Peter Nowak Is Suing the Union...

Peter Nowak Is Suing the Union...

You'd be hard-pressed to find a Philadelphia Union fan who wasn't happy when the first manager of the club, Peter Nowak, was fired in June. Through a series of unpopular trades of popular players who let their frustrations be known on their way out the door alongside a precipitous drop in the club's play, fans booed Nowak when introduced at home games in just the team's third season of existence. Coupled with last-place results on the field and rumors Nowak was shopping himself to a Scottish club, and others of dissent in the locker room, Nowak's firing seemed appropriate and welcome to many of us.

But when lengthy employment contracts are signed by both parties, there's more to "cause" than meets the eye, and it appears a judge will need to decide whether the Union terminated and compensated Nowak according to the points spelled out in his contract. According to documents obtained and shared in summary by Jonathan Tannenwald of Philly.com's The Goalkeeper blog, Nowak is suing the Union's ownership group over the nature of his termination and matters regarding unpaid severance money.

While heavy in legalese, it's an interesting read for Union fans, law hawks, and those who enjoy a good airing of other people's business.

Detailed in the report are the specifics of Nowak's contract, from annual salaries to flight and hotel accommodations and car allowances, the Union's detailed reasons for firing Nowak, as well as the apparent disagreements over the severance arrangement.

After the Nowak firing, the Union moved on quickly and effectively, with former Nowak assistant John Hackworth taking on the interim job, stabilizing a listing ship and immediately getting better results on the field and in public perception. Quickly regaining the confidence of a savvy and vocal fanbase is not something to be underestimated in a league like the MLS, if anywhere. But the Union have a different kind of fight on their hands now, one in which the adage of winning games solving all problems doesn't apply.

We won't attempt to provide legal detail or promote uninformed discussion (any lawyerly readers can feel free to chime in of course), but in our limited understanding, the case is not as simple as it might seem on the surface to us fans (ie, a coach losing control of his team, possibly violating its rules or at least falling short of its expectations, being viewed as a dictator with decreasing efficacy, and being fired). We're used to seeing coaches sacked for less, and we're not accustomed to these firings resulting in lawsuits. But that doesn't get into the legal definitions of "with cause," nor the specific agreements that were in place between manager and club regarding the use of that term and its implications on severance.

I'm told that Nowak's representation, Cliff Haines, is a tough and effective litigator, to say the least. Hopefully a quick settlement of some kind can be arranged, but the sides may be in for a public and nasty battle.

The timing of the suit's filing is also unfortunate given the MLS All-Star festivities and a very busy week at the stadium complex. In addition to All-Star week being held at PPL Park, the announcement of the suit comes in the wake of the city of Chester claiming that the Union are not current in their annual $500,000 payments in lieu of property taxes for stadium, discussed last week in the Daily News. It should be noted that both the team and the city have indicated they are working together to resolve the issue, which also involves proposed new taxes on the team.

Just three years into existence, the Union are facing a possible two-front battle involving their home city and their first manager. Not to mention a steep climb in the standings… At least in the possible battle with Nowak, they'll likely have public opinion on their side.  

Visit The Goalkeeper for the full report and links to the legal documentation.

Kris Jenkins shared video of Villanova doing Running Man Challenge at White House

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Kris Jenkins shared video of Villanova doing Running Man Challenge at White House

Tony Hawk has skateboarded at the White House. Women's lacrosse champions have worn fliflops at the White House.

Now, the Villanova Wildcats have done the Running Man Challenge at the White House.

The video was shared on Kris Jenkins' Instagram account this afternoon. They don't call him "Big Smooth" for nothing.

Officially ending this Runningman challenge. Presidential edition. #GameBlouses #NovaSzn

A video posted by Kris Jenkins (@bigsmoove2) on

In case you missed it earlier, President Obama welcomed the 2016 NCAA Champion Villanova Wildcats to his crib and called Jay Wright the, "George Clooney of coaches." He's not wrong.

Despite rocky offseason, Eagles QBs have "a really good relationship"

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Despite rocky offseason, Eagles QBs have "a really good relationship"

Sam Bradford says Carson Wentz is a great kid. Carson Wentz says his relationship with Sam Bradford is special.

So much for them hating each other.

Bradford and Wentz both spoke glowingly of each other Tuesday after an OTA practice at the NovaCare Complex.

And both spoke equally highly of Chase Daniel, the Eagles’ other quarterback.

Turns out they all like each other.

Boring? Yeah. Drama? No. But they all say that’s the reality.

“They’re great dudes,” Bradford said. “We have a really good room. Having Chase in the room for me and Carson has been great because he’s been in the system for what, three? This is his fourth year in the system? So he understands some of the smaller details.

“Like when we watch tape, he’s able to point out, ‘Hey, this play looks like this against this coverage,’ or, ‘You can short-cut this read and (throw) here a little quicker against this coverage.’ So I think having him in the room with me and Carson has been really good.

“Carson, he’s been great. He’s a great kid, he’s really talented. It’s been fun working with him, trying to help him, trying to just share bits of information that I’ve picked up.”

It was the Eagles’ decision to trade up to No. 2 in the draft and take Wentz that led Bradford to leave voluntary practices for two weeks and demand a trade.

It wasn’t until he returned earlier this month that he even met Wentz, the former North Dakota State star.

But Wentz said there’s been no tension between the two. The opposite has been the case.

“It’s been great working with Sam, working with Chase,” Wentz said. “We’ve got an awesome quarterback room. A lot of really good discussions about the play book, about life. It’s been great.

“And then on the practice field, it’s been great for me. We all have a really good relationship. Nothing but great things to say about those guys.”

Head coach Doug Pederson has maintained that Bradford is the starter going into the regular season. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich said there’s open competition.

Whatever happens in September, it’s only a matter of time until this is Wentz’s team.

But Daniel said so far everybody is handling a tricky situation just fine.

“You know what, business is business,” Daniel said Tuesday. “Like I’ve said before, everyone handles (those situations) a little bit differently. For me, there’s no awkwardness. I know I’ve talked to Sam, there’s no (awkwardness).

“It’s you check your ego at the door, it’s time to go to work. Let’s go to work.”

If there are any hard feelings, these three quarterbacks are certainly hiding them very well.

“The relationship we have with us three is huge,” Wentz said. “We’re not out there to get each other, we’re out there to make the team better. (That) not only uplifts the team but makes us individually better.

“Being able to work together and not have to worry and stress out about the other stuff. At the end of the day makes the team better.”

Bradford is the incumbent starter. Daniel is the most experienced in Pederson’s offense. Wentz is the hot-shot rookie.

It’s a better story if they hate each other. But so far at least, they seem to be getting along just great.

“For me and the rest of the quarterbacks, we view every day as an opportunity to get better,” Wentz said.

“We have a little friendly competition among ourselves to make us better. If we’re all pushing each other, working together, it only makes the team better, and I think that’s something we have going on here that’s really special.”

President Obama praises Villanova at the renamed 'Blue and White House'

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AP Photo

President Obama praises Villanova at the renamed 'Blue and White House'

Villanova’s memorable victory tour continued Tuesday as noted basketball fan and President of the United States Barack Obama welcomed the Wildcats to the White House -- or, as he called it, “the Blue and White House today.” 

You should definitely watch the whole video but here are some highlights from the very cool ceremony: 

  • Obama said that Vice President Joe Biden, whose wife Jill Biden got a Master’s degree from Villanova, picked the Wildcats to win it all. “That’s the type of wise counsel you’re looking for in a vice president. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the counsel so my bracket was busted,” said Obama, who picked Kansas to win it all and didn’t even have ’Nova in the Final Four.
  • Obama called Jay Wright the “George Clooney of coaches” and “the best dressed man in college basketball.” We’ve reached out to George Clooney’s reps for comment (no we haven’t).
  • He pointed out that leading scorer Josh Hart went to the same high school -- Sidwell Friends -- as his daughter Malia, who will graduate from there next week. “It’s good to see a Sidwell kid do well.”
  • It was fun to hear the president call Daniel Ochefu and Kris Jenkins by their nicknames -- “The Chef” and “Big Smooth,” respectively.
  • He purposefully sped through Ryan Arcidiacono’s name “in case I didn’t say it right” -- and he didn’t. “I’m just gonna call him Arch,” Obama said, learning an important lesson for Villanova fans, college basketball writers and world leaders everywhere.
  • Was that a Charles Barkley weight joke? After comparing Kris Jenkins’ famous game-winner to Christian Laettner’s shot vs. Kentucky in 1992 and N.C. State’s buzzer-beater in the 1983 title game, Obama said “Charles Barkley apparently jumped out of his seat, which he doesn’t do very often these days.”
  • He praised Villanova’s off-court achievements, including the fact that they ranked in the top 10 percent nationally in grades and all five seniors graduated (continuing a trend of every four-year Villanova player graduating since the 1970s). And he discussed how Ochefu and Arcidiacono surprised a young ’Nova fan with cancer by hiding in his playhouse -- “which seems a little scary but their hearts were in the right place.”
  • He didn’t hold back about the epic ending to the NCAA tourney, calling it “as memorable of a championship game as I can remember” and “maybe the best title game of all time,” before adding that “just the last few seconds could be a documentary.” 

After Obama’s remarks -- good job, speechwriters! -- Wright took his turn at the podium to present the president with a Villanova jersey from their game at Pearl Harbor last December and to thank him for his leadership.

“Nothing is as big as this,” Wright said. “This is big time. This is a great day for Villanova University.”

Well said, Coach Clooney.