Tampa Bay Will Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Their Super Bowl Championship on Sunday

Tampa Bay Will Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Their Super Bowl Championship on Sunday

Amid a season chock full of added insults to injuries, the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers are planning to openly tease the Philadelphia Eagles on
Sunday. At halftime of their scheduled meeting, the Bucs will hold a ceremony to celebrate the 10-year
anniversary of their victory over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Naturally, they climbed over the Birds in the NFC Championship game to get
there.

It’s hard to believe after all this time, but even still to
this day that may have been the most crushing defeat of the Andy Reid era. Coming
off of a conference championship appearance the previous year, the Eagles
finished the regular season 12-4, earning a first-round bye and home-field
advantage throughout the playoffs. They were a team on the rise, and the Super
Bowl was supposed to be the next step.

The stars seemed to be aligning in their favor as well. They were
set to host Tampa, a team that had been struggling to get over the hump for
awhile; a team that had never won a postseason game on the road; a team that
had never won a game at all when the temperature was below freezing. And Philadelphia
owned the ultimate home-field advantage, holding the last pro-football game
ever at Veterans Stadium.

Even on the opening kickoff, it appeared as though
everything was going to click. Brian Mitchell returned it 70 yards, setting up
a 20-yard Duce Staley run that gave the Eagles an early 7-0 lead.

It would be their only lead of the game, their only
touchdown for that matter. Quickly the momentum was reversed, as anything that could go wrong
did.

When they had the Bucs pinned deep, wide receiver Joe
Jurevicius got matched up on linebacker Barry Gardner, and took a shallow
crossing route 71 yards to set up a score to take over the lead. A stingy defense swarmed Donovan
McNabb, who lost two fumbles, one as the offense was driving toward the end of
the first half. Then the lasting image – down 10 but closing in on the goal in
the fourth quarter, Ronde Barber jumped a short hitch route and ran back McNabb’s
pass 92 yards to the house to seal the 27-10 victory for Tampa Bay.

Obviously the Eagles lost again in the NFC Championship a
year later, then in the Super Bowl the season after, either of which were arguably tougher to swallow. But in ’02, there was almost a feeling that they were a
team of destiny.

Here we are 10 years later, and it all feels like a distant
memory, partly because the Eagles are 3-9, but also because we would probably
just as soon like to forget about it for right now, maybe forever. Thankfully, for those watching at
home, we shouldn’t see or hear too much more about their little celebration.

Perhaps it’s appropriate that Reid and Jeffrey Lurie will be on hand to take it all in though. After all, they are pretty much the last
remaining remnants to that period in franchise history when you were almost
certain they were gonna win one of these things.

Then again, I'm sure both men realize there's no going back now.

Reid could still get some measure of revenge however, at least for Tampa's not-so-subtle choice of Week 14 as the day to salute their banner. The Buccaneers are 6-6, and still have a chance to sneak into the tournament. Beating a cupcake like the Eagles would go a long way to that end. Losing to Philly, on the other hand, could be the knockout blow.

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:"";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Joel Embiid unhappy with how Sixers handled injury updates

Joel Embiid unhappy with how Sixers handled injury updates

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Joel Embiid will miss the next four games and is slated to return March 3 against the Knicks in Philadelphia, so long as he is symptom-free. While Embiid wants to play as soon as possible, he’s just glad there is now a definitive timetable announced.

Prior to Thursday, the team had not announced a specific timeframe.

“I wasn’t too happy with the way it was kind of handled before,” Embiid said. “I saw the day-to-day part. I was told that I was going to miss at least two or three weeks. So I wasn’t happy with the way it was handled.

“I thought keeping my name out there was going to just like literally have people think about me all the time instead of just saying when I was going to be back. So I’m happy that they did that today and they said that I’m out for the next four games.”

Embiid suffered a left knee contusion on Jan. 22 against the Trail Blazers. He sat out three games and returned on Jan. 27 to play the Rockets. He has not played since then, sitting out the last eight games.

An MRI also revealed Embiid has a slight tear in his meniscus, which is not thought to be related to the contusion.

Embiid went through a full practice on Thursday for the first time, he estimated, in four or five weeks. (Wednesday’s practice was not intense.) According to the Sixers, they are encouraged by the progress Embiid showed but do not feel he is game-ready. Team doctors are holding him out the next four games to minimize the risk of aggravating his knee. In order for him to be cleared, Embiid has to be symptom-free.

Embiid had eyed a return on Friday against the Wizards because he was feeling well, he said, but he had some swelling on Thursday.

“No swelling, no pain, nothing,” Embiid said of his criteria to play.

Now the team -- and fans -- can move forward without daily questions of Embiid’s status.

“I think it’s good for everybody,” Brett Brown said. “For you all to understand, the people that buying a ticket to understand, for me as a coach to prepare my team that he’s not going to be here for four more games. I like that clarity. I’m fine with it. Obviously, you want him playing, but the mystery that surrounds that speculation I think is frustrating for people and we understand that.”

Embiid reiterated the patience aspect of the injury, noting he waited two years to rehab his foot and there is no need to rush his knee. Now everyone can be in the loop with his status.

“The end point is basically making sure I’m ready to play instead of just putting me out there,” Embiid said.

In Justin Anderson, Sixers get solid defensive wing who was buried in Dallas

In Justin Anderson, Sixers get solid defensive wing who was buried in Dallas

On the surface, the Nerlens Noel trade doesn't look good.

The Sixers on Thursday traded the third-year big man to the Dallas Mavericks for forward Justin Anderson, center Andrew Bogut and a top-18 protected first-round pick. That first-rounder turns into two second-round picks if it doesn't convey in 2017. Yuck. And double yuck.

The only hope in this trade comes in Anderson. The former first-round pick has the look of a prototypical NBA wing. At 6-foot-6 with a nearly 7-foot wingspan, he has the frame to disrupt passing lanes and the bulk at 228 pounds to muscle up stronger swingmen.

At Virginia, Anderson was a key cog for a team that was ranked as high as No. 2 and earned a 2-seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. After that season, Anderson opted to forego his senior year and enter the NBA draft. He was selected 21st overall by the Mavericks in 2015.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett preaches defense and Anderson was one of his finest disciples in that regard. Offensive limitations and being a part of a balanced attack with the Cavaliers caused Anderson's stock to drop. Despite shooting 45 percent from three in his final season, Anderson was considered a streaky shooter and, frankly, that's remained the NBA.

His rookie season was one to forget. The Mavericks were competitive in the Western Conference, finishing as the 6-seed and losing to the Thunder in the first round. Anderson couldn't find his way into Rick Carlisle's rotation. Dallas' never-ending supply of point guards coupled with the sharpshooting duo of Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons relegated Anderson to just 11.8 minutes a game his rookie season. In his limited time, he shot 41 percent from the field and 27 percent from three.

Unfortunately, it's been a similar story this season, but with some glimmers of hope. Anderson is still losing minutes to Matthews and also big free-agent acquisition Harrison Barnes, who's having a strong first season with the Mavs. But over a three-game stretch in late January, Anderson averaged 15.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20 minutes per game. He also shot 6 of 16 (38 percent) from three during that span.

“I don’t want to sell myself short,” Anderson said to the Star-Telegram during that run. “I still think that I can be a really great player in this league, but I think it’s going to take a lot of hard work.

“I think [the early-season struggles] may be the best thing that’s happened to me in my career. All we can do is wait and just keep working hard, push through it and hopefully one day it’ll all pay off."

The most promising numbers in Anderson's young career are that he's averaging 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per 36 minutes as a pro. At the very least, Anderson should develop into a solid defensive wing. If he develops offensively, who knows?

Per ESPN's Kevin Pelton, "Noel and Anderson (who just sneaks over the bar) are both among the 21 players in the league who have averaged 2.0 steals per 100 team plays and blocked 2.0 percent of opponent 2-point attempts or better in at least 500 minutes."

It's tough to argue that this trade was a good one for Bryan Colangelo. With that said, Anderson could still turn out to be a decent NBA player. He needs minutes and patience, two things the Sixers can offer in spades.