Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Will We Boo McNabb?

This weekend, Donovan McNabb makes his return to Philadelphia. He'll be wearing the gawd awful burgundy and gold with his new team, the already-hated Washington Redskins.

The question many have been pondering is "Will the fans boo McNabb?" Here's my take.

Before heading down I-95 to play for the enemy, #5 led the Eagles to multiple 10 win seasons, NFC Championship games, and one Super Bowl appearance. Whether he accomplished a lot is no argument - the Eagles had never seen that sustained level of success they saw with McNabb.

However, there are a few important points to mention. First, he never got over the hump. Given 5 opportunities to advance to a Super Bowl, McNabb only led us to one. And given the opportunity to win that one, he came up short. It's always tough to appreciate what you have when you have it, but it's even tougher to appreciate what you have when you think you should have had even more.

Second, it appeared that McNabb didn't quite feel our pain when he failed to clear these hurdles. Philly fans appreciate hard work, but also appreciate accountability, and it seemed McNabb was content with these shortcomings. Often, he'd shrug off serious questions or apply lip service to them, saying what he thought the fans wanted to hear and often missing the boat.

There's another factor that plays into what I think will happen on Sunday: how well the Eagles are playing right now. Currently, we have a quarterback at the helm who is playing better than McNabb and who many think is playing the way McNabb should have been playing throughout his career, by displaying mobility when the pocket breaks down. Michael Vick is doing everything right thus far, and Eagles fans are feeling quite good about themselves. Does that translate into boos or cheers?

One could take this to mean two different things. Either fans will cheer for McNabb and show respect for what he brought to this team over the last decade because they are generally in a good mood about the team; or, fans will already be in a booing mood for the Skins and keep that momentum going as #5 trots onto the field - sort of a "who needs him anyway?" mentality because things are looking good for our guys right now.

Honestly, I don't think the reaction will lean one way or another. I think we'll have a combination of boos and cheers. Some fans will be riled up already and want to boo the enemy through and through. Some fans won't be in that mode quite yet, as the kickoff wouldn't be happening a few minutes down the line anyways from when he first steps onto the field.

If I could quantify it, I'd say the ratio would be 60-40, boo-to-cheer. I think fans will do what it takes to fire up this team and the rest of the crowd this Sunday afternoon just to get a victory against our hated rival.

Some fans will be wearing their old McNabb Eagles' jerseys on Sunday. Some fans will be attending burning parties for those same jerseys. All fans will have McNabb on their mind one way or another.

One thing is clear - nearly 100% of this stadium will want to see the Iggles come out victorious and stay atop the NFC East. There will be some love. There will be some hate. Booing and cheering will both be part of the equation.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Forbesy's Favorites - NFL Week 3

Last week's record: 6-9-1 (Bill Simmons' record: 8-7-1)

Season: 14-15-3 (Bill Simmons' record: 15-14-3)

GIANTS (-3) over Titans
Steelers (-2.5) over BUCS
Browns (+10.5) over RAVENS
PATRIOTS (-14.5) over Bills
Falcons (+4) over SAINTS
CHIEFS (+2.5) over Niners
Bengals (-3) over PANTHERS
SEAHAWKS (+5.5) over Chargers
Redskins (-3.5) over RAMS
Lions (+11) over VIKINGS
TEXANS (-3) over Cowboys
Colts (-5.5) over BRONCOS
Eagles (-3) over JAGS
CARDINALS (-4.5) over Raiders
DOLPHINS (-2) over Jets
Packers (-3) over BEARS

Friday, September 17, 2010

Forbesy's Favorites - NFL Week 2

Last week's record: 8-6-2 (Bill Simmons' record: 7-7-2)

PACKERS (-13) over Bills
VIKINGS (-5.5) over Dolphins
FALCONS (-6.5) over Cards
BENGALS (+2.5) over Ravens
BROWNS (-2) over Chiefs
COWBOYS (-7.5) over Bears
TITANS (-5) over Steelers
PANTHERS (-3.5) over Bucs
Eagles (-6.5) over LIONS
Seahawks (+3.5) over BRONCOS
RAIDERS (-3.5) over Rams
CHARGERS (-7) over Jaguars
REDSKINS (+3) over Texans
COLTS (-5) over Giants
Pats (-3) over JETS
NINERS (+5) over Saints

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A New Season. A New Identity.

A new season begins tonight in the AJBL. And, with it, comes a new identity for me. Currently, I am one of two players on my team wearing the number “6”. I am being switched to number “7” as a result. (Interestingly enough, the other number “6” on my team was my first ever coach in organized basketball some 23+ years ago. He led us to a championship that season and is a great man, so I would defer to him every time.)

What’s the big deal, you might ask? In sports, a player’s number becomes part of his identity. Name and number go hand in hand. Historically, numbers are synonymous with the greats – most of us can name the most famous number “3” in baseball, number “23” in basketball and number “99” in hockey, for instance. When a player starts his career, he chooses a number for whatever reason. It may be his favorite number. His favorite player may have worn it. He thinks it’s a cool looking digit or two. Or it’s a lucky number or superstitious type of thing. He hopes one day this number will be retired and forever be a reminder of how great a player he was.

As for me, I’ve worn a few numbers over the years. I recall choosing to wear number “8” way before Kobe chose it. I simply liked the number. I later went on to wear number “11”, as I was a huge Isaiah Thomas fan when I was a kid. I’ve also worn numbers “1” and “10”, most likely as smaller numbers were given to the smaller kids, and I was certainly always among the smallest on my team. And I was OK with these and grew to like them as well. Penny Hardaway and Maurice Cheeks anyone?

I’ve played 4 seasons in the AJBL all as the number “6”. As you may know, the great Julius Erving wore this number on the Sixers. So when I was given that number, I was just fine with that. Would I become a legend in this league like Dr. J was in the pros? When a foul was called, sometimes I’d aid the referee in identifying myself so he didn’t have to turn me around to see what number I was. Well, now I have to reprogram. Re-identify. Is it really a big deal?

To me, it might take a game to get used to it. Certainly the feel of the ironed on character on my back won’t be that different, will it? I should hope not. My new jersey might have that new car smell. Shouldn’t take long to sweat it up!

For starters, it should be enough that the number ”7” is considered lucky to many people. I’ll gladly accept that. But there’s more than luck to this game. If I’m not playing like Julius Erving – dare I imply that I ever did! – who will I be emulating this season? Off-hand, I couldn’t even think of any famous “7”s in basketball. I Googled it right away, and the first few players that I found were quite impressive. Kenny Anderson anyone? A stud at Georgia Tech, who I quickly took a liking to in the early 90s. Tiny Archibald? A hall-of-famer! Perhaps the greatest player on this list might be another hall-of-famer, “Pistol” Pete Maravich. Truly a magician on the basketball court. Transitioning to this number shouldn’t be so difficult after all.

So here’s to a fantastic season. I hope I can achieve even the slightest morsel of what the greats before me have achieved. A no-look pass here, a reverse lay-up there. Who knows what will be in store? I do know one thing – I’ll already have luck on my side….or rather, on my back.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Forbesy's Favorites - NFL Week 1

This year I'm going on record with my NFL picks against the spread (ATS). No analysis here - just a run down of who I like to cover in each game. I'll use the point spreads that Bill Simmons (ESPN's "Sports Guy") uses. Let's see how well I do!

SAINTS (-5) over Vikings
GIANTS (-7) over Panthers
Packers (-3) over EAGLES
Dolphins (-3) over BILLS
STEELERS (+2) over Falcons
BEARS (-6) over Lions
Bengals (+4.5) over PATRIOTS
Colts (-2) over TEXANS
TITANS (-6) over Raiders
Broncos (+2.5) over JAGS
BUCS (-2.5) over Browns
Niners (-3) over SEAHAWKS
Cardinals (-4) over RAMS
Ravens (+2.5) over JETS
Chargers (-5) over CHIEFS
REDSKINS (+3.5) over Cowboys

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My NFL Predictions

This year should be a good one, with New Orleans looking to repeat and most of the attention and pressure on the NY Jets. Will teams like Oakland, Cleveland, and Detroit jump out of their perennial cellar-dweller spots? Will the NFC South flip its standings once again? Will Pittsburgh bounce back from a sub-par season? Many questions to be answered this season. I can't wait to see how it all plays out.

This summer I created a fun little Excel spreadsheet to ease the process of picking games and alleviate the headache of ensuring total wins and losses are the same. Fun times, I tell ya.

Without further ado....

NFC East
NYG 12-4
DAL 10-6
WAS 8-8
PHI 6-10

NFC North
GB 13-3
MIN 9-7
CHI 7-9
DET 2-14

NFC South
NO 11-5
ATL 9-7
CAR 7-9
TB 4-12

NFC West
SF 10-6
SEA 7-9
ARI 6-10
STL 3-13

AFC East
NE 12-4
NYJ 11-5
MIA 9-7
BUF 3-13

AFC North
BAL 13-3
CIN 10-6
PIT 9-7
CLE 3-13

AFC South
IND 12-4
HOU 9-7
TEN 9-7
JAX 4-12

AFC West
SD 12-4
DEN 7-9
OAK 5-11
KC 4-12

Playoffs

Wildcard
NFC
NO over ATL
DAL over SF

AFC
NE over CIN
NYJ over SD

Divisional Round
NFC
NYG over NO
GB over DAL

AFC
NE over IND
BAL over NYJ

Conference Champs

NFC
GB over NYG

AFC
BAL over NE

Super Bowl
GB over BAL