It’s not every day an NFL team comes to your neighborhood school to put together a playground for the students. That’s why there was so much excitement when the Philadelphia Eagles came out to the Comegys Elementary School at 51st Street and Greenway Avenue.
The Eagles Youth Partnership (EYP) and the Philadelphia Eagles worked with the Southwest Philadelphia school for the 16th annual Eagles Playground Build. The students joined a number of players such as quarterback Michael Vick, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver DeSean Jackson and linebacker Demeco Ryans in painting the exterior and interior murals, laying mosaic tiles on benches and tables, constructing a large play structure and planting gardens. A turf field was also installed to give the students an area to play field sports.
Comegys School has more than 450 students from kindergarten through 6th grade. The school was chosen by EYP and the School District of Philadelphia for the playground build. The murals were created by a team of artists, led by David McShane, from the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
Lisa Wilmer, principal at Comegys School, was very impressed with the efforts of the Eagles, volunteers, students and staff. Wilmer remembers the day when her school was selected for the playground build.
“It was a busy day that day,” Wilmer said. “So, to get the phone call at the end of the day that says ‘Congratulations! You won the Eagles Playground Build’ was just awesome. We had been trying for years to get the playground. We always came in second place, but this is our year.
“You can see the joy in the eyes of the kids. We have volunteers who are community members. They just wanted to come and help. It’s bringing the community together. The staff has been great. Everybody is proud. You’re proud to be a Comegys student and staff member. I’m just happy to be the principal.”
Christina Weiss Lurie, president of EYP, has been involved with this neighborhood effort for a long time.
“This is the 16th playground build or as I call it ‘school transformation,” said Weiss Lurie, wife of Jeffrey Lurie, chairman and CEO of the Eagles. “We’re just so excited to be here and to watch the kids with their big eyes watching their playground gradually take hold whether it’s field or the garden or the mosaic, murals or the playground structure. Now, they have a safe place to be kids and dream their dreams of what they want to do as they grow old.”
The players have been really busy with the OTAs. However, McCoy was happy to spend time with the kids.
“It’s great to come out and hang with the kids and the fans,” McCoy said. “It’s a good thing to give back. This is where it really counts off the field where we can go out and do some good deeds.”
Earlier this spring Vick was playing chess against some of the city’s best players. This week he was helping to paint one of the murals at the school playground.
“I’m really enjoying this,” Vick said. “It’s going to be nice to ride past the school and say hey, ‘I made a contribution to the school.’ This is a school in the community. I think to bring our team out here to paint the school and make a contribution is phenomenal.”
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)
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)
Andy Reid's worst coaching season with the Philadelphia Eagles ended Monday after 14 years when he was fired by owner Jeffrey Lurie, who said it was time "to move in a new direction."
The dismissal came one day after Reid and the Eagles were humiliated 42-7 by the New York Giants and ended their season at 4-12.
"When you have a season like that, it's embarrassing. It's personally crushing to me and it's terrible," Lurie said at a news conference at the team's training facility.
He called Reid "not only an outstanding coach, but an outstanding person."
"He didn't share himself with the press because he wanted to protect his players and the way he coaches," Lurie said. "Having worked with him 14 years, he's a gem of a person. This man was amazing to work with, smart and dedicated himself."
Reid met with his players afterward and was sent off with a standing ovation.
"Not only an outstanding coach, but an outstanding person," Lurie said. "He didn't share himself with the press because he wanted to protect his players and the way he coaches. Having worked with him 14 years, he's a gem of a person. This man was amazing to work with, smart and dedicated himself."
"It's unfortunate. I feel we personally let him down," wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "It's a sad day."
Added rookie quarterback Nick Foles: "It's up to the players to make the plays."
Reid took over a 3-13 team in 1999, drafted Donovan McNabb with the No. 2 overall pick and quickly turned the franchise into a title contender.
He is the winningest coach in club history and led them to a run of four straight NFC championship games, a streak that ended with a Super Bowl trip after the 2004 season — and a loss, 24-21, to the New England Patriots. The Eagles were seeking their first NFL title since 1960.
Reid cemented Philadelphia as a destination football town and led the team to an unmatched level of success. But the team hasn't won a playoff game since 2008 and after last season's 8-8 finish, Lurie said he was looking for improvement this year.
Instead, it was worse.
"I look forward to the day when everyone welcomes him back into the Eagles Hall of Fame because that's inevitable," Lurie said.
Reid grew up in Southern California and may welcome a return home. He already has said he wants to coach next season.
Reid is due to make $6 million in 2013 in the final year of his contract. He is the franchise leader in wins (140) and winning percentage (.578) and led the Eagles to six division titles and five NFC championship games.
Aside from team troubles, the year was a painful one for Reid. He endured a devastating loss weeks before the season opener when his oldest son, Garrett, died at training camp after a long battle with drug addiction.
In October, Reid fired close friend and longtime assistant Juan Castillo, who was in his second season as defensive coordinator after coaching the offensive line for 13 years. He later fired defensive-line coach Jim Washburn.
Still to be determined is whether Michael Vick stays with the team.
In 2009, Reid and Lurie gave Vick a second chance in the NFL after the former star quarterback spent 18 months in federal prison related to a dogfighting operation. Vick took over as the starter in 2010, had a remarkable season and led the Eagles to the NFC East title. But like rest of the team, Vick regressed the last two seasons.
After beating the defending Super Bowl champion Giants on Sept. 30, the Eagles lost eight straight games — their worst losing streak in 42 years.
Lurie said he has a "defined" list of candidates to replace Reid, but hasn't spoken to any coaches or set up interviews yet. General manager Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski will assist him in the process.
"It's better to find the right leader than to make a fast decision," Lurie said. "There's no guarantee I'll make a great decision, but I'm confident I will."
PhiladelpiaEagles.com posted video of Lurie and Reid addressing team employees, who gave Reid a big ovation. Lurie handed him a game ball.
Many employees gathered in a crowded auditorium to hear Lurie's news conference.
"I have a hard time standing before people without a few boos involved. But I'm taking it, I'm taking it all in," Reid said. "These have been the greatest 14 years of my life."
He added: "Sometimes change is good. ... I know the next guy that comes in will be phenomenal. The ultimate goal is a Super Bowl. Everybody in this room, I wish you a big ring on the finger in the near future.
"Hail to the Eagles, baby." -- (AP)
When Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles chairman and CEO, held a press conference earlier this week to announce that Andy Reid will be back as the Eagles head coach, you could feel the pressure already building for the 2012 season. Reid, coming back for what will be a 14th season, has a lot of work to do. Although the team is talented and finished with on a four-game winning streak, the “Dream Team” had an 8-8 record that it can’t hide from.
Reid has won six division titles, made nine playoff appearances, five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance. After Lurie’s press conference, where he was visibly upset with the season, you got the impression none of the previously stated accolades mattered now.
What’s the most important thing right now? Is it staff changes? Juan Castillo, Eagles defensive coordinator, has been under fire for most of the season until things started to turn around the last four games. But for nearly three quarters of the season, the Eagles defense was horrible. Players were constantly out of position. There was lousy tackling.
Does Castillo get replaced? If Reid decides to do that, the name Steve Spagnuolo has come up on several occasions. Spagnuolo was let go this week as the St. Louis Rams head coach. He was a linebackers and defensive backs coach with the Eagles from 1999 to 2006 under Jim Johnson. Reid could bring him in to run the defense.
But here’s a better name: Todd Bowles. Bowles, former Temple football star, replaced Tony Sparano as the Miami Dolphins head coach on an interim basis this season. He’s absolutely qualified for the job. He played eight years in the NFL. He played defensive back on the Washington Redskins 1988 Super Bowl championship team and has loads of experience as an assistant. The only problem: he’s a great candidate for a head coaching job in the NFL.
Reid has other decisions to make as well. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson’s contract situation should be resolved as soon as possible. The Eagles can’t fool around with him any longer. Jackson is one of the most talented receivers in the league. When he didn’t play against the Arizona Cardinals this year, you could see the difference in the passing game right away.
At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Jackson is not very big. But he has tremendous speed. He can take a safety and a defensive back deep down the field on just about any pass route. He had 58 receptions for 961 yards and four touchdowns this season. He has 229 receptions for 4,085 yards and 21 TDs for his career. He’s made the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver and punt returner. And who will forget the great punt return he had against the New York Giants last year. Reid should sit down with Lurie and president Joe Banner to make a decision.
Reid can’t afford any mistakes. This season was a huge disappointment to say the least.
Kayla Michele Jackson, junior champion golfer, recently hosted a free introduction to golf clinic for local kids at the Germantown Boys & Girls Club, 25 W. Penn St. Jackson, 16, went over the fundamentals of golf with the youngsters at the event. The clinic was sponsored by the Youth Athletic League of Philadelphia, founded by Rodney S. Burrell, in association with Perfect Smiles Comprehensive Dentistry.
Offensive tackle Tra Thomas retires as an Eagle
After being drafted out of Florida State with the 11th overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1998, Tra Thomas went on to become one of the most accomplished left tackles in team history as he earned three Pro Bowl berths and one All Pro selection in 11 seasons with the team. He also was selected as the starting left tackle on the Eagles 75th anniversary team in a vote by the fans. Thomas has retired as a Philadelphia Eagle.
During his years with the Eagles, Thomas helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for five 1,000-yard rushing seasons for Duce Staley (1998–99, 2002) and Brian Westbrook (2006–07), including a 2007 All Pro campaign by Westbrook in which he set a team record and led the league with 2,104 total yards from scrimmage. In addition, Thomas spent the majority of his career protecting the blindside of quarterback Donovan McNabb, who went to five Pro Bowls and set every major club passing record playing with Thomas as his left tackle.
Thomas finished his career with the Eagles in 2008 ranked second in club annals in games played by an offensive lineman (166) and fourth overall, missing only eight games due to injury during that time span. In fact, he and former tackle Jon Runyan started 134 games together, the most by a tackle tandem in franchise history. In addition, Thomas started 17 career playoff games with the Eagles, including five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance. Only Brian Dawkins made more playoff starts with the team (18).
Thomas, 37, played eight games (three starts) for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2009, finishing his career with 174 games played and 168 starts. The Deland, Florida, native currently resides in South Jersey with his wife, Rose, and his three sons. Thomas is also the founder and owner of an athletic training facility in Medford, N.J., called 7 Deuce Sports (www.7DeuceSports.com).
“Tra Thomas is one of the best offensive linemen to ever put on an Eagles uniform,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. “He was an anchor at the left tackle position for many years and played such an integral role in our success, though he probably never got all the credit he deserved. Besides being such a great player, Tra is an even better person and someone I’ve always had a great relationship with. I’m proud of what he has done with his career after football as he has remained very successful while keeping his home in this area. We are very happy that he is retiring as an Eagle.”
Michaela Peterson wins 2012 Arthur Ashe Essay & Art Contest
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced that Michaela Peterson of Philadelphia, is one of 14 winners of the 14th annual USTA/NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay and Art Contest in the girls 11–12 essay category. Peterson, along with the other winners, ranging in ages from 10 to 18, was selected from over 1,100 essays submitted earlier this summer. Each winner will receive a New York City travel package from August 24 to 26.
Peterson, daughter of David Peterson and Diana Moro, has been involved in the Legacy Youth Tennis and Education NJTL Chapter for three summers and started tennis as an eight-year-old. She will receive a round-trip coach airfare to New York City for themselves and a parent/legal guardian. The trip also includes two nights at the Grand Hyatt 42nd Street, and President’s box tickets to the 2012 Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess on August 25 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The weekend will wrap up with an awards luncheon on August 26, hosted by former New York City mayor and USTA board member David Dinkins, where the winners will receive an honorary plaque.
To enter the contest, children were asked to write an essay of 350 words or less, responding to a specific question about Arthur Ashe and his great accomplishments. This year’s question: “If Arthur Ashe were alive today, what do you think would give him hope?” A USTA sub-committee selected the winning essays based on their knowledge of Arthur Ashe, message clarity and writing style.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Garrett Reid was a “happy-go-lucky” guy who conquered drug addiction, loved being in the weight room and enjoyed making players laugh.
That’s how many of the Philadelphia Eagles closest to Reid remembered their coach’s oldest son, who was found dead Sunday morning in a dorm room at the club’s Lehigh University training camp. Police said the 29-year-old’s death was not suspicious, and the cause was under investigation.
“I spent plenty of time with him,” guard Evan Mathis said Monday. “He was always in the weight room with us and was always on the field with us. He was a happy-go-lucky guy and always a joy to be around, always telling jokes and having fun. Really just brightened your day when you were around him.”
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday. It’s a scheduled day off from camp, so the team is expected to attend.
“I spent a lot of the offseason hanging out with Garrett. We were pretty close,” center Jason Kelce said. “I want to be there to say ‘Goodbye’ to him.”
The Eagles on Monday held a regular morning walkthrough and a full afternoon practice without coach Andy Reid for the second straight day. Reid spoke to the team Sunday before he left camp and impressed upon them the importance of sticking to their daily schedules. The Eagles (No. 8 in the AP Pro32) open the preseason against the Steelers on Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie already said he expects Reid, a father of five, to return this week.
“For us to not take any days off and be out here having Coach Reid and Garrett on our minds, it’s been tough,” running back LeSean McCoy said. “The biggest thing is that he wants all of us to stay together as a team. He said, ‘Guys, stick together. We’re all in this together.’
“We’re actually his extended family, and he said it’s tough right now, but we need to stay together as a team even in his absence. He wants us to be here, stay together, train hard and try and achieve our goal. Playing a game is something big, but playing for him and his family actually motivates us a little bit more.”
Garrett Reid had been staying at camp where he assisted strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin in an unofficial capacity. Exercise and training had become a passion for Reid and he aspired to make it a career.
“He was putting a lot of work into it, doing a lot of research,” Kelce said. “That was his goal — to be a strength and conditioning coach as a head guy. He was good at it.”
Reid’s knowledge and affable personality was a big reason why quarterback Michael Vick spent so much time working out with him during the offseason.
“Just a great spirit, a lot of enthusiasm, fun to be around and always is going to make you smile when you are in a bad mood,” Vick said. “He can always get you to crack a smile and that’s what I’m going to miss about him. That’s what I enjoyed each and every day. In the offseason, he was one of the reasons that I came to work five days out of the week.”
Players who knew Reid five years ago saw his transformation. They knew he had come a long way. Garrett Reid was sentenced to nearly two years in prison for a 2007 high-speed car crash while he was high on heroin that injured another driver. Police found heroin and more than 200 pills in his car. When he surrendered to begin his sentence, prison guards found Reid had tried to smuggle prescription pills into jail.
His younger brother, Britt, also had problems with drug use and was arrested on the same day as Garrett in 2007 for a road-rage encounter. Police discovered weapons and drugs in Britt Reid’s vehicle.
But Reid’s two oldest boys appeared to be on the right track. Britt is a graduate assistant coach at Temple, where Spencer Reid is a redshirt freshman running back.
“I think it’s a remarkable turnaround to go from where he was to — you guys have seen him — he lost a lot of weight, health became a huge part of his life; he had everything going in the right direction,” right tackle Todd Herremans said.
Linebacker Casey Matthews worked out often with Garrett Reid as a rookie last year, and didn’t even realize he was the coach’s son for the first couple months.
“He was a good guy,” Matthews said. “When I got to know him in the weight room, I didn’t even know he was Coach Reid’s son.”
Matthews said Garrett Reid talked about his past at times, but players never brought up the topic. Like others who knew Garrett Reid, Matthews said he would be shocked if his death was drug-related.
“He was past all that,” Matthews said. “He was always happy, always upbeat, always had your back.” — (AP)
On Sept. 30, during halftime of a nationally televised NBC “Sunday Night Football” game against NFC East rivals, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles will honor nine-time Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins, whose No. 20 jersey will be retired that day. Kick-off is 8:20 p.m.
Back in April, Dawkins, who last played for the Denver Broncos, signed a one-day ceremonial contract in April to officially retire a member of the Eagles, and said at a press conference at the NovaCare Complex, “The Philadelphia Eagles — they’ve been in existence for a long time and a lot of people have worn that number throughout that time. To know that now, because of the way the Lord blessed me to play this game, nobody will ever wear it again. That’s an honor, what an honor.”
Dawkins also paid tribute to the late Jim Johnson, formerly the revered defensive coach of the Eagles. “He saw something in me and began to use me in a different way than a lot of safeties were being used at that time. He believed in me,” Dawkins said. “The thing that I’ve always carried and always been as a player is a person who didn’t want to disappoint his coaches and gentlemen. I didn’t want to disappoint y’all.
“Why did I play with so much emotion? Why did I do all of that? Because I loved to do what I do and loved playing with my teammates. I loved playing with them. In Jim, I found that individual that believed in me to use me. When the game was on the line, the reason that I made so many big plays in crunch time is because Jim continued to call my number in crunch time. He knew I would do whatever it took and I would give up my body parts if I had to just to make sure his blitzes went on. I can thank him for that.”
After 16 bone-crushing seasons in the NFL, Dawkins, 38, no longer puts on the pads, but he is staying close to the game that he loves as an NFL analyst for ESPN. According to the network, he will appear on studio programs throughout the year such as “SportsCenter,” “NFL Live,” “Audibles” and NFL32.”
“I am so blessed and excited to say that I’ll now be working at a place that I’ve watched for as long as I can remember,” Dawkins said. “All the things that led me to have a pretty successful NFL career, I plan on bringing to this next phase of my life. New challenges!”
For now however, Eagles fans are looking forward to honoring their beloved safety whose alter-ego, “The Wolverine,” would order his teammates to “act a fool” during his pre-game rituals, speak “in tongues” during the games, play with such passion and hit with such force that he would almost knock himself out. He epitomized pro football in Philly. Dawkins, the eighth player in franchise history to have his jersey retired, will address those devoted fans during a halftime ceremony at Sunday’s primetime showdown against the Giants.
“Brian Dawkins is one of my all-time favorite players and one of the best to ever put on an Eagles uniform,” said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. “On the field, in many ways, Brian re-invented the safety position. He had the speed and athleticism to line up against the game’s best receivers, and was equally effective in the run game. His love for the game was infectious and he poured his entire heart and soul into everything he was doing from the moment he entered the stadium until he left. Everyone one who ever watched Brian play saw that and it was impossible not to love that about him. He was one of the best leaders ever to play here.
“Off the field, it is no secret that Brian was a fan favorite. But as much as the fans loved him, I can tell you that he loved them back with equal intensity. His transformation from a mild-mannered, humble man during the week to an energized, ferocious spark plug on game days was evidence of that. We have been working with Brian for a few weeks and look forward to honoring him in front of our fans as one of the greatest Eagles ever when we play the Giants on Sept. 30.
It’s really hard to get excited about the Philadelphia Eagles these days. More than anything, it’s hard watching them. The season has been so disappointing, it’s unbelievable.
The team is on a seven-game losing streak. They’re coming off a dismal loss to the Carolina Panthers, a team that has a 3-8 record. By the way, that’s the same record the Eagles have right now.
On Sunday night, the Eagles will battle the Dallas Cowboys at 8:30. Normally a game against the Cowboys would bring a lot of interest for the fans, but when your team has struggled as much as the Eagles, it’s not easy to bring yourself to the television. And actually, this game is on NBC-TV. This is another national television appearance.
The Eagles’ only national appearance worth talking about was the 19-17 win over the New York Giants. Believe it or not, that was their last victory, which was on Sept. 30.
Since then, a lot has happened to the Eagles. Head coach Andy Reid dismissed his defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and replaced him with Todd Bowles. Despite the change in staff, the defense is still having a difficult time stopping teams from scoring.
Michael Vick, Eagles’ starting quarterback, has been out with a concussion and could be sidelined for this Sunday’s game. Vick’s replacement has been Nick Foles, who had a number of fans enamored by his play in preseason. Well, Foles has completed 59 of 99 passes for 542 yards with one touchdown pass, three interceptions and one fumble. He has played three games and started two. He has also been sacked seven times.
LeSean McCoy, Eagles’ running back, sustained a concussion in a loss to the Redskins. He will probably miss the Cowboys game as well. Bryce Brown, Eagles’ rookie running back, showed some flashes of brilliance in the loss to the Panthers. Brown gained an impressive 178 yards on 19 carries while scoring two touchdowns, but he also had two fumbles.
DeSean Jackson, the Eagles’ leading receiver, is out for the year with fractured ribs. Jackson is the team’s only big play receiver. The latest news involves defensive end Jason Babin, who was released after recording just 5.5 sacks on the season. He was quickly picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
And the beat goes on. After this week, the Eagles’ four games remaining are against Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Washington and the New York Giants. The Buccaneers and the Giants are road games. But the Bengals and Redskins are home games. If you think there were some empty seats at the Panthers game on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field, don’t be surprised if there are even more in these upcoming games. With slim chances of getting to the playoffs, there’s no reason to watch any more.
It really looks as if Andy Reid will be gone after the season. Jeffrey Lurie, Eagles owner, has already indicated that 8-8 is not acceptable. Right now, they’ll be lucky to finish even close to that mark.