Let Me Tell You About the Birds & the Knees

Let Me Tell You About the Birds & the Knees

Our man Rev is icing a sore knee. These are his words.

While
the entire football following world, and for that matter non-football
following world (thanks for checking in TMZ), races to provide us with
breaking no news updates on where Donovan McNabb will play next season,
the Eagles continue to tweak their roster and prepare for the upcoming
draft. Predicting what they will do in free agency and the draft has
not been easy. During the Lurie/Banner/Reid era the team has continually

played things close to the vest. There are not a whole lot of leaks
coming out of One Novacare Way. No one knew ahead of time about the
Michael Vick signing. Choosing Kevin Kolb in the second round was a
surprise for which no one was prepared. Removing Jeremiah Trotter’s
franchise tag in 2002, thus making him a free agent was a shocking move.

They have shown a propensity for making unpredictable moves, and keeping

those moves under wraps.

However,
not everything the organization does is unpredictable. For years they’ve

drafted and stocked up on young linemen with perceived upside (John
Welbourn, Scott Peters, Jamaal Greene, Trey Darilek, Scott Young, Calvin

Armstrong, LaJuan Ramsey, King Dunlap, etc.). They’ve also shown a
willingness to draft players from small schools who have not played
against the stiffest of competition throughout their college years
(Bryan
Smith, Andrew Studebaker, Chris Gocong, and Todd Herremans). Some of
these moves have worked out (Welbourn, Herremans, and Gocong), while
others have not. These moves show that they occasionally do fall into
trends with their thinking and philosophy.

Recently
they’ve shown a bizarre and repeated willingness to spend draft picks
and free agent dollars on guys with major knee issues. It’s getting
to the point where they cannot help themselves when given the
opportunity
to acquire someone coming off a catastrophic knee injury. Perhaps
Trotter
is to blame for all of this. He somehow carved out a Pro Bowl career
without the benefit of knees. He jokes that his knees are so bad there’s

no shot he would pass a team physical.  How the guy played middle
linebacker in the NFL without knees is beyond me.

Here
is the roll call of guys they’ve drafted or signed over the last two
years who’ve had knee problems:

  • Jack Ikegwuonu (invested
    a 4th round pick in 2008, despite suffering from a torn
    ACL)
  • Cornelius Ingram (invested
    a 5th round pick in 2009, despite suffering from a torn
    ACL)
  • Stacy Andrews (as a free
    agent in 2009
    , and coming off ACL surgery he signed for 6 years $38.9
    million)
  • Marlin Jackson (as a free
    agent in 2010
    , and coming off ACL surgeries in each of the last two
    years, signed for 2 years $6 million)

Now,
I can somewhat understand the Ikegwuonu and Ingram picks. Essentially
they could bring them along slowly, let them rehab, get acclimated to
professional football, and ostensibly give them what amounts to a
redshirt
year with that hope that the investment will pay off down the road.
That I understand. I do not understand the Andrews and Jackson signings
though. These are guys who play positions of need. Their entire
offensive
line was thrown into flux due to, among other things, Stacy Andrews
not being healthy. They have a glaring need at safety, so what do they
do? They go out and sign a guy who has had his last two seasons cut
short thanks to knee injuries. They continue to put a large number of
their eggs in the same injury riddled basket. I don’t get it.

You
know how when teams have a ridiculous trade proposal which seemingly
no one will accept they pick up the phone and call Al Davis and the
Raiders? Yeah, that’s the way agents must feel when they have a client
coming off a knee injury. Hmmm, my client has no cartilage or ligaments
in his knees? Which organization would possibly draft/sign my guy? 
I know, I’ll holla at the Eagles…they love guys with leg issues.
It’s a no brainer. It’s so bad that I am convinced that if they
were available, and the least bit athletic, the Birds would seriously
consider offering contracts to Spider from Goodfellas after being shot
in the foot by Tommy, James Caan’s character with the shattered legs
from Misery, and Lieutenant Dan. Must. Sign. Guy. With. Damaged. Legs.

Obviously
I am at total loss to explain why they’ve made the organizational
decision to acquire players with such significant injuries. They do
not strike me as the kind of team which makes rash decisions and
formulates
an action plan without first doing their homework. You’d like to assume
they’re employing some sort of sound methodology.  So, how do
you explain these decisions? FYI, during the draft keep an eye out for
Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond III. The Birds have a (k)need (see
how I did that?) in the secondary and he’s coming off ACL surgery.
They’re bound to take him.

Photo by Jonathan
Daniel / Getty Images

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Pockets of NBA players have increasingly started to speak up about what they believe to be racial and social injustices taking place in the United States.

With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem sparking protests from other players around the NFL and various sports, now the NBA as a whole is preparing for potential protests prior to games.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association union executive director Michele Roberts came together last week to formulate a joint letter to players to express how the two sides plan to take "meaningful action."

Whatever that action is, Sixers veteran Elton Brand is all for it and the overall discussion of issues going on around the country.

"There are e-mails and direct texts from the NBPA. We’re working with the NBA. They’re going to talk to us soon,” Brand said. “My thing is if you want to stand up for something, that’s a good thing. Especially in America, the tensions and the injustices that are going on right now. 

“Even in our locker room we’re discussing who feels like this, who feels like what and ways that we can display how we feel about things. I’m all for it. I stand behind it and stand with other athletes and people that want to stand for a cause. Whatever their cause is, they want to stand for a cause. Our cause may be different.”

The NBA is significantly more diverse than the NFL, and Brand even admitted it’s been an eye-opening experience having talks about issues affecting African Americans inside a locker room with players from around the globe.

“We have a lot of international players,” he said. “I’m looking around the room and there are seven people that aren’t from this country. So you talk about the flag, talk about the constitution and to them it’s like, ‘I represent America because I’m working here, but I’m pro-Spain and I have problems there, too.’ We’re all sorting it out. We’ve had discussions internally also. I’m looking forward to what the NBPA and the NBA have to offer."

What the league and players association come up with will likely serve as something other than protesting during the actual anthem. Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a rule in place that explicitly states players, coaches and trainers must stand on the foul line or sidelines in a dignified posture during the playing of national anthems.

If Sixers players do ultimately decide on some sort of protest before games, they will have the support of the organization to express their rights.

"We haven't been together collectively long enough to have a real robust discussion about it," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said. "I think we just addressed it briefly this morning with the players in an opportunity to say the following. Basically, we as an organization are going to be supportive of the views of our players. As the league and the players association formulate perhaps an approach, they've already circulated some information to teams. Things are probably still at the discussion phase. I hope to think that's where things are with our players, that they're still at the discussion phase. 

"Once again, I'm assuming that there will be a desire to express an opinion or viewpoint. I've always been supportive of people in society having freedom to express a viewpoint. Again, going back to the league and the players association, in a positive way I think they've always been out in front of some of these social issues and if they can affect social change in a positive way they probably will. You can just anticipate that there's still some unknowns to this, but you can estimate that we will be supportive as an organization as to how our players want to express their views."

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

CAMDEN, N.J. — The long wait could be over next week.

Joel Embiid expects to play in the Sixers' first preseason game Oct. 4 at UMass-Amherst against the Celtics, he said Monday at media day.

“The first thing for me is just get back on the court,” Embiid said of his expectations this season. “It looks like in a couple days I’m going to have the chance to do that.”

Embiid has missed the past two seasons since being drafted third overall because of foot injuries. Even though he is taking his rookie year one step at a time, he has a positive long-term outlook given how healthy he feels. 

“I’m confident that I’m going to have a long, successful career,” he said. “From what it looks like right now, I’m going to have a 20-year career.”

Embiid has grown as a player and a person during his recovery. He noted had he been competing in an 82-game season, he would not have had as much time to dedicate on his development. As a result of the specialized workouts and the hours he has spent in an individual practice format, he has improved his shooting and gained strength and speed. 

“What I was two years ago, I’m not even close to what I am right now,” he said. “My game has gotten so much better ... I’m not the same guy. I’m different.”

Embiid has been following a well-mapped out rehab plan during which he has had to adhere to restrictions, and will continue to do so this season. He admits the restrictions have been frustrating, but he now understands they are being implemented for his best interest long term. The lengthy recovery has forced him to change his outlook on maintaining his health. 

“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab, going through that, the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After the doctor [said] you had to heal well and I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to what people have to say.”

Head coach Brett Brown wants Embiid to become the “crown jewel” of the defense. Embiid, who stands at a towering 7-foot-2, 275 pounds, is ready to embrace those expectations. He has studied tape of Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, among others. Embiid likes the game of Marc Gasol and appreciates how DeAndre Jordan communicates as a big man. 

“I love playing defense,” he said. “I hate when the other team scores.”

Embiid's debut will be the culmination of years of work. Now that the season is approaching, he is eager to count down the days. 

“I’m really excited,” Embiid said. “I’ve gone through a lot and it’s been two years. The fact that I’m healthy now and ready to get back on the court, I just can’t wait.”