Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, has written a book titled “Finally Free.” The autobiography will be available on Sept. 4. The book, published by Worthy Publishing, talks about Vick’s life on and off the field. Tony Dungy, former Indianapolis Colts head coach, wrote the foreword. Here are some excerpts from the book.
Chapter 5—The Fall
I saw my first dogfight when I was eight. One day, a friend and I stepped outside the building where I lived in the Ridley Circle housing project and saw kids and their bicycles surrounding a grassy area where we usually played football. But instead of a football game, about eight pit bull terriers were gathered. Most people don’t know this, but back then, just as is the case now, I am scared to death of dogs I don’t know. So my friend and I jumped on top of a mailbox to give us spectator seats at a safe distance from what was happening.
From our ringside seats, we saw guys putting their dogs’ faces right in front of one another. The dogs would grab and fight. I remember two of them were fighting when a third, smaller dog jumped on the back of one of the larger dogs to make it two-on-one. I didn’t know what to think of it all. In a way, it captured my attention. But it also seemed mean, even cruel. The bottom line, however, is that right there, on that very day, my fascination with dogfighting began. It’s something I wish had never, ever happened.
Chapter 7—Family Matters
I’ll never forget it. We were watching television together, and a clip of me playing football came up on the screen. Then it came across the news that “Michael Vick could be sentenced to several years in prison.” Mitez immediately burst out crying — uncontrollably.
“I don’t want you to go to jail!” he screamed.
I was hurt. I was ashamed. And it was all my fault.
How disappointing is that for your son to be watching you on TV and they show a highlight of you in an NFL uniform — which he’s accustomed to seeing you doing — and in the next breath, they’re talking about you going to prison? That’s folly. That’s confusion. I didn’t know what to tell him other than be honest. I told him why I was going to jail. And all I could do was pray everything would turn out right.
I was no longer No. 7, the football player. I was inmate No. 33765-183, and I couldn’t change that, regardless of the fact that this number definitely didn’t fit me. I had that number on every day. I had to write it on each piece of mail that I sent out. It will forever be embedded in my brain.
Chapter 13—MV 2.0
I was on stage, and my phone kept vibrating in my pocket.
“C’mon,” I was thinking to myself. Is it that serious?”
The week following our victory against Detroit, I was speaking to youth at a “What It Takes” event about the mistakes I made and the importance of making good choices. But my phone kept vibrating — over and over.
When I checked my phone, I had a text from Coach Reid saying, “Call me ASAP.”
I knew exactly what it was about. I knew he’d either tell me “You’ll start this week,” or Kevin isn’t ready yet.”
I called Coach Reid.
He always started phone conversations awkwardly with a quick, “How ya doing?”
“Good,” I said.
Then there was a long pause.
“Look here,” he said, dragging the conversation out a little. “I’m gonna make you the starter.”
Chapter 14—Moving Forward
Philadelphia took a chance on me. Many people, like Andy Reid, Tony Dungy and Roger Goodell, took a chance on me. Through it all — my rise, fall, and ongoing redemption — I had support. I had support from my family, friends and fans. They didn’t have to support me, but they did. People didn’t have to write me letters, but they did.
My story is not finished. I have more to do. I have something that I want to give back to everyone that supported me. Here it is: I am committed, focused and determined to win a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles. This is my promise. It is my drive. I will work like a champion to get there. I want to do it for my family, friends, mentors, coaches, teammates, and fans. I want to do it for Philly.
Look out Big East, these Temple Owls are winners.
Matt Brown ran for 141 yards and a long score, Chris Coyer had a touchdown passing and rushing, and Temple beat Villanova 41-10 on Friday night in its first game since returning to a conference that kicked them out eight years ago.
"I wanted us to establish that toughness and see us play that smash-mouth football," coach Steve Addazio said, pumping his fist for emphasis. "And, we did."
The Owls won their third straight Mayor's Cup — presented to the winner of this city rivalry — in the finale of this series played before 32,709 fans at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles.
These clearly aren't the same Owls who used to be a pushover and were booted out of the Big East in 2004. Al Golden turned the program around before bolting for Miami, and Addazio kept it rolling last year in the MAC.
Addazio led Temple to a 9-4 record and the second bowl victory in school history, a 37-15 rout of Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl.
The Owls picked up where they left off last December, dominating inferior Villanova from start to finish as Bill Cosby, the most famous of Temple alums, looked on.
Coyer connected with Kenneth Harper on an 8-yard shovel pass for a score to put Temple up 7-0 on their first possession. Coyer threw just three passes during the 14-play drive, completing all of them for 30 yards.
"We executed very well the first drive made a lot of really good reads," Coyer said. "Then we had some hiccups."
The Wildcats answered on the ensuing possession, driving down to Temple's 3. But they couldn't push it in and settled for Mark Hamilton's 21-yard field goal.
Temple went up 14-3 when Vaughn Carraway intercepted Chris Polony's pass and returned it 58 yards for a TD.
"We're a young defense and we're gonna get better," Carraway said.
Another turnover two plays later set up Coyer's 19-yard TD run that made it 21-3, and the rout was on.
Just when it seemed Villanova had gained momentum going into the half on John Robertson's 5-yard TD run late in the second quarter, the Owls struck back 43 seconds later.
Brown burst through the line and sprinted 56 yards for a score to make it 28-10 with 21 seconds left in the half.
"I think they broke our back with that run," Villanova coach Andy Talley said.
Harper had a 38-yard TD run in the third quarter.
Temple's Spencer Reid, son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, entered late in the game and carried three times for 4 yards. Andy Reid and his wife Tammy were there to greet their son afterward.
An energized crowd — the third-largest for Temple at the Linc — showed up hours before kickoff to tailgate in the parking lots. Once they made it inside, the maroon-and-white portion of the fans had plenty to cheer about.
Temple had 10 seasons of one or two victories spanning their Big East years of 1991-2004. The Owls were forced out of the conference after 13 years for failing to meet minimum requirements for membership, most notably in attendance, facilities and fielding a competitive team.
Temple played as an independent and eventually landed in the Mid-American Conference in 2007. While there, it turned its program around and ran off winning seasons the past three years.
The Owls rejoined the Big East for football in March and all other sports in 2013. They'll host South Florida on Oct. 6 in their first conference game. -- (AP)
The Philadelphia Eagles just wrapped OTAs and now the players are off until training camp, which begins next month. The Eagles training camp will take place at Lehigh University. The rookies and quarterbacks will report on July 22. The remaining veterans will arrive on July 25.
The Eagles would appear to be heading into the 2012 season in much better shape than a year ago. They have all the important pieces under contract in players like wide receiver DeSean Jackson and running back LeSean McCoy. In addition, players such as cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha had all of mini-camp to work together. DeMeco Ryans, the Eagles newly acquired middle linebacker, had a chance to get acclimated to the team’s system as well.
Andy Reid, Eagles head coach, has been pleased with the way his team has worked during the offseason. Reid can see the team has been playing with plenty of energy.
“You saw that last year,” Reid said. “I think that’s something that they’ve carried over into this year. The d-line (defensive line) starts it off, and the o-line (offensive line), even though they can’t really compete right now, keeps it loud and exciting. It’s a good atmosphere. There’s no pads on here so they can’t really compete. With the back end guys, it’s just contagious and it carries on into the linebackers and the secondary. Those guys can compete. They can’t do bump-and-run, but they can compete. Likewise on the offensive side, the guys are challenging each other and trying to get better.”
The Eagles certainly want to play better than last year. The team posted an 8-8 record and didn’t go to the playoffs. They did finish the season on a high note winning their last four games against the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
Michael Vick, Eagles quarterback, struggled with injuries and some inconsistency. Vick threw for 3,303 yards with 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The Eagles need a big year from their signal caller.
“Michael knows what he needs to do and he’s worked like crazy,” Reid said. “One of the reasons that we’ve had the attendance here that we’ve had and one of the reasons that we’ve had energy is Michael Vick. He was here and he hasn’t missed a workout. He’s the one who’s out here motivating that energy and making the players around him be here. He’s done a great job of that this offseason.”
The Eagles first preseason game will be against the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 9 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles will open the regular season against the Cleveland Browns on the road on Sept. 9. The home opener will be on September 16 against the Baltimore Ravens.
NOTE: The Eagles announced that single-game tickets will go on sale for all 10 home games for the 2012 season on June 21 at 10 a.m. Fans can purchase tickets at that time by going to www.philadelphiaeagles.com. Prices range from $70 to $95 and there is a four-ticket limit per household.
Torn between loyalty to his players and accepting a new challenge, Chip Kelly ultimately chose the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles.
He just needed more time to make the decision.
"The hardest thing for me to do was to leave Oregon," Kelly said Thursday at a news conference introducing him as the 21st coach in team history. "I knew it was a great fit, but it was whether I could leave what I have. I love those guys and it had to be a special place for me to leave."
The Eagles hired Kelly on Wednesday, giving him a five-year contract and ending an exhaustive search to replace Andy Reid. The offensive innovator was lured away from Oregon, where he went 46-7 in four seasons and turned the program into a national powerhouse.
From the start, Kelly appeared to be Philadelphia's top choice. But two days after a nine-hour meeting in Arizona with owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski, Kelly chose to stay at Oregon.
The Eagles continued interviewing other candidates, and were close to offering the job to Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on Tuesday night. But Kelly changed his mind after thinking harder about making the move and talking to several people, including Reid who quickly moved on to become Kansas City's coach.
"I knew this was the best spot, but there's so much more to it," Kelly said. "What happens when I leave? Who becomes the next head coach? What happens to those players? You're not making reservations for dinner. You are changing not only your life, but a lot of other people's lives."
Kelly said he became emotional when he told players in a meeting that he was leaving, and added that he cried more than they did.
He went from a warm and fuzzy environment in Eugene, Ore. to a hero's welcome in the city of Brotherly Love.
Fans greeted him at the airport when his plane arrived in Philadelphia on Wednesday night and a sign reading "Our Chip's Come In" was hung on two trees outside the team's practice facility on Thursday morning. A few fans drove down Pattison Avenue honking their horns to salute the hiring.
"It's a really exciting time for me. It was a difficult decision. There's not many opportunities to coach in the National Football League, and every one of them is special," Kelly said. "But this is an iconic franchise with an outstanding owner. I knew what this place was all about, and this is where I wanted to be. It was just a matter of figuring out how to do it the right way."
The Eagles interviewed 11 candidates in slightly more than two weeks. While fans became anxious waiting for a new coach, the team emphasized a patient approach.
Perhaps they were waiting for Kelly to reconsider.
"The key was to find the right leader, not make the fastest decision," Lurie said. "We never took 'No' as a full 'No.' We knew he was torn. And we knew there was no competition for Chip. It was just, did he want to stay or did he want to come to us?"
Though Kelly has no previous NFL experience, the Eagles are banking on him to turn around a franchise that has just 12 wins in the last two years and zero playoff victories since 2008.
"Chip is a trendsetter," Roseman said. "People are following him. He's not a disciple of anyone. When you are trying to find greatness, you have to find the people on top."
Kelly built quite a reputation for being one of the sharpest football minds in college while leading Oregon to four straight BCS bowl games — including a bid for the national championship against Auburn two seasons ago — and three conference championships.
Some aspects of his hurry-up, spread offense are used by New England and Washington. Patriots coach Bill Belichick even brought Kelly in to get advice on his offensive philosophy.
But Kelly has a challenge in Philadelphia. His flash-and-dash offense needs a leader under center. Nick Foles, a third-round pick last year who replaced Michael Vick, is a dropback quarterback who said himself that he doesn't fit Kelly's zone-read style
Vick, who will be 33 when the season starts, isn't coming back for the $16 million he's scheduled to make next year. The Eagles have to make a decision on giving him a roster bonus of $3 million within three days after the Super Bowl.
"I haven't watched even film to make any decision on anybody," Kelly said, adding that he's a "huge fan" of Foles.
Kelly also talked about adapting his system to fit the players on the team, a quality that impressed Roseman in their first interview.
"When you meet with Chip, you realize very quickly that Chip is not about whether his offense is going to translate to the NFL," Roseman said. "It's about his vision for a program, it's about how he sees the entire aspect of a football organization and Jeffrey outlined in that first press conference: I want a leader, I want a presence, and so if you had any doubt about Chip Kelly's offense, you left and said this isn't about Chip Kelly and the spread, this is about how Chip Kelly approaches football, and that was incredibly, incredibly impressive."
The Eagles were 3-1 this season after a 19-17 win over the New York Giants on Sept. 30. They then lost 11 of their last 12 games to finish in last place in the NFC East. Reid was fired the day after the season ended, ending a 14-year tenure in which he won more games than any coach in franchise history and went to the playoffs nine times, including five conference championship games.
But the Eagles are still seeking their first Vince Lombardi Trophy and first NFL title since 1960.
"We have one goal, and that's to get to the Super Bowl," Kelly said. "It's not an 'I' deal, it's a 'we' deal. Our players will understand that." -- (AP)
Doug Williams, former Grambling State star and Super Bowl MVP, likes Eagles head coach Andy Reid’s decision to add ex-Temple standout Todd Bowles to his staff as the team’s secondary coach. Williams knows Bowles extremely well.
They both played on the 1988 Washington Redskins Super Bowl championship team. In addition, Williams hired Bowles to be his defensive coordinator when he first started his coaching career in college.
“Todd went with me to Morehouse (1997) and then he followed me to Grambling (1998–99),” said Williams, Grambling State head coach. “He was my defensive coordinator in both places. I’m going to take my hat off to Andy Reid. I think the Philadelphia Eagles have gotten a steal in Todd. I think he’s going to fit right in and be a big asset to the defensive side of the ball. Todd is one of the sharpest guys around.”
Bowles comes to the Eagles with great credentials. The 12-year NFL coaching veteran was the interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins for the final three weeks this past season, finishing with a 2-1 record after previously serving as the Dolphins assistant head coach/secondary for three seasons (2008–11). Under Bowles, the Miami defensive backs contributed to a defense that held opposing quarterbacks to a 58.1 percent completion rate, fifth-best in the AFC and seventh in the league. His tutelage also helped safety Yeremiah Bell earn a Pro Bowl berth in 2009 after grabbing three interceptions.
Bowles was the secondary coach for the Dallas Cowboys from 2005 to 2007. During that time, Dallas compiled 52 interceptions, tied for third-most in the NFC, and was also the NFC’s fifth-ranked defense, allowing 310.4 per game. He coached three defensive backs to five Pro Bowl appearances: safety Roy Williams (2005–07) along with cornerback Terence Newman and safety Ken Hamlin in 2007.
Bowles was a four-year defensive assistant for Cleveland from 2001 to 2004 as the secondary coach (2004) and the defensive nickel package coach (2001–03). In 2004, the Browns held their opposition to just 181.3 passing yards per game, fifth in the league. Cleveland set a franchise record and led the NFL in 2001 with 33 interceptions, 28 from defensive backs and 10 from rookie Anthony Henry. Bowles made his NFL coaching debut as a defensive backs coach with the New York Jets in 2000, when the team was sixth in the league allowing 183.3 yards per game via the pass.
Bowles, a native of Elizabeth, N.J., was a four-year standout as a defensive back with the Temple Owls from 1982 to 1985. He played eight NFL seasons with the Washington Redskins (1986–90, 1992–93) and San Francisco 49ers (1991). He recorded 15 interceptions and two sacks in 117 career games. Jaiquawn Jarrett, Eagles free safety, played his college football at Temple. Jarrett is looking forward to working with Bowles.
“I got a great feel for him,” Jarrett said. “He’s a Temple alum. I spoke to Miss Nadia (Harvin, assistant to the head coach). She said Todd reminds me of him when he was at Temple. So, it’s going to be great to have an opportunity to play for Coach Todd.”
PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Eagles team president Joe Banner is stepping aside from the team's day-to-day operations and taking on an advisory role.
Banner will be succeeded as president by chief operating officer Don Smolenski. Both Banner and owner Jeffery Lurie said it was a mutual decision, disputing any suggestion that Banner was pushed out in a power struggle with general manager Howie Roseman and coach Andy Reid.
"It has been my privilege to work with Jeffrey Lurie over all these years," Banner said in a statement released Thursday. "Together we have built a talented front office team that is now ready to assume leadership of this extraordinary franchise. I plan to pursue a major new opportunity within the sports field — one that will enable me to apply all that I have learned as the Eagles president. I could never thank Jeff enough for the opportunity and support he has afforded me."
Banner has occupied a leadership role with the team since it was purchased in 1994 by Lurie, his longtime friend. He'll stay on as an adviser to Lurie.
"There is no better executive in sports than Joe Banner," Lurie said. "We are making this announcement today because he is looking for a greater challenge, and in Don Smolenski I have a highly regarded, very worthy successor as president of this team. Joe and I have achieved a great deal since I acquired the team. From building Lincoln Financial Field and the NovaCare Complex, to driving the work of the Eagles Youth Partnership and, of course, our successes on the field, Joe has been an integral part of everything we have done."
Smolenski joined the Eagles in 1998 as vice president and chief financial officer before being chosen chief operating officer in 2010. He was previously the CFO of the International Hockey League.
"Joe has been a great friend, teacher and mentor," Smolenski said. "His support and confidence have been instrumental to my growth and development in the organization. As the Eagles new president, I'm excited to build on the work we've done together over the years."
Banner was considered an expert in mastering the salary cap. But he often was the target of strong criticism by fans for some of his public comments. The Eagles reached the NFC championship game five times and the Super Bowl once during Banner's tenure, but the franchise hasn't won a title since 1960. -- (AP)
In the end, Chip Kelly chose the NFL, giving the Eagles their guy.
Philadelphia hired Kelly on Wednesday, just 10 days after he decided to stay at Oregon. The 49-year-old Kelly, known as an offensive innovator, becomes the 21st coach in team history and replaces Andy Reid, who was fired on Dec. 31 after a 4-12 season.
He'll be introduced at a news conference Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the Eagles' practice facility.
Kelly, who was 46-7 in four years at Oregon, interviewed with the Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills in a two-day span after leading the fast-flying No. 2 Ducks to a victory over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.
The Eagles are known to have interviewed 11 candidates, including two meetings with Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. All along, Kelly was thought to be Philadelphia's first choice in a long, exhaustive process that took many twists.
"Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles," owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. "He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh energetic approach to our team."
On the day he fired Reid, Lurie appeared to be describing Kelly when he said he wanted to find a "real smart, forward-thinking coach" who is "strategic, a strong leader, very comfortable in his own skin."
The enigmatic Kelly reportedly was close to signing with the Browns after a long interview on Jan. 4. He met with the Eagles for nine hours the next day, setting up a soap-opera scenario in which the Eagles were competing with Browns CEO Joe Banner, their former president and longtime friend of Lurie who left the organization after a falling out.
But that roller coaster ended when Kelly opted to remain — temporarily — in Eugene, Ore. At the time, it was the second straight year Kelly had entertained overtures from NFL teams only to reject them. He turned down Tampa Bay's job deep into negotiations last season.
The Eagles interviewed two other high-profile college coaches — Penn State's Bill O'Brien and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly. Both of them elected to stay with their schools and Philadelphia issued a statement saying it would continue its search as planned.
"There is no question we spent a considerable amount of time and effort looking at who we thought were the best collegiate candidates. We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts," the team stated on Saturday. "We understood that going into the process, but we wanted to leave no stone unturned while trying to find the best coach. We have no regrets about the effort we made in that direction."
Bradley was considered by many to be the leading contender, though former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and former Ravens coach Brian Billick were in the mix.
That all changed when Kelly had a change of heart.
The visor-wearing Kelly built Oregon into a national powerhouse. The Ducks went to four straight BCS bowl games — including a bid for the national championship against Auburn two seasons ago — and have won three Pac-12 championships.
Kelly originally went to Oregon in 2007 as offensive coordinator under Mike Bellotti. Before that, he was offensive coordinator at New Hampshire, where he started devising the innovative hurry-up offense the Ducks are known for now.
Oregon finished last season 12-1. The team was ranked No. 1 and appeared headed for another shot at the national championship until a 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford on Nov. 17.
It's unknown whether the possibility of NCAA sanctions based on Oregon's use of recruiting services factored into Kelly's reversal. Kelly indicated in Arizona that he isn't running from anything.
"We've cooperated fully with them," he said. "If they want to talk to us again, we'll continue to cooperate fully. I feel confident in the situation."
Following the bowl, Kelly said he wanted to get the interview process over "quickly." Turns out, it was anything but.
"It's more a fact-finding mission, finding out if it fits or doesn't fit," Kelly said after the Ducks defeated the Wildcats, 35-17. "I've been in one interview in my life for the National Football League, and that was a year ago. I don't really have any preconceived notions about it. I think that's what this deal is all about for me. It's not going to affect us in terms of we're not on the road (recruiting). I'll get an opportunity if people do call, see where they are.
"I want to get it wrapped up quickly and figure out where I'm going to be."
Kelly, who never said if he was leaning one way or another following the bowl, doesn't have any pro coaching experience, but aspects of his up-tempo offense are already being used by some NFL teams, including New England and Washington.
"I said I'll always listen, and that's what I'll do," he said at the time. "I know that people want to talk to me because of our players. The success of our football program has always been about our guys. It's an honor for someone to say they'd want to talk to me about maybe moving on to go coach in the National Football League. But it's because of what those guys do. I'll listen, and we'll see."
The Eagles fired Reid after two forgettable years. A late flurry brought the team to an 8-8 finish last season, but this season, Philadelphia endured an eight-game losing streak, and dropped 11 of its final 12 games. A 3-1 start soon washed away, and Reid's 14-year tenure ended not long after. Within a week, Reid was Kansas City's new coach.
Still, Kelly has tough shoes to fill. Reid won more game than any coach in franchise history and led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six division titles, five conference championship games and a loss to New England in the Super Bowl following the 2004 season.
Kelly and the Eagles, who have won just 12 games the last two seasons, after winning the NFC East in 2010, have the No. 4 overall pick in the draft as well as some talented players on offense who could fit his up-tempo scheme. Running back LeSean McCoy and wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin seem like an ideal match. Quarterback Nick Foles, however, isn't.
"I've never run the zone read," Foles said after the season. "I'm more of a dropback guy. I've been under center. I've been in the gun. If I can adapt, I want to. But I'm not a zone-read quarterback. Some people are gifted with different things. That's just not one of my skill sets. I can work on the speed in the offseason and get better with that. But I've always been a dropback guy in the pocket. I've been able to make plays on my feet throwing the ball or running for a first down."
On the other hand, Michael Vick could be perfect. But it's unlikely the Eagles would want to pay the $16 million they'd have to shell out for an injury-prone quarterback, who will be 33 next season.
Kelly had high praise for Foles after Oregon beat Arizona 56-31 in September 2011.
"I'll tell you what; I'm glad Nick Foles is graduating," Kelly said at that time. "I catch myself watching him in awe sometimes. Nick is a hell of a football player. That kid's a warrior. He's as good as anyone in the country."
Others interviewed by Lurie, general Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski were former Bears coach Lovie Smith, Atlanta assistants Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong, former Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
The first Eagles to react to Kelly's hiring on Twitter were defensive players.
Defensive end Brandon Graham wrote: "Happy to have Chip Kelly!! Now it's time to get to work!"
Safety Kurt Coleman wrote: "Welcome Chip Kelly to the Eagles family. Can't wait to see what he brings to the team in 2013!"
Oregon's players gave Kelly a Gatorade bath at the end of his last game, and some seemed resigned to their coach moving on.
"We're all behind him. He's an unbelievable coach," quarterback Marcus Mariota said. "He's not only a coach, but he's someone that you can look to and learn a lot of life lessons from. Whatever happens, happens.
"We'll see where it takes us."
Kelly took the road to Philadelphia and the NFL. -- (AP)
When you think about some of the great players who have worn a Philadelphia Eagles uniform over the years, Brian Westbrook is certainly one of them. In the midst of getting ready for the season opener against the host Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Sept. 9, the Eagles recognized Westbrook at the NovaCare Complex last week in a special ceremony as he retired as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Westbrook had his family from Fort Washington, Md., along with Villanova head coach Andy Talley and other members of the Wildcats athletic department to honor him on that special day. And rightly so, he was clearly a great player. Andy Reid, Eagles head coach, had some great things to say about Westbrook.
“I’ll tell you, I’ve never coached a player as smart as this guy right here,” Reid said. “Unbelievable, a tribute to his parents, number one, and to Coach (Andy) Talley and that Villanova program and education that he received as number two. Nobody loved to play the game like Brian did. I mean, this guy he could do it all.”
Westbrook indeed did it all. That’s what made him special. He was one of the NFL’s great all-around players. He wasn’t just a good runner, but a terrific pass receiver and blocker. Westbrook, a two-time Pro Bowler, finished his career with the Eagles in 2009 as the franchise leader with 9,785 total yards from scrimmage. He is one of six players in league history to post 30-plus rushing (41) and receiving touchdowns (30) in a career. His best season came in 2007, when he led the league with 2,104 scrimmage yards, which earned him Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.
Westbrook played in 107 games (85 starts) in eight seasons with the Eagles (2002–09). He currently ranks second in Eagles history in rushing yards (5,995), and third in receptions (426) and total touchdowns (68). Among Eagles running backs all-time, Westbrook played in 11 playoff games with the team, ranking first in club history in career rushing yards (591) and total touchdowns.
By the way, he could return punts, too. In 2003, he returned a punt 84 yards for a score with 1:34 remaining against the New York Giants. It was one of his signature moments as an Eagle.
“It’s hard to pick one,” Westbrook said. “The one that sticks out, the first thing when you asked the question is the play at the Giants and really, (Merrill Reese’s) call kind of is the sound and the voice that I hear in my head. It’s one of those things where it’s a total team play.”
Westbrook had a way of lifting his team’s level of play. He was a key player in the Eagles march to the Super Bowl. But long before that, he was a tremendous athlete. He played football and basketball at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md. At 5-foot-10 and 203 pounds, he had to overcome a torn ACL in high school as well as knee surgery in college. Despite the injuries, Westbrook was the premiere player in NCAA Division I-AA. At Villanova, he was a threat to score any time he touched the football. He set the all-time record with 9,885 all-purpose yards.
In 2002, the Eagles selected him in the third round of the NFL draft. Westbrook was as good as most first round picks. In fact, he should have been a first rounder. Nevertheless, he never let injuries or any obstacle stop him from being successful.
“I tore my ACL my senior year,” Westbrook said. “It’s hampered me my whole, entire football career, but in the same way that it’s kind of held me back. It’s been a blessing as well. It told me the value of hard work, discipline, how to do things the right way and so when I was there, I was just focused on being the best that I could be and I tried to focus on that my entire career. I’ve been blessed. I’ve been lucky. I came to a good organization and a good coaching staff that knew how to use me the right way. I learned so much at Villanova, how to catch the ball, how to run the ball, how to be an effective blocker. Every step of the way has been a blessing. I’ve learned so much every step of the way. I’m just thankful.”
After leaving the Eagles, Westbrook, 32, played one season for the San Francisco 49ers (2010). He had a tremendous career. He will be honored again in front of the fans at Lincoln Financial Field on December 23 during a halftime ceremony against the Washington Redskins.
PHILADELPHIA — LeSean McCoy ran his way onto the short list of the best running backs in the NFL. He can now stamp his name among the highest paid.
McCoy and the Philadelphia Eagles agreed to a five-year contract extension that runs through 2017. The deal is for a reported $45 million, with $20.765 million guaranteed.
McCoy set franchise records in 2011 with 17 touchdowns rushing, and 20 total scores, while earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. He also led the NFL with 102 first downs and 48 runs of 10-plus yards, while finishing as the league's fourth-leading rusher with 1,309 yards.
"I love this team, and I'm kind of a hometown kid from Harrisburg which is like an hour and a half away," McCoy said Thursday night. "Nothing could be better than being here for the long term. Once you kind of realize the feeling of wanting to be here for the long term, we contacted the team and it was a mutual feeling. So, it kicked off from there."
In 2010, McCoy ranked fourth in the NFL with 1,672 yards from scrimmage while leading all running backs with a career-high 78 catches.
Philadelphia had a disappointing 4-8 start last season, before rallying with four straight wins to end the year. The Eagles did not make the playoffs.
Usually called by childhood nickname, Shady, McCoy was Philadelphia's 2009 second-round draft pick out of Pittsburgh. He has played in 46 games, with 32 starts, and has registered 4,241 yards from scrimmage.
"He does it all, so this isn't a one-dimensional running back," coach Andy Reid said. "This is a running back that can not only carry the football for you but can catch the football as well as the wide receivers and he can block and loves playing the game. That brings great energy to this football team."
He had one year left on his original four-year rookie contract.
The Eagles already this offseason signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson to a five-year contract that runs through 2016 and acquired two-time Pro Bowl linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans. They signed defensive end Trent Cole to a four-year extension through 2017 and tackle Todd Herremans to a three-year extension through 2016.
The Eagles believe they have the pieces in place to again become contenders in the NFC. McCoy doesn't turn 24 until July, giving the Eagles hope they can get a full five years of use out of McCoy, even at a rugged position like running back.
"It's exciting because we are trying to build for the long term," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. "We're trying to bring a championship to the city of Philadelphia and we're going to do whatever we can to do that, but on the same token, we're going to try and keep building it and sustain some success. Keeping him here is a big piece of that."
McCoy now his name up there with Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson and DeAngelo Williams as one of the highest-paid running backs. Minnesota's Peterson signed a $100 million, seven-year contract before last season. Johnson signed a $53.5 million contract extension worth $30 million guaranteed with Tennessee before last season.
"I'm just honored to be in the range financially with those guys," McCoy said.
McCoy ran for 2,731 yards in his two seasons, and posted 38 total touchdowns at Pitt. -- (AP)
If you walk around town, everybody has been talking about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and his injuries. Vick has been injured a lot in his career, there’s no question about that. He has started all 16 regular season games just once in his NFL career.
So far, he has hardly been on the field during the preseason. In the first game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he sustained a thumb injury in the first quarter and didn’t play the rest of the game. In the second contest against the New England Patriots, he took a shot to the ribs and had to take an early exit.
If the Eagles plan to make a strong run in the regular season as well as the playoffs, they’re going to need a healthy Michael Vick. The team has to find a way to protect. President Barack Obama told him to slide. He did that the other night going head first for a first down. Sliding will help, but he has to be careful with that as well.
The answer in keeping Vick healthy could be found in the last four games of the 2011 season. In those games, Vick rolled out a lot, which took him away from the pass rush.
This allowed him to see linebackers blitzing at him in the backfield. Vick’s speed and open field moves prevented him from getting hit by those hard charging linebackers and pass rushing defensive ends.
When you have space and vision, you can hold on to the ball longer. You can create opportunities for yourself and extend the play longer. And let’s face it, that’s the way Vick plays the game. You can’t take that away him. In addition, if the play isn’t there, he can throw the ball away or run out of bounds. He’ll be in a better position to do that.
If you’re going to have him stand up in the pocket and take those big hits from defensive linemen coming full speed, that could be a major problem. Vick has to be that explosive player we’ve seen over his 11 years in the NFL. People want to see him play the way he did in 2010 when he was a threat to make a big play at any time.
Vick is only 6-foot and 215 pounds. That’s not real big for a quarterback. A guy that size can’t be strictly a pocket passer. You can give him some room to make plays with his arm as well as his legs. With his talent, you have to put him in position where he has the other teams trying to figure out what he’s going to do. That’s what makes him dangerous.
He doesn’t have to go back to being the quarterback he was during his playing days with the Atlanta Falcons. Actually, he’s a much better all-around quarterback now. His passing is much improved.
It’s unlikely that Vick will play the rest of the preseason. Andy Reid, Eagles head coach, will have some time to look at his four-time Pro Bowl signal caller. Reid should have him dropping back a little further in the pocket. This way, he can see the field better. Also, it would keep Vick in a situation where he’s putting pressure on defenses along with preventing him from getting hurt.
It’s easy to say he’s got to slide and throw the ball way. That’s nice. Everybody wants him to stay healthy. But Michael Vick has made a career of making plays and that’s what he has to do if the Eagles are going to go anywhere this season.