Monday, November 30, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Nov. 30

The Daily Numbers: 33, age of volunteer firefighter Scott Jones, killed in 2-car crash over the weekend.

1 police officer slain over weekend in New Florence, Pa., while responding to a domestic incident.

11,000 dollars, what the Chester Panthers are trying to raise so their 8-Under youth football team can go to national tourney in Florida.

25 million dollars being borrowed by Delaware County Council for several capital projects.

5 firefighters injured in crash of fire truck in Philly.

4 cars damaged when the truck careened down a city street.

34,131 dollars, what you would spend this year to buy the items in the holiday classic ‘The 12 Days of Christmas.’

0.6 percent increase from last year’s $33,933.

25 bucks for a partridge, the cheapest item.

13,125 bucks for 7 swans a swimming, priciest item on the list. 108 mph, how fast it is believed Jahlil Okafor was driving on the Ben Franklin Bridge.

18 straight losses for the Sixers to start the season.

92-84 loss for the 76ers last night to Memphis.

19 losses, NBA record for consecutive losses to start the season.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Yes, the Eagles are just one game out of 1st place. No, they are not going to win the division, in this guy’s opinion.

I Don’t Get It: Jahlil Okafor signed a contract worth millions of dollars, and now he’s driving 108 miles an hour on the Ben Franklin Bridge? I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Chester Panthers in their push to raise the money to go to national tournament in Florida.

Quote Box: “I can’t say enough good things about him and his family. He and they are the epitome of unselfish.”

- Sean Joyce, talking about Scott Jones, volunteer firefighter who was killed in crash.

Putting the 'Spotlight' on journalism biz

I saw the movie 'Spotlight' Saturday night.

If you're not familiar with it, it's a journalism movie. More specifically, a newspaper movie. It tells the story of how a team of reporters at the Boston Globe tackled the massive issue of abuse by priests in the Boston Archdiocese.

The movie made me proud of what I do. It also made me incredibly sad.

This is not a easy movie to watch, especially if you are Catholic. That would include me, a former altar boy. It does not paint the church - in particular the leaders of the Boston Archdiocese, in an especially good light.

I know a little bit about that. I have written at length about the same situation here in the Philadelphia archdiocese. In fact, Monsignor William Lynn, the highest church official ever charged and convicted in the church handling (some would say blatant cover-up) of church abuse. He was my pastor at St. Joe's in Downingtown. Suffice it to say much of what I wrote was not especially well-received by my fellow parishioners.

One woman made her feelings pretty clear, sending me an email and urging me to "stay up in Delaware County where you belong." Nice Christian sentiment there, no?

There were times in the movie that I was near tears, knowing what the church did for years. Yes, I can admit it has caused me to question my faith, and the people who lead it. No, I have not stopped going to Mass. I do that for myself, not for any edict that tells me I must attend the celebration every week.

The movie also did a very good job of capturing something every person who has worked in the newspaper racket knows all too well. It's not always the most pleasant job. You deal with a lot of depressing topics. You're never really off work. Especially now as we toil in an online world, it's a 24-hour, 365-day-a-year gig.

It also takes a huge toll on your personal life. You'd better have a partner who understands what that really means. Marriages - and relationships - are actually a threesome. There is you, your friend or spouse, and your significant other. That would be your job. I was reminded of that just a few minutes before I went into the movie Saturday night. I checked my email. It's a bad habit, one that also takes a toll of its own.

That's when I learned that a volunteer firefighter from Delaware County had been killed in a crash. It was a big story. We jumped on it on Saturday, getting the details of the crash that claimed the life of Aston firefighter Scott Jones. Then today we followed with full reaction from his devastated colleagues and family.

Like I said, a lot of what we report every day is not what you would call positive news.

But it is important news.

Just ask any of the victims of priest abuse.

Or anybody who worked with or knew Scott Jones.

That is the other lesson of 'Spotlight.' It reminds us, in these perilous days for the journalism business, of what we are in danger of losing.

I don't think it's a secret that these are tough days for newspapers. We are undergoing seismic changes in how we deliver news. Layoffs are now seemingly part of the daily headlines we deliver. There are a lot fewer people at the Boston Globe today than at the time depicted in this movie, circa 2001. The same goes for this newspaper.

I hope we did Scott Jones proud. I assure you it was not an easy story to report. Emotions are raw. People are grieving. It's a different kind of story than church abuse, obviously. That's the thing about news, you never really know on any given day what you will have to tackle.

I really only know one thing that's pretty much a sure thing when it comes to my daily work. I know that every day I will very likely make a lot of people unhappy.

There is something else that is often said about journalists. We should afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted. As I walked out of the movie, I reached for my phone to check on the status of the story on the crash that took the life of Scott Jones. At the same time, I was again dealing with the fallout of so much about what I, among so many others, had written about the Catholic church.

Afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted.

Seems about right.

Chester Panthers continue to chase their dream

There's nothing I like doing more than presenting positive stories about Chester.

Part of it is purely selfish. This newspaper is always attacked for the way we often portray the city. Let's face it, Chester has its issues, violence being one of the biggest.

But there is a part of the complaints that ring true. It is very easy to get a skewed vision of Chester, in particular young people in Chester, if all you do is report the police log.

That's one of the reasons we've been paying a lot of attention to the Chester Panthers.

The 8-Under Youth Football team completed an undefeated season. Now they have one more goal. They want to travel to Florida to take part in a national tournament. That costs money.

We're glad to be able to use the paper to help their efforts.

You can read about them here.

There are good stories in Chester.

You just have to look for them.

'A Charlie Brown Christmas' hits the big 5-0

Want to feel old?

This holiday season marks the 50th anniversary of the Christmas classic "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

The show, with sad sack Charlie's search for the true meaning of Christmas, first aired on Dec. 9, 1965.

I think I have seen it most every year since.

My daughter is the resident holiday expert in our household. She always reminds me when our favorites shows are set to air. She was home this weekend and I was the one who alerted her to the special aspect of her boy Charlie Brown this year.

My daughter and I have a word we share for the spirit of the holidays. We call it getting 'imbued.'

For me that means Charlie Brown, the Grinch and the George C. Scott version of 'Scrooge.' No, I don't play the title role, although that has been suggested many times over the years.

My wife decorated the house this weekend, of course with as little help as possible from me, who spent most of the time sitting on the couch watching football.

She has a certain way she likes to decorate, and I ceded that battle long ago. It's her show. I try to stay out of the way. Sunday, we did the outdoor decorations, and I pretty much just shut up and followed directions.

As usual I will likely struggle again this year to understand the Christmas spirit.

No show better represents that dilemma better than "A Charlie Brown Christmas.'

ABC will air a special before tonight's show, hosted by Kristen Bell. Then, at 9, 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' will air for the 50th year.

Joy to the world!

Good news for Eagles fans

There is good news and bad news for Eagles fans this morning.

Incredibly, the Birds find themselves just one game out of first place in the NFC Least this morning after the Redskins knocked off the Giants yesterday. And the Eagles still have games against both the New Yorkers and the D.C. gang. My, how the mighty NFC East has fallen.

So what's the bad news. Well, the Birds now face a date with the New England Patriots next Sunday. Then again, the Pats were knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten by the Broncos last night. And they may be without stud tight end, Rob Gronkowski, who was last seen riding a cart being taken off the field after being injured last night.

I promised myself I wasn't going to do this.

It was actually nice this weekend not to have to deal with the aggavation of wasting three hours watching the Eagles.

But I will be back in front of the tube next weekend.

Could the Eagles make the playoffs. Not likely. I don't expect them to beat Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots, with or without Gronkowski.

But weirder things have happened. In the meantime, the Patriots might be the least of Chip Kelly's worries. Beat writer Bob Grotz reports this morning the Eagles coach finds himself on the hot seat.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Join our Black Friday mania coverage

On your mark.

Get set.

Charge!

Shoppers are already plunking down the plastic as Black Friday shoppers hit the malls and shopping centers.

And we will have live coverage all day. Staff writer Kathleen Carey is out and about in Delco, while reporters from our Digital First Media sister papers will fan out across the region to keep you up to date on all the Black Friday madness.

Yes, we will even venture into the belly of the beast at King of Prussia Mall.

We want you to take part of our coverage.

Use the hashtag #BlackFridayphl to tell us what you see. Send us your pictures and video. Tell us the best buys you've found out there.

We'll be reporting all day.

Black Friday for Eagles fans

It's Black Friday for Eagles' fans, too.

Just when you thought it could not get any worse after last week embarrassing blowout loss to the Bucs, the Birds traveled to Detroit and turned into turkeys on Thanksgiving Day.

The Eagles were overmatched by the Lions in every aspect of the season, getting a second-straight drubbing, this time on national TV.

I thought Chip Kelly needed to send a message to this team a couple of weeks ago. Now it might be too late.

But it still would be nice to see if the coach does something today, other than spout the same, tired remarks about his team, which is giving every indication of having bailed on their coach.

I thought Kelly should have released wide receiver Miles Austin after that loss to the Dolphins after it appeared he did not exactly give a great effort of several balls.

Then after their defense got undressed last week by the Bucs, I thought Kelly might put defensive coordinator Billy Davis' head on a platter.

Intead the defiant coach insisted he had a very good football team and would not be making any roster changes, in part because of the short work week.

How did that work out?

It might be too late for Kelly to take action now.

For the first time, after yesterday's humbling loss, he looked pretty much like his team, at a loss to explain how this debacle happened. Kelly need only look in the mirror. He's the guy who won the power struggle with Howie Roseman and took over complete control of the roster and personnel decisions. His fingerprints are all over the roster decisions that turned a 10-6 team into this dreck.

Now Kelly needs to deliver a message.

His team already did yesterday.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick (Turkey Day Edition)

That massive case of indigestion about to descend on the region has nothing to do with turkey and all the fixings.

This Bird is fowl all right, and I don’t see it getting any better today.

The Eagles’ effort last week vs. the Buccaneers - on their home turf - was inexcusable. It had all the markings of a team that had bailed on their coach. You never want to use the word ‘quit,’ but this one had all the markings of it. Mark Sanchez, in for concussed Sam Bradford, continued his career-long turnover act. It appears as if Sanchez gets the call today, which should be welcome news in Detroit.

On defense, the Birds were savaged by rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Matthew Stafford should be able to at least match that effort.

Should the Eagles pull out a win, incredibly they could pull themselves right back into the race in the NFC Least. I don’t see it happening.

I have picked the Eagles every week this year. I’ve been a huge proponent of Chip Kelly, and the moves he’s made as general manager. No longer. This thing has the look of an implosion looking for a place to happen.

It continues today in Detroit.

A reason for thanks? Not for Iggles fans.

The Pick: Make it Lions 23, Eagles 16. This thing looks like it’s coming apart at the seams. I think Sanchez plays, and he showed me nothing to make me believe he is not the turnover machine he has been for most of his career. Don’t let it ruin your holiday feast.

Last Week: The Eagles scored on the opening drive of the game, then allowed the Bucs to run all over them. The Linc was three-quarters empty by the start of the fourth quarter.

Season Record: 4-6. That goes for both the Eagles and my prognostications. That changes today. One of us will win, one will lose. I am hoping the Eagles will prove me wrong. That is with my heart. My head says Detroit escapes with the win.

Game by Game: Falcons 26, Eagles 24. (My Pick: Eagles 37, Falcons 26)

Cowboys 20, Eagles 10 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 26)

Eagles 24, Jets 17. (My Pick: Eagles 27, Jets 23)

Redskins 23, Eagles 20. (My Pick: Eagles 26, Redskins 13)

Eagles 39, Saints 17. (My Pick: Eagles 23, Saints 13)

Eagles 27, Giants 7. (My Pick: Eagles 27, Giants 16)

Panthers 27, Eagles 16 (My Pick: Eagles 26, Panthers 23)

Eagles 33, Cowboys 27 OT (My Pick: Eagles 23, Cowboys 13)

Dolphins 20, Eagles 19 (My Pick: Eagles 33, Dolphins 16)

Bucs 45, Eagles 17 (My Pick: Eagles 17, Buccaneers 16)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Nov. 25

The Daily Numbers: 1 year less a day, to 2 years less a day, the sentence for convicted child abuser and former teacher Paul Hochschwender. The D.A.’s office has lost a fight over early release for Hochschwender.

97 years after his death, a priest from Holy Saviour Parish in Lower Chi is placed in a final resting place.

0 losses for the undefeated Chester Panthers 8-Under football team, which is hoping to get to Florida for a national tourney.

38 students who visited the hospital after a bus crash in Chester. No serious injuries were recorded.

5 cars damaged when leaves ignited in a parking lot at Delaware County Community College.

1 state trooper shot and 2 teens in custody in a wild chase and shootout on the Vine Street Expressway yesterday in Philly.

0, how much Bucks County officials say they will remit to the state until a new budget plan is in place.

300 dollars less expected to be spent by holiday shoppers in the Philadelphia region this year.

18 percent drop in holiday spending is being forecast.

1,532 dollars, what average shopper spent last year.

1,249 likely being shelled out this year.

1,462, what average shopper will spend nationally.

1921, when Haverford and Upper Darby first started playing their traditional Thanksgiving Day football game.

93 years of tradition between the two teams.

1967, the last time the two teams collided on Turkey Day with the Central League crown on the line.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

I don’t blame Lane Johnson for his foolish comments about Philly fans yesterday. I blame Chip Kelly. The team is developing its’ coach’s churlish personality.

I Don’t Get It: Black Friday. Never got it. Never will.

Today’s Upper
: Kudos to the Upper Darby and Haverford communities, which are not only embracing their holiday football tradition, but using the game as a way to raise money for a great cause as well.

Quote Box: “It’s a dream come true and the only way it can get much bigger is if we have ‘High School GameDay with Lee Corse.”

- Haverford QB Jack Donaghy, on Thursday’s huge holiday match with Upper Darby.

It's Upper Darby vs. Haverford, the tradition continues

Forget the Eagles.

At least for one day.

Thanksgiving belongs to high school football. And here in Delaware County, we will be serving up a special holiday treat. Upper Darby and Haverford will collide tomorrow in their traditional Turkey Day contest, only this time there is a little extra incentive. The Central League football crown will be on the line.

As you might expect, we will have full team coverage of what is being called perhaps the biggest Thanksgiving Day game in Delco history. And yes, that is saying something.

Today in sports, Matt Smith previews the big game. Make sure you check it out at our home for high school sports, PaPrepLive.com.

Columnist Matt DeGeorge takes a look at the last time the two teams met with this much on the line. Then in tomorrow's holiday edition (which will actually hit the streets later today), we delve into the way both the Upper Darby and Haverford communities are rallying around this huge game.

Don't miss this special holiday edition of the Daily Times, which also will be packed with all the circulars you will need to kick off your Black Friday shopping.

Oh, and one other thing:

Happy Thanksgiving.

Fans deliver a message to Eagles, Lane Johnson

Welcome to Philadelphia, Lane Johnson.

The Eagles offensive lineman is the latest athlete to learn that you are on very dangerous ground when you start ripping the fans. That is especially true when you are 4-6 and just got your backside kicked up between your shoulder blades by the Tampa Bay Bucs. Yes, the team got booed.

Here's a couple of questions for Johnson. When is the last time you forked over 40 bucks to park to get into a football game? And this after likely shelling out 100 dollars or more to get into Jeffrey Lurie's playpen. Add in the perfunctory trinkets, food and drink and you have a fairly expensive day.

Then you are treated to the display the Eagles put on Sunday?

Yes, you are going to get booed.

Fans in this town wear their passion on their sleeves, and they're not shy about delivering a message to players when they don't like what they see.

And nothing will get under these fans' skin more than the impression that players are not giving their all, which is certainly what that act looked like on Sunday.

Johnson came to his senses, or least someone in Lurie's PR offices did, and quickly made the talk-show rounds to offer an apology and indicate he wasn't talking about the end of the game, but rather the fans who were letting the team have it when the game was still 7-7.

Actually, it appears as if maybe this team is developing the personality of its coach.

Churlish.

Kelly's act - especially that staccato deliver of his that gives the impression he could care less - is wearing thin. It's tolerable when you're going 10-6. But when you're 4-6 and looking like the team is checking out on the coach, it doesn't fly.

Luckily, the Eagles are working on a short week. They can resolve all of this by going out there and thumping the Lions in a Thanksgiving Day special in Detroit. A win would put them right back into the playoff hunt.

A loss, and the prospect of then facing the undefeated Patriots?

Well, Lane Johnson may want to cover his ears.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Nov. 24

The Daily Numbers: 696,000 dollars, how much a man admitted to stealing from the Collingdale firm where he worked to fuel his gambling habit.

399 checks that Jeffrey McElwee admitted making out to himself over a period of 13 years.

3 Delco senators who all voted no on Senate Bill 76, which would have eliminated property taxes across the state and increased the sales and income taxes to make up the difference.

24-25 vote to nix the measure, with Lt. Gov. Mike Stack casting the tie-breaking vote.

5 month state budget standoff that could go on now that a deal is said to be “in peril,” according to Gov. Tom Wolf.

1 cat rescued from a house fire in Sharon Hill yesterday afternoon.

1 man shot in an ambush attack outside an Upper Chichester tavern over the weekend.

855 dollar tax bill for Springfield residents, that includes a tax hike this year.

0 tax hike planned in Ridley Park.

515 workers in Montgomery County who are looking at layoffs for the holiday season.

2 people found shot to death inside a home in Philadelphia.

160 billion dollar deal in which drug firms Pfizer and Allergan will merge.

0-for-November slump snapped for Philly home teams with Flyers win last night.

3-2 overtime win for the Flyers over the Hurricanes.

24 seconds into OT, when rookie Shayne Gostisbehere lit the lamp for the winner.

34 goals through their first 20 games for the Flyers.

24 of October, last time a home team won, also the Flyers.

15 straight losses for Sixers to start season.

100-95 loss in Minnesota last night.

32 points for Andrew Wiggins in the win.

25 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks for Sixers rookie Jahlil Okafor.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Is Chip Kelly’s voice bothering anyone else? That staccato deliver of his is getting old.

I Don’t Get It: Rack up another victim of legalized gambling. A man yesterday admitted stealing $700,000 from the firm where he worked in Collingdale to fuel his gambling habit.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the firefighters who rushed into a house in Sharon Hill yesterday and rescued a family’s cat in a fire.

Quote Box: “It relies far too heavily on sales tax to replace the property tax.”

- State Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, on why he opposed bill to eliminate property taxes.

A coat? No thanks, at least not yet

It should come as a secret to no one that I'm not exactly a fan of winter.

This from a guy who holds a degree from the University of Colorado. But as anyone who has ever spent a winter in the Rockies will tell you, the cold out there is not the same as what we get here.

I know it sounds weird but take my word for it. It has to do with how dry the air out there is. You dress in layers. Every day the sun comes up and makes it fairly enjoyable out. Plus, winter sports - namely skiing - is huge out there, and the sun glare off the snow can give you a sunburn that easily rivals a day at the beach in the summer here.

Don't ask me to explain one of the many oddities about my stint in Colorado, such as the fact that I had never been on skis before I went out there, skied my brains out for the three years I spent out there, but have never been on skis since I came back to the East Coast.

What can I say? I hate winter, at least the East Coast version of it.

That's why I was hard-pressed this week to keep my own personal pledge.

It is my way of hanging on to the last vestiges of summer.

I refuse to don a winter coat until Thanksgiving.

Yeah, I know, it's weird.

I knew I was in trouble when I walked out of the office yesterday for my daily lunchtime sojourn to the local Wawa for a coffee and realized I was freezing. When I left the office last night I was seriously doubting my decision. Then this morning, I donned a blazer and bravely headed out to the car. The thermometer registered a not exactly toast 24 degrees. The heater could not kick in fast enough.

Luckily, the forecast calls for a warmup through Thanksgiving.

Looks like the streak is intact.

Mission accomplished.

Now if only I could fast-forward until May 1.

Endless Summer? I can only dream about it.

A home win, and Chip digs in his heels

Our 0-for-November is over.

The Flyers won in overtime last night at the Wells Fargo Center.

It marked the first time a pro sports team in our fine city managed to win on their home turf since Oct. 24, when the Flyers stopped the Rangers.

The Sixers once again had a lead last night, but of course they coughed it up and fell to the T-Wolves.

And the Eagles. Well, you might have heard they are having a few problems of their own.

Of course, if you're Chip Kelly, you can simply stand up their in front of the microphones and rattle off those rapid-fire, staccato responses that just drip of a guy who has nothing but contempt for the gathered media, or the fans either for that matter.

Kelly is slowly learning what it took more than a decade for Andy Reid to realize.

That arrogant attitude is all well and good when you're rattling off 10-6 seasons and going to the playoffs.

But when things go the other way, such as Kelly's less than impressive 4-6 Eagles are after a brutal loss to Tampa Bay, it doesn't fly.

Kelly isn't budging. He has no plans to make any lineup changes, and thinks everyone else is in a panic simply because the Birds lost two in a row.

I hope he's right.

I don't think he is.

This is a fundamentally flawed team, one not especially suited to Kelly's offense.

Chip constantly preaches that his system works regardless of who is running it.

His team is proving him wrong.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Nov. 23 (Eagles Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 45-17 embarrassing loss by the Eagles to the Bucs yesterday.

5 TD passes thrown by Bucs’ rookie QB Jameis Winston.

3 interceptions, including a Pick-6, for Eagles QB Mark Sanchez.

235 yards rushing for Bucs running back Doug Martin.

2 yards shy of single-game record vs. the Eagles.

283 yards on ground surrendered by Eagles defense.

84 and 58 yards runs for Martin.

5-5 record for the Bucs.

4-6 mark for the Eagles.

19 of 29 for 246 yards for Winston.

26 of 41 for Mark Sanchez.

10 of 16 3rd down conversions for Tampa Bay.

3 days until the Eagles play again, vs. 3-7 Detroit on Thanksgiving.

39 yard catch and run by Josh Huff on 1st series of game to stake Birds to 7-0 lead.

4th most points every given up by a Chip Kelly-coached Eagles game.

10 TD passes given up by Eagles defense in last 3 games.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

No Philly pro team has won a home game in November.

I Don’t Get It: So much for all those people clamoring for Mark Sanchez to start over Sam Bradford.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the fans who stuck in there a lot longer than most towns would before flooding out of the stadium.

Quote Box: “It was embarrassment. Let’s get ready for Thursday.”

- Eagles defensive lineman Fletcher Cox.

Tax plan could scuttle budget deal in Harrisburg

Remember that 'broad framework' for an agreement to end the six-month-old Pennsylvania budget stalemate.

Not so fast.

The deal is predicated on an increase in the state sales tax to fund property tax relief.

Now, it turns out Republican leaders don't think they have the votes to deliver the tax hike. And this comes after Gov. Tom Wolf's hopes for a hike in the income tax, as well as a new levy on natural gas operations in the state.

Neither one of those are included in the new budget deal.

Now it turns out there may not be the stomach in the Legislature to increase the sales tax, from the current 6 percent to 7.25 percent. The sales tax is probably the most regressive tax, and usually takes a much bigger toll on those who can least afford it, the poor.

All of this comes at the same time the Senate today may vote on a bill that would eliminate property taxes altogether. The hook for that plan is increases in both the sales and income taxes in exchange for elimination of the property tax.

I don't think that is going to happen either.

Which leaves us right where we've been for months in Harrisburg.

Nowhere.

We'll keep you up to the minute in the latest budget shenanigans.

Draining the life from Philly fans

The only thing that amazes me about today's print column is that I wrote it BEFORE yesterday's Eagles' debacle vs. the Bucs.

It's something I have been wondering about for the last couple of years. It hit home last week while I squandered a gorgeous afternoon sitting in front of the TV watching the Eagles stumble and fumble their way to another loss.

But actually it's more than that. I've been wondering why we expend so much emotion on our sports teams, especially when the losses seem to bother us - the fans - much more than the players.

Don't believe it? Did you happen to catch any of the Eagles players yukking it up with the Bucs yesterday while they were getting their backsides handed to them.

The fans live and die with these teams. In Philly these days, we only die. A Philly pro team has not won a home game in November. That's right, we're sitting on an 0-fer.

Yesterday afternoon and again this morning, my stomach was turned by what I saw on that field yesterday.

I wonder how many players feel the same way?

Nick Nolte's character from the classic football movie 'North Dallas Forty' was right.

Time to put away childish things.

Have the Eagles quit on Kelly?

This is no longer about wins and losses with the Eagles.

This is now about effort.

And the idea that what was put forth out on that ragged turf at Lincoln Financial Field yesterday matched the sod - raggedy.

It is one of the worst things you can say about a team, and a coach.

But it is one I was left wondering while watching a fairly mediocre Tamp Bay Buccaneers team dismantled the squad Chip Kelly put together.

Have the Eagles quit on their coach.

You could hear the whispers back when Kelly doubled down on his controversial decision to jettison DeSean Jackson and part ways with the team's all-time leading rusher, LeSean McCoy.

In return Kelly got linebacker Kiko Alonso. How has that worked out?

There was talk that Kelly did not deal well with today's athletes.

Then came a standoff with offensive lineman Evan Mathis, who soon found himself outside looking in after Kelly released him. There is nowhere else for Kelly to look to explain what has happened with this team than in the mirror. He won that offseason power struggle for full control over personnel in the Birds' front office.

You have to wonder what Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman are thinking now.

Yesterday's 45-17 loss to the Bucs strikes at the heart of this Eagles team. Their defense, heretofore one of their strong points, was shredded. At the same time, it did not look like Kelly's players seemed especially upset at what was transpiring on the field.

At several points in the game, they could be seen yukking it up with Bucs players when play was halted.

Kelly dismantled a 10-6 team - albeit one that collapsed late last year, with three consecutive losses keeping them out of the playoffs, including a disturbing one to the Redskins that mirrored what happened yesterday, with an Eagles team that simply failed to show up.

I thought Kelly needed to send a message to his team last week, maybe by releasing wide receiver Miles Austin, who appeared to give less than full effort on several plays.

Instead, we got nothing but that aggravating staccato-style Kelly speech after the game.

Yesterday, the Eagles finally fully imploded. Billy Davis' job should be jeopardy after that effort by his defense. Mark Sanchez decided for some reason to call out Darren Sproles, the one person on this team that seems to give complete effort.

I'm not the only one wondering openly whether Kelly has lost this team.

Columnist Jack McCaffery offers similar thoughts.

Our front page pretty much sums up what has happened with this Eagles team:

Chip Wreck.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

There’s a part of me that understands exactly what Mark Sanchez was trying to do on that fateful play in the red zone last week against the Dolphins.

Second down at the Dolphins’ 8-yard line. Still 4:32 on the clock in the 4th quarter.

That’s when Sanchez reverted to his M.O. - the killer turnover. Sanchez tried to force the ball into Miles Austin in the end zone, rather than two safer throws.

If nothing else, I believe Sanchez is on a mission to wipe out that label that hangs around his neck - turnover machine. And of course, any memory of the infamous butt fumble.

He wanted to prove that the can deliver in the clutch. Instead, he delivered another killer turnover. I can’t blame him for that.

However, I will admit that up until that point, there is no doubt that the Eagles offense looked much more like the up-tempo blitzkrieg of the last two years, as opposed to the slower version installed for Sam Bradford.

There is also the plain fact that Chip Kelly’s run-option offense simply doesn’t fit Bradford. No one believes for a second that he is going to pull the ball back and run it. It negates the key aspect of Kelly’s attack. Defenses simply ignore Bradford and crash down on the running backs. All Bradford had to do once or twice a game is pull the ball back and wander around end. No one pays any attention to him.

That’s a moot point now. Bradford will miss Sunday’s contest vs. Tampa Bay, and maybe the Thanksgiving game in Detroit as well, nursing concussion symptoms and a separated left (non-throwing) shoulder.

Welcome to ‘The Sanchize, the Sequel.’

For some reason, I think the Eagles rally around Sanchez. He looked sharp when he came on for Bradford, if he could just stop tripping over DeMarco Murray.

The Eagles defense should be able to contain rookie QB Jameis Winston.

It won’t be pretty, but it should be a win. And yes, I realize that makes 10 straight weeks I have picked the Birds.

If the Eagles lose Sunday, their season could be in jeopardy of going down the tubes. I don’t think that will happen.

The Pick: Make it Eagles 17, Buccaneers 16. Get ready, Caleb Sturgis. You will win this one, booting a 43-yard field goal as time expires. At least I hope so. Please don’t tell me he misses it.

Last Week: The Eagles came out on fire, then watched a 16-3 lead slip away, while Sam Bradford, who had very good first half, went down in the third quarter.

Season Record: 4-5. Yeah, I didn’t expect this either, not for my prognostications and certainly not for this time. They’ve been a disappointment. And yet, with a win today, they could take the lead in the NFC Least. Hard to believe.

Game by Game: Falcons 26, Eagles 24. (My Pick: Eagles 37, Falcons 26)

Cowboys 20, Eagles 10 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 26)

Eagles 24, Jets 17. (My Pick: Eagles 27, Jets 23)

Redskins 23, Eagles 20. (My Pick: Eagles 26, Redskins 13)

Eagles 39, Saints 17. (My Pick: Eagles 23, Saints 13)

Eagles 27, Giants 7. (My Pick: Eagles 27, Giants 16)

Panthers 27, Eagles 16 (My Pick: Eagles 26, Panthers 23)

Eagles 33, Cowboys 27 OT (My Pick: Eagles 23, Cowboys 13)

Dolphins 20, Eagles 19 (My Pick: Eagles 33, Dolphins 16)

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Nov. 20

The Daily Numbers: 170 people being held hostage inside a Mali hotel that was stormed by gunmen early this morning. Early reports indicate 3 people have been killed.

5 ethics charges stipulated to by Chester Magisterial District Judge Dawn Vann

2nd woman who was bitten by a rabid cat complained about a delay in warning the public during the Upper Darby council meeting.

2 more free rabies vaccination clinics being set up by Upper Darby authorities.

1st degree murder conviction for an 18-year-old Darby man who fatally shot a 600-year-old man in a confrontation.

880 turkeys needed by CityTeam in Chester for their annual Thanksgiving dinner for the needy.

3 year contract OK’d by Radnor Township School Board and its teachers.

5-11 years in state prison for a man who pleaded guilty in the armed robbery of an Upper Chichester woman in the driveway of her home.

3.25 percent tax increase being looked at in Haverford.

1.756 percent hike in taxes in Upper Providence.

110-86 vote in the House to sell off the state liquor stores and privatize sales in the state.

289-137 vote in the U.S. House to put up new hurdles to curb Syrian refugees from entering the country.

1-0 loss for the Flyers in OT to the Sharks.

34 saves made by Sharks goalie Martin Jones in shutting out the orange and black.

6 straight home losses for the Flyers.

0 wins in November so far for all Philly teams.

3 big high school football playoff games tonight, with Upper Darby, Marple Newtown and Academy Park in action.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan. It looks like we’re about to hand the season over to Mark Sanchez.

I Don’t Get It: Christmas music 24 hours a day. On Nov. 19. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Nether Providence teachers whose quick action likely saved the life of fellow Dragon Boat enthusiast when he passed out on the river.

Quote Box: “He chose the easiest mark that he could find.”

- Assistant District Attorney Sean McNabb, summing up the case against Rashon Sargent on murder charges.

One more step on road to privatization of liquor sales in Pa.

Mike Turzai is moving up on my list of things that I'm thankful for this year.

Several months ago, the Republican state House Speaker sat in our conference room and all but guaranteed me that privatization of the state's antiquated liquor laws would be part of any budget deal with new Gov. Tom Wolf.

We're not there yet, but we're getting closer.

Yesterday the House passed a privatization bill. It would basically blow up the Liquor Control Board; selling off the 600 state stores and turning sales over to private enterprise.

That's the good news.

Now it goes over to the Senate.

Here's the bad news. If I had to place a bet, I would say this is going to be amended to death.

I think some version of privatization winds up a part of the final budget deal.

But I kind of doubt we're going to see the all-out privatization passed by the House yesterday.

But I will put it on top of my Christmas wish list.

Jingle all the way: Christmas music arrives

So much for Thanksgiving.

The Christmas season arrived yesterday.

At least the music did.

The folks at More 101.1 FM in Philly have gone all Christmas classics.

I like Christmas music as much as the next guy. To prove my point, I can tell you that the greatest Christmas song ever recorded is Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas."

Go ahead, slam me for not going with Andy Williams.

But the fact is I don't need Christmas music in the middle of November yet. We haven't even hit Thanksgiving yet.

What's next, a double-feature of "The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," and a "Charlie Brown Christmas"?

I have the same argument with my wife on this notion of rushing into the holiday.

I happen to have grown up in a house where the tree did not appear until magically showing up on Christmas morning.

Now we put it up in early December.

I'll offer the same response on the early carols:

Bah! Humbug!

The greatest moment in Philadelphia sports history

I refer to is as the single greatest moment in Philadelphia sports.

I was reminded of it when I watched the ESPN '30 on 30' piece on former Eagles owner Leonard Tose. I highly recommend it.

Columnist Jack McCaffery wrote about it yesterday.

As I watched it, I started to well up, as I do every time I think of that one specific moment in time.

I know the Flyers have won two Stanley Cups.

I know the Phillies have won World Series championships. As have the Sixers.

I attended the first Phillies parade in 1980.

But for me, nothing will ever compare with Jan. 11, 1981.

Maybe it was because I was there, a longtime season ticket holder in the infamous 700 Level.

It was as cold as I've ever been in my life.

And it was - in my humble opinion - the single greatest moment in Philadelphia sports history.

I can describe it in four simple words:

Wilbert off right tackle.

At that moment, we knew something we had not experienced in a long time. We were winners. If you there, you'll know why I consider it the apex of Philly sports.

The Eagles still have not delivered a Super Bowl title, let alone a parade.

But we'll always have this one moment.

It was electric. Just listen to it:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Nov. 19

The Daily Numbers: 56 deaths related to heroin in Delaware County in 2014, according to new numbers from the DEA.

4th highest in the state.

77 deaths in the county attributed to heroin overdoses so far this year.

655 overdose deaths in Philly in 2014 to top the state.

307 for Allegheny County.

158 in Montgomery County.

118 in both Delco and York counties.

4 firefighters who suffered minor injuries battling blaze in Darby Borough last night.

76 senior who took part in Job Fair at Williamson School yesterday.

2nd raid by agents from the county D.A.’s office at the Colwyn Fire Co. yesterday.

4 new prosecutors who took the oath as assistant district attorneys under Jack Whelan.

.5 mill tax hike on tap in Clifton Heights budget.

3rd major expansion in state gaming in 6 years that passed a House committee vote yesterday.

10:30 last night, when workers at the Philadelphia International Airport walked off their jobs.

18 dollars a month that the Delaware River Port Authority is considering returning to those who use their 4 bridges at least 19 times a month.

29,000 people expected to be eligible.

6.4 million dollars, what it could cost the authority.

2 dead and 7 in custody after gunbattle between French authorities and suspected terrorists.

12 straight losses for the 76ers.

112-85 blowout loss to the Pacers.

31 tunovers for the Sixers.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Anyone think the Sixers will win a game in 2015?

I Don’t Get It: The debate over killing off the property tax could be a problem in terms of getting a new budget in place.

Today’s Upper:
Kudos to Williamson College of the Trades, where students yesterday were offering their talents at a Job Fair to employees who were eager to sign them up for good-paying jobs.

Quote Box: “I got here when I was 17, and when I left at 20, I was ready for work.”

- Ed DeLeon, project superintendent for Mara Restoration in Oreland, Pa., and a Williamson alum.

A new wrinkle in the state budget battle

Don't pop the corks on that state budget deal just yet.

There's a new wrinkle in the process.

I know, you're stunned. Remember, this is Harrisburg we're talking about here.

The new twist is one more push behind legislation that would eliminate property taxes and replace it with a combination of increases in both the state sales and income taxes.

We've been reporting this week how Sen. Tom McGarrigle, $-26, of Springfield, who was an early backer of the plan, has now pulled his support.

We take note of the new dilemma on today's editorial page.

So what's the big deal with the budget? It's all in the numbers.

The "broad framework" of a budget deal announced last week by Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican leaders in the Legislature banks on an increase in the state sales tax. But it does not touch the income tax, which would put it directly at odds with the Senate and House Bill 76, the so-called Property Tax Independence Act.

A vote on the push to kill off the hated property tax is set next week.

Don't look for a state budget before then, despite Wolf saying he hoped to possibly sign something next week, before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Hey, it's Pennsylvania, we should be thankful these guys are still at work. Isn't it time for them to take another vacation?

More marching band news: Kudos to Marple Newtown

It turns out Delco is chock full of big-time high school marching bands.

The past few days I have been noting the accomplishments of the Sun Valley Marching Band, which took a state crown at the Cavalcade of Bands in Hershey over the weekend.

Reader - and proud grandmother! - Bette-Jo Readinger wanted to remind me that Marple Newtown has a spectacular marching band as well. And they also won a cavalcade last weekend.

I'm learning more about this notion of the marching band competitions, thanks to readers like Readinger and longtime Chichester band promoter Marci Malinowski.

As Bette Jo pointed out, marching band no longer means "march down the field and play." Today it's all about the "shows."

Marple-Newtown is in the Yankee Open Division, which held its championships Sunday afternoon in Downingtown. That apparently is a different competition from the one Sun Valley competed in out in Hershey. According to Readinger, Marple Newtown's marching band, 85 members strong, won the competition with a score of 96.65, an historic high. That makes the second straight year they've won.

And she believes their front performer deserves special kudos for performing with a broken rib and bruised ribs from an injury in the last official practice.

One of the things I did a few years ago was link from our site to a blog to allow band advocates to post information about their bands and the competitions. It's called Marching Band 411. You can check it out here. In the meantime, sweet music from Marple Newtown. Kudos to all involved.

When will the Sixers win a game?

They have to win sometime, right?

I'm beginning to wonder.

The Sixers lost their 12th straight game to kick off the season last night, and it might have been their worst performance of the young season, although it's hard to tell at this point.

Chris Vito has all the details here.

The Sixers were doomed by 31 turnovers.

The question now becomes two-fold: When will they win a game, and how long can management allow this to continue without sending some kind of message in terms of coach Brett Brown's job status.

Granted, this is not a great roster. And Brown does not have Tony Wroten and Robert Covington.

But you would think they'd be able to win at least one game.

All they have to do is get the ball down low and let rookie standout Jahlil Okafor do his thing.

Something has to happen.

For some reason, more than 11,000 decided to go to the Wells Fargo Center to check out the game. I don't think they were all there to see the Pacers.

Attention Sam Hinkie. Attention Sixers owners. We've been patient. We understand 'the process.' We know Joel Embiid threw a kink into the works when it turns out he needed a second surgery and will miss another full year.

But you've got to be better than this.

Win a game already.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Wednesday, Nov. 18

The Daily Numbers: 2 dead and 7 arrested as French authorities raid apartment looking for suspects in deadly terror raid this morning.

54 students who take part in the Sun Valley Vanguards Marching Band. They took the top prize at a statewide Cavalcade of Bands last weekend.

3-6 years in prison for a Springfield man who fired a shot at a police officer during a confrontation at his home.

46 million people expected to pile in their cars and drive at least 50 miles this Thanksgiving holiday.

1 less backer of a bill to kill off school property taxes. Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26, has removed his support.

14 billion dollars in school property taxes being collected by Pa. schools this year.

1 person shot in Chester Monday night.

12 to 16 months, how long the screening process takes for refugees to enter the country, according to Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf.

2,497 drug deaths in Pa last year.

9th, where Pa. ranks in U.S. in drug deaths per capita.

1,080 in Philadelphia, Delco and other suburban counties.

80 percent of the victims are white.

2/3 are male.

2/3-plus are over age 30.

50 million dollar fine being sought against the ride-service Uber by some Pa. judges for the PUC.

10 refugees to be admitted to the U.S., according to the Obama Administration.

3-2 loss in shootout for the Flyers last night to the L.A. Kings.

9 losses in their last 11 games for the Flyers.

38 saves for Steve Mason.

55.7 seconds left in regulation, when the Kings scored to tie the score.

87-63 win for Villanova over Nebraska last night.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Brace yourself, Eagles fans. It’s time for a sequel of ‘The Sanchize’ as all signs point to Mark Sanchez starting for injured Sam Bradford Sunday vs. Tampa Bay.

I Don’t Get It: Yes, we should make sure our vetting process is secure when it comes to refugees. No, we should not turn out backs on the American ideal

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Sun Valley Band. Good show!

Quote Box: “This is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.”

- House Speaker Paul Ryan, urging a ‘pause’ in allowing refugees to enter country.

The refugee question

It is the topic that is on America's tongue.

Refugees.

President Obama wants to continue to allow Syrian refugees to settle in the United States.

An increasing number of governors and other elected officials stand opposed, at least until the feds can prove they have shored up their vetting programs before admitting anyone from Syria.

All of this comes in the superheated horror of the France terrorist attacks, and the knowledge that at least one of the terrorists entered the nation with a group of refugees.

House Speaker Paul Ryan wants a 'pause' on any new refugees until security can be increase. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, feels the same way. He is sounding concern that at this time we can't guarantee the vetting process.

It is a legitimate concern.

But it should not mean slamming the door closed.

Here is our editorial. For a contrasting opinion, check out columnist Chris Freind.

Sweet music at Sun Valley

Yesterday in this space I noted that we don't always afford the same type of coverage to high school kids who take part in band and some other extracurricular activities, as compared to what we do for kids who excel in athletics.

I did this while noting that the Sun Valley High School Vanguards Marching Band had captured a state title at the statewide Cavalcade of Bands Championship at Hershey Stadium over the weekend.

I also did something else.

I promised that, in addition to my blog, I would make sure we did a feature in the print edition to note this great accomplishment. Today we delivered the goods.

Again, huge kudos to the kids from Sun Valley, and in fact to all those unsung kids who put in long hours honing their craft.

Your accomplishments don't always make the paper, but we want you to know we are proud of you.

You can read today's story on Sun Valley band here.

Here comes 'The Sanchize, the Sequel'

Brace yourself, Eagles fans.

It's time for a sequel. Here comes 'The Sanchize, Chapter Two.'

Yes, it appears Mark Sanchez will be behind center when the Birds face the Tampa Bay Bucs Sunday in South Philly.

Of course, no one at the NovaCare Compound is saying that. It's a state secret.

Sam Bradford was at practice yesterday, but did not participate. He suffered a concussion and shoulder injury in Sunday's debacle of a loss against the Dolphins.

It's the concussion that appears to be keeping him off the field. He probably could play with the injury to his left shoulder, but he's enmeshed in the NFL's concussion protocol. I would not be surprised if Bradford also misses the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit.

Here's the good news: I will admit that the Eagles' tempo picked up with Sanchez running the show after he entered the game for Bradford in the third quarter.

Sanchez is a serviceable NFL quarterback. But he has a fatal flaw. That is his penchant for the killer turnover. It popped up again with 4:30 left in the game Sunday. Sanchez had looked sharp in marching the Eagles down the field and had them in position for no less than a field goal that would have given them the lead.

But on second down - that's right, second down, when he still had another play in his pocket - he tried to force a pass into Miles Austin and got it picked off. That's been the story of Sanchez's career, going back to the infamous 'Butt Fumble' play with the Jets. The guy is a turnover looking for a place to happen.

He didn't get any help on the play from Austin, who did not exactly distinguish himself on Sunday. In fact, if Chip Kelly wanted to deliver a message to his team that he is tired of the mistakes and sloppy play that has been their hallmark this year, he could have released Austin on Monday. Instead the coach tried to tell us his wideouts are just fine, that the game plan was to featured the tight ends.

The Eagles should beat the Bucs on Sunday. Yes, just like they should have beaten the Dolphins.

But here is what I really want. I want Mark Sanchez to complete a game without a turnover. No botched snaps. No interceptions. No butt fumbles. If he does that, the Eagles win and - incredibly - take over first place in the NFC Least.

If he does not, then we'll know 'The Sanchize, Part Two,' is just a remake of the same old story.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Tuesday, Nov. 17

The Daily Numbers: 2 people, a mother and son, charged with selling drugs out of their Radnor home. Police say they were selling to local college students.

4,000 dollars worth of pot and heroin allegedly found in the home.

17, age of suspect going on trial today when police say he gunned down a man in Darby Borough.

30-day quarantine of domestic pets put in place in Upper Darby after a car tested positive for rabies.

11, age of girl who is missing in Chester.

2 percent tax cut being projected in Rose Valley.

0 tax hike included in the Trainer budget.

1.45 tax hike eyes in Swarthmore.

75, what could be the new retirement age for Pa. judges, up from the current 70, if voters give the OK in a referendum.

35 to 50 dollar fee for kids to be able to see Santa being dropped by the Cherry Hill Mall after complaints from shoppers.

11 straight losses to start the season for the Sixers.

6 point loss last night to the Dallas Mavs, 92-86

19 points, 11 rebounds for Jahlil Okafor.

2 games, what Eagles starting QB Sam Bradford is expected to miss.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

Sam Bradford and Nick Foles. They have something in common again. Neither will play on Sunday. Bradford is out with a concussion; Foles has been benched by the Rams.

I Don’t Get It: Give us your tired and huddled masses. Unless they’re fleeing war-torn Syria. Then we should slam the door in their faces, according to some. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to the Sun Valley Vanguards Marching Band. They won the state Cavalcade of Champions last weekend. Best in the state. Bravo!

Quote Box: “Regardless of who these people may be related to, that has no bearing - I don’t care what your race, sex, socio-economic status is or any of that nature, it does not matter to us. If you were trying to come to Radnor and try and sell those kinds of drugs to our students or residents you will be arrested regardless of who you are or who you are related to.”

- Radnor top cop Bill Colarulo, announcing drug charges against three people.

Kudos to the champion Sun Valley Vanguards Marching Band

This newspaper expends a tremendous amount of space and manpower to regale our readers with the accomplishments of student athletes.

They don't call us "Delaware County's Sports Authority" for nothing.

But athletes are not the only ones competing on those fields.

Unfortunately, for a lot of reasons, we don't always give similar coverage to kids engaged in other - no less important - endeavors. Take the marching bands, for instance.

They likely involve just as many kids as the football team, if not more. But they do not routinely get splashed all over either the front or back page of the newspaper.

In fact, they likely are lucky to get any mention at all.

Part of the reason for that is timing. Most of the big band competitions - called cavalcades - occur on the weekends, when our small staff is stretched even thinner.

But I did not want to let what happened this weekend pass without mentioning it, and making sure these kids got their due.

Serious kudos today to the Sun Valley Vanguards Marching Band.

They took the title this past weekend in the Cavalcade of Bands Championships with their show "Witch & Famous." Sun Valley was the 1st Place gold medal winner out of 12 competing schools in the American Open Division. The Vanguards Marching Band has placed 1st at every competition this season for a total of seven 1st Place wins! The Marching Vanguards are under the Direction of Tim Pry, who has been Sun Valley's music director for the last 10 years. Sun Valley's Marching Band has now placed in the top 3 for the last 4 years at the Cavalcade of Bands Championships.

Kudos to the Vanguards! We're planning a feature story to appear in the paper this week.

Foles, Bradford both on the bench

Sam Bradford now has something else in common with Nick Foles.

Neither one is going to play on Sunday.

The Eagles sent Foles and a second round draft pick to the Rams after last season for Bradford, who was coming off two successive ACL tears in his left knee.

Most people believed Chip Kelly was simply planning to use Bradford, a former No. 1 pick in the draft, as a bargaining 'chip' in his grant plan to move up in the draft and take Oregon QB Marcus Mariota.

Didn't work out that way.

Kelly stuck with Bradford as his starter, even though he does not have the mobility most people believe is needed to run Kelly's offense.

Foles wasn't exactly Michael Vick back there either.

He went to the Rams, but has struggled.

This week coach Jeff Fisher pulled the plug, saying he was going with backup Case Keenum.

Bradford suffered a concussion and shoulder injury in the Birds' embarrassing come-from-ahead loss to the Dolphins Sunday. It is likely that backup Mark Sanchez will start the next two games.

I'll admit I was never a Foles fan, even when he was having that astounding year when he threw 27 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. I believe Bradford is a much more talented quarterback. He was not only the Rams' No. 1 pick, he was the No. 1 pick in the entire draft. Those kinds of talents don't come around every day.

But Bradford has been plagued by injuries.

After knocking off some rust after being off most of two years, and having the offense tailored a bit more to fit what he does best, Bradford appeared to be coming around.

Now, of course, he's on the shelf again.

That is part of what you get with him. He's going to get hurt. No one should be surprised.

I'll also admit that the Eagles tempo on Sunday actually did look better with Sanchez running the show. But you just knew what was coming. We all did.

On 2nd down from the Dolphins 8-yard line - that's right it was 2nd down - Sanchez did what he always does in the red zone. He tried to force a ball to Miles Austin in the center of the field. Austin looked completely disinterested - as he did much of the day on Sunday - and the ball was intercepted.

Game, set and match.

Sanchez will start Sunday vs. the Buccaneers, and probably Thanksgiving Day in Detroit.

So Bradford and Foles are reunited again - on the bench.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Monday, Nov. 16 (Eagles Edition)

The Daily Numbers: 20-19 loss to Dolphins as Birds snatch defeat from jaws of victory.

16-3 lead for Eagles in 1st Quarter.

20 straight unanswered points scored by Dolphins to take the lead & game.

1 crucial missed 32-yard field goal, 1 blocked punt on brutal day for Eagles special teams.

1 Eagles TD called back because of a penalty. Riley Cooper failed to line up correctly.

1 Eagles TD missed because Miles Austin could not get both feet down in the back of the end zone.

19 of 25 for 236 yards for Sam Bradford before leaving game in 3rd quarter with shoulder injury and concussion.

1 crucial interception in the end zone that sealed the Eagles’ fate after Mark Sanchez drove them to the Dolphins 8. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.

1 batted ball that went straight up in the that resulted in a TD for the Dolphins.

15 first downs for the Dolphins.

29 first downs for the Eagles.

436 yards total offense for the Eagles.

289 yards total offense for the Dolphins.

88 offensive plays for the Eagles.

4-5 record for the Eagles, now tied with the Redskins, half-game behind the Giants, who lost to the Patriots.

2nd down at the 8 yard line with 4:30 left in the game, when for some reason Sanchez decided to force a ball into Austin, who made no great effort to catch it, or at least be sure it was not picked off.

3 points there would have given the Eagles the lead.

2 of 5 red zone opportunities converted by the Eagles.

48.1 percent completion percentage in the red zone over his career for Sanchez. Do you see a pattern here?

134 yards receiving on 4 catches for Brent Celek.

0 catches for Riley Cooper.

3 more holding penalties on the Eagles.

2 of them on center Jason Kelce.

1 more bad snap to Bradford in the shotgun for Kelce as well.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

I have been watching that game for 50 years.

I Don’t Get It: The second the Dolphins receiver caught that ball that was batted up in the air for a touchdown, I was saying to myself, “Yep, this is an Eagles game.”

Today’s Upper: Kudos to Brent Celek. Huge game for one of the guys who looked like he put his heart and soul into it yesterday.

Quote Box: “We had control of the game for the most part and then all of the sudden we started doing things to really give it to the Dolphins.”

- Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins.

Eagles? Time to put away childish things

There is a great scene in the old football movie 'North Dallas Forty.' That's the flick they made from the book written by former Cowboys player Pete Ghent, based on the antics of the Dallas Cowboys.

In the move, Nick Nolte basically has been set up by his coach and the team's brass to take the fall for some embarrassing situations the wide receiver found himself.

Nolte offers a defense of himself and a condemnation of the team's tactics before finally submitting to the inevitable conclusion, his dismissal from the team.

Instead, Nolte beats them to the punch, quitting the team while castigating his Tom Landry-like coach for throwing him under the bus. The coach had constantly badgered him to stop his off-the-field, extracurricular activities and focus on the job to reach his true potential.

Nolte, with pieces of his body strewn on fields all across the league, saw it another way, but not before taking one bit of advice from his coach.

"You're right, B.A. Time to put away childish things."

That pretty much sums up my feelings when it comes to pro sports these days.

I have been a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles since I drew my first breath. And I have the scars to prove it.

For years I was a denizen of the 700 Level, a season ticket holder in maybe the most notorious sports turf in the nation.

How long have I been a fan. I remember Ed Khayat. Look it up, kids. The Internet comes in handy for those things.

It does not, however, tell you how to get back the three hours of a glorious fall afternoon you just wasted sitting in front of your TV, watching the same mistakes over and over again. Missed field goal, blocked punt, holding penalties, receivers and quarterbacks not on the same page, and same said receivers not looking especially interested in laying it on the line for their team. Hello, Miles Austin.

I used sports today as a diversion from the serious things in life. This weekend, of all weekends, as we kept a wary eye on the fallout from unspeakable horror in Paris, that diversion was badly needed.

Instead, I stewed. And fumed. And argued with my wife (not a Sam Bradford fan).

I wondered about Chip Kelly, the so-called genius whose belief in his system seems to override the clear reality that it does not match what his players - at least these players - do well.

And, of course, there is Mark Sanchez. Nothing more needs to be said.

The Eagles reversed course yesterday, getting off to a fast start, the opposite of their track record this year, which saw them routinely not show up until the second half.

Instead the Eagles spurted to a 16-3 lead. Then the Eagles missed a field goal. It was like knocking over the first Domino in one of those elaborate displays.

You knew it was coming, you knew they were allowing the Dolphins to hang around. You knew it was going to cost them.

Stupid penalties taking touchdowns off the board. Guys lining up in the wrong spots. Guys not knowing their assignments. More stupid penalties.

The truth is I have been watching that same Eagles game for 50-plus years. I feel like Bill Murray in another great flick, ‘Groundhog Day,’ in which his weatherman is confounded by repeating the same day over and over again.

Eagles fans can relate.

And I am tired.

Nick Nolte was right. Time to put away childish things.

'Tax Wars' heating up in Harrisburg - & Delco

'Tax Wars' is starting to heat up in Harrisburg.

And at least one local representative might find himself in the middle of the storm.

In the wake of the still-to-be-approved budget deal, which will increase the state sales tax to provide revenue for education and property tax relief, new scrutiny is being placed on the push to eliminate property taxes altogether.

That is what would happen under Senate Bill 76, which along with its companion piece House Bill 76 has been dubbed The Property Tax Independence Act.

One of the early backers was state Sen. Tom McGarrigle, R-26, of Springfield, who signed on as a co-sponsor.

Over the weekend my email was being filled out by angry messages from a group of budget and anti-tax activists in Rose Tree media who are claiming McGarrigle has now pulled his support for the bill.

They're vowing to turn up the heat on McGarrigle, including flooding the district with fliers including his earlier letter backing the legislation.

The measure could be voted on in the Senate this week.

The tax activists believe McGarrigle is caving to pressure being brought by accountants and others whose services would be taxed under the new measure.

We'll reach out to the senator to get his version of things.

'Let's Make a Deal,' the Harrisburg version

Welcome to Harrisburg's version of 'Let's Make a Deal."

Gov. Tom Wolf is getting more money for education.

Republicans are getting money to sure up the state's two sagging public pension funds.

Taxpayers: Well, you're getting an increase in the state sales tax, from the current 6 percent, to 7.25 percent.

Me? All I wanted out of this deal was to be able to push the plunger and blow up the hated Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. I want to be able to walk into a supermarket or Wawa and grab a six-pack or a bottle of wine. If I'm in the supermarket, I want to be able to snag that case of beer, put it in my cart, and pay for it along with the rest of my groceries.

That dream is fading, but House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, will give it privatization one more try with a new bill that will be voted on by the state House Liquor Committee today.

It's all in my weekly print column.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

The Eagles have arrived at the midway point of the marathon NFL season at 4-4.

Now it’s time to turn on the jets, with three straight games against teams they should beat, the next two of them at home before a trip to Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.

I’m not surprised the Birds struggled out of the gate, despite how good they looked in the preseason.

Just take a look at how many players Chip Kelly cast off, and how many new faces he brought in. An NFL team does not gel overnight. If nothing else, this Eagles team has only reinforced that.

Then there is Sam Bradford. Each week the Eagles QB shows a little more evidence of the guy who was the No. 1 pick in the draft a few years ago. But he missed almost two full seasons with two serious knee injuries. Then he played very little in the preseason. When he did play he looked great. Now we know there is a difference between the preseason and regular season. Bradford looked tentative and rusty at the beginning of the year. He wasn’t helped much by his wide receivers, who continue to be a problem, and Chip Kelly’s predictable play calling.

Give Kelly some credit. For all his talk about his vaunted “system,” and his culture, he has changed his modus operandi in the last few weeks. Kelly has slowly varied his offensive approach, putting Bradford under center and going with two tight ends. Of course, the meager contributions of his wideouts made that a pretty easy decision. This is not the way Kelly wants to run his offense, but it is turning out be a winning formula.

In their last four games, the Eagles have pounded the rock, using their three-headed monster of DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles to roll up more than 150 yards on the ground. Unleashing that running attack has fueled the Eagles’ turnaround. Credit Kelly for altering his approach.

On Sunday they get a team that looks like the next victim. The Dolphins struggle to stop the run. Look for the Birds to run at them early and often, eventually setting up Bradford for a big day off play-action passes.

The Eagles have injury concerns of their own. They lost rookie standout linebacker Jordan Hicks. Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans and Kiko Alonso continue to recover from various injuries. Malcolm Jenkins is expected to play despite suffering a concussion last Sunday. On offense it looks they will again go without Jason Peter at left tackle. Last week Lane Johnson filled in admirably.

This is a game the Eagles should win.

I think they will.

The Pick: Make it Eagles 33, Dolphins 16. The Eagles should be able to move the ball on the ground. Look for big days from both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews. Bradford’s newfound comfort zone, especially moving around in the pocket, should again mean a big second half for him.

Last Week: The Eagles, and in particular Bradford, had their best game of the season, using a huge second half to post a big win against Dallas in Jerry Jones monstrosity of a stadium.

Season Record: Yes, I realize this now makes nine straight weeks I have picked the Eagles to win. Don’t look for that to change much. I believe they should win their next three, to go 7-4 and take a stranglehold on the NFC East. The Giants face the Patriots this week. That should drop them below the Birds. Right now both the Eagles and I are sitting at .500

Game by Game: Falcons 26, Eagles 24. (My Pick: Eagles 37, Falcons 26)

Cowboys 20, Eagles 10 (My Pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 26.)

Eagles 24, Jets 17. (My Pick: Eagles 27, Jets 23)

Redskins 23, Eagles 20. (My Pick: Eagles 26, Redskins 13)

Eagles 39, Saints 17. (My Pick: Eagles 23, Saints 13)

Eagles 27, Giants 7. (My Pick: Eagles 27, Giants 16)

Panthers 27, Eagles 16 (My Pick: Eagles 26, Panthers 23)

Eagles 33. Cowboys 27 OT (My Pick: Eagles 23, Cowboys 13)

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Friday, Nov. 13

The Daily Numbers: 18 to 36 months in prison for Ohio man for inappropriate online communications with a local teen girl.

4,500 messages the D.A. says were exchanged between the two.

4th teen now facing charges in sexting scandal that has rocked 2 Main Line middle schools.

2 people now charged with wave of robberies in the Trainer-Chester area.

2 people being sought for a shooting incident in which a man was wounded in parking lot of dollar store in Sharon Hill.

2 new restaurants that are coming to Springfield Mall.

39, age of Haverford man found guilty of stalking CBS3 news anchor Erika Von Tiehl.

30 of June, how long teachers in Marple Newtown have been working without a contract. They have agreed on a new deal with the district.

5 former prosecutors in her office who are now suing Attorney General Kathleen Kane in that porn email scandal.

113 pregnancies now believed to be the result of a mixup with birth control package. Yep, lawsuits are following.

40, age of ‘One Life to Live’ soap opera actor Nathaniel Marston, who was killed in a car crash this week.

1 person dead, 4 injured in 4 separate shootings overnight in Philly.

17 million dollar pricetag being placed on the pope’s visit to Philly.

5-2 loss for the Flyers to the Caps last night.

4 straight losses at home for the Flyers.

8 losses in their last 9 games for the Flyers.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan

The Eagles can’t play soon enough. Not sure how much more of the Flyers and Sixers we can take.

I Don’t Get It: We’re still talking about coffee cups. Really? I don’t get it. Today’s Upper: Kudos to Chester County D.A. Tom Hogan, for going public yesterday and blowing the roof off the extent of the sexting problem among kids, some as young as 9 years old.

Quote Box: “I guarantee that if I pulled every phone in every school in every Chester County school district, you would find a gigantic pile of sexts.”

- Chester County D.A. Tom Hogan.

A chilling warning on sexting from Chesco D.A.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan could not have been more blunt.

The lawman offered a warning yesterday to every parent. Sexting is everywhere, and parents need to take action to make sure their kids are safe.

Hogan was offering an update on a sexting scandal that has rocked a couple of Main Line middle schools. Yes, I said middle schools. Hogan said his office has dealt with sexting cases with kids as young as 9.

This is the world we live in today, fueled by ubiquitous online access, social media and the cell phones that now run our universe. Hogan said he had no doubt he could find evidence of sexting in every school in Chester County, as well as the rest of the region as well.

"I guarantee that if I pulled every phone in every school in every Chester County school district, you would find a gigantic pile of sexts."

Two related stories drove home his point.

At about the same time Hogan was delivering his warning, while also announcing serious criminal charges against a fourth male student in the Main Line incident, an Ohio man was in court in Delaware County to enter a plea to having inappropriate online communications with a 13-year-old girl here in Delco.

George William Smith was sentenced to 18 to 36 months in state prison.

The D.A.'s office noted they uncovered 4,500 messages between Smith and the girl, many of them sexual in nature. The girl also sent him nude photos of herself at his request.

And if you are still wondering about how pervasive this problem is, try this on for size.

Federal authorities yesterday announced charges against a Secret Service agent for sexting with a person he thought was a 13-year-old girl. He was arrested in Delaware. The feds say he took a picture of his genitals and then 'sexted' it to who he thought was the teen girl. It turned out to be an FBI agent.

Parents, you've been warned.

State moves to defuse 'ticking time bomb'

There is an important factor that is flying under the radar in all the talk surrounding that "broad framework" for a budget deal reached by Gov. Tom Wolf and Republicans in the state Legislature this week.

The decision to deep-six any new tax on the Marcellus shale gas operations will be debated for a long time.

But the budget does accomplish one essential: It puts the state on course to once and for all attack what has been described as the "ticking time bomb" in the state budget.

That would be the massive unfunded liability in the state's two large public employee pension plans.

This is something the state has put off far too long. Addressing it was the right thing to do.

We talk about it on our editorial page.

Flyers: Call them Orange & Black (& Blue)

Maybe we could ask the Eagles to play several times a week.

How else are we going to survive this winter of our discontent, Philly sports fans?

The Flyers played again last night.

Stop me if you've heard this before. They got blown out - again. It's not so much that the Flyers are losing, it's the way they're losing. Suddenly they're on the wrong end of a lopsided score every night. Last night it was the Capital laying the wood on the Orange & Black in a 5-2 laugher.

That makes the Flyers 5-8-3, and losers in eight of their last nine.

On nights when the Sixers play, the Wells Fargo Center isn't much better. They've yet to win at all so far this year, getting out of the gate in this early NBA season by losing eight straight.

In the meantime, the Eagles have a chance to move above .500 when they play the Dolphins at the Linc Sunday.

Keep your fingers crossed.

It's a long time 'til pitchers and catchers report.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Daily Numbers for Thursday, Nov. 12

The Daily Numbers: 7.25 percent, what the Pa. sales tax would be under a deal being pushed by Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican leaders. That’s up from the current 6 percent.

2 billion dollars that would be raised for property tax relief.

2nd highest sales tax in the nation, what it would if enacted.

7.5 percent sales tax in California.

7,500 square foot skate park endangered by plans for new municipal services complex in Haverford. A big group of kids and residents showed up at the commissioners meeting to protest the plan.

36,000 fraud being investigated by Upper Darby police

0 tolerance for kids biking in the street after dark in Eddystone.

4 or 5 applications for group homes in Upper Darby held for further review.

1 person shot while sitting in a car in Sharon Hill.

2 suspects wanted in connection with armed robberies of students in a dorm at Ursinus College.

3 a.m., when the suspects invaded a men’s dorm.

119-103 blowout loss for the Sixers last night at home vs. the Toronto Raptors.

8 straight losses for the Sixers to start the season.

18 consecutive losses stretching back to last season.

26 points, 7 rebounds for Sixers star rookie Jahlil Okafor.

Call me a Phanatic: A look at the ups and downs of being a Philadelphia sports fan.

What do you think will happen first? The Patriots will lose a game, or the Sixers will win a game? I’m banking on the Patriots falling first.

I Don’t Get It: Now we’re fretting over plain red Christmas cups at Starbucks. I don’t get it.

Today’s Upper: Kudos to all those who honored those who served yesterday at the annual Veterans Day Parade in Media.

Quote Box: “If you look at my district, it would be very sensitive to an increase in the sales tax at this point in time.”

- Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160, on the proposed increase in the state sales tax.

Salex tax plan heats up 'Border Wars'

File this one under the least surprising story of the week.

That increase in the state sales tax being pushed by Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican leaders as part of their 'broad framework' of a state budget deal, is not going over especially well.

Nowhere is that more true than in the lower end of Delaware County. That's where businesses watch as potential customers drive a mile a less into Delaware, home of "tax-free shopping."

Welcome to 'Border Wars.'

State Rep. Steve Barrar, R-160, represents a lot of ground that shares a border with Delaware. He says he's still mulling over whether he'll back this deal, and is hearing from his constituents on both sides of the issue.

You can get all the details here.

The plan would push the sales tax for Delaware County and most of the state from the current 6 percent to 7.25 percent, making it the second highest sales tax in the nation, trailing only California.

In Philadelphia and Allegheny County, which already pay more in sales tax, the hit would be even worse.

Meanwhile, on our editorial page, we point out that the state's natural gas industry is getting a pass on this deal. There is no new severance tax included in the package. Instead, Wolf and the Legislature instead will reach into our wallets via the sales tax. You can read the edit here.

Political turf war brewing in Upper Darby

Chester is not the only town that will see some bruising political battles come the spring primary.

Yes, the city's voters will be selecting both a new state rep to replace Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, who will be giving up his longtime 159th District, along with a new state senator, since Sen. Dominic Pileggi will be joining the bench on the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas in Media.

Upper Darby also is going to see something of a Democratic turf war.

Seventh District Councilwoman Sekela Coles this week announced she would challenge incumbent Democratic state Rep. Margo Davidson for her 164th District seat. That is the seat that was held forever by Mario Civera before he gave up his post in Harrisburg in favor of running for County Council. He is now council chairman.

It's not the first time Davidson has found herself in the crosshairs, and it's not the first time it's coming from her own party. Back in the May 2014 Primary, Davidson eked out a win over challenger attorney Billy Smith, who had attacked her for her pro-life stance and women's rights.

It's been a bit of a tough go for the Davidson family. The state rep's husband, Robert L. Davidson, lost a close battle in one of the county's only contested races for magisterial district judge. Republican incumbent Christopher Mattox managed to hold on to his seat by just a handful of votes. Davidson tallied 1,179 votes, to 1,152 for Davidson, according to unofficial returns.

Coles already is lining up some heavy hitters backing her campaign to unseat the incumbent.

Labor leader John Kane, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the 26th District state Senate seat won by Republican Tom McGarrigle, attended Coles' kickoff rally and promised to deliver the labor vote for the challenger.

Kane is business manager for Plumber's Local 690 and vowed to deliver his 2,000 union members in backing Coles.

In the process he actually pulled an earlier endorsement for Davidson.

This one should be a barn burner.