Nick Foles said last week that it was an incredible honor to be in the Pro Bowl. Richard Sherman bellowed on national TV that he is the world’s best cornerback. Foles gets no respect. Sherman has the top-selling jersey in the NFL.
What’s wrong with this picture? Well, actually, it is an accurate snapshot of how to become rich and famous in American sports today. Sherman understands the system. Foles has no clue.
Just three weeks after an amazing season that ended despite a brilliant late drive against New Orleans, Foles has as many doubters as supporters. It was not his fault that the Eagles’ special teams and defense squandered the lead he gave them in the playoffs, and yet somehow now it is. There is very little love for Nick Foles in the NFL.
Last week alone, Foles was the second-to-last pick in the stupid new choose-up-sides Pro Bowl; he went on to win the offensive MVP award in the game. Foles had a higher quarterback rating than Peyton Manning in Manning’s finest season, but the bozos selecting the team, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, clearly were not impressed.
Then there was Pro Football Focus, one of the most respected football websites, which chose Tony Romo of Dallas as the top quarterback in the NFC East. Pro Football Focus has preached all year about the importance of limiting turnovers. Romo threw 10 interceptions last season; Foles tossed two. Romo had a QB rating of 98; Foles recorded a historic 119. And somehow Romo won the honor.
Of course, Foles reacted to none of these slights, just as he shrugged at the tepid weekly verbal support from coach Chip Kelly all season. If 27 touchdown passes and a 10-6 record are not enough to convince the naysayers, what is?
Richard Sherman answered that question when he exploded into the American consciousness with his hideous display of poor sportsmanship after Seattle had beaten San Francisco in the NFC championship game. Not only did he echo Muhammad Ali’s “I am the greatest!” boasts of a half-century ago, he belittled Niners receiver Michael Crabtree in the process.
Does anyone believe Sherman, a Stanford grad, erupted the way he did strictly in the heat of battle? He did not. On the other hand, Foles is – let’s be honest here – boring. Although he is the same age as Sherman (25), he lacks the moxie to demand the respect he has earned. He is a cliché machine, a lousy sound bite, a far-too-humble man.
When Foles first arrived in Philadelphia, everyone wanted to know if he had a big enough arm to become a star in the NFL. Now the question is, does he have a big enough mouth?
Abreu’s return bizarre move for Phillies
Bobby Abreu signed a contract last week to return to the Phillies. Honest. He really did. The timid, lazy outfielder who was unpopular in his first tour of duty here will get a curtain call at spring training in Clearwater. This is not a joke.
Unfortunately for GM Ruben Amaro, the reaction to this bizarre move took an already terrible off-season and made him the laughingstock of Philadelphia sports. When the two big roster moves of the winter are signing 37-year-old Marlon Byrd and 40-year-old Bobby Abreu, what reaction are the fans going to offer? Basically, we all laughed. Because the only alternative was to cry.
The Phillies are going to be bad in 2014 – really, really bad. Amaro tried desperately to spin a different theme in a media tour last week, but no exercise in logic can turn a 73-89 team into a winner after this off-season. Amaro said he understands the skepticism.
But he signed Bobby Abreu anyway. That’s the interesting thing about that transaction. It has a far greater downside in PR than anything Abreu could bring to the team, and the GM ignored the backlash. Say what you will about Amaro, but he still has the courage of his convictions.
Barring a sudden medical cure for aging, this will not just be the final bow for Abreu. It will almost certainly mark the end for Amaro, too. Taking a championship team and turning it into the brittle mess the Phils have become is something no sports executive can survive.
Ruben Amaro knows the psyche of the Philadelphia sports fan as well as any GM in the past generation here. And that’s why it is just amazing – and hilarious – that he went and signed Bobby Abreu last week anyway.
Goodell out of touch with average NFL fans
The NFL has a big problem as their marquee event unfolds over the next week in the media capital of the world. Commissioner Roger Goodell is going to make a fool of himself, and of his sport, in the days ahead. Book it right now.
In fact, Goodell previewed his inevitable downfall at Super Bowl XLVIII in New York (or New Jersey, if you must) with a comment last week that established yet again how completely out of step he is with the fans who have made his sport the most successful in American history. He just doesn’t get it. He never will.
Goodell actually told a New York newspaper that the NFL priced 1,000 tickets for the Super Bowl at $500 to include the less advantaged fans. Let that sink in for a second: Goodell, who makes around $30 million a year, thinks $500 per ticket is a fan-friendly gesture. (By the way, the rest of the tickets are going for $1,000, $1,500, $2,000 and $2,500.)
The real story of the mega-event about to take place is that most fans have no desire to attend the game because of this insidious greed. A WIP radio Internet poll last week showed 85 percent of Philadelphia sports fans would rather watch the game on TV than endure the astounding prices for tickets, parking, shuttle buses, souvenirs, food and everything else associated with Super Bowl XLVIII.
Roger Goodell answers to only one boss, and it is the Almighty Dollar. He wants to expand the sport to Europe, sell some Thursday night games to yet another TV network and increase the schedule to 18 games – all in service to making the billionaire owners even richer. This attitude is a recipe for disaster.
And the prediction here is, his infatuation with money will foil him and his sports this week, with the whole world watching.
- At the Senior Bowl last week, Eagles GM Howie Roseman spoke at length about what it takes to be a good safety in the NFL. Just one question: If he is such an expert, why do the Eagles have no good safeties?
- After some bitter comments by New England coach Bill Belichick, the NFL ruled last week that the hit that triggered his tirade, a devastating block by former Patriot Wes Welker on cornerback Aqib Talib, was legal. OK, so when can we expect Belichick’s apology?
- The Flyers continue to puzzle fans who cannot see the hockey team for what it is – an enigma. The offense is inconsistent, the defense is so-so and the goaltending is beginning to reflect mediocrity of the rest of the team. The Flyers will not win the Stanley Cup this season. They will not win it while Ed Snider is chairman. Sorry.
- National television is not buying GM Ruben Amaro’s loud public claims that the Phillies can contend in 2014. The networks have scheduled only one game all season, a fate reserved for losing teams. If TV doesn’t buy Amaro’s hype, why should we?
- Mike Pettine of Central Bucks West had his lifelong dream come true last week when he was named head coach in Cleveland. Unfortunately, he will now report directly to miserable former Eagles president Joe Banner. Kids, be careful what you wish for.