Bye Week Book Review: Bowen's History of the Eagles

Bye Week Book Review: Bowen's History of the Eagles

The folks from MVP Books, a Minnesota-based publisher that is producing a series of NFL team history books, were kind enough to send us a copy of one of their new products, entitled Philadelphia Eagles: The Complete Illustrated History. Written by our man Les Bowen from the Daily News, the title also works as a succinct description -- no need to explain what you should expect to find between the covers.

But the question is whether or not it's worth the money for the diehards who were likely raised on anecdotes about the club's glory days, not to mention have lived through quite a bit of what we now call "history" ourselves. You may even already own a similar product, so what could possibly be so different inside this one? After 192 pages, the answer is you might be surprised.

The very first thing that caught my eye about this book was how vibrant everything was. The glossy paper makes color photos seemingly leap right off the pages, while the old black-and-whites are as vivid as you will ever see. I was really impressed by the quality of many of the pictures that were used from the 30's and 40's.

It's not just photos though. The pages are littered with depictions of memorabilia, including vintage gameday programs going all the way back to the team's first days, trading cards, pennants, patches, pins, ticket stubs, and even comics depicting larger than life stars like Steve Van Buren. The "illustrated" portion of this product alone makes this unique to other printed histories of the Birds.

Of course, it's the story of the franchise as told by Les Bowen. If you're a truly devoted fan, you're no doubt at least familiar with the team's rich tradition.

Bowen delivers a faithful retelling, walking the reader through each decade's important games and milestones, the characters who shaped the team and their backgrounds, and the experiences that defined the respective time periods. He often expertly draws on old quotes from players, coaches, and reporters to give definition to his accounts of the events.

And needless to say, there's a hint of that Bowen snark in there as well.

Every several pages, the main story breaks off, replaced by inserts that delve deeper into the lives and roles of Philadelphia's most important footballers. From Bert Bell to Ricky Watters, and Chuck Bednarik to Jim Johnson, the focus briefly shifts to individuals who were either great or otherwise interesting to the story for one reason or another.

Overall, it creates a nice package that, to my knowledge, has not been replicated. The History of the Eagles DVD is fantastic, when you have time to sit down and kill a couple hours. Ray Didinger's Eagles Encyclopedia is overflowing with information and is a fine keepsake too, but it's not exactly a chronological tale, and simply doesn't match the illustrated aspect of this.

It's always easier to write a glowing review when you get something for free, but I can honestly say Eagles fans can be proud to display this on their coffee table or in their memorabilia room. It's the type of item you don't even have to be a football fan to appreciate just how colorful the pages are, and how fascinating the sport's history can be.

If you collect these sorts of things, Philadelphia Eagles: The Complete Illustrated History comes with a high recommendation. Or if you happen to see this sitting out at a buddy's house, do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes flipping through. It's a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

CHESTER, Pa. — On the eve of his comeback after missing nearly 13 months with a left tibia stress fracture and other related injuries, Union midfielder Maurice Edu fractured his left fibula on Saturday, keeping him out for the 2016 playoffs and beyond.

“I was trying to take the shot on goal and my foot got stuck in the turf,” Edu said Sunday, in his blue Union-issued suit and supported by crutches. “My ankle rolled and twisted and it kind of snapped a little bit. I heard it crack, and a lot of pain from there. I got a scan afterward, and there was a break.”

There's no timetable his return.

Edu, 30, has spent over a calendar year fighting various injuries that have kept him out of game action. His trouble began on Sept. 30, 2015, when he played through the U.S. Open Cup final with a partially torn groin and sports hernia. It was during Edu’s recovery from those injuries that he developed a stress fracture.

"A little bit frustration. A lot of frustration, to be honest," he said. "But all I can do now is get back to work, focus on the positives and make sure that my situation isn’t a distraction from the team."

Edu’s teammates were equally devastated by the news. Edu, the Union captain when healthy, is popular and well-respected in the locker room.

"I feel so bad for him," said Alejandro Bedoya, who wore a dedication to Edu under his jersey on Sunday. "He’s one of my good friends, so I was looking forward to playing alongside him. I know how hard he’s worked to get back, and to see him go out like that, it’s heartbreaking. I’m sad for his loss and I hope he stays strong."

Edu, who has been with the Union since 2014, returned to training in July and played three conditioning appearances with the Union’s USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC. He was on the bench for the Union’s last three games and was set to make his first appearance in over a year against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, a game the Union eventually lost, 2-0 (see game story).

"We’re gutted for Mo," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "He was slated to start today. It’s real upsetting because he’s worked so hard to get back on the field. It’s been a tough 2016 for him, but I know he’ll come back stronger."

While he was visibly shaken by recent injury, Edu is driven to return.

"What happened, happened," Edu said. "I have no control over that. The only thing I do have control over is my next steps from here, how I prepare myself mentally and emotionally and how I continue to support this group."

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

Point guard Joel Embiid? Sixers' big man works on leading break

CAMDEN, N.J. — Toward the end of Sixers practice Monday, Joel Embiid participated in a fast-break drill … by himself.

Embiid brought the ball up the floor in a one-on-none situation against members of the Sixers' coaching staff. 

He's already showed off his three-point shooting skills and now he’s running the break? 

“I’ve always thought I was a point guard,” Embiid joked. “So that’s something that I want to do.”

In all seriousness, Embiid worked on his ball-handling skills during his two-year rehab from foot injuries. It’s not that he wants to become an unconventional point guard, it’s that he is striving to be an all-around threat. Embiid focused on recording his first assist, as an example, during the preseason. 

“I think I’m a complete player,” he said. “I think I can do everything on the court. Doing that shows I think it can help my team, too, in other aspects.” 

With running the break comes attacking the basket in traffic. It could be an anxious moment for a coach to watch a player fresh off two years of foot injuries to drive in a crowd. Sixers head coach Brett Brown said he has to be past the feeling of holding his breath whenever he watches Embiid do so. 

“We are so responsible with how we use him and play him,” Brown said. “It’s like us with children. They go out for the night. You’re nervous, but they go out for the night. He plays basketball for a living, and so he plays. We’ve just got to keep putting him in responsible environments and monitoring his minutes.”

As a point guard, T.J. McConnell appreciates Embiid’s skills, especially given his size. 

“To the people that try to pick him up when he brings the ball up the floor, good luck,” McConnell said. “It’s pretty incredible to see.” 

Robert Covington watched Embiid practice his ball handling during his lengthy recovery. He has seen improvements and likes the dynamic it creates for the team on the break. 

“His handle is really tight and then he’s really strong with it as well,” Covington said. “We’re very comfortable with him pushing the ball.”

That being said, Brown isn’t about to anoint Embiid into a point-center role. He knows Embiid’s desire to be active all over the court, but just as he’s said he doesn’t intend for Embiid to become a go-to three-point shooter, he also wants Embiid to focus on his true position. 

“Joel likes to be a player,” Brown said. “He wants to be a guard. He wants to shoot a three. He wants to be a post player. He wants to play. And we all have seen enough to think he actually can. 

“There are times that he rebounds and leads a break, we want him being aware of get off it, get it to a point guard more than not. I don’t mind him coming down in trail if he’s got daylight, him shooting some. He’s got a wonderful touch and I’ve seen it for two years. 

“... All over the place, I want to grow him. I’m not just going to bucket him up. I still say, like I say to him, 'At the end of the day, you’re a seven-foot-two post player. Post player.'”

Watch Embiid running the floor here: