The Eagles Fans Guide to the 2007 NFL Playoffs

The Eagles Fans Guide to the 2007 NFL Playoffs

For the second time in three years, there will be no hometown rooting interests for Philadelphians now that the playoffs have begun. But many if not most Eagles fans are NFL fans too, and we’ll watch pretty much any decent game. The problem is, with the Birds hitting golf balls or putting their houses on the market, which teams and players do we root for? Or more accurately, who we rootin’ against?

The bitter question in front of us is, would we rather see the rich get richer, or another never-been franchise pass us by on their way to join the ranks of the NFL’s Nouveau Riche? Would it be harder to watch the Colts and Patriots win more rings while we have only pre-Super Bowl National Championships, or see yet another team hoist the Lombardi Trophy before us. Is there no third option?

Let’s start with the teams playing this weekend.

Washington at Seattle
Obviously we go with the Seahawks here. I’d be hard pressed to conjure a scenario in which I’d root for an NFC East team, and Seattle’s just boring enough to not really hate. There may be some sentimental bandwagon jumping surrounding this game, as montages of Sean Taylor are bound to be part of the national coverage (and rightfully so—Taylor was a huge part of this team, and his murder was amazingly tragic).

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh
Boorrrrinnng. Don’tcha just hate how often we have to endure Steelers, Jets, Browns, and Ravens games in this market? We’ll take the Jags over our cross-state rivals, even though they’re bland as all get-out too. When it comes to sports, Philly natives have no PA pride. The Stillers? They went to the Promised Land with a rookie QB at the helm, while we’ve waited a nearly decade for our system to gel. The Jags are this year’s upstart team in the AFC, and they could make some noise, starting with this game. Jacksonville fans beware: this Eagles fan will be putting his cursed support behind your squad.

Tennessee at San Diego
After playing under Buddy Ryan in Chicago, Jeff Fisher became one of his coaching assistants. When Buddy brought the 46 to Philly, he brought Fisher with him as his D-backs coach. Fisher went on to become the Eagles defensive coordinator and achieve his career highlight, meeting me and playing Frisbee with us at a barbeque at Gootman’s house. So because of the Eagles/backyard connection, I’m backing the Titans and their possible PSU QB. Also, the Chargers deserve to get smoked for firing their coach after going 14-2 last season. What happens to the guy who took them to 11-5? Waterboarding?

New York Giants at Tampa Bay
 Hmm lemme think about it. Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, and Jeremy Shockey, or our ’06 hero (Carmella DeCesare) and our former OC with his loveable Chuckie Face? As much pain as we’ve felt from the NFC Championship loss, the ominous start to the Linc Era, and the longest ever game-winning field goal, there’s no way we root for the Giants. The only consolation in a Giants win would be that they did it without Tiki Barber, my least favorite NFC East personality this side of Michael Irvin.

And the Bye-Weekers…

Green Bay
Yes, I flew out to Green Bay just to have the pleasure of seeing the Eagles dive into this season’s downward spiral firsthand. But I don’t hate the Packers, especially not compared to the NFC’s other team with a first week bye. The Favre story is so overdone that I barely notice the networks playing him up anymore, and Ryan Grant has quickly become the team’s most watchable player. The Pack is the NFC team I support the most, primarily because I hate most of the others so goddamn much.

Indianapolis
For many Patriots haters, the hardest thing about rooting against them is that it often means cheering for the Colts. Not me. Somewhere along the way, Dungy’s crew pulled me aboard. It started with Marvin Harrison, a Philly guy who is an elite receiver but comes with none of the regular baggage. Across the field, Reggie Wayne is cut from the same cloth, and he stepped up with Marvin missing much of the season. Peyton quieted the critics and Dungy handled unimaginable family tragedy when he finally won the big one last year, which has almost been forgotten since the Patriots began their tear. I’ll admit it. I actually like this team.

Dallas
I hope they lose their bye week. I hope they lose the turnover battle. I hope they lose their car keys. I hope they lose that swagger like this group has actually won anything. I hope they lose a game-winning field goal snap. Nothing would be worse than Dallas returning to the Super Bowl, except if they got there and beat…

New England
The psychological litmus test for NFL fans. Do you want to witness history so you can tell your kids and grandkids about it, or see the colossus toppled so you can point and laugh at its rubble (unless Dallas wins). Part of me wants to see another team win, but only because I’m an underdog guy. Despite the fact that the Eagles lost to the Pats in the Super Bowl, and again with me in attendance this year, and of course the dominance that is Boston sports in the modern era, I gotta admit, Belichick’s crew has made this NFL season far more interesting than it otherwise would have been. The Hoodie is easy to hate, but hard not to respect. Same with Brady. All he did was live all our dreams, becoming the best QB (maybe ever) and having a super model special lady friend. I have no advice on how to approach rooting for or against New England; this one’s just a visceral reaction.

So that’s my take. No love for any of the NFC teams, but I’ll root for Tampa Bay and Seattle in the Wild Card, with Green Bay as the team I’d like to see play in February. In the AFC we can’t really go wrong. I like the Titans because of Fisher, although they’re painful to watch, and I’d like to see Jacksonville be an upsetter, but there’s no show like the one New England and Indy can put on.

Who you rootin’ for?

Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov show glimpses, Alex Lyon stars in Flyers' split-squad loss

Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov show glimpses, Alex Lyon stars in Flyers' split-squad loss

NEWARK, N.J. — Split-squad games have their advantages and disadvantages.

The Devils presented a hefty NHL-laden lineup against a Flyers unit with one NHL forward — Scott Laughton — Monday night at the Prudential Center.

Not surprisingly, the Devils won, 2-0. Among the prospects to watch in this one were forward Travis Konecny and defenseman Ivan Provorov.

The one player who absolutely shined in this was goalie Alex Lyon, who finished with 29 saves on 30 shots.

Konecny was again at right wing but this time on Andy Miele’s line with Laughton, who’s been at left wing all camp.

“Miele can distribute the puck and makes plays and Scotty Laughton brings a more veteran presence and some power and speed on the left wing,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “Add the ability that Travis has, it fits pretty well with those two.”

Konecny worked on the first-unit power play in the right slot. He lost a puck in the corner, regained it and fed Corban Knight for a near goal in the paint.

He had a shot, turnover and hit going into the final period and handled himself well against older veterans.

During a third-period power play, with the Flyers behind, 1-0, he got a rebound in the high slot but chose to pass the puck rather than reposition himself for a shot on goalie Anders Lindback.

Lyon impressive
Lyon, the free-agent goalie signed out of Yale, was under siege in the opening period, facing 13 shots. The Devils had a stacked veteran lineup against mostly kids from the Flyers.

He was very good, especially playing the angles from which the Devils like to attack. He also stopped Beau Bennett on a breakaway out of the penalty box with his right pad.

Lyon had a sliding pad save on Bennett in the second period, as well, off a two-on-none break.

Provorov debut
He was paired with Brandon Manning and played the left side.

The 19-year-old Russian showed some speed and worked on the first-unit power play with Konecny. Provorov did some nice stickwork to get around Devils veteran Travis Zajac on the forecheck in the first period.

One aspect that stood out as the game progressed was that Provorov’s passes on the breakout were too quick for his forwards to handle. He’s that talented that he gets the puck and it’s gone before they can catch it in stride.

Lyubimov debut 
Another forward battling for a roster spot is Russian center Roman Lyubimov, who played right wing on Anthony Salinitri’s line with Connor Bunnaman.

He’s very quick to chasing down pucks off the faceoff and very strong in battling for position or puck possession in tight spaces.

He worked the penalty kill in Russia and was on the first unit here, where he had a blocked shot.

Loose pucks 
The Flyers fell to the Islanders, 3-0, in their other game. Anthony Stolarz started in net and made 33 saves. ... With a split-squad game and the Flyers missing players because of the World Cup of Hockey, they had only three NHLers in their lineup vs. the Devils: Laughton, Manning and South Jersey’s T.J. Brennan. … Laughton had a nifty chance late in the second period and missed everything. … The Devils got a goal from Nick Lappin soon after on a second rebound. Nothing Lyon could do. … The Flyers actually outshot the Devils, 10-9, that stanza. … The Devils had an empty-net goal at the end. ... Tuesday’s game at the Wells Fargo Center against the Islanders will be televised on TCN.

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."