The Evster: So We’re Really Goin’ with Riley Cooper as our #2 WR, Huh?

The Evster: So We’re Really Goin’ with Riley Cooper as our #2 WR, Huh?

So what you’re telling me is that the Philadelphia Eagles – the organization who once employed Jerome Brown – is starting Riley Cooper at wide receiver. Riley Cooper. The 5th round draft pick and extremely mediocre wide receiver who also happens to have a really shafty haircut (and tends to be somewhat of a racist). That Riley Cooper. I just want us to all understand what’s going on here, because the season starts Monday. This Monday. And yet, as of now, Riley Cooper, yep, Riley Cooper, the same Riley Cooper I was just referring to -- a guy who has 46 catches in 3 NFL seasons and heckles concert security guards by calling them the N word -- is one of our starting wide receivers. Just so we’re all on the same page here. This is actually happening.

But for now, let’s forget about the fact that Riley Cooper used racial slurs at a Kenny Chesney concert and simply focus on the fact that he WENT to a Kenny Chesney concert. Because in order to do so, a few things must have taken place, it’s not like you’re just walking down the street one day and suddenly stumble into a Kenny Chesney concert. This was a premeditated event, something Riley actually wanted to do. Riley must’ve heard that Kenny Chesney was coming to town, taken interest in getting tickets to the show, found a way to get tickets (either through purchasing them himself or receiving freebies like athletes often do), then, on the night of the show, he still had to say to himself, “Yeah, this is a good idea. I’m gonna go check this Chesney guy out. I like Kenny Chesney,” then put on clothes for the concert, find a way to get himself to Lincoln Financial Field, enjoy the concert so much that he wanted to go BACKSTAGE to possibly meet Mr. Chesney and join in on the Chesney festivities, and then finally call that black dude the N word and end up as the Eagles most (publicly) racist wide receiver ever. I don’t know about you, but that’s not really the type of starting wide receiver I want on my football team. Granted, our other starting wideout (WHO I LOVE) is a bit of clown who made a rap video this offseason with Snoop Lion (WHICH IS AWESOME), but I’ll take that over a racist, country music fan with Goldilocks hair any day.

Then there’s the whole part about Riley Cooper sucking at football. In Riley’s 3-year NFL career, his most famous play has been when he LAID DOWN ON HIS BELLY on a kickoff return. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t really remember AJ Green or Roddy White ever practicing tummy time during any point of their NFL careers. Even if Riley showed great promise, was a late bloomer and had potential to break out like many unknown wide receivers tend to do, wouldn’t he have shown SOME of those signs throughout the last few years? Or preseason games? Or ever? And would an Eagles starting cornerback take a swing at a guy in practice just days before the season opener if he thought his teammate was worth anything to the squad? That might not be a good question, because Cary Williams seems like a total lunatic, but still, why would anyone want to go through life with such a stupid haircut?!?!

But he’s a starter! A starter for our favorite professional football team. So this year, the Eagles will have a dog-killing quarterback (WHO I ALSO LOVE) throwing touchdowns to a redneck idiot. Seems like a double standard, I know, that we can love Vick but still hate Riley, but Michael Vick is GOOD and Riley Cooper is BAD. (Err, I guess you could argue that Michael Vick sucks too, but at least he’s fun to watch, while Cooper is embarrassing to look at, especially when he takes off his helmet and shakes his long locks like my 13-year-old cousin, Leah.) Vick can throw a football through a linebacker’s face or leap over a whole guy at any moment, so we support him. And yes, that’s probably unfair to Riley, but this is THE GRIDIRON, and at every level from Pop Warner to high school to the THA ARENA BOWL, the best players have always received special treatment. This is nothing new. The bottom line is that Michael Vick has a rocket arm and jackrabbit legs and that Riley Cooper has a dumb name and a dumb face.

(Plus, for all intents and purposes, Vick has been a pretty good guy since he got to town. His teammates love him, he has done charity work in the community (The Vick Foundation recently donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a new football field in Fairmount Park) and as far as I know, he has not killed one single dog since he’s been here.)

All right, I could go on and on about Riley sucking and being a racist and doing commercials for Vidal Sassoon, but at some point you have to stop complaining and start asking, “What can the Eagles do about it?”

Well I feel like they could still do a few things:

1. They could cut Riley and start Jason Avant at WR2, Demaris Johnson at WR3, Vince Papale at WR4 and my Aunt Maxine at WR5. I guess that’s probably not the best plan, but with the number of tight ends on this roster, it just might work, and my Aunt Maxine is a WARRIOR who smokes A LOT of cigarettes.

2. Find someone else. I know, I know, I know, how could a new receiver possibly learn Chip Kelly’s before Monday Night? (And to make things even more difficult, the game has an early start time.) But after the latest round of NFL cuts, there are some decent dudes out there: Robert Meachem, Mohamed Massequoi, CHAD HALL, some dude I saw walking down the street the other day in a Michael Crabtree jersey … now, I understand that these guys got cut for a reason, they probably suck too, but I’d rather have them on the squad than a racist, no-talent butthead who wanted to go backstage to meet Kenny Chezzy Chezz.

3. They could just get rid of him and figure it out.


But who cares what I think? I’m just a fan, just like you, and we have no say regarding what the Eagles do with their roster. So what can we really do? I guess we could boo Riley every time he runs out on the field, gets targeted, drops a pass, scores a touchdown, takes off his helmet and whips his hair in the breeze, anything to tell the organization that we don’t approve of their personnel decisions or Riley’s lousy play. Unfortunately, many Eagles fans tend to be degenerate racists, so I can’t imagine anyone actually going for that.

Personally, I hope the guy breaks his leg week 1. That’s not true, I don’t really wish that, but I hope something happens to prevent him from playing for our team. But I doubt anything will. Riley’s here, he’s in the starting lineup and we’re just gonna have to suck it up.

So when Vick (or Foles or Barkley or David Duke) throws up a fade to Riley in the end zone and he comes down with it and that stupid fight song starts playing and the guy next to you holds up both palms for a double high five, I guess we’ll just have to take a deep breath and go along with it. Maybe deep down we can celebrate Vick and the state of Virginia’s rehabilitation program. Or maybe we'll be reminded that football is the ultimate team game and it’s not necessarily Riley’s touchdown, but one shared by everyone on the roster. Or maybe we can just log onto Twitter to see that stripper who takes off her clothes every time the Eagles score.

Seriously, @AnnaPHCPhilly. Check her out. She’s a dancer at Cheerleaders and takes an article of clothing off every time the Birds score. It’s called “Pics for Points” and it’s honestly amazing / really, really, really weird and I CANNOT WAIT for our first score.

Seriously, I will compromise everything I’m about for one picture of a woman’s bare butt.

Follow the Evster @TVMWW.

Embiid Liives: Sixers lose opener but Process secured

Embiid Liives: Sixers lose opener but Process secured


852 days after Joel Embiid was drafted -- a number becoming as familiar to Sixer fans as any Cubs fan could tell you how many years it's been since their last World Series -- he actually played in a regular season game for the Philadelphia 76ers. He lives. He exists. He has a Basketball-Reference stat line. It looks like this: 

The feeling of triumph was tangible at the not-Wells Fargo Center well before it became clear that the Sixers might actually have a shot at beating the Oklahoma City Thunder last night. Embiid's every move was treated with breathless anticipation and rapturous cheering, as well it should have been. Even Dario Saric got his name chanted at him in the first quarter, during his very first regular-season trip to the free-throw line. It was less a basketball game than a Bar Mitzvah, celebrating that these two guys we'd waited a combined four years for were at last becoming full-grown Sixers before our very eyes. It couldn't have mattered much less whether or not we won the game. 

That said, hey, we almost won the game! The Sixers led most of the way, including by six fairly deep into the fourth quarter. If not for the Internet-pandering greatness of Russell Westbrook -- 32-12-9 on good shooting, including a handful of tough pull-ups to make the difference late -- the Sixers might've won their first home opener since Process Genesis three years ago. It didn't happen, and a couple highly flustered 76ers possessions late in this one would probably make this loss pretty frustrating if it happened in February, which it probably still will. Last night? W/e. Let's watch those Embiid highlights again. 

And oh, were they high. It was a night that I imagine will soon become typical for our Jojo: He didn't have a great game, and he was still amazing. 6-16 from the floor with four turnovers and 0 assists is hardly the most efficient night Joel will have for us; a couple times he tried to do way too much in the half-court, and it would've been embarrassing if how much fun he was having even in his screw-ups wasn't so inspiring. He didn't know what spots to run to in transition, he was a non-factor on the boards late, and he probably needs to cool it with his coast-to-coast experiments for a little bit. (Actually, what am I saying? Do You forever, Joel, just watch for those tiny dudes sneaking into your blind spot.) 

But he did get to the line for eight FTs (including two on a rip-through move that most ten-year pros can't successfully execute) and made seven of 'em, he did grab nearly every rebound in sight in the first quarter (even though he only ended with seven for the game), he did get an early swat on Russ (and deterred countless other shots), and yes, he did hit his first-ever three-pointer (and even sent the not-WFC crowd into a frenzy with a couple he missed). Even on an off night, where Thunder big men Enes Kanter and Steven Adams — who my mother now hates — got the best of him on multiple occasions, and he radiated a total lack of NBA experience, he still scored 20 points in 22 minutes and kept us in a game we had no right being anywhere near. He is going to be DOMINANT. And soon. So soon.

Technically there were also ten other Sixers who took the court for us last night, so it's probably worth humoring a couple of their contributions as well. For all the shit that I gave him about cruising through the preseason, I thought Robert Covington was awesome last night — super-active on defense, making good decisions on offense, and hitting a couple huge three-pointers. Jerami Grant was similarly impressive, causing his typical chaos under the basket on both ends and even hitting a couple jumpers; probably shouldn't get super-used to that. And even though Gerald Henderson's night was most memorable for him bricking a three and coughing up the ball in critical late possessions, he also set the evening off with a gorgeous alley-oop slam, and played tough perimeter defense — the kind we just haven't had available to unleash on opposing point guards the last few years — on Westbrook, even if he was ultimately undone by Russ's sorcery.

Special kudos to a couple of our backcourt guys, though: In his first regular-season start for the 76ers — and his first regular-season start for any NBA team in seven seasons — Sergio Rodriguez was exactly what we needed: He attracted the Thunder trap but was able to easily navigate out of it, getting good looks and driving lanes for our perimeter guys, and he hit open shots when passed out to himself. He finished with 12 points, nine assists, and no turnovers, just what we'd hope for from our imported point guard. And Nik Stauskas packed a little extra heat for the bloggers who called for his dismissal all summer (as well as some of the fans that booed him — booed him! — last night), attacking the basket like his roster spot depended on it, finishing with an eye-catching 13 on 5-6 shooting. (I never stopped believing in you, Sauce.) (Well, maybe I sorta did, but at least I was rooting for you to make the team, if partly for selfish reasons.) 

On the other hand, it was something of a rough night for Dario Saric. He did fight for seven rebounds, and should laudable toughness on both sides of the ball, but the looks just weren't falling for Our Friend Dario last night — just 2-12, and some of the misses were brutal — and he was late on a couple rotations that led to open Thunder jumpers (Thumpers?) early. And despite showing his advanced touch early with three consecutive scores, Jahlil Okafor ran out of gas pretty quickly in this one, ending with just eight points on 4-10 shooting (with three TOs), and stood virtually no chance against the Thunder on the boards and in the pick-and-roll. Better nights to come for both. 

In the end, though, only one thing really mattered for the Sixers and the 20,000 fans — about 10,000 of them clad in Sixers jerseys, and mostly non-Iverson ones! — at the Center last night, and that's Joel Embiid, our beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy, officially becoming a player of record in the NBA. When a full stadium of Philly Phaithful chants "TRUST-THE-PRO-CESS!" while JoJo cackles from the free-throw line line, it means Our Once and Always Dark Lord's work is finally done. Hinkie died for our sins. Embiid is risen. 

Look at how much fun this season is already, with Simmons still in street clothes and Nerlens still Netflix-binging in Alabama with his phone in the other room. What's left to trust, anyway?

Despite shooting struggles, Dario Saric impressive in Sixers' regular-season debut

Despite shooting struggles, Dario Saric impressive in Sixers' regular-season debut

After two years filled with will he or won't he speculation over joining the Sixers, this certainly wasn't the effort Dario Saric had envisioned for his NBA regular-season debut. 

"I felt comfortable, but sometimes it's not your day and this was my bad day," said Saric, who scored five points in the Sixers' 103-97 season-opening loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. "I'll try to watch the video and fix what I can fix and move forward."

The raw numbers look bad. The rookie forward shot 2 of 12 from the field, including 0 of 4 from three-point range. He did notch seven rebounds and two assists, but also contributed two turnovers.

But as you know, numbers don't always tell the story. 

Saric displayed the offensive versatility and headiness on defense that had the Sixers salivating over him for two years while he played for Anadolu Efes in Turkey. He was able to penetrate in the lane several times against the Thunder on Wednesday night and used pump/head fakes to get his defender off balance, but the shots just didn't fall.

"He struggled with his shot" Sixers head coach Bett Brown said. "But just the physical play, some of the intellect of guarding things suddenly that we all might not pay attention to that coaches do. You see him go out of his way to make a rotation, that he just felt the game. I think that some of his pick-and-roll reads on trying to hit cutters, trying to slow up rollers and still go back to shooters like (Ersan) Ilyasova is, stood out to me.

"He's intelligent. He is a smart basketball player. The stats will show that he didn't make some of his shots, but I think that just that gamesmanship, that intellect stands out to me." 

The only time Saric looked a tad overmatched is when OKC went to its mustachioed muscle tandem of Steven Adams and Enes Kanter inside. After the game, Brown lamented leaving Saric in for so long against that pairing, which combined for 33 points and 17 rebounds on the night.

Teammate Jahlil Okafor tried to come to Saric's aid in those moments, but returning from a torn meniscus and on a minutes restriction, his plan wasn't exactly met with enthusiasm by the coaching staff.

"I actually kind of hinted to the coaches that I wanted to play with him (Embiid) because they put Kanter and Adams in," Okafor said. "I was kind of hinting to the coaches that if they want to play big ball we can play big ball with them."

Their response?

"Stay disciplined. Have your lawyer call my lawyer," Okafor said with a laugh. "That's the go-to line."

Even with Saric's few hiccups on defense, Okafor is confident the 22-year-old Croatian will be able to hold his own against NBA players and get the buckets to start dropping on the offensive end.

"I love Dario. It's been a pleasure having him around," Okafor said. "He's such a selfless guy.

"He did struggle a little bit with his shot, but all of the shots that he missed are shots that we know he can make and shots that we've seen him make since he's been here. So we're good. We know what he's going to do."