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.

Howie Kendrick (oblique) finally ready to begin rehab assignment tonight

Howie Kendrick (oblique) finally ready to begin rehab assignment tonight

Phillies corner outfielder/infielder Howie Kendrick is finally nearing a return. He'll begin a rehab assignment tonight with Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Kendrick has been out since April 15 with an oblique strain. He did defensive work during the Phillies' road trip and has been taking outdoor batting practice at home this week.

Kendrick was off to a hot start when the oblique injury sent him to the DL. In 10 games, he went 13 for 39 (.333) with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs. He batted second all 10 games.

The Phillies are in a bad offensive funk and could use Kendrick's bat over Michael Saunders' right now. The Phils' 1-2 hitters were among the most productive in the majors in April, hitting close to .350 for the month. They're down to .282 on the season as Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera have slumped in May.

With Clay Buchholz likely out for the season and Saunders providing little offense so far, the Phillies' trio of offseason veteran additions has not panned out through two months.

Supplement-free Lane Johnson heaviest he's ever been, feels he has much to prove

Supplement-free Lane Johnson heaviest he's ever been, feels he has much to prove

It's only natural to have some reservations about Lane Johnson after he was suspended for 10 games last season for his second violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. One more positive test and the Eagles will lose their starting right tackle for two full years.

Fortunately, Johnson seems determined to avoid any future run-ins with the league. The 27-year-old changed his entire approach this offseason, cutting out negative influences or any other voices at all while preparing for the 2017 season.

"I just trained by myself back in Oklahoma," Johnson said after the Eagles' first full-team practice of OTAs on Tuesday. "Trained by myself and everything went good. I came back, my body weight is about 325, so I'm heavier than I've ever been. I feel in good shape, and I have a lot to prove, so it's a big year for me.

"I did everything by myself. There wasn't going to be any mishaps."

Two suspensions totaling 14 games later, Johnson has gained a healthy fear of being unknowingly steered toward an illegal supplement.

Johnson tested positive for PEDs before the season last year after taking a banned substance known as peptides and was eventually slapped with the full 10-game penalty after a lengthy appeal process. The fifth-year veteran always maintained peptides were not listed on the label of the offending supplement.

Johnson filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the players' association in November after the suspension was upheld. Its status is ongoing.

Johnson also served a four-game suspension in 2014.

When he's not in trouble with the league office, Johnson is a vital cog in the Eagles' offense. They went 5-1 with him and 2-8 without him last season.

"I feel like whenever I'm playing, I try to be the best right tackle in the NFL," Johnson said. "My deal is to just stay on the field, play a complete season, and I think it will be a big year for me."

Johnson isn't concerned about losing a competitive edge, physically or mentally, after dropping supplements altogether.

"I've always been the athlete that I am," Johnson said. "That's what I'll continue to prove. I'm gonna go play and show people what I can do."

Signed in January 2016 to a five-year contract extension worth $56 million, Johnson has plenty to prove. He was working out in place of 35-year-old left tackle Jason Peters, who wasn't at the start of OTAs, on Tuesday and is expected to one day replace the nine-time Pro Bowl selection permanently.

Despite his checkered past, it sounds like Johnson knows exactly what's on the line, which is why he chose to go it alone this offseason. The only person you can trust is yourself.

Then again, Johnson still has his vices, which might raise some eyebrows with the news he's up to 325 pounds — eight more than his listed weight.

"My big deal is cutting out the ice cream, the Ben & Jerry's late at night — the stuff you want to indulge in," Johnson said. "If you get me on an ice cream binge, it's not good."

The Eagles can probably deal with a little extra ice cream, just as long as Johnson remains committed to keeping dodgy supplements out of his body.