Hanging on Every Word

Hanging on Every Word


Daily News writer Rich Hoffman had an epiphany, one I think would benefit a lot of people in this town.  There always seems to be some personal element of Donovan McNabb to complain about, most recently because he has this chip on his shoulder.  During the past few weeks, he's refused to acknowledge the benching may have helped, and now he's catching some flak for answering a pointed question about playing in Philadelphia.

Why does any of that matter though?  Everything Donovan says is over-analyzed, and we always seem to conclude it was negative.  For instance, it was silly he didn't know there are ties, but the notion this somehow affected his play seems just as ridiculous.  Or this off-season when he said the team - offense, defense, and special teams - needs more playmakers, that was automatically an indictment on the wide receivers.

Even Donovan's gestures and demeanor on the field spark outrage with
fans.  When he says "my bad" and points to himself, why is that
anything more than owning his error?  When he smiles and laughs in a
tough situation, why do we forget that it's still just a game?

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of criticisms you could levy on Donovan, and if you're honestly of the opinion he needs to go, this isn't to persuade you otherwise.  It's simply both curious and frustrating that so much is made about his words and not always what he's done on the field.  At the end of the week, all that matters is they got that W, but how often does that get lost in some story about his imminent departure or how he chose to answer a loaded question in an interview?

We even nitpick his performance.  It's always "another wormball," or
"how could he miss a wide open receiver by that much," and never "nice
touch on that TD pass," and "what zip on that throw."  The guy isn't perfect.  If we're expecting him be Peyton
Manning, who makes some doozies himself, well he'll never be that and
no one else will either.

Have we been unfair with Donovan?  On some level, yes we have, not necessarily because you want to see him go, but because he's still here and you won't give him a chance.  It's convenient to ignore the strides he's made over the years, and instead punish him for the stupid things he says and matters he can't control, like injuries and the coach's impossible gameplan.

If you don't like what he has to say, why pay it any attention?   It's not about what happens behind the microphone, and as we've seen in Dallas so far, it's not about who has the most likable quarterback.  Maybe McNabb can't get it done, but the truth is it hasn't always been about what happens on the field.

Up from 217 to 250, Ben Simmons also stronger mentally from work with LeBron

Up from 217 to 250, Ben Simmons also stronger mentally from work with LeBron

CAMDEN, N.J. — It appears Ben Simmons took the saying about having the weight of the world on your shoulders a tad literal.

The Sixers' No. 1 overall pick walked into the team's sparkling new training complex for media day sporting a much bigger frame than when his name was called on draft night.

"I'm a lot stronger. When I started getting ready for the draft I was about 217 [pounds] and now I'm around 250," Simmons said Monday.

When you're expected to be the centerpiece of an organization that managed just 10 wins a season ago, it helps to have that extra bulk to carry those expectations. 

But Simmons isn’t just being looked at as a key to help change the franchise’s fortunes. He’s also being viewed as perhaps a once-in-a-generation talent after drawing several comparisons to LeBron James, who Simmons shares an agent with in Klutch Sports Group.

So how did the incoming rookie deal with being likened to four-time MVP and three-time NBA champion James? He went to work like someone trying to achieve those same goals.

“Just being around him and learning from his habits and what he does has just helped me overall,” Simmons said of working out with James and other NBA stars during the summer. “He’ll be one of the first guys in the gym every day. It doesn’t matter what day it is. He’s one of those guys who gets the work in and enjoys the rest of his day. Just learning from him I think I can take a lot from what he’s done. ... He’s done a lot for me. He’s helped me experience things I need to learn.

“They get in the gym and work. It’s one of those things where they don’t play around. They get straight to it. Obviously in the weight room too. LeBron loves the VersaClimber and they also brought two more in here. I’m starting to learn from what these guys do, D-Wade (Dwyane Wade) also. They’re all doing the same thing, working out every day and getting ready.”

That type of work ethic will go a long way toward Simmons' earning the respect of his Sixers teammates. The group was already eager to get on the floor with him for training camp at Stockton University and get a firsthand look at the versatile forward, especially his prowess as a passer.

“The most exciting thing that I’ve seen was his passing ability,” Jahlil Okafor said of Simmons. “That’s going to help me out a lot. He’s selfless. Being with the summer league guys he was always about the team. I’ve always considered myself a good teammate and he’s a great one as well. I’m excited to work with him.”

“I think for anybody who likes to shoot or likes to score, whenever you can have a big man who is a really good ball handler, can make good decisions, has great vision, it’s always a great thing,” Gerald Henderson said. “If you can be aggressive on the offensive end you don’t always have to have the basketball to be able to be right there and score. You have somebody that can find you and really is thinking pass-first. I think it’ll be great, not only for us but just our offense in general.”

Considering that the Sixers finished 29th in scoring a season ago, Simmons knows they will need him to be more than just a facilitator. The team needs consistent scoring from everyone on the court. And while the LSU product’s jump shot was questioned during his lone year in college, he believes he has worked hard to silence those doubts.

“I usually try to take what they give me. Obviously I’ve been working on my shot a lot with all the coaches,” Simmons said. “I can shoot the ball. I’m not really worried about that. Coming into training camp, it’s one of the things I’ve been working on since LSU.”

Simmons made it clear several times that he is confident in his offensive game and that the Sixers’ logjam in the frontcourt will work itself out on the floor. One thing he’s not so sure about: that he’s even in this position.

Despite dreaming about being in the NBA since he was a kid in Australia and being groomed to be the No. 1 overall pick for years, Simmons said it’s still a bit of a surprise to be at this point.

“I think it’s still surreal for me,” he said. “I think it’ll finally hit me once I step on the court matched up against OKC the first game.”

There were Carson Wentz and Ben Simmons fans at the debate last night

There were Carson Wentz and Ben Simmons fans at the debate last night

I'm not sure if they could win nationally, but there is absolutely no doubt that a Wentz-Simmons ticket would dominate the Delaware Valley.

An intrepid Philadelphia sports fan was up at the Presidential Debate last night at Hofstra University and made a sign showing his support... for the Eagles and Sixers.

I don't know though, I'm pretty sure Simmons was born in Australia.