The Eagles were full of surprises in the frantic first days after the lockout, but nothing was a bigger shock than the fact that they kept their word. For once, they actually backed up their bold statements with even bolder actions.
In the weeks leading up to the new NFL deal, owner Jeff Lurie, president Joe Banner and coach Andy Reid all crowed about the dynamic plan they were ready to implement. At the time, those statements were laughable. The Eagles have been making promises for years — promises that faded the moment they had to sign a check.
This time, they signed huge checks and bought some much-needed credibility. Paying Nnamdi Asomugha $60 million over five years when they already had two top-tier cornerbacks was puzzling on one level, but dazzling on another. Signing Cullen Jenkins for $25 million over five years was amazing.
And they didn’t stop there. The trade of Kevin Kolb for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick was an absolute steal. The signing of Jason Babin was a rare acknowledgement of failure, when he was a bust here two years ago. And the addition of Vince Young was, if nothing else, audacious.
What these moves said to Eagles fans who have been waiting a half-century for a title is that the ownership is finally in-sync with them. The Eagles want a parade badly and they’re finally willing to pay full price for it.
The fascinating question is: Why? What happened during those 135 days of the lockout that changed the perspective of the Eagles? Why, after 17 years of placing profits above championships, did Lurie and Banner decide to open their vaults and spend?
I asked Banner that question directly when he appeared on my WIP radio show yesterday, and — as usual — he resorted to double-speak. While acknowledging that the past few days represent the most aggressive plan ever implemented by the team under Lurie’s ownership, Banner said they were trying really hard those other years, too.
Banner recoiled when I suggested that the Eagles have finally succumbed to the pressure of having another team in their city steal the spotlight, but he can’t deny that reality. The Phillies have not just been a better franchise than the Eagles for the last five years, they have been a far more appealing one. The Phils have become a giant in their sport, as they proved once again with their trade for Hunter Pence.
Regardless of the motivation, the Eagles deserve our praise and support for two reasons. First, for keeping their promise by executing an aggressive plan to build a winner. And second, for using every resource to deliver the ultimate prize to a city that has waited too long.
Clueless Wade still helping Phillies
There are so many people to thank after the latest coup by GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. So let’s rush past president Dave Montgomery and the owners, Amaro and his front-office staff and even the fans. Thanks, but we have no time to praise you today.
The real hero of the Hunter Pence trade is an old and familiar face — a GM who did his best work the moment he left town. Of course, I’m speaking of Ed Wade, a man so clueless that he keeps sending us his best player — and then throwing in a bundle of extra cash.
First, he gift-wrapped closer Brad Lidge for Michael Bourn, Geoff Geary and Mike Costanzo. Last year, he donated ace Roy Oswalt for J.A. Happ, Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar. Now it’s Pence for Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart and Josh Zeid. That’s three all-stars for a light-hitting outfielder who was just traded to Atlanta, a mediocre pitcher and a lot of unanswered prayers.
Because he’s a nice guy, Wade threw in $1 million in the Pence deal to keep the Phils under the luxury-tax threshold. Last year, he kicked in $11 million to make the Oswalt deal work. So add $12 million to the three stud players, and you’ve got some idea of just how one-sided this relationship has become.
Thank you, Ed Wade. You truly are a man of your word. You always said you’d build a winner in Philadelphia.
Wanted: New joke writers
In the four years he was here, Kevin Kolb showed a far greater talent for collecting money than for telling jokes. After all, he was paid over $11 million last season and held the starting quarterback job for less than 30 minutes.
But Kolb conducted himself with dignity and class here, so the consensus before his trade to Arizona was that he deserved a chance to start in 2011. Now, after what he said at his first news conference as a Cardinal, we should all hope he wilts in the heat and fades in the football obscurity of Phoenix.
The trouble began last Friday as he sat before an army of wide-eyed reporters and offered his first impression of Arizona, a glowing tribute to its cleanliness. Fine. There’s nothing wrong with a little butt-kissing to win over new fans. But then he had to take a shot. He couldn’t help himself.
“Granted,” he added, “I was coming from Philadelphia.”
Wow. If Kolb is really appalled by our grime, maybe he should give back the millions in dirty money he made while failing here. Maybe he should recognize that he’s filthy rich because the Eagles not only gave him millions for nothing, but then sent him to a team dumb enough to guarantee him $20 million more.
Maybe he can use some of that money on a joke writer next time.
– Angelo Cataldi is host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.