Voice of Philly Sports Fan: Shocking new twist to Andy’s saga

The story has been hanging over the Eagles all season, those 19 vials of unknown substance found in the room of the late Garrett Reid at Eagles camp. Monday, when the mystery was solved, it only raised a whole new series of ominous questions.

While working as a volunteer on the strength and conditioning staff, the son of coach Andy Reid had 19 vials of steroids, 64 needles and 47 syringes in his dorm room at Lehigh University. According to an investigation by the Northampton County District Attorney’s office, there was no evidence that Garrett was supplying any players with the drug.

But there is also no indication that he was taking them himself. Remember, Garrett died of a heroin overdose. The toxicology reports showed nothing about steroids, including testosterone and other strength enhancers, also being in his system.

So where were the steroids going? If they weren’t intended for the players, what were they doing there? And why did no one find out until Monday that the vials contained steroids? Since it wouldn’t normally take five months to make that determination, was there a cover-up?

Andy Reid, already embattled during a 4-10 season riddled with controversy, said in a statement that he was “confident that my son’s decisions did not affect our football team in any way,” but he acknowledged that the new revelations may be causing “adverse appearances” for the team.

Under different circumstances, it would be easy to condemn Reid for this stunning development. It would be reasonable to vilify him for bringing the problems in his family onto his team. It would not even be farfetched to call for his firing because of yet another example of terrible judgment.

But the coach has already lost his son, and he is about to lose his job. That seems sufficient punishment for a father who was only trying to rescue his son from one of the worst nightmares imaginable, doesn’t it? Now, the Eagles’ organization has the responsibility to clean up this mess. If there is any leadership left after this season of relentless failure, it must step forward.

First, the Eagles need to undertake an internal investigation to determine why those steroids were in that room. Then they need to find out whether Garrett Reid was supplying any players. Owner Jeff Lurie emerged from his self-imposed media cocoon yesterday to proclaim that no Eagles have tested positive for steroids this season, but he ventured no guesses as to what those drugs were doing there.

The final question that will be answered only by the passage of time is what this latest bombshell will do to Andy Reid’s legacy. The coach with the most wins in Eagles history will be leaving soon, but the shocking nature of his final season will linger for many years to come.

Foles critics need to calm down, please

Brian Billick won a Super Bowl in 2001 with Trent Dilfer as quarterback, so he has a pretty good idea of what it takes to be the best team in the NFL. And the former Baltimore coach offered some advice to the critics of Nick Foles: Calm down.

After an unimpressive effort in a brutal 34-13 Eagles’ loss to Cincinnati, the knee-jerk analysis was that Foles doesn’t have a strong enough arm to join the elite at his position. The alarmists are basing that conclusion on one bad throw that landed in the hands of Leon Harris at least 15 yards short of its intended destination.

Foles’ explanation that he didn’t get his legs behind the ball because he had just dodged the pass rush did nothing to cool off the naysayers. Nowadays, a single bad throw is all it takes to morph into Bobby Hoying, even if it comes after one of the greatest single-game comebacks by a rookie quarterback in Eagles history.

Billick, a regular guest on my WIP radio show, chuckled at the suggestion Foles doesn’t have the arm to succeed. The coach put arm strength as “fourth or fifth” on the list of attributes for NFL quarterbacks. He cited Joe Montana and yes, Dilfer, as players who won big without a cannon.

The most important thing for a winning quarterback, Billick said, is the ability to lead a team — to make the players around him better and to function most effectively underpressure. After busts at leadership like Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Mike Vick, haven’t we figured this out yet?

Nick Foles has a chance to be very good, maybe even great. He is a leader. Now take Brian Billick’s advice, please. Calm down.

Amaro having offseason for the ages

The Phillies are a much better team than they were last season. They should contend for the division title against Washington and Atlanta.

Finally, somebody said it. Finally, somebody spoke the truth about this offseason, and about the different strategy being used — with impressive results — by GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. No, there are no new big names on the roster (no Josh Hamilton; no Zack Greinke) but Amaro is filling the holes quietly and methodically with significant upgrades.

Who would you rather have at third base, Placido Polanco or Michael Young? In center field, John Mayberry Jr. or Ben Revere? Eighth-inning reliever: Josh Lindblom or Mike Adams? Add those improvements to a full season for Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the power potential of Darin Ruf in left and the three aces at the top of the rotation, and you have a 95-win team, at the very least.

Love him or hate him, no GM in our recent history has been more aggressive in creating a roster than Amaro. Even this offseason, he tried a pre-emptive strike for Hamilton with a three-year, $80-million offer. Three years is plenty for a risky proposition like Hamilton. The other huge contracts are more likely to bring angst than a parade. A timid Greinke gets six years and $147 million? Insane.

As long as manager Charlie Manuel doesn’t sabotage the team the way he did last year and injuries don’t devastate the admittedly aging roster, the Phillies have one more championship run in them.

You read it here first.

– Angelo Cataldi is the host of 94 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30-10 a.m.

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