Union manager John Hackworth is back on the defensive

Union manager John Hackworth is back on the defensive

To start his midweek press conferences, Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth usually just walks up to the podium and immediately fields questions.

But on Wednesday, the Union manager decided he first needed to get something off his chest, launching into a defensive about how Sunday’s 5-1 loss to the New England Revolution was not nearly as bad as some made it seem.

“I think sometimes perception becomes reality when people don’t see all of the facts,” he said. “I think our team right now is under a little bit of pressure from having a really tough result.”

His general point was a sound one: two disallowed goals that would have put the Union ahead in the second half dramatically changed the course of the game. And if not for those two referee whistles – one of which was a particularly bad call – Hackworth claimed, “My feeling is that we would have gotten out of there with a good result.”

Maybe so. But the fact remains that the Union completely fell apart after getting hosed by the ref, giving up four unanswered goals in the span of 15 minutes. Also, just whom is Hackworth defending his team against? At least from what I saw and heard, much of the in-game talk and postgame articles seemed to be about those momentum-shifting disallowed goals.

“I’ll give you a for instance,” Hackworth explained. “When I went back to the hotel Sunday night, I’m watching the ESPN game, Seattle-Portland, and Taylor [Twellman], who I think does a great job, he clearly didn’t see the game, so all he knows is that it’s a 5-1 result. Is that the reality of what happened in that game? Well if you just look at the score, you certainly have something to judge on. But if you know we didn’t play well in the first half and in the first 10 minutes of the second half we literally put the ball in the net three times against a team that’s had 12 shutouts in the league and know that two of them got called back, you probably have a different perception of what happened there.”

Twellman, who used to broadcast Union games before striking big with ESPN, caught wind of this and reminded his Twitter followers that he did in fact watch the game and even pointed out at the time that the disallowed Casey goal was a terrible call.

And here’s his original Tweet:

To be honest, there’s not really any kind of beef between Hackworth and Twellman, and anyone who says there is probably missed the tone of the press conference. The main point is simply that Hackworth seems to sometimes be too sensitive.

Case in point: also during the press conference, the Union manager claimed that Conor Casey is “on the wrong end of a lot of [referee] decisions," before later continuing his defense of not playing his highest-priced player, saying that “if the only problem with the Philadelphia Union is that we’re not playing Kleberson, that’s not a problem for me at all.”

Granted, the Union might not get enough national respect, Casey might not get enough calls and Hackworth’s lineup decisions might be too sharply criticized. The Union, after all, do boast a solid 10-8-8 overall record and are still in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race despite the loss Sunday that Hackworth believes was over-exaggerated. And sticking up for his team is certainly a good thing and could perhaps even a source of pride for his players as they head into a critical game against the first-place Montreal Impact on Saturday night at PPL Park.

But is being so defensive a good quality for a coach? And just whom exactly is he trying to convince?

Nigel Bradham will report, practice; Doug Pederson doesn’t see him getting cut

Nigel Bradham will report, practice; Doug Pederson doesn’t see him getting cut

Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham will report to training camp on Wednesday and will be allowed to participate in the team’s first full practice on Thursday, head coach Doug Pederson said.

Bradham, 26, was reportedly arrested recently for his involvement in an assault of a hotel worker in Miami. An arrest report obtained by NBC6 in Miami alleges Bradham punched the worker in the face.

Pederson had a “great conversation” with Bradham on Tuesday night, laid out his expectations, and said until the team gets more information, the Eagles have decided to let Bradham participate in training camp.

“I’m not going to get into a bunch of detail on that,” Pederson said. “He’s obviously humbled by it and understands the situation and the magnitude, but until we get further details from the authorities, I can’t speculate any further.”

Is it possible Bradham gets released because of this incident?

“I don’t foresee anything like that, no,” Pederson said.

While Pederson spoke to Bradham soon after the incident in question, he didn’t do the same when Nelson Agholor was accused of sexual assault in June. On Wednesday, Pederson cited timing as the reason; Agholor’s incident happened after OTAs, while Bradham’s happened just before training camp.

Eventually, Philadelphia’s district attorney decided to not charge Agholor, citing insufficient evidence, but Bradham’s run-in with the law is the second in the last couple of months for the Eagles.

Pederson, when asked, said he talked about his expectations for players on and off the field during his first team meeting in April.

“You always lay out your expectations, what to expect on the football field and off the football field,” the head coach said. “You gotta make smart decisions. We’re in a high-profile business and being in the city of Philadelphia, things get magnified a little bit. And you just gotta be smart and careful and make good choices. Obviously, we all suffer from our bad choices, our bad decisions, the consequences of that. I address the team quite often, actually, on making those. I addressed the rookies just the other night. And then tonight’s meeting will have the same similar message.”

While Bradham is a veteran and Agholor a second-year player, the Eagles did draft and sign several rookies with checkered pasts, starting with running back Wendell Smallwood and corner Jalen Mills.

Pederson said the team handles each situation individually, but he expects the same thing from all his players.

“I just know this: When they come to the Philadelphia Eagles, there’s an expectation level that needs to be upheld and that starts with me,” Pederson said. “And I have to be very clear from where I stand with the players and the coaches, for that matter. And make sure they understand. Again, once they leave the facility, they’re citizens, but at the same time, understand that the players represent their families, the Philadelphia Eagles and the entire organization.”

Eagles rookie DB Blake Countess dishes on hidden talent

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Eagles rookie DB Blake Countess dishes on hidden talent

We're three days into training camp, so we can't pretend to be able to project how good of an NFL player rookie defensive back Blake Countess is going to be. We don't really know much about the 22-year-old at all. What we can report, however, is the sixth-round draft pick might be a half decent bowler.

Countess was asked about his previously hidden talent after Wednesday's practice, and it turns out bowling is not only a serious hobby for the Auburn product, but another outlet for his competitive streak.

"It actually started my last spring in Michigan (before transferring to Auburn)," Countess detailed. "Me and a bunch of the guys went one Thursday and it was two dollar games, and we had such a good time. We started going every Thursday during that spring, and it kind of just carried on."

"Everybody really got a lot better throughout that spring. We were going every week, we would get three or four games and it would be like eight dollars. That's a deal you can't beat, right after Thursday practice."

"It starts getting competitive, then we start doing teams, four-on-four, whoever has the highest total score wins. It got really competitive, and it's just fun."

"Now I've got my own ball, got shoes, everything."

Countess certainly talks a good game, adding that his personal high score is 249 — not bad at all, especially considering he only picked up the sport about a year ago. It sure sounds like he knows what he's doing anyway when explaining the finer points to a complete amateur such as myself.

"It's really your setup, because if the ball leaves your hand the same way every time, you kind of know where it's going to spin, you know where it's going to hit," lectured Countess. "But if you maybe take a step too far to the left or you let go a little too late, you might get a split, you might even get a gutter ball depending on how aggressive you're spinning it. It's really about your setup and where the ball is leaving."

Where Countess eventually falls on the spectrum of sports bowlers remains to be seen. There's long-time Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who is both in the Pro Football and Celebrities Bowling Hall of Fame. Then there's former Sixers center Andrew Bynum of the NBA, who notoriously aggravated an injury while bowling and never even played for the team after a blockbuster trade.

As of right now, Countess could share the same fate as either Bettis or Bynum, though a path in between is probably more likely. He's currently battling for a roster spot as a backup safety, and notes that he's lined up at nickel cornerback as well.

Watch: Jon Dorenbos performs glass-shattering magic trick on America's Got Talent

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Watch: Jon Dorenbos performs glass-shattering magic trick on America's Got Talent

Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos was back on America's Got Talent on Tuesday night to continue his magical run on the popular show judged by Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum and their pals.

Dorenbos went with card tricks on his first two appearances on the show (trick 1, trick 2) but mixed things up last night with an interesting trick involving some homemade art.

Each of the judges were told to quickly draw something on a piece of paper and Dorenbos easily guessed who drew what. But that wasn't the crazy part. Dorenbos started the performance by walking out with a glass bottle with a prediction on it. At the end of the drawing exibit, Dorenbos broke the bottle and there was an envelope with the exact drawings labeled with each corresponding artists' name.

To move on, Dorenbos will need to earn the fans vote. The voting has closed but will be announced in the coming days. Watch the wild performance below.

He certainly has Doug Pederson's vote: