On Howie Roseman, General Manager of the Philadelphia Eagles

On Howie Roseman, General Manager of the Philadelphia Eagles

“I'm a football coach. I'm not a
general manager. I'm not a salary cap guy. I coach football. I need people that
can go out there and say, 'Hey, this is what you want.' It's going to be a
collaboration. I have no delusions of saying I want all these different titles.
I just want to coach football.”

And with those words spoken by newly installed head coach
Chip Kelly, the hierarchy of the Philadelphia Eagles became crystal clear for
perhaps the first time in over a decade, before executive vice president of
football operations was added to Andy Reid’s title.

Just who was pulling the levers has always been of great
interest to fans. You had Reid, who coached of course, but always claimed to
have final say over all player personnel matters. Until recently there was Joe
Banner, Reid’s boss and keeper of the checkbook, which would seem to denote the
true ultimate decision maker. And there was always a general manager that
mainly served to scout and “run the draft” as it was often put, which is
strange terminology because that last part sounds like a player personnel
matter – anyway, we all know that’s been Howie Roseman for the past three
years.

There was a time when everybody appeared to be working in
concert, but those alliances disintegrated. The day Reid was fired, owner
Jeffrey Lurie absolved Roseman of the largely inadequate draft classes of 2010
and ’11, so obviously there was some change in final say – at least during the
month of April. And Banner departed amid the nonsensical narrative that he lost
a power struggle to Andy.

I describe it as nonsensical because how would Lurie’s
right-hand man of close to 20 years lose a power struggle to a head coach that was
on the brink of getting fired? It didn’t make any sense then, and it makes even
less sense now that both of them are gone. Yet given the fact that Banner can’t
pass on a single opportunity to hurl criticisms of the Eagles’ organization
while hiding behind the pseudonyms of “a league source” or “league executive,”
one can venture a guess that his exit was not on the most pleasant of terms.

It seems if anybody pushed Banner out the door, it was Roseman,
because he is suddenly a general manager cloaked in immense power. Chip doesn’t
have final say. Don Smolenski, the man who assumed Banner’s role as team
president, isn’t even involved in football operations, while Lurie more or less
seems content to rely on people who know better, outside of choosing the head
coach.

We are left to presume that Roseman has the checkbook.
Roseman runs the draft. Roseman signs the free agents. Roseman makes the cuts. Roseman
hands out the extensions. Roseman negotiates the deals. Roseman trades. Roseman
presides over practically any roster decision big or small.

Not bad for a kid who started as an “accountant,” as some
folks chide.

Why am I telling this long-winded tale? Well for one thing, you
might as well get used to the lay of the land for the immediate future, because
Howie isn’t going anywhere for awhile. Roseman has been a part of the Eagles’
organization since 2000. He outlasted Banner, he outlasted Reid, he outlasted
former GM Tom Heckert, he outlasted Brian Dawkins and Donovan McNabb, and where
every last one of them has been discarded and replaced, Roseman keeps on
climbing the ladder. In other words, you can stop asking me when he will get
fired.

Here is the larger point though. I don’t know how to judge Roseman,
because I’m not entirely sure what he did to reach this level. Allegedly he has
one draft to his name, and it’s too early to call it, but 2012’s class doesn’t
look too shabby so far. Most of his wheeling and dealing has sent capable
players such as Asante Samuel and Winston Justice (barely capable in this case,
but I digress) packing in exchange for peanuts, but shipping Kevin Kolb to
Arizona and prying DeMeco Ryans away from Houston look like steals. And not one
of the big-money contracts the Eagles have handed out in recent years will
hamstring the franchise, even if some of the choices look poor in retrospect.

If I absolutely had to give Roseman a grade, I would give
him an incomplete – not because his moves merit that, mostly because I can’t
tell for which moves he was actually in charge. Thankfully someone else can.

“I keep voluminous notes on talent
evaluation on not just who we draft, but who is valued in each draft by each
person that is in the organization that’s working here. I came to the
conclusion that the person that was providing by far the best talent evaluation
in the building was Howie Roseman.”

That’s Lurie a few weeks ago, and he’s either delirious, or
Howie is doing a good job. It may be hard to believe, because he’s the youngest
GM in the NFL at only 37 years old, and has no “football background” – as if
working for the Eagles for over a decade, much of that at the foot of Banner no
less, was completely worthless experience.

Look around. There is no more Banner or Reid. This
organization has been in the process of systematically dissolving every remaining
link to the last great period in franchise history for the past four years,
except Roseman. There must be some reason for that, no?

I can’t pretend to be able to explain why that is. I can
only tell you Howie Roseman is definitely the captain of this ship from this
point on, and he should be evaluated not based on the past few seasons for
which we haven’t a clue as to his level of involvement, but instead for whatever
he does going forward.

That is now that we finally know where everything stands.

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Ken Tribbett's 1st MLS goal helps Union salvage draw vs. Orlando City

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USA Today Images

Ken Tribbett's 1st MLS goal helps Union salvage draw vs. Orlando City

BOX SCORE

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ken Tribbett scored his first career MLS goal in the 75th minute and the Union tied Orlando City 2-2 on Wednesday night.

Tranquillo Barnetta started the scoring in the 52nd minute on the Union's first shot on goal. Chris Pontius outjumped his defender to win a diagonal cross and headed it to the back post for an unmarked Barnetta.

Then the game opened up with three goals in a 7-minute span.

Kevin Molino tied it in the 68th -- one minute after entering as a substitute. Cyle Larin collided with two defenders and the goalkeeper while battling for a long ball and Molino knocked the loose ball into an empty net.

Three minutes later, Larin gave Orlando City a lead on a questionable goal. Kaka played a ball across goal, Larin chested it off the goalkeeper and the Union's Fabinho appeared to clear it off the line.

Tribbett evened it for the Union (5-3-4) when goalkeeper Joe Bendik dove to get a touch on a cross and Tribbett slotted home the rebound.

David Mateos was given a straight red card for Orlando (3-3-6) in the 93rd minute for a studs-up tackle just outside of the box. But Barnetta's free kick sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

Watch: Nerlens Noel dominates the American Ninja Warrior wall

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Watch: Nerlens Noel dominates the American Ninja Warrior wall

The American Ninja Warrior television show is hosting a regional competition on May 26th and 27th at the Richmond Power Plant in Philadelphia.

A Comcast SportsNet camera crew was there on Wednesday to tape a segment for a show next week when they recognized a familiar face in the crowd.

Sixers big man Nerlens Noel was there supporting a friend practicing on the course. Noel also gave the wall a go and it proved no match for his length.

Contestants will compete on Thursday and Friday in Philly with a chance of qualifying for the finals to be held in Las Vegas.

If you think you've got what it takes, head on over and try to be a walk on talent. You probably won't do any better than Nerlens though.

Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field

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Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — At least Odubel Herrera was honest about it.

“I didn’t expect to hit it that far,” he said with a big grin on his face late Wednesday afternoon.

A couple of hours earlier, Herrera helped key an 8-5 Phillies’ win over the Detroit Tigers with a towering three-run home run into the right-field seats against Anibal Sanchez (see Instant Replay).

Herrera unloaded on the hanging slider and finished with his bat high.

As the bat reached its apex, Herrera didn’t just let it go. He flipped it in the air as if to say, ‘Uh-huh, I crushed that one.’ In the annals of bat flips, it wasn’t quite Jose Bautista quality, but it wasn’t far off. The flip was so dramatic that Herrera admitted after the game that he would not have been surprised if a Tigers pitcher had retaliated and stuck a pitch in his ribs later in the game.

Retribution never came. And Herrera left Detroit with a smile on his face and yet another big day for the Phillies. He is leading the club with a .327 batting average and his .440 on-base percentage is second-best in baseball.

Herrera's big home run helped make a winner out of Aaron Nola and the Phillies on a day when they really needed a win. After all, they had lost four of their previous five and are headed into the den of baseball’s best team, the Chicago Cubs, on Friday.

“For me, it was a must-win,” said manager Pete Mackanin, whose club is 26-21. “We’d lost four of five and I felt like we needed to come out of here with a win.

“The guys battled the whole game. To me it looked like they played like they had to win this game, which was nice to see. It looked like they played knowing we had to win. They were grinding and coming up with hits. Call it what you want, it was just the feeling I got.

“I’m not going to say I’m anxious to see the Cubs; they’re a hell of a team. But I’m hopeful we can take two out of three.”

The Tigers are one of baseball’s best hitting teams.

The Phillies are one of the worst. They entered the day scoring just 3.2 runs per game.

But on this day, the Phillies out-hit the Tigers, 12-10, to salvage one game in the series.

Nola went six innings, allowed four runs, a walk and struck out six. He left with a 7-4 lead. Things got hairy in the seventh, but Hector Neris cleaned up things for David Hernandez, and Jeanmar Gomez registered his majors-leading 17th save.

In between, Peter Bourjos had a couple of big hits, including his first homer of the season. Andres Blanco started at second over Cesar Hernandez and had a couple of big hits, as well. Bourjos and Blanco even hooked up on a double steal with Blanco becoming the first Phillie to swipe home since Chase Utley in 2009. (An off-line throw to second by Tigers catcher James McCann helped.) 

“We have to try things,” Mackanin said. “We can’t bang it out with most teams so we have to try that kind of stuff, take chances.”

The Phillies actually banged it on this day.

Bourjos’ homer in the seventh provided some valuable cushion.

There are no cheap homers in spacious Comerica Park. Bourjos’ homer traveled 401 feet according to ESPN’s play by play.

Though Bourjos claimed he did not see Herrera’s bat flip in fifth inning, he was aware of it. For the record, Bourjos did not flip his bat on his homer. He put his head down and ran.

“I don’t have that kind of swag,” he said with a laugh.

Bat flips make some folks, particularly old-schoolers, uncomfortable. Bautista’s famous bat flip against Texas in the playoffs last season led to simmering tensions all winter and eventually a brawl between the two teams two weeks ago.

Mackanin actually seemed a little uncomfortable talking about Herrera’s flip.

“I did not see it,” Mackanin said. “A lot of players believe that they should be able to celebrate. But I didn’t see it. I wish you never brought it up.”

Herrera explained that he always flips his bat, even when he makes outs. This one had a little extra oomph, he said, because, "I didn’t expect to hit it that far.”

And how far did he hit it?

Well, ESPN’s play by play said it traveled 409 feet. MLB’s Statcast said it went 427.

Either way, that’s a long Uber ride.

Herrera was asked what was more impressive, the flip or the homer?

“Both,” he said with a laugh.

Herrera has become a more demonstrative player in his second year in the league. He’s letting his emotions show. On Monday night, frustration over a poor at-bat got the best of him. He did not run out a ball back to the pitcher and was benched.

On Wednesday, his emotion was more triumphant, hence the bat flip. But sometimes that can make an opponent angry. There were no repercussions Wednesday and probably won’t be because the Tigers and Phillies don’t see each other again this season. But down the road?

“I’m not worried,” Mackanin said.

“It was nothing personal,” Herrera said. “It was natural.”