We'll Always Have Dallas

We'll Always Have Dallas

                
When rumors started swirling in March of 2004 that Terrell Owens could possibly become an Eagle Philadelphians were giddy.  The day some professor from Penn ruled in favor of the Eagles over the Ravens was like Christmas morning for old championship-hungry men.  T.O. was the final piece to the puzzle that James Thrash and his fellow average receivers were not.  Sure he had issues, but Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb could change all that.  Right.

2004 was set to be the dream season for Eagles fans with T.O. saving them from decades of defeat.  Anthony Gargano wrote an entire book about Eagles fans' Sunday Pilgrimage last year.  The Eagles were a machine.  Nothing could stop them.  There were good memories: thousands of Eagles faithful swarming Lehigh just to see T.O. smiling at training camp, Owens going deep on his first play ever in Eagles green in the preseason, T.O. owning Ray Lewis, skating in the endzone, T.O. and Donovan chasing each other on the sidelines like goofballs, and Owens standing on the star in Dallas.  The Eagles were on their way to their first trip to the Superbowl in decades.  Philadelphians had a love affair with Terrell; he was going to bring us exactly what we wanted and make others look foolish along the way.  Then Roy Williams crushed T.O.'s ankle and our hopes and dreams.

What happened after that was miraculous, at least according to Owens.  Owens was a physical specimen even among some of the worlds greatest athletes.  Could he really rehab in time to play if the Birds made it to the big game?  The Eagles won the greatest game I've ever attended against the Atlanta Falcons and the birds were on their way to Jacksonville.  They got over the NFC Championship game hump without T.O. but they weren't going to get past Bill Belichick and the only dynasty in recent sports history.  Not unless Owens could play.

He said all along that he would be ready to play.  It couldn't have been scripted better.  Terrell had those who bleed green in the palm of his hand.  Coming back to play with a half broken ankle would give him the keys to the City of Brotherly Love; he could have been in the company of sports all time greats: Jordan, Montana, Owens.

In Jacksonville Owens performed incredibly, valiantly.  The Eagles came close to the dream, but were a winded quarterback away from a parade down Broad Street.  That wasn't how it was supposed to end.

Then it all came crashing down.  Enter Drew Rosenhaus.   ESPN interview after ESPN interview.  Owens attacking his former best pal Donovan.  Dirt, lies, backstabbing.  Terrell Owens personality killed the hopes of millions.  In the end, T.O. had to be T.O.  It was as simple as that.  No matter how hard Andy Reid thought he could get Owens to conform to his ideals, T.O. had to be T.O.

A T.O. divided against himself cannot stand.  At least we'll always have Dallas.

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).