The best general manager in Philadelphia can walk through Center City this morning in total anonymity. Even though he holds one of the top jobs on our most popular sports team, he is still just another face in the crowd. His name is Howie Roseman, and this is the biggest week of his year.
On Thursday night, Roseman will oversee a draft that will determine the fate of the Eagles’ 2014 season. If the GM cannot find a wide receiver to replace Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson and add some key defensive pieces, the Birds will need divine intervention to make the playoffs, let alone match their 10-win season of last year.
Everyone knows coach Chip Kelly has the final say, but Roseman’s involvement in the draft process – from scouting, to interviewing, to ranking the players – only seems to grow from year to year. And with each season, so, too, does fan confidence that the 38-year-old former contract negotiator actually knows what he’s doing.
By far the youngest GM in our city, Roseman has earned the distinction as our best for a couple of important reasons. First of all, the only constant in the past two excellent drafts has been Roseman, who bridges the coaching eras of Andy Reid and now Kelly. Second, he actually cares about the fans.
Ruben Amaro Jr. is also fan-friendly, but he has made an absolute mess of the Phillies roster. And the other two GMs, Sam Hinkie of the Sixers and Paul Holmgren of the Flyers, have the personality of plywood. At the moment, none of them has any chance at a championship.
The Eagles, on the other hand, could be a contender again, and Roseman is one of the major reasons for their re-ascension. He drafted Nick Foles (Kelly was still in Oregon then), had a say in the impressive rebuilding of both lines (drafting Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Cedric Thornton, Bennie Logan) and added key free agents like DeMeco Ryans and Connor Barwin.
Despite his title, Roseman has never been recognized as a major decision-maker – or recognized at all, for that matter – because he has always been seen as an extension of unpopular ex-president Joe Banner and because he always came across as a wannabee. He seemed more like an errand boy than a real GM.
Now, though, that perception is changing. Roseman was a guest on my WIP radio show last week, and he sounded as if he had grown into his role. His best moment was when he guaranteed that the Eagles would find a difference-maker at wide receiver. He even suggested they might end up with two.
The GM did something else worthy of our acclaim. When asked if he believed the Eagles were wise to say nothing for a month after releasing a fan favorite, Jackson, he said: “We aren’t 100 percent (right).”
By making that long-overdue concession, Roseman took the next big step on the road to acceptance. And that’s why, in a weak field of contestants, he is now the best GM in Philadelphia.
- Clippers owner Donald Sterling has a record of over three decades of horrific, biased behavior, and his associate, V. Stiviano, says he’s not a racist? OK, here’s what needs to happen next. Sterling needs to leave the NBA as soon as possible. And V. Stiviano needs to shut up.
- Flyers GM Paul Holmgren is showing no indication that he’ll step aside for Ron Hextall. Well, then, maybe Holmgren needs a little push. His insane five-year, $22-million contract for washed-up Vinny Lacavaliere is reason enough for a long-overdue change, isn’t it?
- So now it’s official that Flyers goalie Steve Mason did have a concussion at the end of the regular season – as everyone already knew. For clueless NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to approve of the secrecy over injuries, he must have an upper-body injury himself.
- How far has the Phillies attendance fallen in two years? This past weekend, which featured excellent weather and a division rival (Washington), the Phillies offered two-for-one deals on many of their seats – and still averaged 11,000 empty ones per game. Ouch.
- A. J. Burnett has been unhittable since he suffered an inguinal hernia two weeks ago. In other words, the Phillies are four hernias away from having an amazing starting rotation again.