Tag Archives: Brandon Boykin

Stop Telling Athletes to Just Shut Up and Play

13 Aug

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

cardaleJones

A fan on Twitter chided Ohio State quarterback for expressing his views on the Black Lives Matter Movement.

PHILADELPHIA—Last month, Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones took to Twitter to express his support for the Black Lives Matter Movement and was met with the typical response from fans that African American athletes get whenever they speak on social justice issues.  

Jones tweeted: “#AllLivesMatter why is that the only ones getting beaten, killed when unarmed, & mysteriously dien in custody African-American …You tell me that #AllLivesMatter well I say how do you define “All”?

An Ohio State fan responded with: “Worry about getting us fans another championship …Stay out of this bulls—.”    

Jones shot back at the fan with a Tweet steeped in sarcasm: “Sorry Mr. master, I aints allow to tweet nothing but foolsbaall stuff I donts want you think I more than a foots ball playa sir.”

The fan then apologized to Jones and later shut his Twitter site down.

Last week, I wrote about the complaints that several former Philadelphia Eagles players have leveled about ill treatment at the hands of head coach Chip Kelly, some of which has accused the former Oregon coach of racism. In a recent story on the Bleacher Report website, a pair of unnamed Eagles said that it wasn’t racism, but Kelly’s need to have total, dictatorial control of his team.

Like it or not, some veteran ball players aren’t going to take too well to that kind of coaching and some like former Eagle Brandon Boykin are going to complain about it, possibly in front of a live microphone.

Now whether or not I agree with the athlete isn’t the point. His right to be honest and have his own opinions is. While I have no problem debating the veracity or even the credibility of an athlete’s point of view, it bothers me when fans and media people tell athletes, especially African-American athletes, to just “shut up and play.”

For example, you might have thought that former Eagle Cary Williams’s complaints about Kelly’s hard practices causing team burnout late in the season may have been a little ridiculous considering some of the completions he gave up in some of those games, but I appreciated the man’s honesty.

And it’s hard to take reporters seriously when they complain about clichéd responses from athletes when sincere, heartfelt answers that challenge whatever the prevailing narrative is at the moment also bring scorn.  

Of course, the first response that seems to come from social media or sports talk radio when professional athletes speak their minds is that they have no right to complain because of the millions of dollars they make. It’s as if money is supposed to suppress your right to express yourself.

You’re supposed to turn a blind eye to injustice just because you’re rich. Your financial security means that you can’t protest your work conditions the way Curt Flood did in refusing to be traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Philadelphia Phillies, the move that eventually led to free agency in Major League Baseball.

Being a Black man of means doesn’t mean that you won’t still have problems getting a cab in New York or Boston. It also doesn’t mean that you won’t get pulled over by the cops for no reason other than the color of your skin like any other Black person in America.

For African-American athletes there’s a perception that they should be grateful for making the millions they make and shouldn’t rock the boat by daring to make a statement about something that impacts everyone, including them. While there is a certain amount of gratitude that these athletes probably have for their God-given abilities, they’re in the NFL because of that ability and their hard work. It’s something they’ve earned…and they shouldn’t be expected to give up their First Amendment rights in order to enjoy it.

What’s really ironic about all this is that I’ve heard those complaints in blue-collar, union towns like Philly, Baltimore, Boston, Pittsburgh, New York, Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit.

Seems to me that you folks need a little bit of a history lesson, so let me help you out.

Were it not for people like Walter P. Reuther (United Auto Workers), A. Philip Randolph (Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters), and Cesar Chavez (United Farm Workers), people who refused to just “shut up and work” and rocked the boat instead, that 40-hour work week, with the living wage, the paid sick and vacation days and the healthcare plan that so many of you union workers enjoy wouldn’t exist.

Might want to remember that the next time you want to shut down your favorite athlete on Twitter.

 

 

 

Chip Kelly Needs to Address How He Relates to His Players

11 Aug

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has been accused of racism and being a control freak who does not tolerate dissent. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has been accused of racism and being a control freak who does not tolerate dissent. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—By now you all have heard about Brandon Boykin’s remarks regarding Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly after he was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a fifth-round draft pick.

What raised eyebrows was a text sent by Boykin to Comcast Sports Net that said Kelly is “uncomfortable around men of our culture.”

It was originally interpreted as Kelly having a problem with African-American players and was viewed in the same was as similar accusations from former Eagles players LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and former assistant coach Tra Thomas.

A day later, Boykin clarified his remarks saying he wasn’t calling Kelly a racist, but that he has a hard time relating to players.

“He likes total control of everything, and he don’t like to be uncomfortable,” Boykin told Comcast Sports Net. “Players excel when you let them naturally be who they are, and in my experience that hasn’t been important to him, but you guys have heard this before me.”

A recent story by the Bleacher Reports’ Mike Freeman confirms what Boykin was saying about Kelly’s need to have total control over everything.

While Boykin shed further light on what he meant, the perception that Kelly has a problem with African-American players lingers on with more than a few African-Americans fans. On some level it’s understandable, especially from those fans who are still upset over the incident in which wide receiver Riley Cooper dropped a fair amount of N-Bombs at a Country Music concert.

As Black men, society often views us with suspicion, especially if we are seen as outspoken or show any form of anger. Even the most liberal of white people and among African Americans themselves, that perception exists.

That said, I don’t think that either Kelly or the Eagles as an organization are racists.

However, I do think that Kelly is trying to make the Eagles into his image from a football standpoint, and that has led to the clashes he’s had with veteran players. For example, two-time Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis, who is white, was let go after he started demanding more money.

As for the decision to trade Boykin, it was logical given Kelly’s mantra that says big people beat little people. As good as Boykin as a cornerback in nickel (five defensive backs) situation, he simply did not fit into what Kelly wanted for his defense. Boykin is listed at about 5-foot-9, maybe 5-8.

In the wake of these allegations from his former players, Kelly needs to have a sit-down with not only his Black players, but his entire team just to let them that he’s accessible. One of the complaints that Boykin made was that Kelly couldn’t relate to players outside of football.

Kelly said that he has an open-door policy with his players, but the workday is very structured during the offseason and during the season.

“You can come to talk to me whenever you want to come and talk to me,” Kelly said earlier this week. “But we also have a pretty structured day where guys are in meetings. I don’t just sit and walk around and say, let me go grab him and let’s sit down and have a coffee together. When they get here, they are doing stuff.”

At some point, Kelly is going to have to take a look at how he relates to players, who are grown men and not college kids whose scholarships you can yank if they don’t fit in with your program.

If the Eagles are winning on a consistent basis because of Kelly’s moves, all of this will be forgotten. But if wins don’t result from all of these moves, you’ll hear more noise about Kelly’s relationship with his players.
If that happens, Kelly will be the one having to find a new relationship.

Eagles Defense Shuts the Door on Washington’s Comeback Hopes

18 Nov

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Brandon Boykin's four-quarter interception of Robert Griffith III preserves the Eagles 24-16 win over Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Brandon Boykin’s four-quarter interception of Robert Griffith III preserves the Eagles 24-16 win over Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—The Eagles 24-16 win over the Washington Redskins Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field was more of a stark contrast to where this team was last season going into a bye-week.

Back in 2012, the last game the Eagles played before their bye-week was a heartbreaking loss to the Detroit Lions who came back from a 10-point deficit in the last five minutes in regulation to win the game in overtime.

After the Eagles jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the third quarter on a one-yard run by LeSean McCoy, the Redskins made things interesting in the fourth period on a couple of Robert Griffin III touchdown passes and a pair of two-point conversions. With the offense unable to move the football in the final stanza, the Eagles defense needed to come up with one final stand to hold off the surging Redskins.

Brandon Boykin's interception in the end zone was the exclamation point to a huge win for the Birds. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Brandon Boykin’s interception in the end zone was the exclamation point to a huge win for the Birds. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Washington drove from its own four-yard line down to the Eagles 18 with 40 seconds left. It looked like it was going to be another example of the Birds defense blowing a big lead in the fourth quarter.

But Eagles nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin saved the day with a drive-killing interception in the end zone that helped to preserve the win for the 6-5 Birds, who will head into the bye-week in sole possession of first-place in the NFC East. It was the Birds first win at home since Sept. 30, 2012 when they beat New York Giants on a late field goal.

“Everybody knew that someone had to step up and make it,” said middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. “There was no sense that we were going to let them get into the end zone. Everybody had that type of attitude that we were going to make a stop.”

In all honesty, the Eagles win over the Redskins was the type of game they would have lost last season.  To their credit, they found a way to pull off a huge victory when it looked like they were about to fall apart.

“Really, how are you going to react when things don’t go exactly the way you planned?” asked Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. “That’s what I think I’m most proud of today, is how they reacted when it didn’t go our way, when they faced a bit of adversity, to kind of dig down deep and make a play when we had to make a play. That was a big sign for this team.”

Boykin, who remembers all too well how the Eagles defense had trouble closing out games last season, said the coaching staff under current defensive coordinator Billy Davis has done a good job of preparing them for late-game situations.

“It’s no panic, it’s not anything new to us. We practice this, so when you’re in a game situation, you treat it like practice,” Boykin said.

The Eagles also played well on defense in the other three quarters as well. For the sixth straight week, the Eagles have not allowed a team to score more than 21 points in a game.  The Birds sacked RGIII four times including his fumble in the red zone after a hard hit by linebacker Connor Barwin.  Linebacker Trent Cole also had a pair of sacks for the Eagles as well.

“They did a good job coming out in the beginning of the game and shutting down a lot of stuff that we were trying to do,” Griffin III said. “They were there where they needed to be; they were taking away the routes we were trying to run. That’s disheartening, but we have to make sure we come up with something to counteract that.”

Davis said his defense has progressed well since the first game of the season and especially since the loss to the Denver Broncos on Sept. 29.

“We know at the end when it gets all pressure-packed that you have to back to your fundamentals and your technique and your training,” Davis said. “This is what separates you.”

The Eagles scored their points on offense on a pair touchdown runs by LeSean McCoy and a four-yard run by quarterback Nick Foles. Alex Henery had a 24-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Eagles Are Getting Better on Defense

13 Nov

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Eagles middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans has been the anchor of an improving defense. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans has been the anchor of an improving defense. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles’ linebacker Mychal Kendricks was a rookie when the Eagles struggled through last year’s 4-12 season in which the defense blew games late in the fourth quarter or just got outright blown off the field. Quarterbacks like Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Washington’s Robert Griffin III had field days carving up the Birds defense.

Through it all, Kendricks said the veterans kept telling him this wasn’t always going to be the case and that better days had to be around the corner.

“Some of the veterans told me ‘this is not the league, we’re supposed to be winning and having fun,” Kendrick recalled. “You’re supposed to win something. I just felt that morale was at an all-time low …This year I think this is what the league is supposed to be about.”

That’s because the Eagles defense has been a much better place than it was last year. Since a 52-20 loss to the Denver Broncos, the Eagles defense has not allowed a team to score more than 21 points. While they are not going to remind anyone just yet of the 1985 Chicago Bears or the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, they have been a team that seems to get better with each game and they’re a lot better off than they were last season.

“Everybody is comfortable with what they’re doing,” said Eagles inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans.”Everybody knows their role; everybody knows where they’re supposed to be and when they’re supposed to be doing it. Guys are flying around and having fun playing the game. That’s the difference.”

Ryans came up big against Green Bay with 11 solo tackles (13 overall), including two for a loss of yardage and he also had an interception. Defensive coordinator Billy Davis said Ryans is doing a good job of quarterbacking the defense.

“DeMeco is the leader of our defense and he’s having an outstanding Pro Bowl year and we couldn’t be happier with everything DeMeco is doing for us,” Davis said. “He gets us in the best defense possible, and as the season has gone on we as a staff have gotten more and more comfortable in his ability to put us in good situations, and he has, and from there he’s done a great job playing the middle linebacker position, between tackle to tackle, he is a force. Whether it’s crossing routes he’s knocking out or his inside run game that he’s tackling.  He had one of the best form tackles I’ve seen in a long time last week.”

In the Eagles 27-13 win over the Green Bay Packers, the defense came up with another big effort. They held the Packers to under 100 yards rushing and they forced two interceptions. The Birds managed to do it despite injuries to Kendricks and safety Earl Wolff. Najee Goode, who nearly had a pick-six and cornerback Roc Carmichael also played well for the Eagles.

The Birds secondary, which got burned for the big play quite often last season, has done a better job of limiting the big play and they’ve done a good job of tackling. Nickel cornerback Brandon Boykin, who leads the team with three interceptions, said the loud music played during practice has helped the secondary do a better job of communicating with each other.

“I think what helps that is the music. That’s huge for us because the defensive backs have to over-communicate so when we get in the game it’s automatic. We’ve been working on that since whenever OTAs starting, so it’s second nature now,” Boykin said. “You have to focus on the play while other stuff is going on around you. When you get in a real environment, it’s easy.”

On the defensive line, the Birds got a solid effort from defensive tackle Vinny Curry, who seems to be getting better every time he’s on the field. Against the Packers, he had three tackles and had the lone Eagles sack in the game. Head coach Chip Kelly said Curry is getting better with each game.

“I think he’s getting better at just overall run defense,” Kelly said. “But in the run game itself, you know, I think Vinny is starting to get better and better.  It was his best game against the run this week.”

The Eagles defense has just 20 sacks in 10 games, but Davis said his squad has done a good job in putting pressure on the quarterback and making them uncomfortable in the pocket.

“Even though the sack numbers aren’t as high as we would like, but there’s pressures, there’s batted balls, there’s errant throws sometimes, just a matter of keeping the quarterback uncomfortable, and that ball that looks ugly was a bad pass had a lot to do with a throwing lane being clogged up or an arm up in the face or not having a clean lane to see in,” Davis said.

Eagles Uptempo Offense Wears Down Washington

10 Sep

LESEAN McCOY COMES UP BIG FOR BIRDS 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

LeSean McCoy ran roughshod through a worn out Redskins defense for 184 yards on 31 carries and one touchdown.

LeSean McCoy ran roughshod through a worn out Redskins defense for 184 yards on 31 carries and one touchdown.

LANDOVER, Md.—If folks were concerned about whether Chip Kelly’s hurry-up would actually translate at the NFL level, Monday Night’s game against the Washington Redskins was an emphatic yes.

For Kelly, it wasn’t as lightning fast as it was at Oregon, but it was effective nonetheless.

The Eagles no-huddle, read-option offense kept the Redskins defense tired and off- balance while keeping the Washington offense off the field. The Birds offense rolled up 443 yards of total offense and came away with a 33-27 win in front of a packed house at FedEx Field.

“I think our guys played with great energy, but we made some mistakes—coaches included,” Kelly said. “I think the way they approached the game and the energy they played with was great.”

Running back LeSean McCoy was the beneficiary of Kelly’s uptempo attack. He gained 184 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown. As a team, the Eagles rushed for 263 yards.

“LeSean is going to have a great year,” Vick said. “I just feel like this is going to be on one of the biggest years of his career.  As long as he’s apart of this Eagles team and Chip Kelly’s here, he’s going to do some dynamic thing.”

A rejuvenated Michael Vick came up huge, completing 15-of-25 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. Vick gained 54 yards rushing on nine carries with one touchdown. He had one big run 36 yards to help take some time off the clock.

“I thought he did a nice job and that run he had in the fourth quarter was huge for us,” Kelly said. “We were in a little bit of a lull, but he made a big play for us and got us out of that.”

Until late in the third quarter, the Eagles defense kept a rusty Robert Griffin III and the Redskins in check. They forced three turnovers-two interceptions and a fumble. The Eagles sacked Griffin three times.

One of the big stars tonight for the Eagles was much-maligned cornerback Cary Williams. Known for his fiery temper, Williams channeled the anger into a sack, two tackles, an interception and two passes defended including one on fourth down late in the fourth quarter that ended a Redskins drive.

“I feel like every time I step out on the field, regardless of what happened in the past, I try to come out with something to prove. I want to go out and put my best foot forward, Williams said.

Oddly enough, the game started with an Eagles shortcoming from last season-a turnover in the red zone. On their first possession of the game, the Eagles drove from their own 20 to the Washington four-yard line. But on first and goal, Vick’s pass was batted down by Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan.

The officials ruled the pass a lateral and the ball was picked up by cornerback DeAngelo Hall for a 75-yard return for a touchdown.  The Eagles challenged the fumble but it was upheld by replay.

After the fumble, the Eagles scored 33 unanswered points.  They got a 48-yard field goal on the next possession from Alex Henery. And then took the lead for good on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Vick to DeSean Jackson. The play was setup by an interception of a Robert Griffin III pass by Brandon Boykin.

“Mike did a great job of holding the ball and seeing it open up and he threw it to a spot where just myself could make the catch,” Jackson said.

On the Redskins next possession, running back Albert Morris mishandled a pitch out from Griffin and was tagged for a safety by Trent Cole. That gave the Eagles a 12-7 lead.

Midway through the second quarter, the Eagles, using their fast-paced, no-huddle offense, moved 62 yards and five plays to a 28-yard touchdown from Vick to tight end Brent Celek.

On their next possession, the Eagles drove through a visibly tired Washington defense 44 yards and nine plays to Vick’s three-yard run for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 26-7 lead at the break.

The Birds went into the locker room at halftime having run 53 plays– more than the Pittsburgh Steelers had for an entire game and dominated the time of possession.  The Eagles offense rolled up 322 yards of total offense including 115 yards by McCoy against a tired Redskins defense.

“They were tiring out falling on the ground, getting cramps, they were running guys in and out,” said left tackle Jason Peters. “Hands on their hips. They were tired. We were definitely in better shape.”

The Eagles defense opened the second half with a Williams’ interception of Griffin.  After a loss by Vick on first down, McCoy ran through the Redskins defense for a 34- yard run to give the Eagles a seemingly insurmountable 33-7 lead in the third quarter.

Griffin rallied the Redskins to score 20 unanswered points including a 24-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to Leonard Hankerson with 1:15 left in the game. After a slow start, Griffin passed for 329 on 30-of-49 passing with two touchdown passes and two interceptions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eagles Players Say Cooper-Williams Scuffle Was Just Football, Not Racial

5 Sep

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—In a video that will probably get more viral than the upcoming Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight next week, controversial Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper got into a fight with teammate and volatile cornerback Cary Williams.

The video, which was shot by Comcast Sportsnet Philly, shows Cooper going after Williams after both players hit the ground during a passing drill on a ball thrown by quarterback Michael Vick.

Cooper attempted to grab Williams around the neck. Williams threw a couple of overhand slaps to Cooper’s helmet.  Teammates restrained both players. Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin pulled Cooper away while Eagles assistant coach Todd Lyght separated Williams.

But as Cooper was being pulled away, Williams broke away from the coaches and stalked after Cooper and could be faintly heard on the video saying, “I ain’t the N-word you f—k with.”

That was apparently a reference to a video in which Cooper using the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert after a dispute with an African-American security guard.

Also in the video, Vick looked like he was trying to calm Williams down.  Then Vick was spirited away after Williams appeared to have shoved him.

Inside the locker room, the players said the situation came down to two guys competing for the ball and nothing to do with anything beyond what happens in football.

Of course, it does beg question, have the Eagles Black players really gotten over Cooper’s comments at the Kenny Chesney concert?

“It’s just something that happens,” said Boykin. “People are out there competing and practicing hard everyday. It’s just competition.  They’re moving on from it.”

“The ball was in the air and they both kind of came down on each other. …it was over quick, we broke it up and forgot about it and we practiced. They guarded each other six or seven times and nothing happened.”

Cooper himself played down the incident and chalked it up to two guys fighting for the football.  When he asked if Williams said something vicious to him, Cooper jokingly said, “Y’all ready for Washington.”

When asked if things were normal with his teammates since returning from his leave of absence in aftermath of him using the N-word, Cooper said everything was okay with his teammates both African-American and white.

“Everything is completely 100 percent normal, talking to everybody, everybody talking to me,” Cooper told reporters after practice Thursday. “We’re all real close. Everybody, Cary included. He’s my boy. We’re both in the NFL. We are super competitive. We both want the ball. In one-on-one’s, he wants to have a pick, I want to have a reception. That’s just what it is.”

Since the controversy regarding the video came to light, Cooper said no other player from any team around the league during the preseason has brought it up during the heat of competition in a game or during practice.

Williams, who played with the Baltimore Ravens last season, does have a history of trash-talking with opposing wide receivers regardless of race.  When the Ravens played the Eagles last season, Williams was fined by the league for a fight with DeSean Jackson, who was also fined.

Ironically, Jackson was seen on tape talking with Williams after the fight. He said that he told Williams that they have to focus on Monday night’s game against Washington.

“We got a game and in the end that’s all I care about,” Jackson said. “We got a game to win Monday and that’s it.”

Throughout the preseason and in training camp with the Eagles, Williams has been getting into fights with any receiver who lines up against him.

When reporters gathered around Williams locker after practice, he refused to talk to reporters about the altercation with Cooper.

Wide receiver Jason Avant dismissed the incident as the something that goes as a normal part of what goes on at a football practice. He said the real problem was that it was caught on camera.

“That’s what happens on a football field, we just can’t let you guys see it,” Avant said with a smile.