Whisker Wednesday

March 2, 2011

And on Whisker Wednesday, MikeVick said: “Of course I’ll sign for one-year, $16 million!” On to the Whiskers…

The Devil Backtracks, Sticks Other Hoof in Mouth
Last Thursday – as part of his annual media tour – Eagles’ Executive Spin Man Team President Joe Banner The Devil made an appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli show to offer his views on the current state of the team, Andy Reid’s future and to clear up his Eagles-better-than-Steelers faux pas.

It’s certainly worth a listen – though I’ll warn you, the contents of this interview may cause irritation and screaming – particularly for Banner’s take on how the team has “drastically changed” in the past two offseasons.  We’ll get to that in a second.

First, let’s give The Devil credit for wiggling his way out of his Eagles-Steelers statement(*), as only The Devil could. The blame can’t be laid on him, but the constantly-undermining local media, who purposefully isolate Banner’s sound bites to make him come off like a complete arrogant jerk. Sure. It has nothing to do with the fact that he thinks he’s smarter than the entire Eagles fan base or knows that no matter what he says, the seats will be filled. It’s always somebody else’s fault, not his… maybe that’s where Donovon got it from? 

(*)As you may recall… Banner tried to assert that the six-time Super Bowl champion Steelers, who have appeared in three of the last six Super Bowls and won two of them, really aren’t any more successful than the Eagles on balance, because they haven’t made the playoffs nine of the last 11 years, or been to five conference championship games in the last decade, the way the Eagles have.

Banner is basically saying that nothing he says can be taken at face value, because the media has manipulated it to make him look bad. He reinforces this by making the same statement before every answer he gives Missanelli: “I know this will clip will get isolated and taken out of context, but…”

Could he be more neurotic?! And he has the nerve to tell us he doesn’t care what we think of him?! Clearly we’re taking that out of context too, right Joe?

But I digress… as that isn’t the most infuriating statement Banner makes in the interview. Not by a long shot.

The conversation naturally traveled to another “publicly misconstrued” comment The Devil once famously made, following the Eagles loss to the Cardinals in the 2008 NFC Championship game: “The definition of ‘Insanity’ is doing the same thing over.” Again, Banner tried to claim that what he actually said was something entirely different(**), but then went on to say the team had made drastic changes since that. Mikey Miss grilled him on those changes, and Banner went on to describe the decisions made to change every facet of the team, aside from the Head Coach.

(**)Bullshit! That’s just another instance of The Devil thinking Eagles fans are gullible.

This is where The Devil’s true colors come out, as he claims that each and every move – from player personnel to position coaches – was a meticulously thought-out, calculated decision. So the Eagles planned on Jim Johnson developing Melanoma, taking a leave-of-absence and dying suddenly? The front office planned on getting stuck with Vick, after vigorously shopping him for the entire 2009 offseason? And that would mean that The Devil, The Walrus and Howie calculated Kevin Kolb getting hurt in the first game of the 2010 season and Vick turning into the weapon he became, right?

Guess what, Joe? Eagles fans aren’t stupid. In fact, we’re intelligent enough to know a rat when we see one. You sir, are a rat. We’ll keep feeding you money – and maybe that does make us dumb – but we will never give you respect. Nor will we ever believe a word you say… whether the media is taking those words out of context or not.

An Quick Update on Lurie’s Oscar-Before-Vince Transgression
Philadelphia Daily News’ Dan Gross, aka @PhillyGossip, had this piece in today’s column, about the Lurie’s snub at the Oscars:

“Charles Ferguson shouldn’t count on Christina and Jeff Lurie to fund his next documentary.

The director of Inside Job, which won best documentary at Sunday’s Oscars, failed to thank the couple, who were executive producers of the film about corporate malfeasance and the 2008 Wall Street collapse, in his on-stage acceptance speech.

After thanking 12 other people, he did thank the couple backstage on Oscar.com’s ‘Thank You Cam,’ but only after being prompted by producer Audrey Marrs.

Christina Lurie ‘felt like she was slapped in the face,’ wrote Metro‘s Laura Goldman yesterday, quoting a friend of Lurie’s.”

Sorry Christina, but you’re not the only one who felt like they were slapped in the face… just ask any Eagles fan how it feels to see Lurie bring home an Oscar before a Vince Lombardi trophy.

And One More Note on Lurie’s Award…
Many film critics and movie nerds are bashing Inside Job for winning the Academy Award period – regardless of the films’ Executive Producers – claiming it isn’t finished… and rightfully so.

How do you make a movie documenting an international financial crisis, when that same international financial crisis is still ongoing? Much like the events and crisis that the film depicts, Inside Job is essentially a movie with no ending.

But that’s another post, for another blog.

NOT-SO BREAKING NEWS: The Devil Speaks, Puts Hoof In Mouth

February 17, 2011

Wow! Just… WOW!

Joe Banner The Devil continued his annual visit from the depths of Hell and boy, did he not disappoint… even taking calls from fans (though I’m sure screened) on 610 WIP with that weasel Burger King host of theirs(*). His rhetoric was the same as usual and, in typical Banner-fashion, he unleashed a sound bite that does nothing but insult the intelligence of Eagles fans.

(*)Full Disclosure: I LOATHE that rat-fink, phony, closet-Cowgirls fan Eskin. Even his beard couldn’t sway me…

Via Les Bowen’s recap of the interview on Philly.com (I’ll spare you having to listen to that infuriating piece of radio):

In perhaps his toughest rhetorical challenge, Banner tried to assert that the six-time Super Bowl champion Steelers, who have appeared in three of the last six Super Bowls and won two of them, really aren’t any more successful than the Eagles on balance, because they haven’t made the playoffs nine of the last 11 years, or been to five conference championship games in the last decade, the way the Eagles have.

What the fuck?!!?!

I still haven’t been able to peel my jaw off of the floor after reading that…. Read it again. Doesn’t it infuriate you? Doesn’t a statement like that give you the impression that Joe Banner The Devil thinks Eagles fans are morons? Guess what Joey, we weren’t born yesterday.

If anything, that statement proves a point I’ve been trying to make since Banner ascended from his role as “Cap Specialist” to a position of real power in the organization: This guy doesn’t know one thing about football. Not one.

The Billionaire was a casual football fan who happened to have enough money(**) to buy a football team and – rather than hire a real “football guy” – put his best friend, Banner, into a position to be making actual personnel decisions. It was one thing to negotiate contracts and manage the cap, but to actually be making football decisions? And even worse, The Devil spawned off his little Beelzebub-sidekick, Howie, who has even less experience, yet somehow more power than Banner did when he first started. This isn’t a Front Office… it’s an Alpha Epsilon Pi clubhouse.

(**)Though I’m saying that in the loosest of terms.

How can any reasonably intelligent person with at least some knowledge of football say that? It’s literally insane. Right?

Well, as I mentioned yesterday in Whisker Wednesday, you must read between the lines with The Devil, and between those lines (as usual with Banner) is money.

Via Forbes’ annual NFL Team Evaluations (as of August 2010): The Eagles are worth $1.119 Billion (7th overall). The Steelers are worth $996 Million (17th overall). The Eagles total revenue for the 2009 season was $260 Million (5th overall). The Steelers total revenue for the 2009 season was $243 Million (14th overall). The Eagles Operating Income (the money The Billionaire pocketed) for the 2009 season was $34.7 Million (13th). The Steelers Operating Income for the 2009 season was $17.9 Million (24th overall).

So, yes, by The Devil’s logic the Eagles are more successful than the Steelers. But, in the real world, where you and I – the people who live and die with every snap, who bleed Eagles green, who PAY MONEY (and sometimes more than they should) to support the team they love as much as family – live and have to take crap from other teams fans for the comments our inconsiderate team president made on a shitty sports talk radio show, Super Bowl wins matter. Not money. Just rings. And we still have none.

We just have The Gold Standard… 2.0!

Whisker Wednesday

February 16, 2011

Welcome to another edition of Whisker Wednesday, where we take a look at what’s happening this week in the world of our beloved Eagles and how that correlates to Andy Reid’s job status. What was looking to be a slow Eagles-news week surely picked up yesterday, as the team (unsurprisingly) Franchise tagged Michael Vick and (very surprisingly) Transition tagged David Akers. But the real news came when team president (and dark lord) Joe Banner The Devil met with the media to discuss the State of the Eagles.

  • Banner Talks Championships, Eagles Fans Collectively Roll Their Eyes
    The Devil met with members of the media yesterday to talk about the current state of the Birds, but the main conversation revolved around a certain Walrus-like Head Coach, his future and how the ultimate is goal is to win a championship (Duh!).On The Walrus, The Devil used a few choice words describing his standing with the Eagles Front Office:

    “We think that the quality of leadership is a crucial, crucial part of evaluating head coaches, and if you look at the ones that have been really successful, they’re all tremendous leaders. So you can sit there and critique: Did we take the right timeout, or this or that? Andy’s leadership skills and his ability, year after year, to rally players to play hard, play together, play selflessly – which is such a difficult challenge of leadership in any professional sport – we put a lot of value on those skills.

    And, at the same time, we’re here to win a championship. That needs to be part of the equation, too.”

    Read those tea leaves!

    Rich Hoffman, Daily News Sports Columnist, pontificates that Banner deliberately left the interpretation open for a reason, as he asks the question: Banner sounds as if he backs Reid, but does he, really? Hoffman concludes that Reid is, indeed, on the clock (and Fire The Walrus Nation cheers!)

  • A couple of other pieces of note from The Devil…
    Banner pointed out that the Eagles are just one of three teams to make the playoffs in the last three years. While that is true, let’s not forget that the last two years were one-and-done postseason appearances… including a total dismantling by the rival Cowgirls. And lest we forget that the team held its destiny in its hands with the opportunity to secure a possible Playoff bye, but choked it away to a team that had no Quarterback and no business winning.The Devil also noted that with a lack of a new collective bargaining agreement, it will be unlikely that the team will be able to trade former-future Quarterback Kevin Kolb. This isn’t the first time this has come up, but it really is a shame.

    Let’s assume that the Eagles could get a second round pick for Kolb – with precedence from the A.J. Feeley and Donovon McNabb trades. In a year where the team really needs to strike gold defensively in the draft – coupled with the fact that there will likely not be a real Free Agent period – extra picks are absolutely invaluable. The draft is integral for the Eagles to rebuild an abysmal defensive unit and – particularly with Reid’s drafting history – the team needs every pick they can get. Eventually trading Kolb for a pick in 2012 does absolutely nothing to help the Eagles in 2011… So, once again, the team is hampered its Quarterback situation(*).

    (*)So to sum up… Trading out of the first round of the 2007 Draft to take Kolb resulted in: the Division rival Cowgirls getting Defensive End/Linebacker Anthony Spencer (who has come back to bite the Eagles on the ass numerous times); a waste of a pick that could have helped the Eagles in the 2007 and 2008 seasons (at least); the alienation and eventual trading of Donovon McNabb (though not necessarily a bad thing); an entire Offseason devoted to Kevin Kolb’s coronation as new starting Quarterback, only to be marginalized by having Michael Vick on the field for the first play of the season; no Quarterback competition during aforementioned Offseason, which could have led to Vick taking the starting job from the jump (possibly leading to the Eagles winning the opening game to the Packers, therefore affording them enough wins for a Playoff bye); the second straight Offseason of uncertainty, as to how/when the Eagles unload an overpaid Quarterback. Thanks again, Andy!

  • Hunt-ing for some Defensive help
    Comcast SportsNet’s resident football authority, Ray Didinger, makes a great argument for Jim Washburn getting the most out of newly-signed Defensive End Phillip Hunt.Hunt, of course, spent the last two seasons in the CFL (yes, Canada), after going undrafted and getting cut by the Cleveland Browns, and led the league with 16 sacks in 2010. The Eagles are taking another page from the Miami Dolphins playbook – remember that newfangled Wildcat! – trying to copy Miami’s success with former-CFLer (and Penn Stater), Cameron Wake. Like Hunt, Wake spent two seasons in Canada terrorizing opposing Quarterbacks – racking up 39 sacks in just two years. In 2010, Wake finished third in the NFL with 14 sacks.

    Didinger also points to Washburn’s work with Jason Babin – transforming him from an Eagles castoff to a 12.5 sack Pro Bowler – as a reason to expect (at least something) out of Hunt. At the very least, it will be an interesting experiment to watch, as there is little risk/high reward with taking a chance on a guy like Hunt.

    Here’s hoping the experience in the Great White North (and with Washburn) inspires Hunt to great, Quarterback-crushing heights.

More Whisker Wednesday coming later today – including everyone’s favorite, the Whisker Wednesday Poll!

Got a suggestion for today’s poll? Send ‘em to firethewalrus@gmail.com!

The Curious Case of Michael Vick… Or, How I Learned to Admit I Was Wrong and Love the Quarterback

January 20, 2011

On July 6, 2010 I wrote the following (presented unchanged):

For the record, I was never a fan of adding the (once) phenomenal athlete to the team – and, unlike many people, my displeasure had nothing to do with the fact that he killed dogs(**). I’m not really sure what people ever saw in him besides his speed and agility, but “Earth to football executives…” he is NOT AN NFL QUARTERBACK!

**Though as a dog lover, I can’t say that didn’t play some role.

Has anyone ever seen Vick throw a legitimate pass under 60 yards? No, because he couldn’t execute a proper screen pass, cross pattern or out route to save his life. And he’s a left-handed quarterback to boot, which gives him an automatic handicap(***). I get that he has a cannon for an arm and can throw a tight spiral the length of the field, but how the hell is that supposed to work in Andy Reid’s dink-and-dunk west coast offense?

***Can anyone name the top-five left-handed quarterbacks in NFL history? Number one is obviously Steve Young – the model for all left-handed football players (and I would have called him the “gold standard,” but Jeffrey Lurie and Joe Satan Banner have forever tarnished the meaning of the word). But then it goes Kenny Stabler, Boomer Esiason and Mark Brunell. Number five? Detroit Lions great Scott Mitchell. That’s how pathetic the list of southpaw QBs is, and the number one reason why you should NEVER trust a left-handed passer (sorry to break it to you Arizona fans, but Matt Leinart ain’t the answer).

Wow, how’d that turn out? I’ll be the first to admit that I was horrifically wrong – except for the Matt Leinart/left-handed QB part – but I absolutely stand by the first paragraph. That was 100 percent my opinion on Michael Vick prior to Kevin Kolb’s brain being shaken violently by Clay Matthews, Jr. in week one of the 2010 NFL season.

And honestly – unless you were an out-and-out Vick fan and apologist for his entire career, claiming he was Superman – you probably thought something along the same lines. He was a glorified running back with an inaccurate cannon of an arm.

Then he came to the Eagles.

The Walrus gets very-little-to-no credit for Vick becoming the ultimate weapon he eventually became this season. Coaching-up Quarterbacks is one of Andy Reid’s that I truly appreciate, but let’s get one thing straight: He had no idea what Vick was(*).

(*)Copyright Mike Missanelli.

The Walrus convinced The Billionaire and The Devil to “take a chance” on Vick when nobody else would – partly because of the issues with his sons, but mostly do to the fact that Reid thought he could get a second round pick for him if he showcased him enough in the Wildcat. Add to that the insane amount of publicity and attention they received “rescuing” the polarizing, social-pariah Vick, and The Devil and Lurie were all-in.

They continued the charade by paying him a roster bonus of $1.5 million, guaranteeing his $5.25 million base salary, which they figured wouldn’t matter because they’d be dumping him, and, according to many sources, particularly ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, tried relentlessly to do. But they failed, and were on the hook for that money whether they released him or not – and we know how the Eagles feel about wasting money. And, if you recall correctly, they didn’t even give him a chance to compete for the starting Quarterback spot. He won it by default, when Kolb got concussed and Vick played like Vick.

Sure, you could argue that Reid and his coaching staff did wonders with Vick, turning him into the dynamic force he became this season. But how come they didn’t recognize that in the mini-camps or Training Camp? How come he was still being regulated to that Wildcat bullshit on the first two drives of the season? Because The Walrus thought he had re-invented football? Actually, yes. They had no idea what they had with Vick until Week 3, when he had a coming-out-party against the Jaguars, throwing for 291 yards and three touchdowns (119.2 QB rating), running for another TD and no turnovers.

Mike Vick finally proved why he was taken 1st overall in the 2001 NFL Draft. His upside was something nobody had ever seen done on a football field, and he didn’t reach it in Atlanta. It took a total shakeup of his life – from his occupation and freedom, to his financial and social status, to his friends and loved ones, even down to his core beliefs and world-view – and then his subsequent devotion to change, be great and, ultimately, redeem himself – for Vick to finally reach his true potential. It’s been said a million times before, but it’s true… Hollywood couldn’t write that story.

He was phenomenal this season. In five games he had more comebacks than McNabb has had in his career:

  • Week 9 vs. Indianapolis Colts – Down 17-16 in the third, won 26-24
  • Week 11 vs. New York Giants – Down 17-16 in the fourth; won 27-17
  • Week 13 vs. Houston Texans – Down 24-20 in the fourth; won 34-24
  • Week 14 vs. Dallas Cowgirls – Down 20-17 in the fourth; won 30-27

And of course, the legendary…

  • Week 15 vs. New York Giants – Down 31-10 with 8:12 left; won 38-31

Vick almost pulled two other comebacks: In Chicago (Week 12), the Eagles trailed 31-13 in the fourth, before Vick willed them back to within five, but they simply ran out of time(**).  And you know what happened in the Playoffs against Green Bay.

(**)Of course, had the equipment manager given the players the proper cleats before the game stared, maybe they could have won the game in the first half.

What Vick said after the game really stuck with me: “I made a mistake, but I went down swinging.” I love that attitude. I’ve wanted to hear an Eagles Quarterback say that for so long I can’t remember. What a completely different feeling those words give you, as opposed to “I’m the captain of this ship. I need to do better” and “Some players showed their youth.”

Vick is a warrior. If you listened to Mike Missanelli’s interview with Vick yesterday on 97.5 The Fanatic, you heard Vick and Missanelli discuss how that attitude is a product of where he grew up, and was also embodied by another Virginia-native, Philadelphia-legend – and one of my all-time favorite athletes – Allen Iverson. Iverson epitomized the “Warrior” spirit that Vick exudes and their play, respectively, proves it: Reckless, selfless abandon; immense heart and pride; extraordinary athleticism; and absolutely no ability to play at less than one hundred-percent effort.

That’s the type of player that Philadelphia idolizes. That’s the type of player that this Eagles team desperately needs (considering he was worth at least two wins alone). That’s the type of player – and person – that I love.

I was wrong about Michael Vick. But I’m certainly happy to admit it.

Welcome to Fire the Walrus

January 10, 2011

Welcome to Fire the Walrus, where we spout off on Andy Reid (The Walrus), Joe Banner (The Devil), Jeff Lurie (The Billionaire) and the rest of the Philadelphia Eagles front office clusterfuck.

This is a place for Eagles fans – sick and tired and fed up with the living hell of a Groundhog Day that is the current Eagles regime – to air their grievances with Andy and the rest of the schmucks running our beloved Birds.

This is our offseason of discontent. The Billionaire, the Devil and the Walrus have hijacked our football seasons for long enough. We will not stand for it anymore.

Now obviously The Billionaire refuses to part ways with his best friend The Devil and their good buddy The Walrus – because, God forbid they take a tiny step back for a season or two and make $32 million instead of $35 million – but we can at least dream… And bash the hell out of them on the interwebs.

So welcome, enjoy, vent your frustration and share your misery with other Eagles die-hards. Lots to come, as there’s never enough Andy Reid hatred to go around. And as always, Go Birds!

Fire the Walrus