Friday, July 31, 2009

Baseball America Phillies ratings

To those who have asked, here's how Baseball America rated the Phillies organization BEFORE the season started...

Top Prospects:
1. Dominic Brown, of
2. Carlos Carrasco, rhp
3. Lou Marson, c
4. Jason Donald, ss
5. Kyle Drabek, rhp
6. Michael Taylor, of
7. Travis D'Arnaud, c
8. Zach Collier, of
9. J.A. Happ, lhp
10. Jason Knapp, rhp

Best Hitter for Average Dominic Brown
Best Power Hitter Michael Taylor
Best Strike-Zone Discipline Lou Marson
Fastest Baserunner Quinton Berry
Best Athlete Anthony Hewitt
Best Fastball Carlos Carrasco
Best Curveball Kyle Drabek
Best Slider Mike Stutes
Best Changeup Carlos Carrasco
Best Control Mike Cisco
Best Defensive Catcher Lou Marson
Best Defensive Infielder Freddy Galvis
Best Infield Arm Freddy Galvis
Best Defensive Outfielder Anthony Gose
Best Outfield Arm Dominic Brown

Catcher Lou Marson
First Base Ryan Howard
Second Base Chase Utley
Third Base Jason Donald
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins
Left Field Michael Taylor
Center Field Shane Victorino
Right Field Dominic Brown
No. 1 Starter Cole Hamels
No. 2 Starter Carlos Carrasco
No. 3 Starter Kyle Drabek
No. 4 Starter Brett Myers
No. 5 Starter Joe Blanton
Closer Brad Lidge

Ask Kendra

Hank Baskett's wife, Playboy Playmate and E! reality star Kendra Wilkinson, is answering your questions over at her Web site. You can check it out by banging the link...

Sixers lose out on Warrick

Former Friends Central star Hakim Warrick has agreed to terms with the Milwakee Bucks.

Dana White press conference highlights

*Vitor Belfort vs Rich Franklin will be the main event of UFC 103.

*The company signed a t
hree-year deal with ESPN in the UK - starts with UFC 101 in Philadelphia.

Tito Ortiz has re-signed with the company.

Dan Lauzon, Ben Rothwell, Chase Gormley, and Paul Daley all coming to the UFC.

*Dan Henderson is next in line for a shot at the middleweight title held by Anderson Silva. Silva will be taking on Forrest Griffin in a light heavyweight bout at the Wachovia Center on August 8.

*White on Fedor: "
We tried everything that we could possibly do to get Fedor in the UFC – we went above and beyond. They did not want to take the deal. I guarantee they won’t be offered a better deal."

Andy Reid on injuries

"Jason Peters did not practice today, he is making progress on that quad spasm," Eagles coach Andy Reid said after practice today. Asante [Samuel] is a little bit better today with that hamstring. Shawn Andrews back is feeling a little bit better. The other guys are progressing. Victor [Abiamiri] didn’t practice, [Brian] Westbrook didn’t practice, [ Macho] Victor Harris feels a little better today and Trevor Laws is making progress.

"Kevin Curtis had a thigh contusion and we’ll just see how that works out. He was really the only one today to give you. [Curtis] and [Quintin] Demps just collided. He was feeling pretty good. He went through those first three days, I thought those were important to knock some of the rust off and he felt good.”

Latest Fedor to UFC news reports that the UFC and Fedor Emelianenko are still negotiating but reports that the Russian heavyweight turned down a six-fight deal worth up to $30 million are not true.

"There have been recent reports stating that talk between M-1 Global and the UFC regarding Fedor fighting in the UFC have ended," M-1 Global president and Fedor manager Vadim Finkelchtein said. "Like some of the other reports that have surfaced, this is incorrect. It is unfortunate that so much incorrect information has been leaked to the public. It is M-1's preference not to negotiate in public, and we are unsure why people claim that Fedor and M-1 turned down a six-fight, $30 million contract to fight in the UFC when no such offer was ever made."

Finkelchtein said negotiations are ongoing but "erroneous" reports about possible compensation are hindering the process.

"Even though (UFC CEO) Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White did not meet with Fedor in person on Tuesday, they were represented over the phone," Finkelchtein stated. "Outside of representatives of the UFC and M-1, no other company was represented during our negotiations. Since we did not go to the media with details of the meeting and only responded to the erroneous reports, we are unsure how these reports started.

"It's unfortunate because these type of tactics will not help ensure that M-1's talks with the UFC are fruitful. M-1 Global is still interested in continuing to negotiate with the UFC and while we are fielding offers from other major promotions, nothing has been decided. It is our hope that the UFC will remain in active dialogue with us as we try to find ways for us to work together. All we are asking is that there is give-and-take in the negotiations and that they are not one-sided."

The UFC has a press call scheduled for today at 2 p.m. (et) and some have speculated that White would announce the signing of Emelianenko, among other things. That looks unlikely now but it does appear one of White's announcements will be the re-signing of Tito Ortiz.

"My fans have made a decision easier for me to make. The future of my career will be made tomorrow," Ortiz stated on Thursday. "I hope you will be as happy as I am."

Phils promote Savery

The Phillies have promoted pitcher Joe Savery, the team's first round pick in 2007, to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Temple picked to finish 2nd in MAC East

The University at Buffalo has been selected to win the East Division in the 2009 MAC Football Preseason Poll.

The poll was announced at the league’s annual Football Media Preview held at Ford Field in Detroit and is determined by 26 members of the league’s media contingent.

The Bulls received 155 points, followed by Temple (144), Akron (128), Ohio (116), Bowling Green (101), Kent State (51) and Miami (33). Central Michigan was picked to win the West Division and was the overwhelming choice to win the MAC Championship.

Somebody nudged Ed Stefanski...

...out of his self-induced slumber. Phil Jasner reports the Sixers of one of three teams negotiating with unrestricted free-agent forward Hakim Warrick

The 6-foot-9 Warrick, a Philadelphia native that played his high school ball from at Friends Central, has spent his four years with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers are also showing interest in the former Syracuse star.

According to Jasner, the Sixers are offering a one-year deal probably for their midlevel exception, worth a maximum of about $5.8 million. Warrick, 27, made $2,119,102 last season.

The No. 19 overall pick in the first round of the 2005 draft, the athletic Warrick was a member of Syracuse's NCAA national championship team in 2003. He appeared in 82 games last season, averaging 11.6 points and five rebounds.

He holds career averages of 10.2 points and 4.3 rebounds, shooting 50 percent.

Check out Pedro in Lehigh Valley

Interesting matchup shaping up in Lehigh Valley tonight. Carlos Carrasco against Pedro Martinez.

Eagles training camp recap - July 30

Six players began camp on the PUP list yesterday afternoon. Right tackle Shawn Andrews (back), left tackle Jason Peters (quad), cornerback Asante Samuel (hamstring), defensive tackle Trevor Laws (hamstring), running back Brian Westbrook (ankle) and defensive end Victor Abiamiri (chest) all missed practice. Andrews has to be the most troubling.

In memory of Jim Johnson, the same black circle with the initials "JJ" that is painted in the corner of the practice fields at Lehigh will also be worn on the players’ helmets.

Fans can also send a personal message to the Johnson family via the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center by banging the link...

The team also announced a private memorial service for Johnson at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday, August 7 at 2 pm. At the family’s request, the memorial service will be by invitation only.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid has canceled both practices scheduled for training camp that day.

Donations made in his honor of Johnson can be directed to:

Jim Johnson Melanoma Research Fund
C/o Tricia Bruning
Abramson Cancer Center
3535 Market Street
Suite 750
Philadelphia, PA 19104\abramson

On the field: New additions Ellis Hobbs and Rashad Baker stood out. Baker picked off an A.J. Feeley pass and Hobbs knocked down a pass along the sideline.

Getting to know WR Brandon Gibson: Gibson would like to teach history at the high school level when his playing days are over.

His uncle Vaughn Williams, who was a DB for the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts in the 1980s, is now a high school teacher.

“I’d like to follow that same path, I think. I love football and I love dealing with kids, and I’m really passionate about history," Gibson said. "I think it would be great to do that one day.”

Gibson earned his degree in history at Washington State, with an emphasis on teaching studies.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Flyers bring in Tollefsen

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

The Philadelphia Flyers signed defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen to a one-year contract on Thursday.

Tollefsen appeared in only 19 games in 2008-09 with the Columbus Blue Jackets and recorded one assist and 37 penalty minutes.

A native of Oslo, Norway, Tollefsen is just the fifth Norwegian-born player to play in the NHL -- and the second to do so with the Flyers. Patrick Thoresen appeared in 21 regular-season games and 14 playoff contests for the Flyers two seasons ago.

Over parts of four NHL seasons with the Blue Jackets, Tollefsen has collected four goals, 10 points and 273 penalty minutes in 145 career games. He was originally selected by Columbus in the third round of the 2002 draft.

Udeze retires

A class act had to retire from the NFL today. Vikings defensive end Kenechi Udeze, who was trying to return from a bout with leukemia, called it quits. A former first round pick from USC, Udeze made the prudent decision to concentrate on his health instead of the rigors of an NFL training camp.

"My leukemia is still in remission and I am well," Udeze said in a statement. "Unfortunately, however, I have decided to retire due to certain side effects from my pre-transplant treatment. I would like to thank the Wilf family and the Minnesota Vikings organization for their support.

"I would also like to thank my fans, friends and family for supporting me through everything. Last but not least, I would like to thank all of the medical professionals and staff in Minnesota who worked tirelessly to give me a second chance at life. God bless."

Peters dressed but not practicing

Eagles new left tackle Jason Peters is one of a number of players dressed and working out but not practicing at Lehigh today.

Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel, defensive tackle Trevor Laws and rookie corner Macho Harris are also working out but not practicing.

Westbrook remains sidelined and first round Jeremy Maclin is still a no-show.

Gatti's death ruled a suicide

A Brazilian police investigation ruled the death of boxer Arturo Gatti was a suicide.

Lead investigator Paulo Alberes told The Associated Press on Thursday that Gatti killed himself on July 11 in a seaside resort in northeastern Brazil. Police originally suspected that Gatti's 23-year-old Brazilian wife, Amanda Rodrigues, had strangled him with her purse strap while he slept.

Ortiz exposed

Add David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez to the list of players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.

Lawyers with knowledge of the results broke the news to the New York Times today.You didn't really think The Boston Globe was breaking that one...did you?

Ortiz, who was a pedestrian player in Minnesota before exploding in Boston during the 2004 season, has been especially vocal about the steroid issue in baseball.

Back in February Ortiz said he wanted players who tested positive for steroids to be suspended from baseball for a year instead of the current 50-game penalty.

"I would suggest everybody get tested, not random, everybody," Ortiz said. "You go team by team. You test everybody three, four times a year and that's about it."

And if a player tests positive for steroids?

"Ban 'em for the whole year," the slugger said.

Ortiz's best year in Minneapolis was 2002 when he hit .272 with 20 homers and 75 RBI. But, he had a ton of holes in his swing and ex-Twins GM Terry Ryan, regarded as one of the elite talent evaluators, non-tendered Ortiz.

"Big Papi"
didn't attract much attention as a free agent, signing for just $1.25 million with the Red Sox. The next year in Boston he batted .288 with 31 bombs and 101 RBI. He really took off in 2004, hitting .301 with 41 homers and 139 RBI and becoming one of the great clutch hitters in history as the Red Sox ended "the curse," winning the World Series.

In 2005 Ortiz continued his mashing with 47 bombs, 148 RBI and a .300 average. He topped out in 2006 with 54 home runs.

McMullen calls out George Mitchell and the BoSox back in December of 2007...

Villanova's Redding arrested

Radnor Township police arrested Villanova guard Reggie Redding on campus Tuesday for possession of a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Redding, 21, was subsequently released and issued a summons to appear in court.

Villanova Public Safety officers informed Radnor police that a vehicle struck a traffic sign. The car allegedly involved in the incident was found parked in a dorm lot and later identified as Redding's.

While being interviewed Redding allegedly removed two plastic bags containing suspected marijuana and a grinding device from the car and was charged.

Redding averaged 7.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists as the Wildcats reached the Final Four last season.

Fedor to UFC update

Yesterday's Fedor Emelianenko press conference in Los Angeles was a dud and centered on the fact that Fedor will be a headliner in the new EA Sports video game.

UFC president Dana White has said that anyone who is in the EA game with the exception of Randy Couture, will never fight in UFC.

The LA Times' Lance Pugmire now says intense negotiations between the fighter and UFC are still taking place but nothing will be done by Friday when White has a press conference scheduled to announce a few former Affliction fighters like Ben Rothwell will now be under the UFC banner. A possible television deal with ESPN is also a possibility.

However, YAHOO! Sports' Dave Meltzer, who is as plugged in as it gets, says two different sources have told him negotiations between UFC and Fedor have fallen through again.

Fedor's people also continue to insist he would not fight unless it was a co-promotion with M-1 Global, something that has been a deal-breaker for White in the past.

Wings tough guy Geoff Snider breaks an opponents ankle during off-season fight in Canada

Eagles training camp recap - July 29

To honor Jim Johnson, the grounds crew painted a black circle with the initials "JJ" in a corner of the practice fields.

The Jim Johnson Melanoma Research Fund was also set up to help defeat the disease that claimed the life of the beloved defensive coordinator. Below is the donation information…

Jim Johnson Melanoma Research Fund
c/o Tricia Bruning
Abramson Cancer Center
3535 Market Street
Suite 750
Philadelphia, PA 19104\abramson

The big play of the day happened in a tip drill when safety Byron Parker tipped a pass that was intercepted by cornerback Macho Harris in a seven-on-seven drill. Harris then juked his way through the remaining offensive players.

Harris later explained his nickname:

“When I was two years old my dad said I was very challenging,” said Harris. “I was running around the house with my bike and stuff being a challenging boy and he wanted to give me a challenging name, a tough name, a masculine name like Macho. It’s stuck with me ever since.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Deal is done; Phils get Lee

The Phillies have acquired pitcher Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson.

If Lee remains on his current schedule, he would start Saturday and face Giants ace Tim Lincecum in his Phils debut.

Lee's record vs. NL teams is an imposing 12-2

“He works as hard as anybody,” Chad Durbin, who played with Lee in Cleveland, told Scott Lauber of The Wilmington News Journal. “The same things you hear about (Roy) Halladay’s work ethic, that’s true for him. He’s a horse. To get a guy like that, and to keep Happ and Drabek, it’s impressive. Ruben [Amaro Jr.] did a good job.”

Lee, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, was 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA and three complete games in 22 starts for Cleveland this season. The Indians scored two runs or fewer while he was in the game in 12 of his 22 starts (54.5%), including zero runs four times. Lee, who will turn 31 next month, had pitched at least 7.0 innings in 14 of his 22 starts.

Last season, Lee went 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 31 starts en route to his first Cy Young Award, leading the league in both wins and ERA. He induced 27 double-play groundouts, which was tied for fifth-most in the AL and would have led the Phillies staff by nine (Brett Myers - 18).

Over the last two seasons (2008-09), Lee has the fourth-best ERA (2.78) and fourth-most innings (375.1) among all major league pitchers, is tied for second in wins (29) and shutouts (3) and has the third-most complete games (7).

A fourth-round selection by the Montreal Expos in the 2000 draft, Lee is 83-48 (.634) in his major league career with a 4.01 ERA in 182 games (178 starts), all for Cleveland. He is a two-time AL All-Star (2008 & 2009) and finished fourth in Cy Young Award voting in 2005 (18-5, 3.79 ERA).

Francisco may be the right-handed pinch-hitter the Phils need. He is batting .250 with 10 homers, 33 RBI and a .758 OPS. In his career, Francisco is 3-for-17 with one home run as a pinch-hitter.

In his last nine games, the 27-year-old hit .394 (13-33) with four home runs and eight RBI. Francisco made 81 starts for the Indians this year: 43 in left field, 30 in center field and eight in right field, with all five of his assists coming from center. Francisco, 27, was originally selected in the fifth round of the 2002 draft by Cleveland.

Ed Price of the Newark Star-Ledger ran down some thoughts on the Phils' prospects. Marson is "not the best defensive player and has a singles and doubles type bat while Donald "doesn't move great at shortstop but has a capable bat." Carrasco, meanwhile, "has three solid pitches."

Knapp is the key for the Tribe. The team thinks he has top of the rotation type stuff but he is a long way away.

Marson and Donald both had good seasons last year at Reading, but have struggled in 2009. Marson, 22, was batting .294 with just one homer and 24 RBI in 63 games at Lehigh Valley. Donald, 24, who is coming off minor surgery in June to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, is hitting just .236 with one homer and 16 RBI at Lehigh Valley.

Carrasco, 22, is 6-8 with a 5.18 ERA in 20 starts for Lehigh Valley and was passed over three times this season when the Phillies needed a starter.

Knapp, a 6-foot-5, 18-year-old right-hander and the Phillies’ third-round pick last year, is 2-7 with a 4.01 ERA in 17 starts for low-A Lakewood and has missed his last few starts because of a knee injury. The flamethrower had 111 strikeouts in 85.1 innings, ranking second in the South Atlantic League in strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched (11.71).

Any way you slice this, it looks like a great trade for the Phillies.

Listen to Lee talk about the trade by banging the link...

Phils on the verge of getting Lee

Yahoo! Sports is now reporting that the Phillies appear on the verge of acquiring left-hander Cliff Lee.

In return, the Indians would receive right-handed pitching prospects Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp and at least two players from a group that includes catcher Lou Marson, shortstop Jason Donald and outfielder Michael Taylor.

Meanwhile, FOXSports' Ken Rosenthal reports the deal is Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Lou Marson and Jason Donald for Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco.

The New York Post's Joel Sherman is also reporting that the deal "is very close" with Knapp being the key going the other way.

Lee has been red-hot recently. In his last four starts, the starter is 3-1 with a 1.97 ERA, allowing 27 hits with just two walks and 22 strikeouts in 32 innings pitched. Francisco is hitting .250 with 10 homers and 33 RBI this season.

WWE returns to Wachovia Center on November 17

On the heels of Sunday’s sold out pay-per-view at the WachoviaCenter, WWE once again puts Philadelphia in the national spotlight as WWE Smackdown! and ECW invade the WachoviaCenter on Tuesday, November 17 at 6:45 p.m.

Tickets priced at $15, $20, $30, $40, $50, and $75 go on sale first to Twitter followers ( and Facebook fans ( on the Wachovia Center on Friday, July 31 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Tickets go on sale to the general public Saturday, August 1 at 10 a.m. via, 1-800-298-4200, the Wachovia Complex Box Office, and select ACME locations.

WWE will begin the evening with Smackdown!, which will air nationally on myNetworkTV on Friday, November 20 at 8 p.m. (Eastern). The WachoviaCenter crowd will then be live across the country from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. when ECW broadcasts live on SyFy.

Cliff Lee talks to ESPN950

With the trade rumors swirling, Indians hurler Cliff Lee called into Jody and Harry Mays on ESPN950 to talk about a potential future in Philadelphia. Bang te link to listen...

Smith already injured in Baltimore

Former Eagles tight end L.J. Smith is already limited in practice after tweaking his hamstring yesterday.

Phils trade for Cliff Lee may be imminent

ESPN's Jayson Stark is reporting that three Cleveland scouts -- including the club's director of player personnel, Steve Lubratich, are in Lehigh Valley to watch the Phillies' Triple-A team play an 11 a.m. ET game.

Phillies starter Carlos Carrasco, who has been a subject of talks between the two teams, was abruptly scratched from his start in that game with no explanation from the club.

Stark also says an official of a team that had been speaking to Cleveland about Cliff Lee told him that it was his impression that Lee was about to be traded elsewhere.

Toronto ace Roy Halladay is the Phillies first choice but general manager Reuben Amaro Jr. has stubbornly refused to include his top pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek, in any proposed deal for Halladay. That has been a deal-breaker for Toronto.

Former GM Pat Gillick, an adviser with the team, and president Dave Montgomery have reportedly signed off on dealing Drabek if it means getting Halladay but Amaro is running the show.

Chat with the Sixers' Lou Williams at noon

You can chat with the Sixers' new starting point guard at noon today by banging the link...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

LA Times: Fedor signs with UFC

Lance Pugmire of The Los Angeles Times is reporting that an agreement between Fedor Emelianenko and UFC would be announced Friday at a press conference.

Pugmire quoted a source with information on the negotiations but is not affiliated with UFC.

The story stated Emelianenko would be the next contender for heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar.

Emelianenko (30-1), the world's top heavyweight, had been slated to fight on Aug. 1 against Josh Barnett but Barnett failed a random drug test (due to alleged anabolic-steroid use) that led to the cancellation of "Affliction: Trilogy" and the demise of the promotion itself.

The Russian fighter has negotiated with UFC numerous times in the past but his asking price has always been deemed too high by UFC president Dana White.

Update: is saying that the LA Times report is "untrue," citing a source close to M-1. M-1 President Vadim Finkelchtein is also Emelianenko's manager.

Additionally,'s Josh Gross spoke to M-1 Global executive Apy Echteld, who also said the LA Times report is "not accurate."

Emelianenko and M-1 officials have scheduled a media conference call today where the Russian is expected to update his status.

Other options for Emelianenko include Strikeforce and M-1's new "premium fight series," which debuts Aug. 28 in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Pugmire has backed off a bit saying a second source close to Fedor confirms "intense negotiations" with the UFC but declines to say it'll be done by Friday.

Gilbert named new Phantoms head coach

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers announced that they have named Greg Gilbert as the head coach of their American Hockey League affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, according to club General Manager Paul Holmgren. He is the sixth head coach in Phantoms franchise history.

“We are pleased to add Greg to our organization as head coach of the Phantoms,” said Holmgren. “He has a wealth of coaching experience at many levels and has shown a unique ability to work well with younger players.”

“I am very honored to be a part of the Philadelphia family and organization,” said Gilbert. “I am greatly looking forward to the opportunity to working with the young players in this organization. I am a patient coach. I have spent a lot of time working with young players and teaching them the game and helping them hone their skills and become better individuals. I am also looking forward to teaching them what it is like to be a part of a team and what the expectations and accountabilities are.”

Gilbert, 47, joins the Phantoms after spending the previous three seasons as head coach of the Toronto Marlies, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, where he compiled a 123-89-10-18 record, including a 39-29-5-7 mark in 2008-09. In just his second season as head coach of the Marlies, Gilbert finished the regular season with a 50-21-3-6 record and led the team to the Western Conference Finals of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

He also spent parts of three seasons as head coach of the Calgary Flames (2000-01 to 2002-03), where he compiled a 42-56-23 record in 121 games. Prior to his days in Calgary, Gilbert spent four seasons as head coach of the AHL’s Worcester IceCats (1996-97 to 1999-2000), compiling a 145-121-37-17 record in 320 regular season games, and was awarded the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as outstanding head coach in the AHL for the 1996-97 season. Overall, Gilbert has a career head coaching record of 268-210-47-35 in 560 games in the AHL.

Lord Favre to stay retired

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress confirmed that he received a phone call from Brett Favre this afternoon and that the quarterback will remain retired.

“It was a rare and unique opportunity to consider adding not only a future Hall of Fame quarterback but one that is very familiar with our system and division," Childress said.. "That does not detract from the team that we have. As we have consistently communicated, we feel good about our team and they have put forth a tremendous effort this offseason preparing for the season ahead. With this behind us, we look forward to getting to Mankato and getting training camp underway.”

Jim Johnson dead at 68

The Philadelphia Eagles confirmed that Jim Johnson passed away this afternoon at the age of 68 after a courageous battle with cancer.

A veteran of 22 years as an NFL assistant, Johnson is regarded as one of the top defensive masterminds in National Football League history. Over the last decade, he gained a great deal of notoriety as the orchestrator of the renowned Eagles defense. His aggressive style kept Philadelphia at or near the top of the NFL in nearly every major defensive category since joining Andy Reid’s staff on January 22, 1999.

From 2000-08, Johnson's units ranked 2nd in the NFL in sacks (390), 3rd down efficiency (34.0%) and red zone touchdown percentage (43.9%), and fourth in fewest points allowed (17.7 per game). During his 10-year tenure in Philadelphia, the Eagles earned seven playoff berths, five trips to the NFC Championship game and one Super Bowl appearance (following the 2004 season).

As the Eagles defensive chief, Johnson's defense has produced 26 Pro Bowl selections: Brian Dawkins (7), Troy Vincent (5), Jeremiah Trotter (4), Hugh Douglas (3), Lito Sheppard (2), Asante Samuel (1), Trent Cole (1), Michael Lewis (1), Corey Simon (1), and Bobby Taylor (1).

Four of his defensive assistants have gone on to successful careers with other NFL franchises: Steve Spagnuolo (head coach of the St. Louis Rams), John Harbaugh (head coach of the Baltimore Ravens), Ron Rivera (defensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers) and Leslie Frazier (defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings).

Prior to his tenure in Philadelphia, Johnson served as the linebackers coach with Seattle in 1998. That year, Johnson helped the Seahawks register 10 touchdowns on defense, including eight interceptions returned for scores, 2nd most in NFL history. He arrived in Seattle after a four-year stint in Indianapolis, the last two as defensive coordinator. While with the Colts, Johnson helped them secure a berth in the AFC Championship game at Pittsburgh in 1995.

Johnson spent eight seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (1986-93). After overseeing the Cards defensive line for four seasons, Johnson excelled as their secondary coach, helping Aeneas Williams become the first rookie cornerback to lead the league in interceptions (6) since 1981.

Johnson began his coaching career as head coach at Missouri Southern (1967-68), before serving four-year tenures at Drake and Indiana. From 1977-83, Johnson served as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Notre Dame, a stint that included a national championship in 1977.

An all-conference quarterback himself at Missouri (where he played in the same backfield with long-time NFL executive Bill Tobin), Johnson went on to spend two seasons with Buffalo as a tight end (1963-64).

Johnson is survived by his wife, Vicky, two children, Scott and Michelle, and four grandchildren, Katie, Justin, Brandon, and Jax.

"For ten years, Jim Johnson was an exceptional coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, but more importantly, he was an outstanding human being," said Eagles Chairman Jeffrey Lurie.
"As an integral part of the Eagles family, Jim epitomized the traits of what a great coach should be - a teacher, a leader, and a winner. He positively touched the lives of so many people in and out of the Eagles organization. It was easy to feel close to him. Our hearts go out to his wife, Vicky and his wonderful family. We will miss him greatly."

Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo: "Jim meant the world to me, both personally and professionally. I am very blessed to have had the privilege to work for him and with him. The NFL has lost a good man."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh: "I loved Jim Johnson. . . . He had a special ability to bring out the best in people while getting you to see the best in yourself. He saw potential and developed it. He made me believe I could coach at this level. In football, he was a pioneering and brilliant strategist, changing the way defense is played in the NFL. For me, he was a father-type mentor, and above all, a cherished friend. He belongs in the Hall of Fame. I will miss him so much."

Eagles President Joe Banner: “This is a sad day for the entire Philadelphia Eagles family. Jim Johnson was first and foremost a friend and our hearts are with his family at this difficult time. Jim was an exceptional coach who had an incredible passion for his work. He had a knack for developing young players into mature, focused and responsible men. Jim was a strong, wise man; absolutely dedicated to his family and friends. While his presence will be missed, his legacy of excellence will be felt for years to come.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: “Jim Johnson was a beloved coach who spent 22 years in the NFL as one of the best defensive coaches in league history. He was a teacher to many players both on and off the field and devoted his life to the game of football. He had a positive influence on scores of young men and leaves behind a wonderful legacy. On behalf of the NFL family, we extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Vicky and his children and grandchildren.”

Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin: “It is a sad, very sad, day. I talked recently to (Eagles video director) Mike Dougherty and asked him to let Jim know that I was thinking about him, and I had dropped Jim a note to let him know as well. Forget about what kind of coach he was…he was an excellent, excellent defensive coach, and he trained others to be the same. We know what Steve Spagnuolo meant to us. We had great respect for Jim, and he had great respect for us. I didn’t know Jim personally, but we would always talk to each other, mostly about the NFC East and what a great, competitive division it is. It was a respectful critique about what great players, coaches and organizations there are within the division. In talking with people who worked with Jim, you sense what a class act Jim was. He was great to work with and for, and he had his priorities in order. His players loved to play for him and his coaches loved to coach with him. It is a sad day for the National Football League to lose somebody the quality of Jim Johnson. It is a sad note on which to start the season. He coached right up to the very end.”

Broncos Safety Brian Dawkins: “This is a sad, sad day for myself and my Philadelphia family. Jim was tailor-made to coach in Philadelphia. He was a tough coach who wasn’t afraid to let you know how he was feeling, but at the same time, he cared about us deeply. He was an absolute blessing to me with the way he used me on the football field and allowed me to show my God-given ability. His confidence in me meant so much—he looked to create new defenses each week to utilize my talents. I have been praying for him every day, and those prayers won’t stop now. I’ll be praying for his family and their comfort during this difficult time.”

Chargers Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera: “Jim was most certainly a very good man; a very decent man. He was definitely a mentor, not just for me but for several guys in the league right now that are coordinators and head coaches. He was just a real caring person. He gave me my start and my opportunity. He took the time to teach me. I’m extremely grateful for everything he did for me.

“Going into my fourth year in the league, he showed me how to script (plays). He showed me how to put together a game plan. Then he’d have me write his game plan up for him and he’d ask me, ‘Why would you do this?’ He’d tell my why. ‘That’s not good enough,’ or ‘That’s a good idea.’ He was most certainly a teacher.

“Leslie (Frazier), Steve (Spagnolo) and I … we laugh about our time with Jim all the time. We were the three young guys on the staff and Jim was hard on us. I remember just after I was hired in Philadelphia, I had just finished signing my contract and he walked into my office and closed the door. He said, ‘Listen. I’m an old linebacker coach. Don’t take anything personal when I come in and take over your meetings, when I take over your drills. I can’t help myself. Don’t take it personal when I’m hard on you because I’m just trying to teach you.’ That’s exactly what he did. You take a step back and look at the success we’ve all had. The direct correlation was Jim Johnson.”

49ers head coach Mike Singletary: “I would like to express, from the 49ers organization, my condolences to the Johnson family and the Eagles family, from the 49ers family. Everything that I know about Coach Johnson, is he is from the old school. He had a way of doing things and some of the people, players, coaches that know of him, speak very highly of him.”

Vikings coach Brad Childress: “My thoughts go out to Vicky [Johnson] and the kids. Jim was a great guy to be around. A sage guy who had seen it all and he had a great way about him. [He had a] gruff way about him, but was easy to laugh with. [He] had seen so many high circumstances and low circumstances and I know he battled all the way to the end. … Just a great human being and football lost a great person and the Eagles lost a great person.”

Former Flyer LeClair among newest members of U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

John LeClair, who dressed in Orange and Black from 1995 through 2004, was elected to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

The native of St. Albans, Vermont joined Tony Amonte, Tom Barrasso, Frank Zamboni and the 1998 Olympic women's team for enshrinement.

A product of the University of Vermont, LeClair was snagged by the Montreal Canadiens with the 33rd pick (second round) of the 1987 draft. He made his NHL debut during the 1990-91 season for the Habs, but never scored more than 19 goals over parts of five seasons with the team.

He did leave his mark on the Canadiens' 1993 Stanley Cup title squad, becoming the only player in NHL history to record back-to-back overtime winning goals during Games 3 and 4 of Montreal's five-game triumph over the Los Angeles Kings.

He's best known as a Flyer, however, coming to Philly on February 9, 1995 in a package deal along with Eric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne for Mark Recchi.

Over the next five-plus seasons, LeClair recorded five years of 40-or-more goals, and three consecutive seasons of 50-or-more (260 in all) mostly as a key member of the "Legion of Doom" line along with Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg.

LeClair's final four years with the Flyers were racked with injuries, and he was let go as a free agent and subsequently signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005.

His 333 goals with the Flyers ranks fifth on the franchise list and his 643 points is good enough for seventh. Along with Tim Kerr and Reggie Leach, LeClair is only the third man in club lore to score 50-or-more goals more than once.

Over 967 total regular-season games with three clubs, the 40-year-old compiled 406 goals and 819 points. He also tallied 42 goals and 89 points in 154 playoff contests.

On the international stage, LeClair was part of the U.S. 1996 World Cup of Hockey team and won a Silver medal at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Penn hopes to bounce back in Philly

By John McMullen

Coming off a highly successful centennial show headlined by heavyweights Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will make its debut in Philadelphia on August 8.

UFC 100 in Las Vegas is now officially the largest grossing live mixed martial
arts event in North American history. The gate, along with the official closed
circuit overflow on the strip, tallied in at $5,441,290, trumping the previous
record of $5,397,300 set on December 30, 2006 for a Chuck Liddell-Tito Ortiz

Meanwhile, the pay-per-view is tracking in at over 1.5 million buys, the most
ever for an MMA event and one of the six biggest pay-per-view events of all-
time, trailing the record holder of Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
(2.4 million) and four Mike Tyson bouts, two against Evander Holyfield, one
with Lennox Lewis and another vs. Peter McNeely.

The controversial Lesnar, a former World Wrestling Entertainment champ and
NCAA national wrestling kingpin at Minnesota, was clearly the fighter fueling
the record sales at UFC 100. As a follow-up, the company is bringing some of
its biggest stars to the Wachovia Center for UFC 101: Declaration, as BJ Penn
defends his UFC lightweight crown against number one contender Kenny Florian,
and UFC middleweight boss Anderson Silva moves up to the 205-pound weight
class to take on former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.

"We are excited to finally be able to host a UFC event in Philadelphia," said
Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko. "This is a terrific opportunity for
the facility, our company and most importantly UFC fans in the Greater
Philadelphia Region."

"I know how much people are craving UFC on the East Coast," Florian added.

Neither Penn nor Silva can match Lesnar's awesome charisma, but they both
bring far more technical skill to the Octagon. The pride of Hilo, Hawaii, Penn
(13-5-1) is on the short list of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the
world and will be returning to the division he has dominated.

Unbeaten at 155 pounds since 2002, Penn bested Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson, and
Sean Sherk in successive lightweight fights before suffering an ugly setback
in his challenge for Georges St-Pierre's welterweight crown in January,

St-Pierre battered Penn and forced him to retire on his stool at the end of
the fourth round in that one. Afterwards Penn filed a formal complaint with
the Nevada State Athletic Commission over Vaseline that was allegedly rubbed
on St-Pierre back between rounds one and two.

UFC president Dana White said he personally witnessed members of the
commission take Vaseline away from GSP's camp and rebuke them in the Octagon
between rounds but didn't think it had an impact on the fight.

"I saw the commission jump up there and flipping out," White said at the time.
"They said one of the guys was rubbing Vaseline on Georges' back in between
rounds. Some Vaseline on a guy's back didn't change the outcome of that

Penn certainly took some heat over his complaints but has now accepted the
loss and is hoping to move on.

"I lost my last fight and I want to get back to form," Penn said on a
conference call Tuesday."Every fighter is difficult. But I have to go out and
show everyone what I'm all about."

In just six years as a pro, Florian (13-3) has fought in the middleweight,
welterweight, and lightweight divisions, and earned a spot in the finals on
the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. The 33-year-old Boston native once
won six bouts in a row, including victories over Joe Lauzon, Stevenson, and
Roger Huerta, and is taking his second shot at the lightweight hardware.

"I had a front row seat at the St-Pierre-Penn fight and I thought it was just
a masterful performance from GSP, Florian told The Sun in London, "(B.J.) will
be motivated after his last loss to St-Pierre, he'll be training harder than
ever and he'll be at his best. But every part of my game has improved and
people are going to see that. I'm going to beat him skill for skill."

Adding fuel to the fire, Penn is fired up at Florian, saying the contender
sent him a text message calling St-Pierre a "big 'roider' and a greaser and
stuff," something that fueled Penn's suspicions about GSP. Florian denies he
sent any text, however.

Currently sporting the longest consecutive win streak in UFC history at nine,
Silva (24-4) has also tied the organization record for most consecutive
successful title defenses at five, beating the likes of Dan Henderson, Rich
Franklin, Patrick Cote, and Thales Leites along the way.

But, the 34-year old native of Curitiba, Brazil will be tackling the light
heavyweight division for just the second time in Philly. In his first 205-
pound bout, Silva blitzed James Irvin in just 61 seconds last July.

Griffin (16-5), the winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and a
man credited by many as one of the reasons for the explosion of MMA in the
United States following his TUF finale bout in 2005, holds wins over top-tier
talent like Quinton Jackson and Mauricio Rua.

The 30-year-old former light heavyweight king hopes to claw his way back into
the title hunt with a win over Silva.

"Anderson Silva is the pound for pound best fighter in the world. He's so good
that he demands a serious challenge, someone who can push the pace and make
him fight," said White. "To me, nobody fits the bill more than Griffin.
Anderson is tremendously skilled but he’s going up a weight class and Forrest
is a huge light heavyweight - this is going to be a war."

T.O. Show is a bust

The numbers are in for TO's reality show: 0.4/1.2M viewers.

It was VH1's third highest rated show for week but the 798th ranked show on cable.

Flyers launch new Web site

The Flyers just launched their revamped Web site. Check it out by banging the link...

Big Red is losing weight

You might have to temper some of those weight jokes when talking about Andy Reid this year. "Big Red" has lost over 75 pounds in recent months.

The Eagles' head coach told told ESPN'S Sal Paolantonio that he is currently following a Medifast Plan.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Vick conditionally reinstated by NFL

Disgraced quarterback Michael Vick was conditionally reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday.

Vick can immediately participate in preseason practices, workouts and meetings and can play in the final two preseason games if any team signs him.

Wachovia Complex ranks as 2nd best grossing venues for first half of 2009

The Wachovia Complex ranked fifth in the world and second in the US for highest grossing facilities for the first six months of 2009, according to Venues Today.

The Complex, which is comprised of the 21,000-seat WachoviaCenter and the soon-to-close 19,000-seat Wachovia Spectrum, hosted a combined 66 events, grossing $27,117,507 and drawing 514,551 patrons.

In the U.S., the Wachovia Complex was second to New York's Madison Square Garden which hosted 54 events, grossing $34,382,025 and drawing 583,879 patrons during the same time frame.

Venues Today compiled these numbers for world-wide arenas with at least 15,001 seats or more. The O2 Arena in London finished first in the world, followed by the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario; MSG; AcerArena in Sydney, Australia; Wachovia Complex; the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL; Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA; Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA; Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV; and Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

Two charged in Citizens Bank Park beating death

Police have charged a pair of men in the beating death of 22-year-old David Sale of Lansdale during a brawl Saturday night in a parking lot at Citizens Bank Park.

A third man is also still being sought.

Charles Bowers, 35, of the 6100 block of Bustleton, and James Groves, 45, of the 800 block of East Almond Street in Philadelphia have been charged with murder. Francis Kirchner, 28, of the 1200 block of E. Palmer Street, who escaped before police could arrest him on Saturday is also wanted for murder.

Penn State second in Big Ten Media Poll

It was Big Ten media day today and Penn State was picked second in the annual preseason media poll released Monday.

Ohio State is the favorite and Michigan State was picked third.

Ohio State sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor was selected the conference's preseason offensive player of the year ahead of Penn State senior Daryll Clark, the first-team all Big 10 quarterback from a year ago.

Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones, the league's leading returning tackler, was selected on the defensive side.

Westbrook at camp without walking boot

Eagles running back Brian Westbrook was running lightly today at camp without a walking boot.

Penn State announces facility dedicated to sports surface research

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State University and FieldTurf, the world leader in sports surfacing, have partnered to develop the world's first facility dedicated to sports surface research, with a five-year commitment that will center around research on synthetic turf, running tracks and indoor sports surfaces. This research collaboration is expected to further accelerate safety within the synthetic sports surfacing industry.

The new Center for Sports Surface Research will be an intercollegiate program managed within the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences and headed by Andrew McNitt, an associate professor of soil science. McNitt is regarded as a pioneer in the world of sports surface research, particularly as it relates to natural and synthetic turf, and conducts research relating to athletic field surface characterization and golf green construction and maintenance.

He has been honored nationally by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the Musser International Turfgrass Foundation, the Crop Science Society of America, the American Society of Agronomy, and the Sports Turf Managers Association. McNitt also currently serves as the technical advisor to the NFL Groundskeepers Association and is active with the Sports Turf Managers Association.

A significant number of professional sports and collegiate groundskeepers are products of Penn State's prestigious turfgrass science department, which is considered one of the nation's finest.

"Our partnership with Penn State brings the global synthetic turf leader together with the global research leader in all types of turf," said Joe Fields, chief executive officer of FieldTurf. "The original inspiration for FieldTurf was to provide a surface that would enable athletes to attain maximum performance while minimizing injuries, and we believe that this partnership will help ensure that we continue to lead our industry in developing surfaces that deliver unequaled performance and safety to the athletes that we serve."

"Penn State is excited about the formalization of our research relationship with FieldTurf Tarkett," said Bruce McPheron, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. "Together, I believe we can improve the safety of all those participating in recreational activities, from the occasional softball player and school-aged children in physical education classes to collegiate and professional athletes. FieldTurf's commitment to quality research is commendable and the college is looking forward to a productive future."

In addition to McNitt's experience and body of work, the center will also incorporate the research endeavors of other Penn State faculty and students.

"By combining the resources of Penn State's faculty, staff and students with the access to additional academic areas of the university for research, we expect to achieve an unprecedented opportunity and breeding ground to take developments within the artificial turf industry to an even higher and safer level," Fields said.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Banner: "Eagles have best roster in football"

"I feel this year we have the best roster in the league," Banner told Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "That's assuming everyone is healthy and standing at the end. You can only make a statement like that on the first day of training camp. After that, anything can happen."

The Birds are a good team but that is quite a stretch. Remember this is a team that has to overcome the loss of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson and the absence of Brian Dawkins along with a oft-injured Brian Westbrook. Add to that two new offensive lineman and the fact Shawn Andrews is tackling a new position and 10-6 should be the goal with the hopes of getting hot at the right time like last season.

BTW...Andy Reid says Westbrook has a chance to be back by mid August and will be reporting to camp tonight to continue rehab. Forget mid-August, pray for Week 1.

Pinkston returns to Birds

Todd Pinkston is back!...but don't get too worried, the former wideout has returned to the team, as a coaching intern.

R.I.P. Vernon Forrest

WWE's MVP and the Sixers' Dancers

The WWE's MVP took time to pose with the Sixers' Dancers at the team's Beach Bash in Avalon. The WWE is at the sold out Wachovia Center tonight for the Night of Champions pay-per-view.

Spurs sign Ratliff

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have signed center Theo Ratliff. Per team policy terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ratliff has played for six teams (Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Portland, Boston and Minnesota) during his 14 NBA seasons. In 751 career games, he has averaged 7.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.53 blocks in 26.1 minutes. Ratliff has shot .498 (2,136-4,293) from the floor and .600 (1,357-1,913) from the line over his career. He has appeared in 39 playoff games averaging 5.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.72 blocks in 15.7 minutes per game. Ratliff enjoyed his best season in 2000-01, averaging 12.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.74 blocks and was voted as the starting center for the Eastern Conference All-Star Team (he missed the game due to injury).

A two-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team selection (1998-99, 2003-04), Ratliff is one of seven players in NBA history to lead the league in blocks in at least three seasons (2000-01, 2002-03 and 2003-04). He ranks 18th all-time in total blocks (1,902) and is fifth among active players.

The 6-10, 238-lb. Ratliff spent last season with the Philadelphia 76ers. He averaged 1.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.02 blocks in 12.6 minutes while appearing in 46 games.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pedro to make rehab start

Pedro Martinez is scheduled to make a rehab start in the minors on Sunday.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Affliction is Done

Kevin Iole at Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the UFC will be releasing a statement shortly that Affliction will be returning as a sponsor of the organization in exchange for closing up the company.

Affliction sent out a release stating that Zuffa and Affliction Holdings, LLC have agreed to a collaboration.

"We are excited about the return of Affliction to the UFC and look forward to seeing our fighters once again walk into the Octagon wearing the Affliction brands. Affliction is an innovator of mixing fashion with this sport and we are looking forward to working together to promote the sport," said White.

Affliction's latest pay per view had to be cancelled when Fedor Emelianenko's scheduled opponent, Josh Barnett, failed a random drug test.

Emelianenko, the consensus best heavyweight in the world, versus Brock Lesnar under the UFC banner would likely be the highest grossing match in MMA history.

Ortiz back with UFC

Dana White teased the UFC re-signing of Tito Ortiz on Twitter saying, "Welcome back Tito."

Yahoo! Sports Dave Meltzer reports that Rich Franklin vs. Ortiz was has been talked about for September 19 in Dallas but Ortiz told UFC officials he would not be ready by that date.

Blazers sign Miller; Sixers get nothing

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed free agent guard Andre Miller to a multi-year contract, it was announced today by General Manager Kevin Pritchard. The deal is for three years with $14 million guaranteed.

"We are excited to add a player of the caliber and character of Andre Miller," said Pritchard. "He is one of the league's ironmen who brings a wealth of veteran leadership to our team and is a great fit for our young and improving roster."

Miller (6-2, 205, Utah) holds career averages of 14.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 1.38 steals in 815 games (768 starts) during his 10 NBA seasons with Cleveland, L.A. Clippers, Denver and

"I'm really excited for this opportunity with the Trail Blazers and look forward to working with my new team," said Miller. "I hope to provide veteran leadership to a young talented nucleus and help Portland take the next step in the pursuit of a championship."

Originally selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the eighth overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, Miller is tied for the 16th highest assists average (7.4) in NBA history and is currently fourth among active
players. He has also played in 530 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NBA. Miller has missed just three games in his career.

Miller, 33, has 174 career double-doubles and averaged one for Cleveland in 2001-02 (16.5 ppg, 10.9 apg) while leading the NBA in assists that season.

During the 2008-09 season, Miller averaged 16.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.33 steals and shot 47.3 percent from the floor in 82 games (all starts). He ranked 14th in the NBA in assists, 15th in
assist-to-turnover ratio (2.68) and tied for 15th in steals. Miller recorded 12 double-doubles last season, including two triple-doubles.

Miller averaged 21.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.17 steals in the 2009 NBA Playoffs. He has career postseason averages of 17.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.30 steals in 27 games (all starts).

Eagles officially name McDermott defensive coordinator

The Philadelphia Eagles today announced they have officially named Sean McDermott defensive coordinator.

McDermott had served as the team's defensive coordinator on an interim basis during Jim Johnson’s leave of absence this past offseason. Johnson continues his treatments for cancer after being granted a leave of absence by the Eagles on May 18.

"First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with Jim Johnson and his family as they battle through this difficult time in his cancer treatments," said Reid. "I have been in constant communication with Jim and his wife throughout this offseason and they are thankful for all the support they have received from the Eagles organization, the fans and the entire NFL community.

"As far as Sean McDermott, we have full confidence he can continue to lead this defense in his new role. He showed great command and presence in the offseason camps and has had an opportunity to learn from the best in the business. He’s very smart, works very hard, and has a good rapport with the players and the assistant coaches. He’s ready for this and I’m confident he’ll do a great job."

McDermott, 35, was one of the few NFL assistants to have successfully mentored two different position groups, after stints as a linebackers coach and a secondary coach. He worked closely with Jim Johnson in all phases of the defensive game plan and was the longest tenured defensive assistant coach under Johnson.

As the secondary coach in 2008, two of his troops - FS Brian Dawkins and CB Asante Samuel - garnered Pro Bowl honors, as the defense ranked second in the NFL in net yards allowed per pass play (5.08).

The linebacking group flourished under McDermott in 2007 as Stewart Bradley, Chris Gocong, and rookie free agent Akeem Jordan all received their first taste of NFL action.

From 2004-06, he served as the Eagles secondary/safeties coach. In 2004, he saw both of his starting safeties (Dawkins and Michael Lewis) earn Pro Bowl berths for the first time in team history. Additionally, McDermott has been credited with the development of All-Pro S Quintin Mikell, an undrafted free agent in 2003.

McDermott worked as the Eagles assistant secondary coach in 2003 and as the club’s defensive assistant/quality control coach from 2001-02, working with the linebacker position. He originally joined the Eagles in 1998 as a scouting administrative coordinator, working primarily with the CBA, salary cap, and personnel matters. It was a position he held until being promoted to assistant to the head coach in 1999.

A 1993 graduate of LaSalle High School, McDermott went on to play safety at the College of William and Mary, where he earned all-conference honors in 1997. In 1998, he was the recipient of the prestigious Benjamin Ewell Award for his tremendous leadership and excellence on campus and in the community. He began his coaching career at William Mary as a graduate assistant in the spring of 1998.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Steve Lienert Show

Episode 62 of The Steve Lienert Show, a wildly popular Philadelphia sports podcast, is available for your listening pleasure on Itunes or at Lienert and the Pickleman discuss a 30-year-old photo in which Lienert is wearing, gulp, Cowboys gear before delving into the reason why Roy Halladay won't be a Phillie, how come Jeremy Maclin hasn't signed with the Eagles and why the Sixers are, well, the Sixers. It's 30 minutes of your life you're never getting back, so why not spend it listening to The Steve Lienert Show?

Steve Lienert is the assistant managing editor of The Phanatic Magazine and can be reached at

Passion-ate training camp

The Lingerie Football League and Philadelphia Passion officials announced the team's 2009 training camp will be hosted at TriState Sports in Aston, PA on Wednesday, July 29, 2009.

The final day of training camp will feature a 7-on-7 full-contact team scrimmage and a final test for many players as they try to make the 2009 / 2010 Philadelphia Passion.

"LFL, Friday Night Football will deliver Philadelphia and New Jersey football fans an incredible Mardi-Gras type atmosphere of football and festivities making Sovereign Bank Arena a destination for thousands", said Mitchell S. Mortaza, Creator & Chairman, Lingerie Football League.

Philadelphia Passion fans can order tickets to home games by logging onto then type keywords Philadelphia Passion or by calling 1.800.298.4200 or by visiting the Sovereign Bank Arena Box Office.

Fans arriving early to stadium on GameDays will take part in one of the country’s biggest tailgate festivities complete with Beer Gardens, Video Gaming Lounges, Football Challenges, LIVE Music/DJs, Face-Painting, Bar-B-Que Stations etc.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Complete lineup for UFC 101 at Wachovia Center

UFC announced the complete show for 8/8 in Philadelphia.

*B.J. Penn vs. Kenny Florian for the lightweight title
*Forrest Griffin vs. Anderson Silva
*Amir Sadollah vs. Johny Hendricks
*Kendall Grove vs. Ricardo Almeida
*Josh Neer vs. Kurt Pellegrino
*Shane Nelson vs. Aaron Riley
*Tamdan McCrory vs. John Howard
*Alessio Sakara vs. Thales Leitis
*Matt Riddle vs. Dan Cramer
*George Sotiropolous vs. Robert Emerson
*Danillo Villefort vs. Jesse Lennox

STRIKEFORCE's Overeem out with injured hand

STRIKEFORCE Heavyweight Champion Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem has re-injured a hand and will not be able to defend his title against Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California on Saturday, Aug. 15.

The other three STRIKEFORCE world championship fights remain intact: Gina Carano will collide with Cris Cyborg in the main event and the first STRIKEFORCE women’s 145-pound championship fight in history.

Nick Diaz and Joe “Diesel” Riggs will revisit their bitter rivalry in the first-ever STRIKEFORCE welterweight (170 pounds) championship matchup and Josh “The Punk” Thomson will risk his lightweight (155 pounds) belt against former champion Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez.

A replacement bout for the scratched heavyweight fight will be announced soon.

Rutgers to play Army at Yankee Stadium

BRONX, N.Y. (July 22, 2009)In a series that started in 1891, Rutgers and Army will play at the new Yankee Stadium in 2011, the two schools and the New York Yankees announced Wednesday. The Scarlet Knights will be making their ninth appearance all-time at Yankee Stadium. The Scarlet Knights played their first game in the historic ballpark in the Bronx on Oct. 22, 1927 vs. NYU.

Rutgers and Army will meet on Nov. 12, 2011 in the first game in series history between the two schools in the Bronx.

The last time Rutgers played at Yankee Stadium was Nov. 13, 1948 in a 40-0 victory over NYU to complete a 7-2 season.

Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano commented on why New York is so important to Rutgers and how this game plays into it. “It is very important to us. I can say it in two words: Ray Rice,” said Schiano. “He was a very important player to us and to our program. He was great for us, and for the New York area. And for recruiting, to put your program in a venue like this, we take great pride in recruiting the best players in a three-hour circle of our institution. It’s going to be a great opportunity for our kids and for our program.”

Birthplace of NFL Films getting a PA State Historical Marker

NFL Films, the most storied filmmaker in sports, is being honored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission with a Pennsylvania State Historical Marker recognizing the “Birthplace of NFL Films. The Marker will be at 230 North 13th Street (currently Big Brothers Big Sisters of America building).

Former Flyers goaltender Biron homeless no more; signs deal with Islanders

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Martin Biron has found a home not too far from Flyerland, inking a one-year deal with, of all teams, the New York Islanders.

Several outlets report it's for $1.4 million.

The 31-year-old Quebec native finished 29-19-5 with a 2.76 goals against average and a pair of shutouts for Philadelphia in 2008-09. He won 65 regular-season games over two-plus years with the Flyers and was 11-12 with a 2.87 GAA and a pair of shutouts in 23 playoff games.

Biron is the newest addition to Garth Snow's logjam in the crease. He's already got former top-overall pick Rick DiPietro on a 15-year contract, newcomer Dwayne Roloson on a two-year deal, with Yann Danis and Joey McDonald waiting in the AHL.

Former UFC star Kimo on death rumors

UFL signs first "big name" in Losman

The United Football League announced today that its Las Vegas franchise has signed former NFL first-round draft pick Jonathan Paul “JP” Losman for the League’s “Premiere” season.

“I have followed JP’s career since his early days with Buffalo where he impressed me with his raw talent, passing accuracy and on-field competitiveness,” said Jim Fassel, Head Coach of the Las Vegas franchise. “JP has all the attributes of a great professional quarterback and I am truly looking forward to working with him. I am anxious to start the season with JP at the helm of this Las Vegas franchise and show what we can do on the field.”

Losman, a first round draft choice in 2004 by the Buffalo Bills, spent five seasons with the club. He served as Bills’ team captain in 2007 and his 63.43 completion percentage was the fourth-single best season mark in team history. In 2007, Losman also threw the longest touchdown pass in the AFC and fifth longest in team history with an 85-yard pass against the Jets. He was a two-time team captain at Tulane, setting career records for lowest interception percentage in school history with a mark of 2.73 (27 INTs in 987 attempts). Losman finished his collegiate career ranked in Tulane’s all-time Top 10 in 18 categories including third in touchdown passes (60), completions (570) and passing efficiency (129.81). He also ranks in Conference USA’s all-time Top 10 in ten different passing and total offense records.

“The United Football League is providing me with the opportunity to play the sport I love at a high level and for that, I am extremely grateful,” said Losman. “There are many players just like me who possess the skills to compete at the highest levels and just need the playing time to showcase their talents. The United Football League is filling that void and giving more players the opportunity to play. I am excited to get back out onto the field and represent Las Vegas during the League’s first season.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sixers sign Holiday

Philadelphia 76ers President and General Manager Ed Stefanski announced today that the team has signed Jrue Holiday, the 17th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Holiday (6-3/180) was an early entry candidate for the draft following his freshman season at UCLA.

The 19-year-old was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team last season after averaging 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.6 steals in 35 games played. Holiday was paired in the Bruins backcourt along with senior Darren Collison who was selected with the 21st overall pick by New Orleans.

Earlier this month, Holiday started all five games for the Sixers/Nets entry in the Orlando Pro Summer League. He averaged 8.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, a team-high 3.0 assists and a team-high tying 1.60 steals in 29.0 minutes per game.

The 2008 Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year, Holiday averaged 25.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 4.8 steals during his senior season at Campbell Hall High School in California. He was rated the No. 1 point guard and the No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2008 by

Watson turned down Sixers

The Conta Costa Times reports that Golden State Warriors third-year point guard C.J. Watson is close to signing an offer sheet with the Orlando Magic.

Watson already has turned down a one-year, $2.3 million offer from the Sixers and was hoping for a three-year deal.

Watson is a restricted free agent and the Warriors have the right to match any offer but the team is already over the salary cap limit.

The Sixers pursuit of Watson is just the latest indication that the team has turned the page on Andre Miller, who will likely sign a one-year deal with the Knicks for the mid-level exemption although New York president Donnie Walsh may prefer Bucks restricted free agent Ramon Sessions.

The whole Miller situations shows a lack of foresight by Ed Stefanski and Company. If you want to move on and go young, that's fine but you then have to deal Miller at the trade deadline last season.

The Sixers have also been contacting other point guards that may accept a 1-year deal to fill the role as a combination backup and mentor to Lou Williams and first-round draft choice Jrue Holiday. The list includes flotsam like Jason Hart, Carlos Arroyo, Bobby Jackson, Juan Dixon, Tyronn Lue and Brevin Knight. Meanwhile, the Sixers' John Nash was at a workout for free agent guard Troy Hudson recently. Hudson, 33, couldn't play three years ago and is coming off hip surgery.