'Stripped' of All But Clothes and Pride, Lance Armstrong Still Eligible for Philly Naked Bike Ride

'Stripped' of All But Clothes and Pride, Lance Armstrong Still Eligible for Philly Naked Bike Ride

I guess it's unfortunate that news of Lance Armstrong ending his battle against a set of doping charges came without shock. That he'd give up fighting anything is somewhat surprising, and, as a fan, there was some initial disappointment. Pro cycling is well-known to be infested with doping, and many fans and critics of Armstrong have long believed him to be among the peloton of cheaters. But, importantly, Lance hasn't admitted to any wrongdoing with this gesture—far from it. He has only said he refuses to continue fighting the US Anti-Doping Agency, an organization he considers a blend of a witch hunt and a kangaroo court. Armstrong had been challenging the USADA via lawsuit, but the suit was dismissed earlier in the week when a federal judge ruled that the court had no jurisdiction. 
The USADA says it has stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France wins and banned him from participating in future competitions. It remains to be seen whether the agency has the power to do so (the quotation marks in the title are there because he may not actually be stripped of any previous achievements), nor what it means to strip titles in a sport as tainted as cycling. But while I hate that we can't have the great memories of summer mornings spent watching Lance's amazing Tours without the tinge of doubt, I'm not going to spend too much time lamenting it now or exploring what the news actually means. You can read more on that here and here
There's something more fun in the cycling world to focus on. As you make your way around town on Saturday, don't be surprised if a huge pack of bikers in various states of undress descends upon the street in front of you. Philly's annual Naked Bike Ride is today. 
What's the Philly Naked Bike Ride, you ask? 
Besides being so self-explanatorily named that none of you is actually asking that, the stated mission of the ride is to promote fuel conscious consumption, positive body image, and cycling advocacy. That may be the goal for some folks, but others are probably just in it for the gettin-naked-in-public-and-seeing-others-do-the-same aspect. 
Full or partial nudity is not required, and there are no cycling proficiency standards. Anyone can participate, wearing (or not wearing) anything they want. Hell you don't even need to ride a bike. You could probably do it in a wagon with an oar if you were into "advocating" urban wagonboating and were savvy enough with the oar to avoid causing a massive naked pileup. 
The group's web site says that in three previous Naked Bike Rides dating back to 2009, no "legal incidents" have been reported. It's unlikely the US Anti-Doping Agency will be enforcing its code on the streets of Philly today, but other regulations may or may not be enforced (including other kinds of doping). It appears to be an "at your own risk" event for everything ranging from injury to arrest to having your undercarriage appear on the internet. 
So where will the riders be? Here's a look at the planned route, which starts on Washington Ave. at 4PM, loops around Center City, along the Parkway and City Hall, and finishes at the Piazza sometime around 7PM tonight.
So don't be alarmed if thousands of painted, taped, topless, scantily clad, or fully nude bike riders pass you today. It's just one of Philly's new traditions, even if it's a worldwide event involving 70 cities in 20 countries. (Due to its timing, it's also a way for us to discuss the farthest ends of the cycling spectrum in a single post).  
For more info, visit the Philly Naked Bike Ride home page, which has plenty more on the event, including how to participate, rules for photography and filming, and links to Facebook etc. 

Eagles sign DT Justin Hamilton to futures contract

Eagles sign DT Justin Hamilton to futures contract

The Eagles on Monday signed defensive tackle Justin Hamilton to a futures contract. 

Hamilton, 23, went undrafted in 2015 but spent time with both the Bills and Packers. This past season, he spent six different stints on the Seahawks' practice squad, constantly being waived then re-signed. 

He has never played in an NFL game.

Hamilton played collegiately at Louisiana-Lafayette, where he totaled 14 sacks and 29 tackles for loss in four years. He was First Team All-Sun Belt as a senior. 

The Eagles have signed 15 players to reserves/futures contracts this month.

Pressing too hard? Claude Giroux realizes less can be more

Pressing too hard? Claude Giroux realizes less can be more

NEW YORK — Ron Hextall admitted there’s a bit of a double-edged sword to Claude Giroux.
 
“I think he’s pressing too hard,” Hextall said before Sunday night’s game. “It’s what you like about him; there’s a few guys like that. You like that [competitiveness] about them, but sometimes you become your own worst enemy because they beat themselves up.”
 
The captain was entering the day with a goal drought of 12 games, his longest since Oct. 2-Nov. 7, 2013, when he opened the season goalless in 15 contests.
 
“G wants to be successful at everything,” the general manager said. “Hopefully something good happens for him and he gets rolling. He’s too good of a player to play like this.”
 
Hextall got his wish.
 
Nearly four hours later, Giroux buried the game-winning goal of the Flyers’ 3-2 overtime win against the Islanders at the Barclays Center (see game story). Not only did it relieve Giroux of his funk, but it also did the same for the Flyers, who had lost three straight and 12 of their last 15.
 
"It's been tough the last couple of weeks,” Giroux said. “We know we're a better team. 
 
“Obviously we can still be better but we needed this win tonight.”
 
And Giroux needed that goal. Over the previous 12 games, the Flyers’ second-leading scorer was a minus-13 with seven assists and just one even-strength point. It’s no coincidence the Flyers went 2-8-2 in those 12 games.
 
Giroux didn’t disagree with his boss.
 
“You want to succeed and you want to play the best you can,” he said. “Sometimes you push it a little too much. When you sit back and kind of look at the big picture, sometimes I think that's when you kind of realize you need to relax and just go out there and play.”
 
Before the game, head coach Dave Hakstol made a change that reaped the rewards. He decided to put Jakub Voracek back on the top line with Giroux and Michael Raffl. Giroux finished with six shots, his most since Dec. 21, while Voracek put up four and assisted the overtime winner.
 
“Well, I mean there are a lot of things that go into that,” Hakstol said of the move. “Those guys have success together, but more importantly, you look at some of the combinations as you go through the year when you’ve had success. Sometimes one change gives you a little bit of a jump-start. Those guys did a good job.”
 
Giroux’s goal was emblematic in a way that he simply planted himself in front of the net and tapped in Shayne Gostisbehere’s wraparound pass. There was no highlight-reel deke or miraculous shot.
 
Keeping it simple — as players often say — did the trick.
 
"Sometimes you don't need to try so hard,” Giroux said. “You need to go about your job and make sure you do the right things out there. Make sure you help your teammates and linemates. Just go out there and play hockey. We're supposed to have fun doing it, right? So sometimes you need to relax and kind of look at how you can get better.”
 
Sunday was a start.