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. During his next nine seasons in Colorado, he would go on to win two Stanley Cups (1996, 2001); capture the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP (2003); and appear in seven All-Star games. During his MVP season, he led the NHL in scoring with 106 points (29g/77a) in 75 games. He was named a First-Team NHL All-Star three times (1998, 1999, 2003) while with Colorado.

Forsberg currently stands fourth on the franchise’s all-time scoring list with 741 points (216g/525a) in 580 career games. He stands first on the organization’s all-time post-season assist list (97); second in playoff goals (57) and points (154); and second in post-season game-winning goals (12). He owns regular season franchise records for most points in a period (5) and shares the record for most assists in a game (5). His post-season club records include most points in a game (5); most goals in a period (3); most game-winning goals in a series (3 done twice).

Over his tenure with the Avalanche, the club posted a 119-14-19-6 (.832) regular season record in games that Forsberg scored a goal