Jason Peters is the best player on the Eagles, a dominant left tackle with five Pro Bowl appearances in eight years. He is recovering from two Achilles surgeries and an entire season of inactivity. He is learning the system of an unorthodox new coach. He is a team leader.
So why has he just blown off two weeks of practice?
According to the Eagles, Peters isn’t required to attend OTAs and he is staying away for personal reasons. Oh, they’re personal. He is steamed at the organization for costing him more than $3 million last season by designating his second Achilles problem as a non-football injury.
Hollis Thomas, a former Eagle and a co-host on my WIP radio show, has been reporting that Peters is not willing to volunteer his services —especially at the unusually rigorous practices being conducted by Chip Kelly — because he feels the Eagles showed no respect to him last season. Yes, Peters re-injured himself outside of the Eagles facilities, but he did it while trying to accelerate his rehab. He did it for the team.
Who is in the right here doesn’t matter. The real issue is that Peters will be behind his teammates when the second minicamp opens Tuesday and when training camp starts in seven weeks. First-round draft pick Lane Johnson will not be working with his bookend across the offensive line because Peters is angry. The best player on the Eagles will not be making his teammates better.
This is hardly the first time the Eagles have sacrificed player loyalty for the Almighty Dollar. Mike Patterson, one of the most dedicated Eagles of the past generation, ignored doctors’ orders and played five games in 2011 after a brain seizure. His reward? Patterson was placed on the same non-football injury list when he contracted viral pneumonia.
Patterson, who was risking his life by playing, got the $150,000 the Eagles were trying to deny him when GM Howie Roseman had a sudden change of heart after a strong negative public reaction.
While it may seem that Peters missing a couple of weeks of practice is no big deal in May and June, what it says about the way the Eagles conduct business is vital to their future. An organization that raised ticket prices after a 4-12 season cannot have it both ways. It cannot project a humanitarian image while clawing for every penny the way it has.
The Eagles are embarking on a new era. They have a new coach, a new energy and a new outlook. Now what they need is a new attitude. They need to stop their obsession with profits with an owner worth more than half-a-billion dollars.
Above all, they must make Jason Peters — and all of the players and fans offended by their business-first style — feel better about the Eagles than they do right now.
All hail Dom Brown
Baseball is a funny game. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, Domonic Brown comes along and hits 16 home runs for the Phillies in the first two months of the season.
In that same time frame, Cole Hamels goes 1-9. You just never know.
Brown’s dramatic emergence as a superstar is the most improbable story in an otherwise sobering start for the declining Phils. He was written off by all but the clinically insane after several failed opportunities. Suddenly, he is everything Phillies fans could have imagined: a five-tool star with marquee appeal. Dom Brown is the kind of player that fans buy tickets to see.
Jimmy Rollins rolled out a ridiculous theory that Phillies management never gave the kid a chance. Brown played 147 games before 2013 and hit 12 homers, with 57 RBIs and a .236 average. Is Rollins really saying those numbers demanded a starting spot in the outfield? Maybe Rollins needs to spend more time running hard to first and less time analyzing the front office.
The real story of Dom Brown is that he woke up. People said it in spring training, and they’re saying it now. For the first time, he listened to instruction from the hitting coaches and finally made the most of his undeniable talents.
On the other hand, there is no logical explanation for the utter freefall of Hamels. Not only is he 1-9 with an ERA almost two runs per game above his average, but the Phillies are 1-11 in games he starts. He isn’t hurt. He still has a 94 mph fastball and a lethal changeup. He just can’t win.
Asked for a theory about his nightmarish 2013, Hamels said: “It’s baseball.” In other words, you just never know.
McNabb still insulting Eagles fans
Donovan McNabb can no longer run fast or throw deep, but he is better than ever at infuriating people.
Last week, the former Eagles quarterback had the audacity to accuse Philadelphia of the ultimate crime. In his typical woe-is-me style, he painted his critics with the ugly brush of racism.
His exact quote to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, while discussing the current plight of Robert Griffin III in Washington, was this: “It’s depressing to me. It goes beyond … the quarterback position to have people dislike the kid already and he didn’t really even do anything? It’s depressing. This is a different arena he’s in — I lived it myself — where some people are going to dislike you because of your skin color.”
In his warped mind, McNabb’s love-hate relationship with fans is simple to dissect. The people who loved him appreciated his accomplishments. The people who hated him did so because he was black. “I lived it myself.” Those are the important words. And they are a withering insult to a city that embraced him.
My own dislike for McNabb has had a lot to do with his skin, actually. It is too thin. He has never been able to shrug off a valid criticism without attaching an agenda to it. At the height of McNabb’s career here, Terrell Owens publicly ripped his teammate for folding in the clutch. The petulant quarterback replied by calling the remark “black-on-black crime.”
When someone sees everything in racial terms, the real racist is usually the person making the accusations.
Idle thoughts from Cataldi
» Chip Kelly has made an excellent first impression, but he needs to shed his paranoia over media coverage. The coach has become abrupt and impatient with reasonable questions. Imagine what he’ll be like once the pressure of the season arrives. He needs to realize, right now, that he’s not in Oregon anymore.
» It took the Eagles one month to sell all single-game tickets for the 2013 season. Usually, it takes about an hour. Here’s an early prediction for 2014: There will be no ticket increase. The fans have spoken.
» In an internet poll last week at WIP, 63-percent of fans said it’s time for the Phillies to begin purging the roster of aging veterans. OK, start the clock. Let’s see how long it takes for GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. to come to the same obvious conclusion.
» NFL legend Jim Brown joined the Cleveland Browns’ front office and new president Joe Banner. Now there’s an odd couple — the gritty, controversial football hero and the finicky, delusional bureaucrat. Stay tuned. This situation has potential for some great sports entertainment.
» Cole Hamels was voted the second-most desirable baseball player last week by CougarLife.com, a website for women over 40. He finished behind the Mets’ David Wright. Will Hamels’ losing streak ever end?