O Captain My Captain……

As the 2012-13 shortened season approaches,  there has been a passing of the torch in Philadelphia sports.  Chris Pronger,  who has stepped aside because of the lingering effects of post-concussion syndrome,  has passed his confidence on to Claude Giroux to lead the Flyers on the ice.  We have seen many captains pass through this city,  with the lcrosbyhitikes of Eric LindrosBobby Clarke, and  Rick Tocchet,  who have shown us what it means to bleed Orange and Black.  If the infamous Game 3 hit on Sydney Crosby is any indication on how he chooses to lead by example,  I think we are all in for a treat.

The Captain label is very important in the game of Hockey,  not only because of the tradition and values it stands for,  but for the pure leadership it requires.  It seems like the Philadelphia Flyers did not expect this from Giroux,  when they drafted him in   the 2006 NHL Entry Draft  22nd overall because of the simple fact  that the draft is always full of surprises.  After some growing pains along the way, being bounced around to the AHL,  Giroux looked to turn things and stared to blossom into a future superstar of the ice.  This sudden rise to stardom, after much inconsistency along the way,  led GM Paul Holmgren to make a historic decision to trade away Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in the 2011 off-season, leaving Giroux to take over the role as first line centre for the club.  At the time, this looked like an extreme act of uncertainty,  but looked ingenious int the end as Giroux ended the season  Giroux ended the season as both the Flyers’ top regular season point-scorer (93 points) and top playoff point scorer (17 points).

Usually the offseason is filled with rumblings of potential free agent visits and breakdowns of numerous trades,  but    girouxthis one was filled with emotion, angst,  and disappointment, due to the NHL Lockout.  With the lockout behind everyone,  now is the time to focus on the trials and tribulations of the upcoming season.  While many teams are still trying to decide on their roster,  the Philadelphia Flyers were busy making their 25-year-old phenomenon the center piece of their organization.  As a professional Hockey player, your emotions are always worn on your sleeve and taken out on your opponent.  As evidence in his play,  Giroux always played with notorious pride and emotion,  but now it will be forever acknowledged by the presence of his patch!!!!!!

  BY: Tony Cutillo


The Grand Finale….

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks011313-brian-billick-6001

Will today be the day the Eagles Franchise begins another chapter in history?  According to numerous NFL sources,  the Eagles are close to deciding who will be the leader chosen to bring back stability and success to their organization.  The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of interviews and speculations of who tops the list of candidates to replace Andy Reid.  We keep hearing the phrase, “leave no stone unturned,” and that is exactly what management is leading us to believe.  After countless conversations with many prominent coaches on the professional and collegiate level,  it seem the race is about to come to an end.  Lets take a look at two of the finalists in the Eagles search for glory.

Brian Billick, who has been labeled as an Offensive Genius,  turned heads yesterday, when it was learned that he spent 9 hours interviewing for the position.  Brian led the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in 2000 with a start studded cast of defensive standouts, Ray Lewis, Deion Sanders, Tony Siragusa, just to name a few.  The Ravens took advantage of their vaunted defense by allowing NFL record-low 165 points in the regular season, deeming them the best defensive unit in the NFL.   In his tenure,  he had a 85–67 record in nine seasons (1999–2007) with the team, including 5–3 in the playoffs.  After being let go,  he joined the broadcasting realm of the NFL in 2008 and has been there ever since.

Gus Bradley is currently the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, who have been known for their disciplined defensive system over the last three years.  This is the reason Bradley has proven to be a hot commodity this offseason and at the fore front of many organizational coaching plans.  He is known as being a vocal leader who commands the respect of his coaches and players.  When being considered for the job in 2009,   he was given the following endorsement by defensive mastermind Monte Kiffin:  “J.L., listen to me. I have got a guy here in Tampa that is one of, if not, the finest football coaches I have ever worked with. He’s an A-plus. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime coach. You need to talk to him.”  This speaks volumes coming from another well respected colleague that is held in high regard aroud the NFL.

All we know is Jeff Lurie told us all in his news conference that this was going to be a wide search to find an innovative,  intelligent, and experimental coach.  They have interviewed 10 plus candidates over the span of 15 days,  from both the collegiate and professional ranks,  searching for their guy.  At long last,  it seems like they have found two guys, in Brian and Gus,  who they are intrigued by the notion of them running their football team.  Do you go with the known product, who has championship background?  Do you go with an unproven coach, who has a chance to be something special?  As you can see, this is definitely shaping up for a photo finish!!

By: Tony Cutillo

Passion and Perseverance!!

The City of Philadelphia is known for its passion,  history,  and fan base when it comes to our sports teams.  I dare anyone,  in any city,  to try and compare to the likes of the Orange and Black Sea that is called the Wells Fargo Center.  We cheer,  boo,  and tell you exactly the way we feel,  which is why we sometimes get a bad reputation.  The national media loves to portray us as animals and derelicts,  instead of the intelligent fans that we actually are.  However,  there is nothing but positive feedback to be heard from the way the fans congregated to express their support at the first official practice of the 2012-13 season.

Organizationally,  the Philadelphia Flyer brass,  shows their love back by making every effort possible to put a winning product on the ice.  Within minutes of the 202-13, 48 game schedule being released,  General Manager Paul Holmgren,  was already working the phones to complete his first transaction of the season.  The Flyers acquired Goaltender Brian Boucher and defensive prospect Mark Alt from the Carolina Hurricanes  in exchange for prospect  Luke Pither.  Granted, it’s not the most exhilarating move,  but something to show the fans they are never done trying to improve the roster.  In the day and age of free agency,  Flyer’s Chairman Ed Snider,  is never ashamed or hesitant to write a check to express his desire for a winner.  He is always visible and doesn’t shy away from the spotlight.

As you can see,  the Philadelphia Fans will always be there to support their team through the good times and bad.  They are always behind the glass to show their feelings in the way of signs and emotions.  Consequently,  the franchise has shown, in leu of their continuous support,  they will always be willing to do everything necessary to try and book another trip down Broad Street!

Sightings and Suspense…..


     The coaching search continues in the NFL, ans the constituents of Philadelphia continue to mesmerize themselves with the notion that the Eagles are in a motion of confusion. It seems, to the public that is, that the Eagles have been spurned by every, high-profile, coaching candidate on their board. This seems far from the position of excellence, for which Jeff Lurie stated it was at his new conference.  In years past, the Eagles have come out of nowhere, with some exhilarating moves that have the left the media and fan base wondering how they hid it. Who knew they would sign Nnamdi Asomugha? Who knew they would sign Michael Vick? These are the kind of moves the Eagles are famous for and the reason why you never know who they really are targeting in their coaching search

This all leads me to believe there is an underlying element of surprise left for the Eagles this offseason, which became prevalent when Jon Gruden was spotted having coffee in a main line Philadelphia restaurant yesterday. I know there were numerous reports from so-called sources within the organization that said his visit had nothing to do with the team, but that is a standard response to any kind of leaked information not made for public knowledge.

Sometimes as a writer you have to go with a sense of intuition, based on past practice and procedure. The Philadelphia Eagles always were, and always will be a team that holds their hand close to the vest, never letting anyone see their cards. Therefore, I think they are playing this like a professional card poker by weeding out all the bluffs, until they are ready to show they were playing with a Royal Flush the entire time!

A Giant Smoke Screen…..


In the December 31st press conference to announce the firing of Andy Reid,  Jeffery Lurie used words like, innovative, enthusiastic, and strong leadership to describe what the Philadelphia Eagles were looking for in the next head coach.  Could it be that he was actually talking about Brian Kelly, head coach of Notre Dame?  The Eagles have been linked to several college coaches so far this during this search, but do not seem to be interested in many ex-NFL coaches, like Jon Gruden or Bill Cohwer.  It seems like they are looking for the next “Big” thing at the collegiate level that is ready to explode on the NFL scene and command plenty of media attention.

Kelly has been coaching for a long time and has recently started his stint at Notre Dame in 2009, when he took over for Charlie Wiess.  This was a very special year, in which he led the Irish to a 12-0 record and a spot in the National Championship game.  He seemingly rebuilt a program that was on a downturn by using his strong leadership and experience.  In other words,  the same thing Lurie is looking for in someone who can do the same thing for his franchise.  A quick turnaround to become the successful team it once was before.

The Eagles wasted no time letting their feelings be known by interviewing Kelly the day after the championship game.  Kelly is said to be flattered by the invitation to interview for NFL coaching jobs, and is said to have a mutual interest in the Philadelphia Eagles vacancy, per national reports (Chris Mortenson, ESPN).  If this is the case, I see no reason why this can’t come into fruition.  Consequently,  the Eagles were said to be major players in the Chip Kelly sweepstakes, but all along in may have been a giant smoke screen to kill time waiting to interview the real Kelly they actually wanted to help bring their franchise back to the promised land!

Fast Paced Action is Back……

wordpresspics4     At long last, the suspense is over and we finally have a Hockey season to look forward to again. The NHL lockout had gone on for 113 days and looked like there was little hope for an agreement. National media was reporting there was basically zero progress in negotiations, with talk constantly breaking down or at a standstill. Consequently, in the process of Gary Bettman (NHL Commissioner) and Donald Fehr(NHLPA Executive Director) trading blows like claymation figures, 625 out of 1230 total NHL games were lost. This was something nobody wanted and tried to wane from on a consistent basis. To much of the degrin of Bettman, his legacy will be surmounted on the fact that he was known for work stoppages, since this was his third so far in his tenure.

During there stint of unemployment, many NHL players took their skills overseas playing in many European Leagues. This was a way to, not only keep fresh and defined, but to continue to play the sport they love, even if the league associated with them is stagnant. Some of the players that decided to stay local, in the hopes of better news, were actually buying their own ice time in many local rinks around town. Along with this space, also came with a few restrictions like not being able to don their own jerseys or being able to use their team lockers. This seems like a small price to pay in order to stay focused and alert.

I have to say that, in my opinion, the world of sports obviously is a business that I will never understand. Owners and players seem like they make a good living to play the sport they so love and cherish. Therefore, why they would collectively take the chance of losing the fan base that, to a degree pays their salary and supports them to the end, is astonishing. There were issues of max player contracts, elimination of signing bonuses, and reducing player revenue shares. All of these issues surround money, the same money, we as fans pay for tickets, parking, and merchandise.

The question amongst us all as fans is, what will are feelings towards the sport of Hockey now become? Will the average fan just walk away from the game completely? Will the extreme fan become less loyal in the way he views the sport? These are interesting questions that I would love to hear the answer to also. I, myself will probably remain the same average viewer I always have been. How about you?…………Feel free to comment below to see how each others opinion are either swayed one way or another….

The Saga Continues……

Chip Kelly     Everyone waking up this morning is now hearing about the Chip Kelly saga going a rye for the second time in as many years.  This time last year he was turning down an offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be their Head Football Coach, which in essence, is the same thing he has done this year, in regards to Philadelphia.  The story is very intriguing in itself, because of the “Celebrity Deathmatch” type feel it has had to it involving boyhood friends Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie.

The landscape was set in the beginning with Chip Kelly seemingly being the number one choice for both franchises to rebuild their teams and fan bases.  Chip Kelly was an illustrious name that would have brought a media circus to whatever part of town that landed the accomplished college coach.  In other words, both Lurie and Banner, already had a separate bank account set up to count the infamous amounts of money this storyline would have generated.  This is the leading reason behind both franchises willing to go the extra mile, in terms of money and responsibility, to land the collegiate mastermind.

Consequently, this brings us to ponder the real reason why Chip Kelly decided to return to Oregon, to continue coachiong on a collegiate level.  There are many interesting questions that could of been floating around in Kelly’s head during the whole interview process that made him hesitant to committ to the National Football League.  If I accept the job in Cleveland, do I really have to deal with Joe Banner, who has a bad reputation amonst NFL playes and agents?  How will I convince the players I need within my system to be successful to come to Cleveland?  Does Jeff Lurie and Howie Rosman really know what direction each other wants to go into?  Is the team of Eagles presently constructed flawed by a bad system, or are they just overhyped and overated?

As you can see, there are many questions to ask and think about in this everlasting saga.  The answers will always be unknown, but surely thorugh certain sources, will be leaked out for all of us to judge.  Either way it seems as though, both franchises came away with the generation of buzz they both craved and covetted, even if, in the end they didnt land their number one option!

New Life for the City of Brotherly Love

wordpresspic1     Last year at this time, fans were sitting around, clamouring with suspense, waiting to hear Philadelphia Eagles’ owner Jeff Lurie tell the world his decision whether or not to bring back coach Andy Reid for a 14th season.  He started off with words like, disappointed, disgusted, and embarrassment, when elaborating on a bad season.  This, the season they were picked to contend for a super bowl and self labeled as “The Dream Team.” Unfortunately, this move turned out to be the final nail in the coffin for Andy Reid and his football team.

Consequently, the Eagles followed up their 8-8 campaign with a dismal 4-12 record that was truly shown on the field.  The players looked like a group of guys who lost their will to win and the discipline that used to make this team a contender.  This was the telling sign that Andy Reid’s tenure in Philadelphia was over,  leading Jeff Lurie toward a new chapter in Eagles history.

On the other hand, there were many voices of displeasure all around the national media when approached with the topic of Andy Reid being replaced.  Many feel we will not find a coach to duplicate Andy’s so-called success, or think we are acting unjustly towards the team and its deficiencies.  These national pundits either are not looking at the information in the same context as the average eagles’ fan or they are letting their personal feelings for the coach get in their way.  Ever since he took the team over in 1999, Andy has done alot in this city to make Philadelphia a prime landing spot for many players to want to play.  He led the eagles to a 130-93 regular season record, along with a 10-9 playoff record, including one illustrious trip to the Super Bowl in 2004.  Unfortunately, 4 NFC title games ( 3 losses as a Favorite ), and only 1 win does not spell greatness.  Instead its the makings of a very good coach, but a coach who came up short when it counted.

The other problem that plagued the Andy Reid era was the lack of production from the draft.  In the NFL, the draft is the leading source of talent that helps a franchise assemble a plan for a winner.  Therefore, a constant misjudgment in talent evaluation that lead to an abysmal average of 2 out of 7 players a year making a contribution, is not going to help any franchise go in the right direction.

This leads us to the new year ahead that has the excitement building around the streets.  There is a new breath of life in the air knowing there will be a new philosophy to look forward to, along with new schemes, and players to learn about.  All of a sudden, the draft has a new found suspense because of the last regime being so predictable.  As you can see, no one ever said Andy Reid will never win again or be successful with his methods on another team.  The feeling was that he has done everything he could do in this city and with this team.  The man laid all his cards out on the table, but just came up short.  Everything in life sometimes becomes stagnate and taken for granted.  This is the point in time where adjustments need to be made in order to preserve what life is left.  Therefore, the eagles made the decision to look for another coach, which herein has brought life back into a fan base that has been on life support for much too long!

Coaching Carousel in the NFL


The ball dropping in Times Square signifies the start to a new year, along with sealing the fate of many NFL Head coaches.  Coaches in the NFL do not have any easy job, but do get paid very handsomely to do it. They need to deal with the every day struggles of the modern day athlete, while trying to please the owner who is writing them their big checks. Every year there are a number of coaches who are released based on the fact that their message has gotten stale or stagnate, for which the owner feels is time for a change. Change is not easy, but sometimes is needed in order to breath new life into an organization that  is on life support or has been on steady decline.

The next part of the decision is the most important one. The one that will make or break your franchise. The one that can take you to the promise land or set your team back another 5 years. Commonly, the argument that arises is, do you go college or not. Every owner is always looking for the next big thing and doesn’t want it to pass them on the way to excellence. The problem is, college rank coaches can be either hit or miss, sometimes they work out and sometime they do not. Most college coaches that have been successful in the NFL have done it on their second stint in the league ( Pete Carrol). Unfortunately, everyone always seems to remember the collapse of Steve Spurrier, and seems they don’t want to be next.

The NFL is an always evolving league, that demands some risk taking in order to be successful. Sometimes these risks, culminated with a few bad breaks can turn a franchise in to misery, but they also can work to turn things into dynasties. Therefore, the decision to make a coaching change in the NFL is definitely a tough one, but the decision to bring in a green, inexperienced college coach could be even tougher!

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