McNabb Takes the Bait on DeSean Quotes

McNabb Takes the Bait on DeSean Quotes

Donovan McNabb has only been a Washington Redskin since Easter, but it didn't take him long to take the media bait and respond to a loaded question regarding a quote from a former teammate. 

Reacting to comments made by DeSean Jackson to The Sporting News, in which DJacc said he was happy with the decision to trade McNabb, and that he thought the Eagles hadn't lost anything with the change at quarterback, McNabb had this to say:

"It's so wild when people get to talking when you're not there, but when you're there everybody loves you," McNabb said. "So I guess people will go deeper into it than I will. I'm a Redskin, no longer an Eagle. I had 11 great years and I'm moving on with my life, so whoever may say things when I'm gone, more power to them, but it's not making you look like a bigger man." 

Right away, Donovan has gone "deeper into it" than the quote he was responding to. And, I don't agree with ESPN.com's un-bylined statement that he "took the high road." He took, as he did numerous times throughout his 11 years as an Eagle, the sensitive road that leads to more and more media and fan scrutiny. 

The high road, particularly for a veteran who has been been through these tete-a-tetes before, is simply to not respond at all. Something like, "I haven't heard that quote in its context, so I can't reply to it." 

McNabb should know better how the media works when it comes to quotes. Context is rarely fully given, and you can't be sure you're even hearing the quote in its original phrasing when it's presented to you for response. Half the time, you're responding to one person's interpretation of a malapropism. Have you seen this guy's twitter posts?

How his handlers have not managed to better instruct him on the art of sound bite deflection is beyond me. Had Donovan not responded to the Jackson quote at all, most of us would have never even heard it. As it stands, I'm now over-dissecting two sets of quotes that are each pretty harmless on the spectrum of news-producing words from professional athletes. It's already juicing up a slow news Sunday, everywhere from ProFootballTalk to ESPN to fan blogs, and it's only Sunday morning. Just wait 'til local sports talk radio gets going this week. 

McNabb's new teammates may view this kind of press as a motivator in the near term, but as stories out of Eagles camp have started to indicate, his old teammates had grown tired of The Donovan Show. Perhaps that is what Donovan is responding to, if in fact he's heard the whispers, which have gotten surprisingly little press. Because in my admittedly biased opinion, Jackson's quote was pretty harmless. It all depends on how you read into the "happy with the decision" part, which can easily be skewed toward support of Andy Reid and the front office's decision, or 180º the other way, that Jackson wanted McNabb gone, whichever way fits your story angle better. It's ambiguous, and nowhere near the certain slam McNabb thought he was responding to. 

But that doesn't matter for McNabb, and it never has.  

And, as far as the Eagles not losing anything, "even with McNabb being gone," what is Jackson supposed to say? "Oh, Kevin Kolb? Yeah, huge step down. We'll be missing #5 all season and beyond." Sorry that Jackson didn't go out of his way to be more supportive of last year's QB, but he's got a new man under center, and that seems to be what he's most concerned about. Hell, acknowledging that they'll succeed even without McNabb could be seen as a statement that these are big shoes to fill, but he's confident in the team regardless. 

Yes, Jackson could have provided a more innocuous or complimentary quote. But how many times do you think he's been asked about McNabb's departure already? At some point, the headline-producing statement was going to drop, and as far as those go, this was remarkably tame. Had he wanted to rip McNabb, he has had ample opportunity. Of course, Donovan's response only makes it more likely we'll hear more from Jackson, rather than "moving on."

We've been big fans of Donovan McNabb here for a long time. I like to think I still am, although I'm rooting for him to have a down season because he's now a Redskin. That's just how it goes in the NFC East, and it's an unfortunate part of his being traded within the division as opposed to somewhere like Oakland, where we'd be happy to see him make the AFC Pro Bowl roster and be a great story out west. 

I'm a fan of his overall career as an Eagle, though not all of it, and since the trade, it's hard not to look forward to rooting against the side of him that I didn't enjoy when he was an Eagle. 

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

PITTSBURGH – The ice on Friday afternoon at Heinz Field was watery and slushy.
 
That’s because the city set a historic record at 78 degrees for Feb. 24.
 
So what were the ice conditions?
 
“They were pretty good,” said Sidney Crosby. “It was pretty bright there. Started off the practice and the sun was beating down pretty good.
 
“I’ve played in a few of these and the ice was pretty good considering how warm it was. It’s supposed to cool down and I’m sure it will get better.”
 
The Penguins will host the Flyers on Saturday night in a Stadium Series outdoor game.
 
Pittsburgh took the ice Friday at 4 p.m. The Flyers got on the ice a little more than an hour later and things started to cool down.
 
“We had a pretty good practice given the circumstances,” Jakub Voracek said. “This is a little better setup than Philly. The fans are closer.”
 
It was much hotter when Pittsburgh took the ice, but the temperature was still warm after the sun went down.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere said, “It was hot for sure. … It was fun, but it was pretty hot.”
 
Defenseman Radko Gudas said the ice surface was, “playable, but a little rough.”
 
On Saturday, rain is expected, with temperatures falling to 42 degrees by 5 p.m.
 
During the game, which begins at 8 p.m., the temperature is projected to continue to drop and there will be wind gusts up to 31 mph. By the end of the night, the forecast says temps will be in the 20s. 

Players are more concerned about the wind than the ice at this point. Crosby, who has played in three previous NHL outdoor games, said wind is a huge factor. It happened to the Penguins at the 2014 Stadium Series game in Chicago.
 
“It can definitely be a factor,” Crosby said. “I want to say in Chicago that was something we kind of had to look at. We felt it a little more there compared to the other two [outdoor games]. If it going to get windy like that, it’s something to be aware of.”
 
It remains to be seen how the NHL will handle which team goes into the wind first.
 
“Yeah, the wind,” Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet of what element will be a big factor. “I hope you don’t have to backcheck. Who gets the advantage? They change in the third period. But who picks what end? There is a wind factor.”
 
Tocchet rated the ice Friday as “a little slushy.”
 
“It was good early and then it got tough because it was hot outside,” Tocchet said. “But we got a half-decent practice out of it.
 
“The one thing, the puck didn’t bounce, which was good. Players can adapt a lot better when the puck doesn’t bounce. When things bounce, it’s a tough night.”

Brett Brown understands Nerlens Noel trade, caught off guard by Ben Simmons news

Brett Brown understands Nerlens Noel trade, caught off guard by Ben Simmons news

Nerlens Noel was essentially the beginning of The Process.

Acquired in a draft day trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013, he was the last player remaining from when Brett Brown took over as head coach of the Sixers. Drafted No. 6 overall out of Kentucky, Noel missed the entire 2013-14 season recovering from a torn ACL.

That gave Brown the opportunity to work closely with Noel, most notably on his shot.

"Personally, I spent a lot of time with him," Brown said pregame Friday. "To have a whole year where you could help grow his shot. And talk about a total rebuild."

Noel on Thursday was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for a top-18 protected first-round pick, Justin Anderson and Andrew Bogut. The return doesn't seem great, but there are larger factors at play. Noel is slated to become a restricted free agent this summer.

With the emergence of Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor on the roster, the center position was (and still is, frankly) crowded. The chances of the Sixers retaining Noel weren't great. Especially if a team had signed him to an exorbitant offer sheet.

Brown was naturally close to Noel, but understands the business side of the decision.

"I'm happy for him in my heart of hearts," Brown said. "[The Mavericks] have brought him in to grow him to try to be a starting center. That does equal a commensurate paycheck. He will be rewarded if that's the way it plays out.

"That wasn't gonna happen here. It wasn't gonna happen here. And so when you really study salary caps, really study design of teams and really study how to grow a program so you're not caught positionally, it was gonna be hard to allocate that amount of money to a five spot."

Brown got some more tough news when he learned No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons won't play this season. A scan taken Thursday revealed that Simmons' Jones fracture, suffered in early October on the last day of training camp, has not fully healed (see story).

Brown, being the consummate optimist, brought up his experience with Noel in is his rookie season of how a player can still develop despite not getting on the court.

"I'm disappointed for lots of reasons that he isn't going to be able to play," Brown said. "I played text tag with him as he was going to the scan. I felt like when your wife is having a baby, pacing around, wondering, 'What's gonna happen? What's the result of the scan? What's it gonna be? What's it gonna be?' I don't mean to get too dramatic, but there's a level of anxiety that you wonder, 'What is the result gonna say?' And when it came back with the result, it caught me off guard. It really wasn't something personally I was expecting."

Sixers president of basketball operation Bryan Colangelo addressed the media Friday to disclose the news on Simmons. He also explained his thinking behind the Noel trade, which mostly hinged on Noel's impending restricted free-agent status (see story).

Brown was sad to see one of his original developmental projects go, but understood the business side of the decision.                     

"I thought he did a really good job," Brown said of Colangelo's press conference. "That is the truth. So it's connected with emotion and reality that we say goodbye to Nerlens."