Welcome to the NFL, Nick Foles. And thank you for offering some hope in this otherwise hopeless season. The Eagles ended their miserable eight-game losing streak Sunday in Tampa Bay with an improbable comeback.
The Eagles did it behind the steady hand and potent arm of the scruffy rookie, offering an early holiday gift to flustered fans — a reason to believe. Foles was impressive all afternoon, but he was downright amazing in the final moments, when he drove the Eagles down for two touchdowns in the last 3:55, including the pinpoint throw near the sideline that won the game as the clock expired.
For a moment after Jeremy Maclin had secured the ball against his chest, it was hard to believe, really. So depressing was this last two months that the sudden rush of relief was an emotion that seemed totally new, refreshingly different. The Eagles did something good? The Eagles won a football game? Really?
Of course, with this exhilaration comes a gnawing concern. If Foles looks equally promising in the three remaining games, Andy Reid has a case for his return. Still regarded as a quarterback guru, Reid can argue that he handpicked Foles in the draft, brought him along quickly and has him already emerging as a potential star.
Reid can say he did the same thing in 1999 with a kid named Donovan McNabb and that journey led to five NFC championship games and a Super Bowl appearance. Who’s to say owner Jeff Lurie won’t look at Foles, consider the tragedy of Garrett Reid and decide to get his money’s worth out of the $5.5 million he still owes the coach for 2013?
Lurie called the four victories that ended last season “fool’s gold,” and we can only hope he sees just as clearly the folly of a 15th season with Reid as coach. Foles or no Foles, a Reid return would be catastrophic, both for business and for the psyche of the city.
If the owner were in our WIP studios yesterday to take call after call of new-found hope, he would understand the gravity of the situation. People were jubilant that someone finally stepped up and won a football game for them. That it was a rookie calling the last two plays himself and then executing them flawlessly only sweetened the mood.
In fact, the consensus is that best moment of the comeback involved a ball Foles failed to complete. He had just threaded a pass over the middle to his new favorite target, Jason Avant, and somehow — in his fourth game as starter — got the entire offense 20 yards up the field to spike the ball with two seconds left.
In the weeks ahead, the naysayers will keep chirping about past flashes like Bobby Hoying, keep reminding everybody that one game doesn’t prove anything. The only thing they will not be able to dismiss it the way Foles throws the football, and the way he runs an offense.
When this season mercifully ends, it will still be the most infuriating and disappointing in recent memory; make no mistake about that. But at least there’s something to look forward to, some hope to embrace during the long, cold winter ahead.
Roseman doesn’t ‘get it’
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. made two major trades, talked to dozens of agents and conducted countless interviews last week. Eagles GM Howie Roseman remained in a self-imposed seclusion, saying and doing nothing.
Amaro is aggressive and accessible. Roseman is paranoid and unreliable. Amaro is fan-friendly. Roseman would rather issue a statement than answer questions. Amaro is the best GM in Philadelphia right now. Roseman will be lucky to have a job next month.
So why is Amaro constantly fending off the wrath of the people, while Roseman has been out of sight and out of mind during the current crisis?
Last week Amaro acquired 24-year-old Ben Revere, a center fielder with lightning in his legs. In return, Minnesota got ordinary pitcher Vance Worley and so-so prospect Trevor May. Then he somehow convinced Texas to pay $10 million and give the Phillies veteran third baseman Michael Young, for two non-descript relievers.
The reaction to the deals was predictably negative. Revere is not as good as B.J. Upton, or Josh Hamilton or — gasp — Shane Victorino, blah, blah, blah. Young is too old, too brittle, too American League. It’s all pure drivel.
In an interview last Friday, I asked Amaro why he remains so accessible, even when dealing with so much criticism. He said something that Howie Roseman should seriously consider in his future dealings.
“I grew up here,” Ruben Amaro said. “I’m a fan, too … I get it.”
Yes, he does.
Blame Bettman for this NHL labor mess
If you really want to understand why there is no hockey season this year — or why there was none seven years ago, either — just go back and listen to the tone of Gary Bettman’s voice during his public tantrum late last Thursday night. It came after three days of fruitful labor talks, all of which were washed away by one ill-timed outburst.
“It’s almost incomprehensible that he would say that,” snarled the most miserable man in professional sports.
Believe it or not, the horrible crime against humanity that triggered Bettman’s tirade was union boss Donald Fehr (no peach himself, by the way) saying he thought the two sides were getting close to an agreement. How dare Fehr suggest that fans might actually get to see some hockey this year. With Bettman around, there is very little chance of that.
The NHL has been taken hostage by a narrow-minded bully with a Napoleon complex, a greedy corporate manipulator who has no love for the sport he represents and no respect for the fans who fund it. He makes $8 million a year, and the only time there was any real progress in this five-month lockout was when Bettman was out of the room. This leads to an obvious question: Why is he still the commissioner?
The NHL owners are among the most successful businessmen in North America. They didn’t get rich enough to buy a sports franchise by listening to an alarmist with the social skills of a grizzly bear.
It’s time for the NHL to clear the final hurdle to lasting labor peace. It’s time for Gary Bettman to go.
– Angelo Cataldi is the host of 94 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30-10 a.m.