Archive | December, 2011

Playoff Paradise Lost: Eagles Try to Salvage What’s Left of their Season

15 Dec

Eagles Running Back LeSean "Shady" McCoy has been one of the few bright spots in a tough year for the Eagles. Photo by Jake McDonald.

By Chris Murray

For the CM Report

Even with their playoff chances barely showing a pulse, the 5-8 Eagles are a better team than their record would indicate, according to New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan.

Despite the Birds lack of consistency on both sides of the football throughout the 2011 campaign, Ryan is not making any of those wild prognostications that he has been known to make from time to time.

With the 8-5 Jets in the running for a wildcard spot in the AFC, Ryan said his team will not overlook the “consistently” inconsistent Eagles when the two teams lock horns at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday (4:15 p.m.)

“I can tell you this, I’ve watched their talent and that doesn’t look like a 5-8 team,” Ryan said Wednesday during a conference call with the Philadelphia media. “They’re fourth in the league in offense and 11th in the league in defense. The numbers don’t make sense right there. They’ve had some struggles, whatever it is. I’ll tell you this that’s a dangerous team and they have as much talent as anyone around the league.”

In a season where they’ve lost games they should have won, that will be the final epitaph to their 2011 season unless the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants have a meltdown in the next three weeks. As of now, they are still mathematically alive, but need all kinds of help.

But the sobering reality for the Eagles is that they will playing the role of spoiler for these final weeks of the season even if they close out the season winning their last three games. That’s the Birds consolation prize for a season that began with huge expectations.

“You’re always trying to win each and every week,” said rookie center Jason Kelce. “If we finish off strong and we don’t make the playoffs, it will be something positive for the end of the season, but everybody’s still going to be upset that we’re not in it.”

What will haunt the Birds the most about the 2011 season is that they have played brilliantly enough to make you think they were going to be among the elite teams in the NFL, especially in wins over the first-place Giants and Cowboys.

But the Birds have blown games this season by shooting themselves in the foot and making that key mistake whether it was a turnover on offense or a blown assignment on defense. It was always something this season—Juqua Parker jumping offsides in the loss to Buffalo or Jeremy Maclin fumbling the ball on the Eagles final drive in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

“The frustrating thing is guys doing the right things and being in the right spot,” said Eagles defensive end Jason Babin. “We showed how lethal we can be when we do that. We just got to be consistent.”

On defense, the Eagles have had outstanding efforts like Sunday’s win over the Miami Dolphins in which they came up with nine sacks, forced three turnovers and allowed just 204 yards of total offense. But then they’ve had clunkers like their loss to the Seattle Seahawks, who gashed the Birds defense for 174 yards on the ground-including 148 from running back Marshawn Lynch.

Defensive end Trent Cole said having a new defensive coordinator in Juan Castillo and not having offseason camps has made it difficult for the defense with all the new personnel to gel into a unit.

“We’ve been through a lot,” Cole said. “We haven’t had no off-season. Everybody can’t expect the that y’all called the ‘Dream Team,’ and come out be a dream team when we haven’t been together..

“We come into camp and bam! We’re right into the season three weeks later. Some teams can adjust to it, but some teams just can’t. This is how it is. Some teams still had all their players. This team had all brand new players that had to gel together and learn how to work together. It just took some time. As a team, we’re all learning how to play together.”

Despite having the league’s fourth ranked offense and the NFC’s best rusher in LeSean McCoy, the Eagles propensity for turnovers has slowed the team considerably. They ranked 30th in turnovers with 31 turnovers. Quarterback Michael Vick has thrown 12 interceptions.

Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg said he has to keep trying to find ways to fix it.

“It’s not coming from one sort of thing,” Morhinweg said. “There’s been times in the past where we’ve had three balls tipped in and it all comes from one thing and you get that thing fixed real quick. So we’re working, we’re working hard.”

Chris Murray Talks About the End of the NBA Lockout on Comcast Network

5 Dec

Chris Murray was recently a guest on TCN’s Art Fennell Reports

Whassup, Partner: Labor Disputes in Sports Show that Players and Owners Have Mutual Interests

2 Dec

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday  Sun

The year 2011 will be no doubt be remembered for its classic confrontations between millionaire athletes and the billionaires who pay them in both of America’s two most popular sports leagues-the National Football League and the National Basketball Association.

The owners of both leagues believed that their million dollar field hands were raking in too much of the revenue and were claiming that they were losing money. The NFL, which brought in $9 billion in revenue, claimed they needed more money to deal with its “rising” business costs. The NBA owners claimed that 22 of its 30 teams were losing $300 million in revenue.

Both the NFL and the NBA locked out its million-dollar underlings, presumably to get a deal that would more suited to the bottom line of its owners. Both the basketball and football owners wanted to have a bigger part of the revenue than the players. The NFL Players Association and the NBA Players Association decertified their unions and wanted to take their bosses to court.

However, neither the players or the owners in both sports wanted to spend the millions of dollars in court costs nor did they want to lose the astronomical sums of money they would have lost if they went through the nuclear winter of not playing at all. In fear of a brutal war of attrition that would have made losers out of everybody, the business “partners” got together and settled their disputes.

In the NBA, the players will get 51.5 percent of the basketball revenue and in the NFL, the players will 48 percent of the total revenue without the owners taking a billion dollars off the top as they did in the previous collective bargaining agreement.

Beyond all the financial minutia of revenue breakdowns, the back and forth rhetoric that came out of these negotiations is the stark realization, as much as the billionaire owners or people who like to defend the so-called wealthy one percent would hate to admit it, the players, who are presumably their employees, are in reality their equal business partners.

(Shhhhh…it could be that way with all workers, regardless of occupation if they only knew their true power, but that’s another story for another time.)

Let’s face it whether you go to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia or the Staples Center in Los Angeles, you are paying to see the players, not the owners. Without the players throwing for 300 yards and chucking three-pointers from darn-near half court, all the owners have is an empty arena with well-painted team logos.

During the NBA lockout, the barnstorming tours of players like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James played to sold out arenas up and down the East Coast.

Folks aren’t going to spend their hard-earned money for that “classic confrontation” between Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

And it cuts both ways. Without the owners, the players don’t have the big arenas, the negotiated television contracts and the opportunity to make big salaries after their slam dunks and hard sacks of the quarterback puts the asses in the stands.

Perhaps the most explosive rhetoric that highlighted both negotiations was the suggestion the owners were like plantation owners. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson came out and said the negotiations were a form of “modern day” slavery.

In the NBA negotiations, HBO’s Bryant Gumbel referred to NBA Commissioner David Stern as “a plantation owner” and union lawyer Jeff Kessler said the NBA owners take it or leave it proposals treated the players like “plantation workers.”

Of course, those characterizations sent the sports media world, the left and right-wing of the Black literary community and just about everyone else into a manic tizzy that millionaire athletes would dare compare themselves to slaves. It’s not like LeBron James was horse- whipped by the Miami Heats for coming up short in the fourth quarter of the 2011 NBA Finals.

But when we get beyond the sanctimonious rancor of all those who admonished wealthy athletes for comparing themselves to slaves, I think the real issue has more to do with power and that the players want the owners to realize that their employee-employer relationship is more of a partnership in which neither side can live without the other.

“It’s really about making sure that this is a partnership and that everybody is making money,” said New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden, who wrote the book, 40 Million Slaves: The Rise, the Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete. “I think the new frontier is the exercise of collective power by players to force the owners to treat this is as a very even partnership. The underlying thing is not wanting to be exploited and putting a value on yourself and making sure the owners live up to the value you put on yourself.”

That’s something all American workers should think about.