Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Saint Joseph's announces non-conference sked

PHILADELPHIA - Saint Joseph's men's basketball has announced its non-conference schedule for the 2011-12 season. A total of 15 home games, including conference contests, will be played at the two-year old Michael J. Hagan '85 Arena.

The non-conference slate gives the Hawks a total of seven home games, four road contests and three neutral site games.

Saint Joseph's opens the season on November 11 on the road at Western Kentucky and then begins play at Hagan Arena on November 14 with an exhibition game against fellow Jesuit and in-state institution, the University of Scranton.

SJU will participate in the three-game Charleston Classic from November 17-20,  at Carolina First Arena. The Hawks will meet Georgia Tech in the opening round and are set to take on either Seton Hall and VCU in the second round. The remainder of the tournament field consists of LSU, Northwestern, Tulsa and Western Kentucky.

After a trip to Iona on November 23, Saint Joseph's will play seven consecutive games at Hagan Arena, beginning with the regular-season opener versus Penn State on November 26. SJU will host Drexel on November 30, Boston University on December 7 and Creighton on December 10.

The Hawks will host rival Villanova at Hagan Arena on December 17, marking the first time since the inception of the Big 5 in 1955 that the game will be played on SJU's campus.

Saint Joseph's will host Coppin State on December 21 and close out the seven-game stretch of home games on December 28 versus Morgan State. The Hawks will end 2011 on the road at Harvard on New Year's Eve, while the final non-conference game of the season will take place on January 21 against Penn at The Palestra.

"This schedule signifies a new and exciting time for the program. It has been our intent to re-energize and revitalize our passionate fans and the most supportive student section on the East Coast," said Phil Martelli, now in his 17th year as SJU's head coach. "We want to take advantage of the outstanding basketball facilities we now have at Saint Joseph's and allow our student-athletes to feel and experience the true passion of Hawk basketball.  We are counting on our students and loyal fans to continue to make Hagan Arena a remarkable homecourt."

Fernandez steps in to take on Cruz in South Philly

The undefeated Ronald Cruz
Philadelphia — Chris Fernandez, whose scheduled fight last weekend against Shamone Alvarez in Atlantic City, NJ, was canceled due to Hurricane Irene, did not have to wait long for another assignment.  He will now fight Ronald Cruz in a scheduled eight-round welterweight match on Sept. 9 at the Asylum Arena in South Philadelphia.

Fernandez, 35, of Salt Lake City, UT, flew into Atlantic City, NJ, last Thursday, only to learn 24 hours later that the entire card at the Tropicana on which he was to fight was called off due to the hurricane.

On Monday, when Anges Adjaho, of Buffalo, NY, called in with a badly sprained wrist, Fernandez jumped at the chance to fight Cruz.  A pro since 1997, the 35-year-old Fernandez is 19-13-1, 11 K0s.  In his last fight on May 14 in Campbell, OH, Fernandez lost a 10-round decision to Miguel Gonzalez, of Cleveland, OH.             

This will mark Fernandez’ second trip to the Asylum Arena.  Last year he was stopped there in seven rounds by rising star Danny Garcia, of Philadelphia, PA, in the 10-round main event.

Fernandez has boxed some of the best at 140 and 147 pounds, including Paulie Malignaggi, Devon Alexander and Gabriel Bracero.

Cruz, 24, of Bethlehem, PA, has won all 13 of his pro fights, 10 by knockout.  In his last outing, July 1, at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, he KOd Doel Carrasquillo, of Reading, PA, in six rounds.  He also has beaten Jeremy Bryan and Dillet Frederick.

The Cruz-Fernandez fight will serve as the semifinal to the 10-round main event for the vacant Pennsylvania State junior middleweight title between Gabriel Rosado, of Philadelphia, PA, and Keenan Collins, of Reading, PA.

The Rosado-Collins and Cruz-Fernandez bouts will be broadcast on TeleFutura’s Solo Boxeo Tecate at 11.30pm ET/PT (10.30pm CT).

Five additional fights complete the card at the Asylum Arena, located at 7 West Ritner Street.  The first fight begins at 7.30 pm.     

Phillies acquire OF Bowker

The Phillies have acquired outfielder John Bowker from the Pirates for a a player to be named or cash considerations. He is expected to be in uniform tonight in Cincinnati.

To make room for Bowker on the roster the Phils move Jose Contreras to 60-day disabled list.

Bowker spent most of his time in Triple-A this season where he is hitting .306 with 15 home runs and 76 RBI with Indianapolis. He is also 4-for-17 while having a cup of coffee with the Pirates.

Overall, Bowker is a lifetime .237 hitter with 17 home runs in 561 big league at-bats.

Soul walk the Plank

PHILADELPHIA  – The Philadelphia Soul have announced that two-time Arena Football League Coach of the Year, Doug Plank, has been named as the head coach effective immediately.  Per League and team rules, terms are not disclosed.

In Plank's first four years as an AFL head coach, he won more games in that period to start a career than any other coach in the history of the AFL.  He posted an overall record of 47-25 (43-21 regular season and a 4-4 postseason) from 2005-08, which included a trip to ArenaBowl XIX.

“We are excited to bring in a guy like Doug Plank to put us on a championship path immediately,” said Soul co-majority owner and current ESPN Monday Night Football broadcaster, Ron Jaworski.  “Doug is a tough-nosed, blue-collar Pennsylvania guy that is a perfect fit for the Soul and the city of Philadelphia.  He has a proven track record and is well respected on all levels of football.  With Doug here, we look forward to hoisting the championship trophy in Philadelphia again.”

“Something that I have in common with the entire city of Philadelphia is an extreme passion for football,” said Plank.  “My style is to always give a 100 percent in everything I do and that is the type of mentality that we will be looking for from our entire organization.  With that philosophy and mindset, I am confident that we – as a team – will bring a championship to Philadelphia.”

In 2001, Plank began his coaching career as the Arizona Rattlers’ defensive coordinator for three seasons under former Dallas Cowboys QB Danny White.  During that time, the Rattlers made it to three consecutive ArenaBowls.  In 2004, Plank was hired by Atlanta Falcons owner, Arthur Blank, to be head coach of the Georgia Force.  Plank was named the AFL's Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2007 as he led Georgia to the playoffs each year and ArenaBowl XIX in his first year at the helm in 2005.

Plank was born in Greensburg, PA and is a former safety and coach in the National Football League.  He spent his entire eight-year NFL playing career with the Chicago Bears.  Plank was the first Bears’ rookie to lead the team in tackles, after being drafted out of Ohio State University.  He participated in three consecutive Rose Bowls under legendary coach Woody Hayes.  He attended Norwin School District in North Huntingdon, PA.

Plank was a favorite of Bears defensive coordinator and former Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Buddy Ryan for his hard hitting and aggressive style, so that he named his defense the “46 defense” after Plank's jersey number.  Plank was considered one of the hardest hitting safeties in the game.  Plank and Gary Fencik were dubbed “The Hit Men”, a fact referenced by Fencik in 1985's The Super Bowl Shuffle.

In 2008, he was a seasonal assistant on the Atlanta Falcons staff, with the Falcons playing in the first round of the playoffs that season.  In 2009, he served as the assistant defensive backfield coach for the New York Jets under head coach Rex Ryan, the son of Plank's former defensive coordinator, Buddy Ryan.  In 2010, Plank became a football program assistant at Ohio State.  The Buckeyes earned a share of the Big 10 title with an 11-1 record and beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

LeGrand koins Rutgers radio network

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers head football coach Greg Schiano announced Tuesday that senior Eric LeGrand has joined the Rutgers Football Radio Network as an analyst. LeGrand will be on the broadcast for a segment during the pre-game show, at halftime and on the post-game show for every game this season.

"I think it's really cool," Schiano told reporters following practice Tuesday. "He's going to do post (game), pre (game) and halftime. So we're going to get our E-Rock report."

LeGrand, who is looking to become a sports broadcaster after graduation, began his career behind the microphone during the Scarlet-White game as the Scarlet Knights concluded spring practice. LeGrand spent the third quarter calling the action for RVision, the official broadband network of Rutgers Athletics.

The Rutgers Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced the establishment of the “Eric LeGrand Believe Fund” to support Eric LeGrand and his family. LeGrand, a defensive tackle for the Scarlet Knights, suffered a spinal cord injury Oct. 16, 2010 vs. Army.

LeGrand continues the rehabilitation process as an outpatient at the Kessler Rehabilitation Center.

Contributions to the fund are not tax deductible and can be made by sending a check payable to the “Eric LeGrand Believe Fund” to:

“Eric LeGrand Believe Fund”
PNC Wealth Management
Attn: Kimberly G. Kingsland, Senior Trust Advisor
One Palmer Square Suite 201
Princeton, NJ 08542

Temple announces new agreement with WPHT

PHILADELPHIA – Temple University and Talk Radio 1210 AM WPHT have reached an agreement on a new multi-year deal that will expand the University's athletic coverage on the 50,000 watt CBS RADIO  station. The home of Temple University athletics for the last decade, WPHT will now broadcast the entire slate of men's basketball and football games beginning with the 2011-12 seasons.

"We are excited to be able to not only continue, but strengthen our relationship with WPHT," said Director of Athletics Bill Bradshaw. "This deal enables fans in the greater Delaware Valley and beyond the ability to follow Temple Athletics on one of the strongest commercial radio stations in the country."

“Temple athletics is a vital part of the sports community in Philadelphia,” said Marc Rayfield, Senior Vice President/Market Manager of CBS RADIO Philadelphia.. “We have expanded our partnership at a time when their programs are on the upswing and interest has never been greater.  We look forward to continuing this relationship for years to come.”

The new agreement goes into effect on September 1 when the Temple Owls kick-off their 2011 football season against Villanova University in the Mayor's Cup presented by Dunkin Donuts at 7:00 p.m.

For the 17th consecutive season veteran Philadelphia and KYW Newsradio announcer Harry Donahue will do the play-by-play for Temple football while former Owls quarterback and Maxwell Award winner Steve Joachim returns for a 12th season as color analyst. Donahue will again team with former Temple standout John Baum for men's basketball broadcasts. Baum, who is also an Assistant Athletic Director at Temple, is entering his 15th season as color analyst.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eagles release CB Trufant

The Eagles have released cornerback Isaiah Trufant in order to get to 80-man roster limit.

Sixers' Young could play in China

Thaddeus Young
Sixers restricted free agent forward Thaddeus Young could be on his way to China.

Young's agent,  Jim Tanner, told HoopsHype, Young has been drawing plenty of attention from several clubs in the Chinese Basketball Association.

“I have been contacted by multiple teams in China expressing very serious interest in having Thaddeus Young play in their league this season,” Tanner told the website. “I have discussed this with Thad and he is intrigued by the possibility of playing in China if the lockout continues and has asked me to further explore these opportunities. At this point, our conversations with the teams have been preliminary but we are continuing to talk and to do our due diligence on each option.”

Young averaged 12.7 ppg and 5.3 rpg with the Sixers last season.

Flyers sign van Riemsdyk to extension

The Philadelphia Flyers locked up a key component of their existing young core on Tuesday afternoon, signing forward James van Riemsdyk to a multi-year contract extension.

Terms of the deal were not immediately announced, but the 22-year-old revealed via his Twitter account that it is for six years, while multiple reports confirm that it is worth $25.5 million with a $4.25 million cap hit per year.

A native of New Jersey, van Riemsdyk posted career highs of 21 goals and 40 points in 75 games for Philly during his sophomore season. He added seven goals in 11 playoff contests.

“I couldn’t be happier, obviously," van Riemsdyk said on a conference call to announce the new deal. "Over the two years I’ve been here, and even prior to that when I was with the organization,  I’ve seen how well they treat their players and how highly everyone around it talks about it.  Even before I signed, Jim Dowd was actually telling me how lucky I was to be coming to the Flyers and how well they treat their players, and I’ve seen that first-hand.  When these talks of an extension started to come up, that was in the back of my mind, and I knew this was the place I really wanted to be.”

A product of the University of New Hampshire and second-overall pick of the Flyers in 2007, van Riemsdyk has posted 36 goals ans 75 point over 153 regular-season appearances. The speedy winger has also contributed 10 goals and 13 points in 32 playoff games.

Soul to hire Plank as head coach

The Soul have hired Doug Plank as their new head coach, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

A formal announcement is expected Wednesday.

Plank replaces Mike Hohensee, who went a dismal 6-12 in his first and only season as the Soul's mentor.

Plank was the head coach of the AFL's Georgia franchise from 2005-08 and led the Force to the ArenaBowl championship in his first season. He was also the league's coach of the year twice in that four-year span, compiling an impressive 47-25 record.

After leaving the Force due to the AFL shutdown, Plank, a former Bears safety from 1975-82,  was an assistant for the Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets and at his alma mater, Ohio State.

Former Eagles coach Buddy Ryan named his legendary defensive scheme after Plank's uniform number, 46, in Chicago.

Boxing, MMA team up at Harrahs

CHESTER - On Saturday night, September 24th a special and historic night of Combat Sports will take place outdoors on the racetrack at Harrah’s in Chester, Pa as Joey Eye Boxing Promotions and XF Events presents a night of boxing and Mixed Martial Arts

In the main event of the boxing portion, popular Tony Ferrante will take on tough Tommy Karpency in a grudge match for the Pennsylvania State Light heavyweight title.

Ferrante, 27 years old, has a record of 12-2 with seven knockouts, won his first nine bouts which included wins over Anthony Pietrantonio (6-1) and he won the WBF United States title with a eight round majority decision over Billy Bailey.

Ferrante lost that title when he dropped a ten round unanimous decision to Chuck Mussachio (15-1-2).

Ferrante will be looking to make it four in a row after disposing of William Prieto on August 12th at Harrah’s in Chester as part of ROUND 4

Ferrante stopped grizzled veteran Andre Hemphill in seven rounds on July 15th.

Previously he took out Joe Park as part of ROUND 3 at Harrah’s in Chester in the fourth round on June 3rd.

Karpency of Adah, Pennsylvania brings an impressive mark of 21-2 with fourteen knockouts.

The twenty-five year old Karpency went 11-0-1 in his first twelve bouts which included wins over Demetrius Davis and Etienne Whitaker.

After losing a close decision to Rayco Saunders, Karpency won eight straight and picked up some titles on the process by stopping Cory Phelps (13-4-1) in two rounds to win the WBA Fedecentro Light Heavyweight title.

He defended it once against undefeated and highly regarded Chuck Mussachio (13-0-2).

Karpency then traveled to Germany and dropped a competitive decision to highly ranked and undefeated Karo Murat (21-0) ---Murat is currently ranked #2 by the IBF; #11 by the WBO and #13 by the WBA.

Karpency has won two in a row which includes a first round stoppage over Andre Hemphill on February 11th.

In a six round co-feature, Victor Vasquez will return in a Lightweight bout.

Vasquez of Philadelphia has built up one of the biggest fan bases in Philadelphia due to his exciting style which always has him in the fight of the night whenever he steps into the ring.

Vasquez twenty-eight years old has a record of 14-5-1 with seven knockouts and has been in some memorable fights in his young career.

In his last bout, Vasquez and Angel Rios waged a back forth tussle that thrilled the fans at Harrahs in Chester as they Headline ROUND 4 with Vasquez winning an eight round majority decision that took place on August 12th.

Vasquez was impressive in disposing of Gustavo Dailey (4-11) in round four to headline ROUND 3 at Harrahs in Chester on June 3rd.

Vasquez waged a terrific back and forth war with Osnel Charles before dropping a six round majority decision as part as ROUND 1 at Harrah’s in Chester.

He holds victories over undefeated Thomas McCuiston (1-0); Tyric Robinson (9-4-1) as well as an exciting six round split decision over Bryne Green (5-3) on October 8th in Philadelphia.

Vasquez opponent will be named shortly.

In a six round Light Heavyweight bout, Derrick Webster (10-0, 6 KO’s) of Glassboro, NJ will take on Teneal Goyco (4-2, 2 KO’s) of Philadelphia in a six round bout.

Lonnie Jackson Jr. (`1-0-1) and Jonathan Ocassio (0-8) will take part in a four round Lightweight battle of Philadelphian’s.

Also seeing action will be Lightweight Joey Tiberi (5-1, 4 KO’s) of Newark, Delawware and pro debuting Super Bantamweight Alex Barbosa of Philadelphia in separate four round bouts.

In a special four round Jr. Middleweight attraction, Former UFC competitor Waylon Lowe of Philadelphia will make his pro boxing debut against fellow pro debuter Shelby Willhite of Hot Springs, Arkansas.

The boxing portion of the show will begin at 6pm.

A full slate of MMA bouts will be announced and one ticket gets fans the ability to see both shows.

Vick signs monster deal with Eagles

$100 million dollar man
The comeback is complete, at least financially.

The Eagles and quarterback Michael Vick have agreed on a new six-year contract worth $100 million with $40 million of that guaranteed.

"I'm very happy we were able to reach an agreement with Michael on this long-term contract," Eagles coach said Andy Reid. "It's a product of all the hard work Michael has done to better himself over the last couple of years, both on and off the field. I'm very proud that he has been able to achieve success again in this league, but he'll be the first one to tell you that there is a lot of work yet to be done by him and this team as a whole. And there's no doubt in my mind that he will continue on that path. I give a lot of credit to Joe Banner and Joel Segal for getting this deal done."

The 31-year-old Vick spent 19 months in prison after pleading guilty to federal dogfighting charges.

He began his comeback and Eagle career in 2009 as the third-string quarterback before starting the 2010 campaign as the backup to Kevin Kolb after Donovan McNabb was traded.

Vick quickly ascended to the starter's role after the first game of the season and was named the 2010 Comeback Player of the Year by the Associated Press, Sporting News, and Pro Football Weekly after registering career highs in passer rating (100.2), completion percentage (62.6) and passing yards (3,018) en route to his fourth career Pro Bowl berth.

He became just the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for 3,000-plus yards, rush for 500-plus yards (676), and accrue a 100-plus passer rating in a season, joining Hall of Fame QB Steve Young, who did so in 1992 for the San Francisco 49ers.

In addition, Vick set the Eagles single-season record among quarterbacks with nine rushing touchdowns while ranking second in team history in completion percentage, QB rating and INT percentage (1.6). For his efforts, Vick was named the recipient of the Bert Bell NFL Player of the Year award from the Maxwell Football Club and garnered NFC Offensive Player of the Year accolades from the Kansas City 101 Awards.

A multi-dimensional threat from the quarterback position, Vick’s 11 career 100-yard rushing games are the most by a QB in NFL history and his 4,630 career rushing yards ranks second behind Randall Cunningham (4,928). His 1,039 yards in 2006 were the most ever by a QB in a single season. In addition, he holds four of the top five single-game rushing totals by a QB since 1970, including a career-high 173 yards at Min. (12/1/02).

A former first overall pick of the NFL draft in 2001 by the Atlanta Falcons, Vick starred collegiately at Virginia Tech where he led the Hokies to a 20-1 record over two seasons and carried the school to the National Championship in his first year as a starter in 1999.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Eagles cut four

The Eagles have waived wide receiver Gerald Jones, tight end Martell Webb, offensive tackle Spencer Johnson and cornerback  Jamar Wall.

Philadelphia Eagles 2011 Season Preview

By Shawn Clarke

2010 RECORD: 10-6 (1st, NFC East)

LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2010, lost to Green Bay in NFC Wild Card

COACH (RECORD): Andy Reid (118-73-1 in 12 seasons)

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Marty Mornhinweg (sixth season with Eagles)

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Juan Castillo (17th season with Eagles, first as DC)

OFFENSIVE STAR: Michael Vick, QB (3018 passing yards, 21 TD, 6 INT; 676 rushing yards, 9 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Nnamdi Asomugha, CB (19 tackles with Raiders)

2010 OFFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 2nd overall (5th rushing, 9th passing), 3rd scoring (27.4 ppg)

2010 DEFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 12th overall (15th rushing, tied 14th passing), tied 21st scoring (23.6 ppg)

KEY ADDITIONS: OG Danny Watkins (1st Round, Baylor), OT Ryan Harris (from Broncos), DE Jason Babin (from Titans), DT Cullen Jenkins (from Packers), MLB Casey Matthews (4th Round, Oregon), CB Nnamdi Asomugha (from Raiders), K Alex Henery (4th Round, Nebraska), P Chas Henry (free agent, Florida), QB Vince Young (from Titans), RB Ronnie Brown (from Dolphins), WR Steve Smith (from Giants), WR Johnnie Lee Higgins (from Raiders), TE Donald Lee (from Packers), C Jason Kelce (6th Round, Cincinnati), OG Evan Mathis (from Bengals), DE Chris Wilson (from Redskins), DT Anthony Hargrove (from Saints), DT Derek Landri (from Panthers), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (from Cardinals), S Jarrad Page (from Patriots)

KEY DEPARTURES: OG Max Jean-Gilles (to Bengals), MLB Stewart Bradley (to Cardinals), OLB Ernie Sims (to Colts), CB Dimitri Patterson (to Browns), S Quintin Mikell (to Rams), K David Akers (to 49ers), P Sav Rocca (to Redskins), QB Kevin Kolb (to Cardinals), RB Jerome Harrison (to Lions), FB Leonard Weaver (released), OG Nick Cole (not tendered), DT Brodrick Bunkley (to Broncos), MLB Omar Gaither (to Panthers), CB Ellis Hobbs (retired)

Christened by many as the "Dream Team", and by one bitter enemy as the "All-Hype Team", the Philadelphia Eagles did not conceal the fact that they're going the extra mile to try to win it all this season.

The Eagles' intention every year is to win the Super Bowl, but this offseason had a bit more flair than past ones in the team's quest to meet that goal. The surplus of talented free agents acquired by the organization has the City of Brotherly Love overflowing with optimism that this could finally be the year the Vince Lombardi Trophy takes a tour through downtown Philadelphia.

Title starved since 1960, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and president Joe Banner worked aggressively in a short amount of time following the end of the NFL lockout to give the team a makeover Maybelline would be jealous of.

The first order of business was to trade backup quarterback Kevin Kolb to Arizona for defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick in the 2012 draft. Kolb was supposed to be the heir apparent to Donovan McNabb, but lost his starting job following a concussion in last year's season opener that opened the door for Michael Vick's amazing comeback campaign.

Philadelphia also needed to shore up its defensive backfield, and did so in a big way by landing Rodgers-Cromartie and making a deal out of the woodwork for former Oakland Raiders stud cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. The two cover men join Pro Bowl honoree Asante Samuel in the secondary, giving the Eagles a trio of starters opposing teams around the league would die to have and not necessarily want to throw against.

"We have three good cornerbacks," Eagles head coach Andy Reid said. "It reminds me a little bit of when we had [Pro Bowl cornerbacks] Al [Harris], Troy [Vincent] and Bobby Taylor [in the early 2000's]."

The Eagles weren't done making changes on the defensive side of the ball, however, with the additions of defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and end Jason Babin also among the team's flurry of moves. They will join a defensive front that has been headlined by standout end Trent Cole through the years and will be now coached by the well-respected Jim Washburn, who jumped ship from Tennessee to help Reid's front line.

Reid said he was thrilled to add Washburn, considered to be one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL, to the mix, and the Eagles believe it was the right choice as well.

Philadelphia also made another major change in the coaching department during the offseason, firing defensive coordinator Sean McDermott following a year in which the Eagles gave up a franchise-record 31 touchdown passes and ranked last in the league in red zone defense. Those are the type of numbers Super Bowl contenders could do without, so the Eagles found a replacement from within by moving offensive line coach Juan Castillo into McDermott's old position.

Castillo's hire was seen as a surprise, but he had worked diligently and closely with the late Jim Johnson -- the team's longtime DC prior to McDermott -- and knows a thing or two about scheming for both sides. The move was met with a more favorable reaction among the league's circle of coaches, with Rams head man and former Eagles assistant Steve Spagnuolo -- whose team hosts the Eagles in Week 1 of the regular season -- applauding Reid's decision.

"Great move by Coach Reid," Spagnuolo said. "Juan is a football junkie who has always studied the entire game. He's a detailed, aggressive, and passionate football coach - all attributes vital to coaching defense."

Defense was an issue for the Eagles in their loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in last January's NFC Wild Card Playoffs, though Philadelphia still managed to record a 10-6 record in the regular season and win the NFC East title, while advancing to the postseason for the third straight year.

Vick's resurgence on the field was a major factor in Philadelphia accomplishing that goal. The one-time incarcerated star now enters his first season as the team's starter under center, and will have a plethora of talent around him. Topping that list is wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who curbed his displeasure about not getting a new contract extension by ending a brief holdout that kept him away from the team during the early stages of camp.

Jackson, of course, had the highlight of the Eagles' 2010 season when he returned a punt for a memorable game-winning touchdown in the final seconds against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands.

Below we take a capsule look at the 2011 edition of the Philadelphia Eagles, with a personnel evaluation and prognosis included therein:

QB: Under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Vick passed for a career-high 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2010, while being intercepted just six times and displaying the skill it takes to run Philadelphia's West Coast offense. Previously labeled as a scrambling quarterback with an unorthodox style of play, Vick settled down and learned what it takes to run Reid's scheme, and it paid off with the best season of the veteran's career. Vick was franchised by the Eagles in the offseason and expects to sign a contract extension with the team in the near future. He still needs to prove he can stay healthy, though, as the elusive Virginia Tech product hasn't played a full 16-game season since 2006 and can be prone to injury due to his frequency of escaping the pocket. The Eagles could have kept Kolb as a backup, but he wanted out as soon as Vick took his job in Week 1. In his place will be former Titans starter and NCAA champion Vince Young, the one who coined the now-phrase "Dream Team" moniker upon his signing. He's still trying to get up to speed in learning the offense, but gives the club a very talented No. 2 quarterback. No changes were made at the third-string spot, where Mike Kafka is back in the fold for his second season.

RB: The Eagles were fifth in rushing offense last season thanks in part to a breakout performance from LeSean McCoy (1,080 rushing yards, 7 TD) in his second season in the league. The shifty running back recorded 207 carries and also hauled in 78 passes for 592 yards and two more scores, cementing himself as a vital piece to the Philadelphia offense and a worthy replacement for successor Brian Westbrook. This is McCoy's backfield, but just in case the former University of Pittsburgh star needs a breather, he now has accomplished veteran Ronnie Brown (734 rushing yards, 5 TD with Dolphins) to back him up. Brown was also acquired during the Eagles' busy offseason spree and has similar skills to McCoy, but more bulk at 230 pounds. He can also catch passes in the flats, as he showed by compiling 242 yards on 33 receptions with Miami last season. The No. 2 overall pick by the Dolphins in the 2005 draft, Brown will serve as a proven change of pace back for the Eagles. Philadelphia also drafted McCoy's replacement in college with the fifth-round selection of Pittsburgh's Dion Lewis, whose presence could be returnee Eldra Buckley an odd man out. Owen Schmitt (19 receptions) is back at fullback after replacing 2009 All-Pro Leonard Weaver, who sustained a major leg injury in Week 1 of last season and was released over the summer.

WR/TE: Jackson (47 receptions, 1056 yards, 6 TD) is one of the most explosive players in the league and a big piece to the Eagles' offense. The speedy wideout is also a big threat on punt returns, as the Giants can attest to after he capped Philadelphia's memorable come-from-behind win over New York last December with a dynamic last-second runback for a touchdown. Jackson will line up opposite Jeremy Maclin (70 receptions) once the latter is able to get back to full strength. Maclin sat out the majority of the preseason after losing a lot of weight due to an illness he contracted back in the spring, but led the Eagles with 10 touchdown receptions in 2010 and serves as a nice complement to Jackson when healthy. That figures to be a major question mark throughout the season, however. McCoy led the Eagles with 78 receptions for 592 yards, while the offense also sports another good weapon in slot receiver Jason Avant (51 receptions, 1 TD), whom Reid noted during training camp has the best hands on the team. The Eagles would like to use him more in the red zone due to his soft mitts and ability to get open, and the club is also hoping Riley Cooper (7 receptions, 1 TD) can take a step forward in his second season. At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, he provides a big target for Vick. Former Giants standout receiver Steve Smith (48 receptions, 3 TD) was added for insurance, as he may not be ready for the start of the season while recovering from microfracture knee surgery. Tight end Brent Celek (42 receptions, 4 TD) was Kolb's favorite target and a very good receiver, but was a bit lost in the mix when Vick took over. The Eagles plan to utilize him more in 2011.

OL: Another offseason overhaul was done to the offensive line, as Reid lured former Indianapolis Colts line coach Howard Mudd out of retirement and the bearded veteran coach has instilled a new philosophy that differed from that of Castillo. There are some questions that need to be answered during the preseason, as to who will start at center or right tackle. Jamaal Jackson, the team's usual regular in the middle, is coming off a season cut short due to injury, and Mudd has been impressed with rookie Jason Kelce (6th Round, Cincinnati) at that position. Ex-Bronco Ryan Harris, another free-agent signing, could supplant Winston Justice as Vick's blind-side protector at right tackle, but has to stay healthy first. The left side is much more settled, as Todd Herremans will once again start at guard and Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters won't lose his job anytime soon. The combination of Peters and Herremans helped McCoy turn in a breakout year in 2010. The Eagles used their first-round pick in April's draft to select guard Danny Watkins out of Baylor, and the former fireman has a lot to learn before the season begins. He's still slated to start at right guard. Tackle King Dunlap and Mike McGlynn, who replaced Jackson at center last season, serve as reliable backups along a front that allowed 50 sacks a season ago, including 34 when Vick was under center.

DL: Washburn's in-your-face tactics may not work with other teams around the league, but Babin (58 tackles) bought into his scheme while with the Titans last season with the Titans. The former first-round pick, who spent the 2009 campaign with Philadelphia before joining Tennessee, recorded a career-best 12 1/2 sacks a year ago under Washburn's tutelage, and the Eagles liked what they saw and signed him to a five-year deal. Babin will still play second fiddle to Cole (65 tackles, 10 sacks), who has recorded double digits in sacks in two straight and three of the past four seasons, while former starter Juqua Parker (22 tackles, 6 sacks) is also back to supply depth. With the skill at the ends and the addition of the talented cornerbacks, a Philadelphia pass rush that was inconsistent last season should be more intense in 2011. The Eagles also got quicker inside with the additions of Jenkins (18 tackles, 7 sacks), former Saint Anthony Hargrove (29 tackles, 1 sack), ex-Panther Derek Landri (43 tackles, 3 sacks) and CFL import Phillip Hunt, while veterans Antonio Dixon (30 tackles, 2 sacks) and Mike Patterson (38 tackles, 2 sacks) are back in the fold as well. Patterson suffered a scary moment when he suffered a seizure in training camp, but should still be ready for the regular season after undergoing treatment for the conditions. Jenkins will replace Brodrick Bunkley, who was dealt to Denver among the renovations, while second-year end Brandon Graham (13 tackles, 3 sacks) will likely open the year on the PUP list while recovering from an ACL tear he suffered last season. Philadelphia would like to improve against the run after finishing 15th in that category a season ago.

LB:The biggest and most concerning aspect regarding Castillo's new-look defense is the linebackers. The team hasn't been a surplus of talent at that position since Seth Joyner, Byron Evans and William Thomas ran the show in the 1990's, and three key members of last year's group (Stewart Bradley, Ernie Sims and Omar Gaither) are all gone. Bradley played in the middle until being replaced at the end of last season by then-rookie Jamar Chaney (42 tackles), who did a decent job in coverage and is expected to start at the strongside position this year. Rookie Casey Matthews, a fourth-round pick out of Oregon, has impressed the staff so much he may earn immediate top billing in the middle, though the youngster still has plenty to learn and Castillo may be taking a big risk asking Matthews to call the shots as a fresh-faced rookie. Moise Fokou (51 tackles, 1 sack) should get the first chance to start on the weak side, while both Akeem Jordan (17 tackles) and Keenan Clayton will rotate often. Matthews was one of three rookie linebackers drafted back in April, joining Brian Rolle (6th Round, Ohio State) and Greg Lloyd (7th Round, Connecticut). The Eagles were hurt early and often in the middle of the defense last season, and will be hoping all their recent moves quickly pay off in a big way.

DB: Not too many quarterbacks throw Asomugha's way, as evidenced by the mere three interceptions he's come up with in the past four years. The former Raider had a career-high eight interceptions in 2006, however, and has been named an All-Pro in four of his eight NFL seasons. Asomugha's defection to the Eagles caught the NFL by surprise, with the New York Jets and Dallas considered the front-runners to land the coveted free agent. Now Asomugha will line up against the Cowboys twice a year after reportedly inking a five-year deal worth $60 million. Samuel (27 tackles, 7 INT) wasn't too pleased with the additions of Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie, fearing he may be relegated to a nickel role, but sucked it up and showed up to training camp on time. If the Eagles are offered something nice in return for Samuel in the weeks leading up to the regular season, don't be surprised if they pull the trigger. He's a proven playmaker, having recorded six of more picks in four of the last five seasons, and though he tends to gamble a bit, still ranks as one of the top corners in the game. Rodgers-Cromartie (44 tackles, 3 INT) can make plays as well, having amassed 13 picks in his first three years in the league. At safety, Nate Allen (48 tackles, 3 INT) missed some time with a knee injury in 2010 and has spent the preseason trying to get back to strength, while second-year man Kurt Coleman (36 tackles, 1 INT) is expected to start at free safety following the free-agent departure of Quintin Mikell. Veteran safety Jarrad Page (12 tackles, 2 INT with Patriots), nickel back Joselio Hanson (31 tackles, 1 INT), young corner Trevard Lindley and rookie safety Jaiquawn Jarrett (2nd Round, Temple) are all ticketed for reserve spots in a deep secondary.

SPECIAL TEAMS: After 12 successful seasons in Philadelphia, kicker David Akers was not re-signed over the summer and was quickly scooped up by the 49ers. The left-footed kicker holds numerous Eagles franchise records, including most field goals and extra points, and purchased a billboard to thank Philadelphia fans for all their support during his tenure. Now the job belongs to rookie Alex Henery, who was drafted out of Nebraska in the fourth round, and the youngster will be feeling a lot of pressure on a team with high expectations. He may be able to handle it, though, after scoring 397 career points on 68- of-76 field goal attempts (89.5 percent) with the Huskers and finishing his college career as the most accurate kicker in NCAA history. Punter Sav Rocca is also gone, joining the Redskins, and the Eagles will go with another rookie there in Chas Henry, who won the Ray Guy Award given to the nation's top punter last year with Florida. Former Raider Johnnie Lee Higgins will return kickoffs and DeSean Jackson is slated to remain as the team's top punt returner. Jon Dorenbos, who doubles as a magician away from the game, is back to man the long snapper job.

PROGNOSIS: Can Vick regain last season's form that landed him Comeback Player of the Year honors? Will new defensive coordinator Castillo succeed in his new role after several years as an offensive line coach? Those are just some of the topics of concern for the Eagles heading into the 2011 campaign. On paper this team has all the potential to make a deep run into the playoffs, but that doesn't mean anything if there's not a cohesive philosophy among all the new faces. The Eagles still have several dangerous weapons on offense and added a few more on defense this offseason. Whether it all comes together remains to be seen for a team pegged by many to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Of course, injuries and chemistry issues could conceivably derail those aspirations and leave Philadelphia scrambling for a cure.

Temple suspends Stewart and Griffin for opener

Temple coach Steve Addazio has suspended quarterback Chester Stewart and defensive back Kee-ayre Griffin for Thursday's season-opener against Villanova for violation of a team rule.

Phillies activate Hamels from DL

The Phillies have officially activated Cole Hamels from the 15-day disabled list and the left-hander will srat tonight in Cincinnati.

Hamels hasn’t pitched since August 12th, when he struggled in a loss to the Nationals.   He was later diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and placed on the DL August 23, retroactive to August 13.

Hamels is 13-7 this season with a 2.62 ERA.

To make room for him on the active roster, utilityman Pete Orr has been optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Phils postpone Saturday night's game

The Phillies 7:05 p.m. game on Saturday, August 27 against the Florida Marlins has been postponed due to the threat of severe weather from Hurricane Irene. 
The game will be played on Thursday, September 15, time to be determined.

Eagles' Harris needs back surgery

WIP's Howard Eskin is reporting that Eagles right tackle Ryan Harris has a herniated disc in his back and will likely undergo season-ending surgery next week.

Harris signed a one-year, $785,000 contract with the Eagles on August 3 and had been penciled in to start at right tackle before his back flared up. You could sense something was up when Joe Banner talked up Winston Justice in a recent interview.

The oft-injured Harris, a 2007 third-round pick out of Notre Dame , play just 19 games over the past two seasons with ankle and toe injuries.

Until Justice (knee) is healthy, fourth-year tackle King Dunlap, who has started the last two preseason games, is the guy at right tackle.

Eagles reportedly mulling offers for Hanson

CSNPhilly's Reuben Frank, citing a league source, is reporting that the Eagles have received “multiple” trade offers for cornerback Joselio Hanson, and it appears there’s a good chance the team will trade the veteran by the final cutdown day on Sept. 3.

Hanson has played in 82 games in five years with the club, starting 15 but is now expendable thanks to the additions of and would enable the Eagles to Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Eagles waive four

The Eagles started paring down their roster today, waiving running back Derrick Locke, defensive tackle Marlon Favorite, linebacker Brandon Peguese, and wide receiver Terrence Turner.

Rosters must be cut back from 90 to 80 players by 4:00 p.m. on Aug. 30 and then slashed to 53 on Sept. 3.

No surprises today.

Locke, a Kentucky product, has NFL talent but is a medical risk after suffering a spine injury against Auburn last season. In fact, Locke originally signed as a rookie free agent with Minnesota but failed his physical before landing with the Eagles.

Turner has NFL size and could be a practice squad candidate somewhere. 

WADA Stonewalls NFL Players on Suspect HGH Test

By Matt Chaney
for The Phanatic Magazine 

This story of skullduggery follows the classic theme of what looks like, walks like, talks like, often isn’t.

It features contemporary names and concepts in NFL news, of purported wisdom, science and integrity, and illusion, smoke and mirrors, when black is actually white, or the seeming good guys bad, and so forth.

This is about NFL management and players, which party is really to blame for the serious dispute over beleaguered, so-called Olympic testing for recombinant human growth hormone—a growing fight preventing full ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement celebrated as ending the lockout and restoring America’s beloved football season.

Long-short, the problem party of HGH testing is not the players and union, per the imagination of dumb sportswriters and politicians.

In reality the players are getting railroaded over HGH blood testing, or were, and they refuse to play along, as PA officials have clarified for months in private communication with the league, according to current union memos obtained by Chaney’s Blog.

Shady dealing begins with the quasi-governmental entities World Anti-Doping Agency and American arm USADA, which are funded by government and sport organs. WADA-USADA bureaucrats incessantly promote their closed “science” for dubious synthetic GH detection that’s ripped mercilessly by independent experts worldwide.

“WADA refused to provide scientific information justifying the reliability of their HGH test (validation studies, population studies, performance testing between labs, etc.),” states an union email circulated among members Wednesday afternoon, following a meeting of NFLPA representatives with anti-doping and league officials at WADA headquarters in Montreal.

“We leave here with more questions than answers,” the union memo continues. “The quality of player care is non-negotiable and we will continue to press for all the relevant data. We want to ensure that any testing meets the highest standards and has scientific consensus.”

Obfuscation is also game plan for NFL management, especially commissioner Roger Goodell and his frontman on the issue, attorney Adolpho Birch, senior vice president of law and labor policy. Goodell and Birch utter nonsense on HGH testing, for more than a year running, only to go unchallenged by sport reporters who parrot the misinformation.

League officials blatantly misled the union before Wednesday’s confab in Canada, promising to finally produce documentation on the controversial GH “isoform” test, validation studies withheld by WADA at least seven years, including from NFLPA experts who’ve filed specific requests since April.

Obviously the league promise proved phony in Montreal, where no missing data were forthcoming Wednesday, and longtime observers of WADA and its in-house isoform immunoassay would only expect as much.

Critics like preeminent testing engineer Dr. Don Catlin in Los Angeles, a former tester for Olympic and pro sports who operates the non-profit Anti-Doping Research laboratory.

Catlin has waited for scientific information on the GH-isoform test since before WADA deployment at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. “You want to see the data,” Catlin told me in 2007. “A scientist says, ‘Fine, show me the data, show me the paper that’s been [peer] reviewed and published.’ ”

“You’ve got to have hard-core evidence…,” Catlin continued: “ ‘Here’s the study. Here’s what we did. Here’s what we found. Here’s the [rate of] false-positive. Here’s the false-negative.’ ”

“I never pay any attention to what they say [WADA officials],” Catlin dismissed. “I only pay attention to what’s published. And if there’s something published in peer-review literature on the [HGH] test, I’ll know all about it.”

What of the mysterious WADA studies, I wondered then, that supposedly establish test validity and reliability?

“Well, they’re always being conducted,” Catlin said. “I hear of them. But with so much I’ve heard over the years, I just go way back and believe only what I can touch and feel myself.”

“It’s in the interest of a sport organization to say they have a test, because they don’t look very good when they don’t have a test. I have a letter from WADA, two years old [circa 2004], saying a test for growth hormone will be released shortly,” Catlin noted. “You lose credibility when you speak before you’re sure.”

Epidemiologist Charles E. Yesalis of Penn State, an ScD and foremost expert on sport doping, discussed WADA defiance of scientific protocol for implementing faulty approaches in punitive anti-doping, with only athletes punished for the scattered positive results, among countless false-negatives.

“I’m just astounded,” Yesalis, avowedly conservative, told me in February 2010 as NFL and MLB officials started chirping favorably about WADA blood testing for growth hormone.

“I mean, if you’re going to ruin somebody’s life, and if you don’t have [vetted methodology] totally locked up, to me that is immoral and unethical,” Yesalis said. “I’d rather see five million cheaters compete than see scientists bastardizing themselves.”

I interviewed Catlin again about the isoform, with no essential change in play since we spoke three years previous—nothing substantially improved about testing method and instrument since their patenting by WADA prior to Athens.

And despite the first reported positive result on Feb. 22, 2010, for British rugby player Terry Newton, 31, who admitted HGH use uncontested and accepted a two-year suspension under WADA guidelines.

An informant had fingered Newton for no-notice testing, the typical way for detection through the isoform’s laughable window of but a few hours to perhaps a day.

“Well, if you know the guy’s going to shoot up this morning, and you arrive at noon, OK,” Catlin remarked, caustically. “Glad it works that way.”

“They can’t do much about the detection window,” Catlin said of the isoform’s great insurmountable limitation, if not debunking factor. “That’s the nature of the test.”

Scientific literature still lacked credible review on the WADA isoform, then six years in use with some 1,500 negative results until Newton, and Catlin wasn’t surprised.

Who would want to vouch for this lousy, unvalidated application? No credible scientist or other authority, anywhere on the planet.

“It is simply not a useful test, no matter how you cut it or spin it,” Catlin said.

*       *       *       *       *       *

For almost five months, the NFL Players Association has asked WADA and the league to provide simple validating information for the GH-isoform assay, a blood test used on athletes for punitive anti-doping since 2004, according to recent union documents obtained by this blog and an Aug. 9 letter to WADA quoted by Juliet Macur of The New York Times..

Union officials, in the final week leading to Wednesday’s face-to-face with WADA and the NFL, beseeched anti-dopers and league brass to come clean, produce any substantial research data on the isoform.

Apparently, the question arises whether WADA even has a formal article on its closet research. An Aug. 19 union letter to Birch at the NFL states: “we understand… that no technical document exists on the isoform test. If our understanding is incorrect, and a technical document exists either in final or draft form, we renew our request for those documents.”

That letter to Birch last Friday, written by NFLPA associate general counsel Heather M. McPhee, channels mounting union frustration with WADA and NFL management—and players’ skepticism and mistrust for alleged HGH testing.

McPhee informed Birch the union had “concerns” about management conduct and WADA cooperation. Birch’s agenda for the Montreal meeting did not provide for ample discussion of the scientific controversy, McPhee emphasized, particularly since union experts supposedly were to receive and review critical documents on spot.

McPhee noted recent materials the PA received from both the NFL and WADA were essentially useless, largely irrelevant to questions at hand, perhaps even “mistakenly included.”

“We emphasize that the vast majority of these items consist of papers or abstracts that involve a different [rHGH] test—the marker test—and not the isoform test the NFL is currently proposing.”

McPhee noted the August materials received “again [do not] include the [agency] validation studies, reference and population studies, and validation studies conducted by each WADA [accredited] laboratory that uses the isoform test.”

In closing, McPhee reiterated dire need for union experts to review literature prior to the discussion time Birch scheduled for the impending meeting, an hour in Montreal, absurdly short. “For this reason, again, we continue to strongly encourage you to provide the information,” McPhee implored of Birch in New York.

Birch apparently didn’t reply to McPhee in Washington for four days, until Tuesday, on eve of everyone’s gathering in Montreal—and of course without the necessary documents on WADA testing..

McPhee fired right back to Birch by email Tuesday, tactfully scolding on several points, including the reality that issue discussions would only have to continue.

“It is apparent that we will not receive the information that we requested from both WADA and the NFL prior to the meeting tomorrow,” McPhee wrote. “In light of that circumstance, it is impossible for the substantive issues regarding this matter to be resolved tomorrow, and we need to plan for additional meetings in the near future.”

In addition, McPhee corrected Birch for his public misstatements regarding what the union and players have agreed upon thus far: “your statement that the NFLPA made two testing proposals, most recently three weeks ago, is not accurate.”

“In early August, [the] NFLPA engaged in negotiations in response to the League’s proposal,” McPhee wrote, “but as you know, the NFLPA clearly stated that any agreement regarding HGH testing is contingent on the NFLPA’s satisfaction with rigorous independent analysis and assessment of the test that the NFL has proposed for use on players.”

By Wednesday north of the border, NFLPA representatives had literally chased WADA yaks and NFL sidekicks to Montreal, but for no avail. Once again, an earnest party hit wall in quest for WADA disclosure on its notorious HGH testing.

“WADA won’t show the numbers,” Catlin had already surmised, a year ago. “They recognize, rightfully, that as soon as they do show the numbers, there could be difficulty.”

*       *      *       *       *       *       *

The epitome of fluffy NFL rhetoric on blood testing, mostly inaccurate, has been statements by Adolpho Birch, league attorney assigned to the issue.

In dialogues with reporters, Birch portrays suspect HGH detection as “solution” for protecting NFL players and even impressionable youths, ensuring “clean competition and a level playing field.” He claims the league welcomes input from “all expertise,” but, he adds “the program we have designed will be effective and will meet any sort of scrutiny that will be put on it.”

Birch claims HGH testing “has been used by the top labs for years now and has withstood legal challenge upon appeal.”

Regarding ever-present expert rebuke and adverse evidence of GH-isoform test efficacy, Birch says: “From our perspective, there are no significant detractions to its effectiveness or reliability.”

“We believe, like every other test we have ever used, we will be able to improve that [detection] time. All tests evolve as the science and the technology evolves. We expect [the isoform] to be the same way. It is a far different thing than unreliability, which would be something that would promote a false-positive [result], something you absolutely cannot have in the context of drug testing.”

“There has been zero indication from anyone since sort of the dawn of this test that false-positives are an issue,” Birch says, wholly false.

In fact, many indie experts—including Catlin, Yesalis, University of Texas biostatistician Donald A. Berry, and former BALCO doping guru Victor Conte—argue that false-positives have yet to be ruled out, given insufficient information made public to date.

Anti-doping agencies even acknowledge the fact, with an NFLPA letter, quoted by The Times, inquiring about “WADA’s acceptance of a 1 in 10,000 false-positive rate” for the GH-isoform.

Meanwhile, contrary to Birch’s version, the WADA test has not faced challenge in a courtroom of law, democratic or otherwise, nowhere yet.

The appeal process that Estonia skier Andrus Veerpalu presently follows, as one of 5 known positive-result cases among some 4,000 HGH assays since the Athens Games, is confined to the kangaroo arbitration cells of elite amateur sport. Veerpalu, age 40, is the only athlete reported to formally contest the WADA test so far.

Newton, the unfortunate first known to test positive, committed suicide last year within months of the announced result, and Berry took exception from afar, hearing the news in America.

In 2008, Berry, the data expert, shredded anti-doping as generally bad science in a widely read review he authored for Nature journal. “If conventional doping testing were to be submitted to a regulatory agency such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to qualify as a diagnostic for a disease, it would be rejected,” Berry told science writer Brian Alexander, reporting for

Last year I notified Berry of Newton’s death, and the normally reserved scientist blasted circumstances of modern athletes, those clean or “cheating,” for entrapment perpetuated and driven by questionable or invalid anti-doping that somehow skirts law, ethics, fairness—wherever, whenever deemed necessary by an official few so powerful, of sport, media and government.

“Terry Newton’s plight should be a wake-up call to all,” Berry wrote to me and others, by email. “As a society we cannot take this issue lightly. What many regard to be a small penalty can be a death sentence.”

“Are we trying to save sport? High-level sport? At what cost? Is it worth it? Quite obviously we’re ruining people’s lives. Perhaps we should be exacting such extreme penalties to save sport so we can be entertained by athletes on what we like to think is a level playing field. But a few people should not be making this decision for the rest of us. And the entire process of labeling people with the stain of cheater should be defensible and not cloistered.”

“Are we trying to save the bodies of young people?” Berry continued. “If so, is the tack we’ve taken even remotely reasonable? And is the trade-off of bodies saved and lives ruined appropriate, even if our tack is eventually successful?”

“I don’t pretend to have the answers to these questions, but they must be debated much more broadly than presently, with the pros and cons of the various approaches clearly delineated and widely publicized.”

“And, oh yes, we must get the science right,” Berry affirmed in conclusion, “and we must appropriately and adequately fund research in this area so we have a chance of getting it right.”

Matt Chaney is a writer, editor, teacher and restaurant worker living in Missouri, USA. Email him at . For more information, including about his 2009 book, Spiral of Denial: Muscle Doping in American Football, visit the homepage at . 

Union's Daniel called up by T&T's National Team

CHESTER - Union midfielder Keon Daniel has been invited to train with Trinidad and Tobago’s National Team for the squad’s upcoming World Cup Qualifying matches against Bermuda and Barbados, the team announced today. 

Daniel will travel to T&T this weekend and is scheduled to return September 7, thus missing the Union’s upcoming matches against Real Salt Lake on September 3 and the team’s rescheduled match against New England on September 7.

Daniel has earned 46 caps and scored eight goals for his native country since debuting in January 2008 at the age of 21. He recently led the Soca Warriors with four goals during 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

The qualifier against Bermuda kicks off at 4:30pm on September 2 and the team will then travel to meet Barbados September 6 in Bridgetown.

Business of basketball continues for Magic's Howard

Former Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie
By John McMullen

Philadelphia - Some people need to be pushed and others are self-motivated. That's human nature and everyone is wired a little bit differently.

Hardcore football fans like their basketball counterparts were very upset during that sports lockout. The lack of offseason moves and daily player updates was tough to take but understand the casual onlookers could have cared less and when things kick off for real in less than two weeks, few will even remember that the players and owners were acting like petulant children for over 140 days.

In the end, the NFL's lockout amounted to the teachers going on strike during the summer and the same will hold true for hoops if things get hammered out before we send our kids trick-or-treating.

It's far different for coaches, however. They are pulling their hair out over the unknown.

Over in the NFL, Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier was counting on his immensely talented, mercurial left tackle, Bryant McKinnie. Frazier had hired a new offensive coordinator in Bill Musgrave and brought in a new quarterback in veteran Donovan McNabb. The last thing he needed was a new left tackle.

McKinnie, however, has always been immature and a little too caught up in the Miami party scene, something that has reared it's ugly head in the past.

A serial Twitterer, McKinnie talked a good game during the NFL lockout, often talking about working out and getting down to his preferred playing weight of 330 pounds. Of course, Frazier never actually got to see his big left tackle in the offseason.

When things were finally settled, McKinnie arrived in Eden Prairie for his physical and the team was aghast when the unknown came home to roost. Left to his own devices, the former Pro Bowler and Outland Trophy winner at "The U" ballooned up to 400 pounds and had a cholesterol level that was off the charts.

The Vikings were forced to release McKinnie, a player that simply fell apart without a coaching staff pushing him in the offseason.

Over in the NBA, I'm sure Orlando's Stan Van Gundy is like any other coach, concerned about his players and what they are doing to stay ready when basketball resumes.
Magic C Dwight Howard

He can rest easy with Dwight Howard, however.

If you take one look at Howard, you know the superstar center is never going to be out of shape but what's most impressive about the five-time All-Star is his desire to get better whether it's in a structured environment or not.

The Orlando Sentinel recently reported that Howard has hired shooting guru Ed Palubinskas, the all-time free throw percentage leader at LSU, to help him improve the one aspect of his game that is below average.

Howard's career free throw percentage is just 59.8 percent and he averaged 11.7 foul shots per game last season, three more than any other player. Think about how dominant Howard would be if he could get that percentage to jump up to 70 or dare I say 80.

Palubinskas, who has angled to work with Howard for over a year, certainly isn't shy about his teaching skills. In an email to the same newspaper back in 2010, Palubinskas wrote, "I will completely change his numbers in less than one week and you won't recognize him."

Now understand Palubinskas also once worked with Shaquille O'Neal and the "Big Aristotle" never really figured out his free shooting woes so this is far from a guaranteed success.

But just knowing a player of Howard's stature wants to improve on his own is a very comforting thought for Van Gundy and the Magic.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

On the Eagles: This Dream Team has more than a few question marks

By John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - Panic after a disastrous performance in Pittsburgh last week was tempered a bit on Thursday when the Eagles dominated Cleveland en route to a 24-14 win in the all-important third preseason game at the Linc.

But that doesn't mean this "Dream Team" doesn't have any question marks.

Philadelphia, of course, has already gotten more than they bargained for when they signed Vince Young and Jason Babin.

Young had a big time pedigree coming out of Texas but he's a backup here, a second-stringer some ill-informed observers think should be running the scout team instead of the lightly-regarded Mike Kafka. To say it's not Young's place to call this version of the Eagles a "Dream Team" is an understatement.

But, he did and the media took off with it.

Jason Babin compounded V.Y's faux pas when he compared Philadelphia to the Miami Heat. Forget the fact that the Heat lost in the NBA Finals, Babin, who was a first round bust until blossoming at 30 years old under Jim Washburn in Nashville last season, really shouldn't be comparing any of the Eagles players to LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, unquestioned giants in their sport.

Michael Vick and Nnamdi Asomugha are great players but they are not Ray Lewis or Adrian Peterson never mind Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.

Already Andy Reid and Joe Banner bristle when they hear the "Dream Team" tag thrown around.

Yeah, this is a very talented club but there are a lot of moving parts. Anyone who has studied the Washington Redskins since Daniel Snyder arrived in the nation's capital can tell you football is a sport best served by continuity.

Adding pressure to this group, which is still just getting to know one another is an unneeded and unwanted distraction.

The Eagles are unquestionably one of a few legitimate Super Bowl contenders but calling them the favorite in the NFC ahead of Green Bay or New Orleans is probably premature at this point.

There are just too many questions and here's eight burning ones Reid and Company must answer to reach their ultimate goal.

1. Is Casey Matthews the answer in the middle?

Rewind to 2008 and you would have thought Stewart Bradley was the second coming of Dick Butkus when the Eagles' brass talked about him. In truth, he was a slightly above average player that took a nose dive after a knee injury in '09. Now we are supposed to believe Casey Matthews is Ray Nitschke.

Granted anyone who’s already written off Matthews after his disastrous performance in Pittsburgh last week is just panicking. After getting steamrolled by Peyton Hillis early tonight, Matthews settled down and played

“I definitely felt better this week," Matthews said. "I obviously felt more comfortable. Last week against the Steelers was really my first week. I think it was only seven or eight plays, so I really couldn’t get in a rhythm. I definitely felt more comfortable this week and knew what to expect. I felt like it slowed down a lot—That’s what I feel was the biggest change from last week to this week and I was getting more blocks and making plays.”

It’s far too early to make any concrete observations about him as a player but for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, it's astonishing that the Eagles are ready to let a fourth round rookie quarterback their defense with absolutely no offseason work. Meanwhile, Matthews has also been leaving the field in the nickel, a defense you are in about 50 percent of the time these days in the NFL, meaning the so-called "leader" of the defense is on the sidelines half the time.

“It looked like he made some plays," Reid said when aked about Matthews. "Those inside linebackers, you have to look at the tape, so I’ll go back and do that. It looked like he did a good job of getting everyone lined up. He’s a pretty smart kid. The important thing with these young guys is that we give them time to grow each week as they get better.”

Those holding onto the security blanket of Jamar Chaney may be more pie-in-the-sky than the Eagles themselves. Chaney was a seventh round pick last year that provided a bad defense with a little spark late in the season. That's a long way away from being the next Seth Joyner. And remember, if the Eagles loved Chaney at the mike, why in the world wouldn't they have given him some, heck any reps, there at training camp? He didn't get one.

2) Is the offensive line good enough?

There has been a bit of a philosophy shift here with Howard Mudd taking over for Juan Castillo. Mudd likes athletes that excel in a zone blocking scheme and that's why is trying to shove rookie center Jason Kelce down your throat. Listed at 282, Kelce is a runt by today's NFL standards and its hard to believe he won't struggle with the powerful nose tackles that populate the NFL these days. Kelce started against Cleveland and piloted a line that looked very confused at times. In fact, rookie defensive tackle Phil Taylor was the
lone bright spot for the Browns, blowing up both Kelce and fellow rookie Danny Watkins on a number of plays.

Jason Peters remains the most talented left tackle in the NFC but figures to remain maddingly inconsistent. Todd Herremans is good enough to win with and I think Watkins should be OK at right guard after a few growing pains. Both Watkins and Kelce looked extremely slow off the ball tonight. Right tackle also remains a big question mark and that position is more important here since it's Vick's blind side. Ryan Harris was brought in to be the starter but a balky back has put him on the sidelines next to last year's option Winston
Justice, an average player on good days but a far better option than King Dunlap.

"The offensive line did well," Vick exaggerated after he left the game tonight. "I'm proud of those guys. We can always improve, starting with me."

Reid was more honest with his assessment.

"There was a little confusion in a lot of areas there," the coach said. "It was a combination of things. It was a combination of the set-up point by the quarterback, and the blocking scheme up front. That’s about as detailed as I can get for you.”

The best case scenario would be to start Jamaal Jackson at the pivot, kick out Herremans to right tackle and let veteran Evan Mathis handle left guard but that option hasn't even been broached.

“I’m going to go back and look at the tape before I make any decision," Reid said. "I thought [Jason] Kelce did a nice job for the time when he was in there, and Jamaal [Jackson] did a nice job when he was in there. Actually, [Mike] McGlynn also got some snaps in there and I thought he did a nice job from what I could see. Let me take a peek at the tape, and I’ll have a better idea.”

3. Is Babin really that much better than Juqua Parker?

You are about to find out. Parker is due $3.5 million this year has been banged up. It's hard to imagine the Eagles carrying Trent Cole ($3.9 million), Babin ($6.5 million) and Parker, making the 11-year Oklahoma State product the likely cutdown casualty. Both Parker and Babin are really situational pass rushers and while Juqua certainly never had a year like Babin did with the Titans last season, he's been the far more consistent player over an extended period of time.

4. Can Castillo develop into a quality defensive coordinator.

Offensive line coach to defensive coordinator?

Moving Castillo is either incredible hubris by Reid or flat-out genius. People in the know rave about Castillo's work ethic and attention to detail. There's no doubt he will put in the time and do everything possible during the week to help the Eagles prepare but there is a knack for calling the right defense at the right time and it remains to be seen if Castillo has it.

He also must also overcome the natural doubt that will pervade his players when the chips are down. Remember, most were on board when Sean McDermott replaced the late Jim Johnson but the minute things started to turn, there were rumblings about McDermott's lack of experience. Castillo will face a very
similar hurdle and it may have already started in Pittsburgh where poor gap control combined with some bad defensive schemes morphed into a perfect storm that resembled Hurricane Irene.

Castillo steadied things against the Browns but that's inferior competition.

5. The corners are great but what about those safeties?

Nate Allen still isn't ready, Jarrad Page is a pedestrian player and Kurt Coleman, while a very smart guy that is always angling to improve, just isn't athletic enough to be a difference maker. The triumvirate of Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at cornerback will certainly take some heat off whoever is playing the back end but you still need competent parts over the top.

“I didn’t see anything that jumped out to me that he didn’t do well or that I thought was a critical error," Reid said when talking about Page, who started against the Browns. "He got turned around on one play, but he ended up making the play on the tight end. I didn’t see anything that jumps out at me that was a negative.”

6. Two rookie kickers?

I can already picture former WWE champion "The Miz" grabbing the microphone, staring at Andy Reid and belting out "Really...Really...You are really going with two rookie kickers Andy Reid." David Akers was not only the best placekicker in Eagles history, he's one of the best in NFL history and despite what Don Tollefson or Dave Spadaro might tell you, Alex Henery isn't "splitting the uprights" on a consistent basis. Sav Rocca was average at best here so you can live with any hiccups from Chas Henry but Akers' rock solid consistency will be missed.

7. Can Vick handle the blitz?

The NFL is a copycat league but most coaches, with the exception of Bill Belichick, are very slow moving copycats. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier gave the rest of the league a blueprint for handling Vick when he and his defensive coordinator Fred Pagac sent Antoine Winfield from the slot about a million times late last season. Tom Coughlin attempted something similar earlier and stymied Vick for most of the game until the world's most athletic quarterback finally burned him.

You can bet others were watching and have now have had the time to implement game plans to handle Vick. It's now Vick's move in the chess match and he must adapt, something he seems to be struggling with. He had a number of late throws in Pittsburgh and again tonight. Also, he was really rescued from another interception by a horrible personal foul call on Cleveland's D'Qwell Jackson.

Vick just hasn't been sharp with his downfield passes through three preseason games.

“In this game you have to take what the defense gives you," Vick said. "If they’re playing 30 yards off then you’re not going to be able to go deep. You have to take advantage of what you’ll be able to get underneath.  You just have to let it develop.  It’s a tough game. You have a lot of smart coaches around this league and smart players. So some times you just have to finesse it.”

8. Is Young a competent backup at QB?

Young is never going to be a conventional signal caller so those looking for a 63 percent completion percentage or a 100.0 passer rating are always going to be disappointed. That said, what he has been by and large, is a winner. As long as the Eagles don't try to pound a square peg in the round hole and attempt to turn Young into a pocket passer, they will have a better option than Kevin Kolb if Vick gets injured for a game or two.

Union-Revs game postponed

Due to the forecasted weather conditions brought on by Hurricane Irene and to ensure the safety of the players and fans, Philadelphia Union and Major League Soccer have rescheduled this Sunday’s match (August 28, at 7 PM) at PPL Park against the New England Revolution to Wednesday, September 7 at 8:00 p.m. 

The game will be broadcast locally on The Comcast Network and nationally on Galavision. 

All Season Ticket Cards, printed tickets, and parking passes (Game 13) will be honored at the game on September 7.

Vick installed at 17-2 to win NFL MVP honors

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has 17-1 odds to win NFL MVP this season, according to Bodog's online gambling service. Bodog has Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as the favorite with 11-2 odds, followed by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at 13-2 and then Vick.

No word on where white Michael Vick is but if you feel like throwing away dome money, Kevin Kolb is a laughable 35-1.

Here are the NFL MVP odds:

Aaron Rodgers (GB) QB                         11/2

Tom Brady (NE) QB                               13/2

Michael Vick (PHI) QB                           17/2

Philip Rivers (SD) QB                             9/1

Drew Brees (NO) QB                              10/1

Peyton Manning (IND) QB                       10/1

Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) QB                   18/1

Matt Ryan (ATL) QB                               18/1

Adrian Peterson (MIN) RB                       20/1

Chris Johnson (TEN) RB                         20/1

Tony Romo (DAL) QB                             20/1

Matt Schaub (HOU) QB                          22/1

Arian Foster (HOU) RB                           25/1

Eli Manning (NYG) QB                           25/1

Joe Flacco (BAL) QB                             25/1

Mark Sanchez (NYJ) QB                        25/1

Sam Bradford (STL) QB                          25/1

Matt Cassel (KC) QB                             28/1

Jamaal Charles (KC) RB                         30/1

Josh Freeman (TB) QB                           35/1

Kevin Kolb (ARI) QB                               35/1

Maurice Jones-Drew (JAC) RB                35/1

Ray Rice (BAL) RB                                35/1

Steven Jackson (STL) RB                       35/1

Matthew Stafford (DET) QB                     40/1

Andre Johnson (HOU) WR                      50/1

Calvin Johnson (DET) WR                       50/1

Frank Gore (SF) RB                               50/1

Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) WR                       50/1

Jay Cutler (CHI) QB                                50/1

Michael Turner (ATL) RB                         50/1

Peyton Hillis (CLE) RB                           50/1

Rashard Mendenhall (PIT) RB                 50/1

Roddy White (ATL) WR                          50/1

Field                                                     10/1

Flyers' Bryzgalov meets the media

New Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov was introduced to the media at a press conference held at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone on Thursday. Here's the transcript:

On why he chose Philadelphia…
“The Flyers goal is always to win the Stanley Cup. That is what this game is all about. Winning is all that matters.”

“I’ve been in the league for eight years and every year I see they [Flyers] have good players. They always play in the playoffs except one year. Two years ago the team reached the Final and tried to win the Cup. When I played in Russia, I followed the NHL too and I saw that the Flyers were one of the top organizations who always has the ultimate goal of winning the Cup.”

On initial impressions of skating with the guys…
“I see lots of talent and passion. These guys want to play hockey and win.”

On the pressure of the contract…
“I never put the pressure on myself. I know my job. I know what I have to do. It’s from you [media]. It’s you that put the pressure on us and create the pressure on the team. (laughs) It depends on how you can handle it. I think I can handle it. I know what I have to do when I play bad. I know what I have to do to fix it.”

On Philadelphia…
“It’s fun; it reminds me of Russia a little bit. It’s very green here – lots of trees. The downtown area by Rittenhouse Square is a beautiful area. The people are very friendly. I like it a lot.”

On the contract situation with Phoenix…
“My agent did all of the negotiations. I didn’t know what was going on out there.”

On his agent making the deal…
“He spoke with me this season. He worked with the [Phoenix] ownership who said that they were going to talk to me and we saw that it wasn’t going anywhere. At that point, we knew we had to find a different team for me to play for…a team with the goal of wining the Stanley Cup. With all due respect to the ownership in Phoenix, it’s tough to do that out there.”

On getting to know the Flyers organization…
“Nothing has changed. I came to the organization with the same players who I’ve played against. I’ve met the people in the front office. We’re all hockey people. We know why we’re here and what we have to do to win.”

On enduring a long season…
“It’s all about practice time versus game time. When you feel physically and mentally tired and you feel like you need a break, you have to take a break because it’s tough to practice everyday and play every game. You would be exhausted. You have to take a break once in a while. You can do some light work-outs with a trainer, but when you play a lot you need some break time.”

On how many games he will play…
“It will depend on how much the team needs me. If they need me for 70 games, I will play 70. If they need me for 50 games, then I will play 50. The Coach and management will decide.”

On relationships with the guys…
“I played with Chris Pronger and Todd Fedoruk in Anaheim and Phoenix. [Chris] always said that Philly is a great place to play hockey between the management and the players here. We have a pretty good relationship.”

On any differences on playing in the East versus Western conference…
“I never played here. I can tell you later.”

Rosado, Jennings headline upcoming boxing card in South Philly

North Philly's Bryant Jennings
Undefeated heavyweight Bryant “Bye Bye” Jennings, of North Philadelphia, makes his most ambitious start as a pro when he faces Alex Mejias, of Paterson, NJ, in a scheduled six-round contest on Friday, Sept. 9, at the Asylum Arena in South Philly.

Topping the seven-bout card is a scheduled 10-round contest for the vacant Pennsylvania State Junior Middleweight title between Gabriel Rosado, of Philadelphia, and Keenan Collins, of Reading, PA.  The scheduled eight-round welterweight semifinal pairs Ronald Cruz, of Bethlehem, PA, with Anges Adjaho, of Buffalo, NY.

The Rosado-Collins and Cruz-Adjaho fights will be broadcast on Telefutura’s Solo Boxeo Tecate at 11.30pm ET/PT (10.30pm CT).

Jennings is 26 years old.  His 9-0 record includes four knockouts.  In his last fight July 23 in Las Vegas, he scored a knockdown en route to his second six-round decision victory this year over Theron Johnson, of Chicago, IL.  He also knocked out fellow-Philadelphian David Williams and outpointed Mike Miller, of Akron, OH, in other 2011 action.

Mejias, 32, is 11-7, 5 K0s, but has faced much stiffer competition.  His foes include Amir Monsour, Chazz Witherspoon, Tor Hamer, Derric Rossey and Bowie Topou.  Their combined record was 78-5 when Mejias fought them.

It’s a big step up for Jennings, who was 13-4 as an amateur after excelling in basketball, football and track & field at Ben Franklin High School in Philadelphia.

“I’m learning something new about boxing and about myself every day in the gym,” says Jennings, who is managed and trained by Fred Jenkins.  “You’ve got to be smart out there and you can’t rush things, both inside and outside the ring.  With my limited amateur background, every fight is a learning experience.”

Four additional fights complete the card, which begins at 7.30pm.

Hurricane Irene forces Phillies to move up Sunday's game

The Phillies game on Sunday against the Florida Marlins has been moved up due to the threat of severe weather from Hurricane Irene.

The game will be played as part of a day/night doubleheader on Saturday, August 27 at 1:05 p.m.

Sixers' Brackins signs with Maccabi Ashdod

Sixers F Craig Brackins
By John McMullen

Sixers second-year forward Craig Brackins has signed with Maccabi Ashdod, an Israeli team based in the port city of Ashdod.

"Signed with Maccabi Ashdod!" Brackings wrote on Twitter. "Real excited for this opportunity!"

Brackins appeared in just three games as a rookie for the Sixers in the 2010-11 season after being acquired from New Orleans in the Willie Green trade. He spent much of the year with Springfield Armor of the NBA D-League, where he averaged 20 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.

Brackins is under contract with the Sixers, meaning his deal with Ashdod will include a clause allowing him to return to Philadelphia once the NBA lockout ends. The No. 21 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft out of Iowa State, Brackins is set to make $1.4 million from the Sixers for the 2011-12 season.

Maccabi Ashdod, which has also signed undrafted Florida free agent Alex Tyus, does not compete in Euroleague or Eurocup and finished sixth in the Super League last season.

ESPN has officially lost its mind

ESPN's embarrassing look at Michael Vick
In case you haven't noticed ESPN is all about stunts these days and ESPN the Magazine pulled off a doozy in its current issue, publishing a piece masquerading as an essay on Michael Vick and race, complete with ridiculous photo.

If you want an honest look at Vick and race, take a look at my piece from Aug. 23, 2007... 

UPDATE: After about 10 minutes ESPN down its mistake and replaced it with an actual photo of Vick but then brought in back. Indecision in Bristol.

Wells Fargo Center prepares for 15th anniversary

As the Wells Fargo Center prepares to celebrate its 15th anniversary on Wednesday, August 31, Comcast-Spectacor issued some very unusual numbers and statistics which have occurred over the past 15 years at the Big House.

During the first 15 years at Wells Fargo Center:

·         6,645,300: Soft Pretzels Consumed

·         2,591,728: Hot Dogs Devoured

·         639,634: Philadelphia cheesesteaks eaten

·         679,537: Bags of popcorn purchased

·         461,0511: Gallons of Pepsi consumed

·         240,000: Gallons of water to create the ice surface once-a-year prior to start of hockey season

·         60,000: Light bulbs replaced throughout the entire arena

·         48,500: Miles of concourse swept my housekeeping to keep the building beautiful

·         21,424: Largest single-event attendance (Backstreet Boys, September 29,1999)

·         21,305: Largest One-Day Attendance for a Sixers Game (vs. Chicago Bulls, April 17, 1998)

·         20,327: Largest One-Day Attendance for a Flyers Game (vs. Chicago Blackhawks, June 9, 2010)

·         4,000: Hours of operation on the ice by the Wells Fargo Center Zamboni driver

·         18: The most sellouts by one artist or act: Billy Joel

·         325-273: Sixers Record in Regular Season Home Games

·         23-17: Sixers Record in Playoff Home Games

·         10,165,780: Sixers Attendance

·         11,182,589 (99.7 percent of capacity): Flyers Attendance in Regular Season Games

·         307-173-50-44 (708 Points): Flyers Record in Regular Season Home Games

·         1,547,524 (101.6 percent of capacity): Flyers Attendance in Playoff Games

·         46-32: Flyers Record in Playoff Home Games

·         1,755: Goals Scored by Flyers Players

“It’s hard to believe it’s already been 15 years,” reflected Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider. “It seems like just yesterday we were getting ready for the ribbon cutting. It’s been very rewarding and gratifying for us to present so many wonderful memories to millions of fans throughout the Greater Philadelphia Region.”

“The Wells Fargo Center, in a very short amount of time, has become one of the most popular venues in the world for top-notch entertainment and special events,” added Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko. “We have hosted every major event imaginable. The Wells Fargo Center has certainly put Philadelphia in the national spotlight and has become a must-play venue in sports and entertainment.”

After opening its doors for the first time with the World Cup of Hockey on August 31, 1996, the Wells Fargo Center (previously known as the Coorstates, First Union and Wachovia Center, has hosted a variety of nationally-followed events, including the 1998 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, 1999 AHL All-Star Weekend, 2000 NCAA Women’s Final Four, 2000 Republican National Convention, 2001 NCAA Men’s East Regional, 2001 NBA Finals, 2001 and 2002 ESPN X-Games, 2002 NBA All-Star Weekend, the 2006 NCAA Men’s First and Second Rounds, the 2008 U.S. Gymnastics Champinships; the 2009 NCAA Men’s First and Second Round Tournament Games, the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, and the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships.

The arena is also scheduled host the 2013 NCAA Men’s Second and Third Round Tournament Games, as well as the 2014 NCAA Frozen Four.

The Wells Fargo Center is, of course,  the home of the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association, the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League and the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League.