Today in Philly Sports History: Kate Smith Sings God Bless America the First Time, 1969

Today in Philly Sports History: Kate Smith Sings God Bless America the First Time, 1969

I dunno, I always thought it was kind of annoying. But when Kate Smith graced the Flyers with her semi-operatic vibrato on a version of "God Bless America" on December 11th, 1969, before a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a tradition was borne, in perhaps the most tradition-fixated sport of the four majors. The Flyers won the game 6-3, and from then on, whenever the Flyers needed a boost in karma, they called on Big Red--either live or on tape--to come do her thing.

The returns, at least initially, were somewhat staggering. The first three years after Kate Smith first supported the Orange and Black, the Flyers were 19-1-1 when her "God Bless America" was played before a home game, and just 31-38-28 when she did not. Such stock was eventually placed in the power of Kate Smith to swing a big game that before game six of the '74 finals, Bruins stars Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito tried a reverse jinx by sending her flowers and shaking her hand. (It didn't work).

Smith's anthem has continued to be played (admirably sparingly) before big games, and over the course of the last 40 years, Flyers are a still fairly stellar 77-21-4 in such games. After her death in 1986, a statue of her was erected outside of the Spectrum.

Jahlil Okafor trade watch: Bulls reportedly unwilling to trade first-round pick

Jahlil Okafor trade watch: Bulls reportedly unwilling to trade first-round pick

With the NBA trade deadline nearly upon us — 3 p.m. Thursday — here is the latest on Jahlil Okafor. (We'll update this with news on Okafor throughout the afternoon.)

• The Bulls are still pushing to acquire Okafor, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Chicago has been one of the rumored destinations for weeks — in fact, the Bulls were reported as a suitor for Okafor before the Pelicans, Blazers and Pacers.

• What's the hold-up? According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls "have shown no inclination to this point of including" their first-round pick, along with a player, which is what the Sixers have been seeking for Okafor.

Johnson notes that forward Nikola Mirotic is available. Mirotic, 26, is a restricted free agent after the season. With Ersan Ilyasova traded to Atlanta Wednesday night, perhaps the Sixers could look at Mirotic as a backup four to Dario Saric. 

Mirotic's value is in his outside shooting — he's a 6-foot-10 forward who made 39 percent of his threes last season. But his numbers have dipped across the board this season and he's shooting just 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from three.

• According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Okafor's preferred landing spot is Chicago, his hometown.

• Obviously, it's not up to Jah — the Sixers will go with whichever offer is best.

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

This isn't a big surprise, but Jason Peters will be back with the Eagles — big salary and all — for the 2017 season.

While the Eagles approached the veteran left tackle about his contract in January, Peters has not restructured his deal, according to a league source. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Thursday morning reported that Peters will be back next season on his normal contract. 

Yes, Peters is expensive in 2017. His base salary after hitting another Pro Bowl escalator written into his contract is up to $10.45 million for next season (plus a $250K workout bonus), which comes with a big cap hit of $11.7 million. That cap hit is the highest on the team, but not outlandish for a high-caliber left tackle. 

The Eagles could have very well cut Peters and moved on. It would have saved them significant cap space to use elsewhere. They just wouldn't have found any player more valuable to pay with that money. 

Peters, 35, is still their best option to protect Carson Wentz's blind side. He made his ninth Pro Bowl in 2016 after playing all 16 games. The team hasn't been shy about wanting him back and Peters toward the end of the season said he wanted to return for another year. 

"We certainly want to have him back," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said of Peters in early January.

“I love him. I want him on the team,” head coach Doug Pederson said with two games remaining this past season. “I don’t want him to go anywhere."

With Peters back, it means Lane Johnson's eventual trip to left tackle will be held off for another year. Eventually, he'll take over that spot … just not right now. 

During the season, Peters opened up about his future, saying he hopes Wentz can be the guy who finally gets him a Super Bowl ring (see story).