Welcome to Summer: Where “Stick to Sports” has no place to hide.

sportsballs1

By Will Stevenson

Oh Summer, why doth thou forsake thee? If I were into baseball as I once was, then the sports calendar wouldn’t be a bottomless pit full of coach talk hypothetical lists. What I have noticed during the “off-season” is sports fans grasp for anything to talk about, and when the major sports aren’t on television, their true colors come raining down. Opinions, or reactions have used to be marred back in the day before social media. Even if your co-worker told you Wilt Chamberlain is the greatest player of all-time, you may counter with Bill Russell, and then that would be the end of it. Now, that conversation can and will be had around a million times a day, every day. The comment section has become America’s fine dining establishment where anyone can go to be heard. Never mind the fact there are hired commentators for every website and Facebook as well. Nevertheless, we are drawn to any story that can give us substance, and if it doesn’t have any, we will hypothetically make something interesting out of it.

The summer months will now be known for domestic violence allegations, NBA Free Agency, NFL Minicamps, draft stock, front office movement and League posturing for the upcoming seasons. The News Cycle comes and goes so quickly, it is hard to keep up with what is new news, and what is old news. Remember the OJ Simpson coverage? Ezekiel Elliott? The continuous Kyrie and Melo trade rumors. Remember when Phil Jackson left the Knicks? How about the Mayweather/McGregor pre-fight world tour? Lavar Ball? Almost every one of these stories has been covered in the past month or two, or even a few weeks ago, but now they are old news. The current media conversation revolves around Colin Kaepernick, Josh Rosen, NBA trade rumors and the obligatory “Top ‘insert number’ list” for the sports we love.

The ‘off-season’ sports cycle brings about something different inside the sports fan: Real Feelings. Each topic in the above paragraph brings out conversations that most are not comfortable with in an open forum. All you have to do is click on a Colin Kaepernick link to see what America thinks as a whole on the topic. No longer are “X’s and O’s” the end all be all to our sports allegiances. During the season we will all watch the Redzone Channel, pregame shows, follow fantasy leagues and forget all about what Ray Lewis and Shannon Sharpe were debating because there is now a box score to look at. During the summer months, there is no place for “Stick to Sports” to hide. Honestly, there are other things we could pay attention to, but what fun would that be? I don’t mind a conversation on any of these topics, nor do I mind to read up on the many debates of my fellow Bookers and Tweeters. I have one question: Are we evolving through these topics, or do we just want to be right? I always wonder what the agenda is of a post about Lavar Ball, or a “Kaepernick is not being blackballed” thread. I wonder if people even care what is going on, or is there only goal to ruffle feathers, and are they being paid to do it? From what I have witnessed, more people have equipped themselves with knowledge on these topics, while others continue to say the same old ignorance.

Not only have the commentators been open to the non-sports topics, the media has jumped into the pot as well. No longer do fans have to sit around and wonder if the people they see on camera feel the same way they feel. More and more commentators are freely putting their stamp on their message about topics that go on outside the realms of actual game-play. I enjoy it, even Will Cain. There can’t be a Ray Lewis without a Shannon Sharpe. There can’t be a Will Cain without a Bomani Jones. For my selfish reasons, I want all the opinions to be out there, running rampant as closeted PCers race to find a boring monologue to post in response.

It is weird how the sports world is portrayed against the entertainment world. Many of us are old enough to remember Beavis & Butthead, SouthPark and StickDeath.com, but somehow a player flipping a bat after a homerun, or a player high-stepping into the endzone is cause for uproar. More people are tuning in to politics, but do not want politics near their sports.

Maybe it will never change. Maybe those who post things will never concede to racism in sports, college athletics being a non-competitive industry, or the need to treat athletes as humans like us. Maybe people still believe marijuana should never be used, but Oxycontin is just fine. Who knows. All I know is I love the summer months, because Stick to Sports has no place to hide.

Interesting in becoming a part of the Sports Elite writing team? Send us an email
Advertisements

Philadelphia Eagles Offseason

usa-today-10181823.0Hey, everybody, my name’s Jacky and I’ll be the blogger for the Philadelphia Eagles now (on Sports Elite Blog Site, anyway). I’m a diehard Eagles fan and a diehard Giants, Cowboys, and Redskins hater, so if you support one of those teams, I suggest you click away because there’s going to be a lot of roasting.

So with the introduction out of the way, let’s get into the real deal. The NFL season’s coming closer to a start than ever. The Hall of Fame game was yesterday, kicking off the NFL preseason. The Cow-girls won but by 2. Cowboy’s haters keep your heads up. I saw a stat saying that the last 14(?) winners of the HOF game failed to win a single playoff game. Pretty much sums up the Cowboys franchise.

All jokes aside, I’m here to write about the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles finished 7-9 last season, last in the NFC East, mostly due to a poor WR core (which they improved drastically) and poor CBs (new class hasn’t proved a lot but shows promise). Their offensive line was decent but could’ve been great if Lane Johnson hadn’t been suspended for 10 weeks. With good, at best, running backs, this didn’t leave the number 2 pick and rookie QB Carson Wentz many options to score. The Eagles defense was above average. Other than the corners, the defensive players were beasts. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham dominated the defensive line (more improvement to come); Jordan Hicks was pretty much a one man as a LB, but still did amazing; Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod Jr. made up one of the top notch safety tandems in the league.

Offseason: January

So because of the 7-9 record, it’s not a mystery why the Eagles made a bunch of gigantic roster moves in the offseason; some good, some bad, and others just plain, what? So in January, right after the season ended (I went to the season closer when they beat the Cowboys to give them their 3rd L) the Eagles signed 15 future/reserve contracts to various free agents. This was all within the first 22 days of January 2017. Also, the Eagles signed wide receivers’ coach Mike Groh. Groh had a long career coaching in college before becoming a wide receivers’ coach for the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams (coaching the likes of Alshon Jeffery (who we’ll get to later) and Kenny Britt).

Offseason: March

After that, they released cornerback Leodis McKelvin (who remains a free agent) and defensive end Connor Barwin (who disappointed last season and now plays for the Rams). They then agreed to terms with cornerback/safety Jaylen Watkins and extended a tender with tight end Trey Burton. On March 9, (the day Barwin was released), the Eagles made a bunch of moves. They signed: Torrey Smith, a wide receiver who played for the 49ers and won a Super Bowl with the Ravens; Alshon Jeffery, the star wide receiver of the Chicago Bears; and Chance Warmack, a first round offensive guard from the Tennessee Titans. Linebacker Najee Goode was also resigned to a one-year deal.

In the weeks following, the Eagles signed: Stefen Wisniewski, offensive guard for the Jaguars who had a great rookie season with the Titans; Nick Foles, quarterback who played for the Eagles for 2 years, having a game with a perfect passer’s rating and 7 touchdown (NFL record) before becoming backup QBs for the Rams and the Chiefs; Chris Long, defensive end for the Patriots and previously, the Rams; Patrick Robinson, cornerback for the Colts and before that, the Saints and the Chargers. The Eagles also released backup quarterback Chase Daniels in favor of Nick Foles.

Draft: April

In April the NFL Draft was coming up and to be hosted in the great City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. The Eagles had acquired defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, whose two years with the Ravens saw him record 13 sacks and 1 interception, as well as a third round pick (99th overall) in a trade for the Eagles’ third round pick (74th overall). They also signed quarterback Matt McGloin, backup for the Raiders. So with this, the Eagles headed into the NFL Draft with the 14th, 43rd, 99th, 118th, 132nd, 166th, and 214th picks.

With the first round, 14th pick, the Eagles selected a defensive end, Derek Barnett, from the University of Tennessee. He played 3 years in college and had a combined total of 33 sacks (breaking Tennessee’s record of 32 career sacks, formerly held by Reggie White), 1 interception, and 3 forced fumbles. Many people believe him to be one of the best defensive linemen in the draft class, with some experts saying that he is better than the number one overall pick, Myles Garrett.

In the second round, the Eagles chose Sidney Jones IV, a cornerback out of the University of Washington with the 43rd pick. In three years, Jones recorded 145 tackles, 8 interceptions for 147 and 1 TD, 21 passes defended, and 6 forced fumbles. At Pro Day, Jones tore his ACL which caused his draft stock to drop.

In the third round, Philadelphia took Rasul Douglas, a cornerback from West Virginia University. Douglas had transferred from Nassau Community College in New York, where he had played football for two years. In his two years at West Virginia, Douglas recorded 77 tackles, 9 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles.

The Eagles had two picks in the fourth round, which they used to select Mack Hollins (118 overall) and Donnel Pumphrey. Hollins was a wide receiver from the University of North Carolina. He played four years at UNC and had 81 receptions for 667 yards and 20 touchdowns. Pumphrey was a running back for San Diego State. In his four years of college, Pumphrey has had 1059 attempts for 6405 and 62 touchdowns as well as 99 receptions for 1039 yards and 5 touchdowns.

In the fifth round, the Eagles selected Shelton Gibson (166th) and Nathan Gerry (184th/compensatory pick). Gibson, like Rasul Douglas, is also an alumnus of West Virginia University, where he played wide receiver. He played three seasons and ended up with 84 receptions for 1898 yards and 17 touchdowns. Gerry, a linebacker/safety from the University of Nebraska, had 273 tackles and 13 interceptions for 200 yards in his four years of playing.

Finally, the Eagles selected Elijah Qualls in the sixth round. Qualls is a defensive tackle from the University of Washington. In his three years of playing, Qualls has 77 tackles, including 11.5 for loss and 7.5 sacks.

Post-Draft: May

After the draft, the Eagles waived many of its players that were signed to future/reserve contracts. They also claimed linebacker Steven Daniels off waivers. Daniels had been drafted by the Redskins but suffered an injury in training camp, ending his season prematurely. He was waived and claimed by the Eagles. On May 11, the Eagles draftees were all given rookie contracts, other than Derek Barnett. The Eagles also signed the following rookie free agents: RB Corey Clement of Wisconsin; DT Winston Craig of Richmond; QB Jerod Evans of Virginia Tech; CB Randall Goforth of UCLA; punter Cameron Johnston of Ohio State; center Tyler Orlosky of West Virginia; S Tre Sullivan of LSU; DT Charles Walker of Oklahoma; WR Greg Ward of Houston (QB in college); and CB Jomal Wiltz of Iowa State. The next day, undrafted rookie TE Billy Brown of Shepherd was signed by the Eagles. The day after, QB Jerod Evans was waived due to injury and undrafted OT Victor Salako from Oklahoma State was signed.

On May 18, the Eagles made a gigantic move to improved their running back situation. They signed former New England Patriot LeGarette Blount, a two time Super Bowl champion and the 2016 NFL rushing touchdowns leader, with 18 (also the Patriots franchise record).

Offseason: June

In June, not a lot of things happened. Linebacker Steven Daniels was waived, while Derek Barnett came to terms with the Eagles and signed a four-year contract. The Eagles also signed defensive tackle Gabe Wright to a one-year contract. Wright had played for the Lion and Browns.

The Eagles also extended star OT Jason Peters’ contract by signing a one-year deal; signed undrafted FA QB Dane Evans from Tulsa to a three-year deal; and waived WR Dorial Green-Beckham (yippee!).

Pre-Training Camp: July-August

With Training Camp approaching, the Eagles made a few last moves on the roster. They signed Canadian rugby sevens player Adam Zaruba as a tight end to a three-year deal and signed a three-year contract with Steven Daniels, whom they claimed off of waivers earlier in the year. Offensive lineman Allen Barbre was traded to the Denver Broncos for a 2019 conditional late round draft pick. They then signed free agent Tay Glover-Wright, a cornerback who lastly played for the Colts.

In August, the Eagles waived CB Randall Goforth and agreed to a contract with Baltimore Ravens’ safety Corey Graham.

 

That’s all of the moves that the Eagles had made in the offseason. I was pretty satisfied with most of the offseason moves, especially the signing of Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith (who fans shouldn’t sleep on), and LeGarette Blount. I’m also happy with the release of Dorial Green-Beckham, because he didn’t really do much other than drop wide open passes (hell, Agholor was better than he was). I’m not that happy with what they did with the cornerback situation. Sure, they drafted a lot of promising young cornerbacks, but they didn’t sign any veterans or established players. I was also pretty surprised that the Eagles drafted Derek Barnett in the first round.

All that being said, the new Eagles roster shows a lot of promise and I can guarantee that they will do amazing this year. The Eagles start their preseason off playing at Green Bay, against the Packers, on Thursday, August 10, at 8:00 pm ET. Don’t forget to catch the show. If you’re not much of a preseason person, then mark your calendars for September 10, when the Eagles kickoff their regular season in DC against the Redskins. Until then, I’m Jacky Chen and thanks for reading.

For a list of all the transactions the Eagles have made in this year’s offseason click here.

Click here for the official website of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Don’t forget to follow them on social media including FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

                                                                                                             

NHL Offseason: Why You Should Pay Attention

images (1)

By Kim Dunning

So you think the NHL season is over right? It’s far from over.  This year is a special year in hockey, not only will it be a short off-season for the playoff teams, especially the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins, but it’s the year for the World Cup of hockey which starts in September.  This off-season is a special one because the NHL has a new expansion team set to hit the ice in 2017/18 season.

So what does it matter for this year if a new team is coming into the Western Conference?  Well, if you know your hockey, you know that with the expansion team comes the expansion draft.  So why does the expansion draft matter for this year? Well, it’s simply because you can only protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or you can apply for different variations but the gist of it is you can only keep 10 skating players and one goalie.

Now if you think about who teams can protect, you can automatically assume players like Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Zach Parise and Patrick Kane will all be protected by their respective teams.  That leaves a lot of other really good players who aren’t at the caliber as the above mentioned players out there to be drafted by the new Las Vegas team.  That is why it’s a good idea to keep an idea on the NHL trades which began on July 1.  Players will be moving around so that teams aren’t put into a tight spot when the expansion draft happens next year.  Players like the St. Louis Blues goal, Brian Elliott who was sent to the  Calgary Flames because the Blues had a playoff caliber younger goalie in Jake Allen.  Again remember in this case, come the expansion draft, the Blues would only be able to protect one of those goalies.  Another example would be the Minnesota Wild signed Jason Zucker, who is a Las Vegas Native, to a 2 year extension worth 4 million contact to assure that if he is drafted by the Las Vegas team would get compensation for his contract.

Now there are hiccups in the plan depending on the no trade clauses some players have, but for the most part, your superstar players are going to be protected.  Teams, like the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are deep with talent will have issues keeping players, especially if Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray make it through the entire NHL season with the Penguins.  Pittsburgh would only be able to protect one of those players in the expansion draft.  If we look more closely at the Penguins Stanley Cup team and more specifically their lines, we find that the Penguins are deep on all four lines and that makes it a difficult decision for the organization to protect all their good quality hockey players.

As the first day closed on July 1, the NHL broke a League record with 616.2 million in committed salaries, which more than doubled from 2015. So now as the NHL off-season progresses and we head into the World Cup of Hockey in a few months it’s a good idea to keep your eyes to the news, even if you have to look hard for it, because the NHL is hot on the trade market this year.

Follow Sports Elite on Facebook

Philadelphia Off-Season: In A Nut Shell

df23934a-5535-4a3e-a417-7dbebc078dd0

As an Eagle fan, it’s hard to figure out where to begin on the Philadelphia Eagle’s off-season.

I think I’m going to do an offseason round up. Before last season ended, the Philadelphia Eagles fired head coach Chip Kelly. After Kelly was fired the Eagles played the New York Giants, in what probably looked like the best game of the season. DeMarco Murray gave plenty of effort, even Marcus Smith came out and showed what a considerably good pass rush was.

So the Eagles beat the Giants and ended finishing with a 7-9 record and no playoffs. The team did not deserve a better record.

So after the season ended, it was time for the Eagles to focus on finding a head coach.  The Eagles finally settled on Doug Pederson, formerly coach for the Kansas City Chiefs and ironically learned under former Eagles head coach Andy Ried.  The team also settled on Jim Schwartz as defensive coach and which means that there is no more Billy Davis in Philadelphia.

So with the entire turnover within the coaching staff, Eagle fans hear that Howie Roseman is the executive vice president of football operations. Most fans are upset because every time something went wrong under Chip, it was Howie’s fault.

Now Howie starts moving players around.  The Eagles have traded Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell along with 10 million a year contract to the Miami Dolphins and swap first round picks. Philly goes from 13th to 8th.

DeMarco Murray decided he wasn’t happy in Philadelphia, after only one season and was subsequently traded to the Tennessee Titans.

The Eagles have signed notables players like Safety Rodney McLeod, Offensive Guard Brandon Brooks, LB Nigel Bradham, Corner Back Leodis McKelvin, QB Chase Daniel, Center Stefen Wisniewski, Ruben Randle and Chris Givens who are wide receivers. The Eagles also resigned Nolan Caroll.

So now feeling better about our offensive line and secondary going into the draft, fans are thinking things like:  let’s get a running back like Zeke or a lineman like Tunsil.  What do the Eagles end up doing? They trade 5 draft picks over 3 years to move up to the second over-all draft pick.  And what do the eagles do? They end up picking up a quarterback, Carson Wentz, from North Dakota State.  Wentz is a big kid with a strong arm that played in a pro-style offense during his college career.  Will Wentz be a day one starter? Of course not! He has to sit behind current quarterbacks, Sam Bradford and Chase Daniels.

Speaking of Sam Bradford, who threw a hissy fit, when Philadelphia moved up to the #2 spot because everyone knew Philly wanted a QB. Now I feel you Sammy, I do, but listen up kid, you had 2 acl injuries, you aren’t mobile, and you aren’t getting younger. Nobody ever said “Sammy you’re the back up this year for 11 million”.  So after a small hold out and some tears, Bradford is back at camp as the starting QB.

I look forward to an improved offensive line with rookies Vaitai and Seumalo plus free agents.

We lost Demarco and drafted “the twitter king” Smallwood.

After it’s all said and done the best I can hope for with a new coach on both sides of the ball, a new defensive scheme and the usual divisional rivalry, I honestly put us at 8-8.

I think Sammy comes out strong, and our running by committee approach works, but Ryan Mathews is bound to get hurt, so is Sammy. Which leaves Kenjon Barner and Smallwood with the bulk of the carries and neither are Demarco or Ryan Mathews.

Chase Daniels in his defense probably knows this offense better than Sammy does though. So I guess we just wait and see.

I don’t expect Wentz on the field at all this year and if he is, it’s probably because we have 2 hurt quarterbacks.

Fly Eagles Fly

-Ralph Uriarte Jr.