Philly's misguided hate for Joe Buck

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Philly's misguided hate for Joe Buck

When I started Rob’s Rants back in the summertime, the best way to describe the sports scene in Philadelphia was cautiously optimistic. There were plenty of signs of life for sure.

Rhys Hoskins had burst onto the landscape with six weeks like we’ve never seen.

The Eagles were about to embark on their 2017 campaign and while there was reasonable excitement and hype surrounding Carson Wentz and the Birds, few if any saw an MVP-level start to the season and the team rolling its way into the bye week with the best record in football.

And how about those Sixers? Four straight wins, including five of their last six. Despite a “load management” day off in Utah, Joel Embiid’s minutes restriction has not been an issue. Ben Simmons' start to his NBA career has been otherworldly and home games have a playoff feel.

The Flyers have been inconsistent but their young core, especially the blue line, is filled with studs.

Plus, the Phillies have a new manager that is an equal opportunity tanner. Short of an actual championship, we couldn’t ask for much more in these parts.

So the Rants department of one intent on calling out all that is wrong and unjust in the Philadelphia sports scene and beyond will take full reverse mush credit for all the good that’s happening. At least that’s what we’re telling ourselves. So not a lot of obvious rant material these days. With that preamble out of the way, I wanted to dive into something I’ve never understood — three words: Joe Buck hate.

Let me state from the jump that I am a Joe Buck fan. Always have been. I find him to be well-prepared, smooth, knowledgeable, has great timing, a sense of humor, often self-deprecating, and knows when to lay out (television term for being quiet) and let the analyst speak or let the picture tell the story. Someone may want to share that last point with Tony Romo. But I digress. Buck is the bane of many sports fans. This is not unique to Philadelphia. He catches equal amounts of heat throughout the country but our fine city certainly has spewed its share of venom his way. But why? 

I think what this really boils down to is he is not a local broadcaster. His allegiance does not lie with the home team. And we don’t like that. The NFL on television is a national broadcast as opposed to Merrill Reese and Mike Quick on the radio, which is an Eagles broadcast. Same goes for the three other majors where you get a local broadcast crew most of the time on TV. Buck and his analyst, whether it’s an Eagles game or the Phillies when they were on their playoff run from 2007-11, have to call it down the middle. Yes, you rise to the occasion as he did when Matt Stairs hit that ball deep into the Southern California night in the 2008 NLCS. Or when Wentz makes a ridiculous play. But he has to make the same, excited call when Dak Prescott makes a play or Alex Rodriguez hits a cheapy homerun in Game 3 of the 2009 World Series. It’s not his job to hammer an official if the call doesn’t go your way. He’s paid to be critical but fair, not overlook or make excuses because it’s the home team.

We’ve been sentenced to both Dick Stockton and Chris Myers this season calling Eagles games on television. That in and of itself should make folks appreciate what Buck brings to the table. Can he get a little too cute at times? Maybe. Are there some who will always cry nepotism because his dad was the great Jack Buck? Of course. Buck himself cops to having doors opened for him because of his last name. It’s one thing to have the door cracked open for you, it’s another to take it to the highest level as he has with both football and baseball.

Buck’s Twitter bio reads in part: "I love all teams EXCEPT yours."

He gets it. He doesn’t hate your team or city, he’s doing his job. 

So considering the Eagles' great start, we are going to be getting plenty of Fox’s No. 1 team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Maybe this time around, we’ll listen to Buck with a different ear? Then again, who am I kidding, he hates us.  

Nick Foles breaks down his ‘crazy situation’ with Eagles

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Nick Foles breaks down his ‘crazy situation’ with Eagles

At some point this summer, Carson Wentz will be cleared to play football.

And Nick Foles will pick up a clipboard and go back to the bench. The Super Bowl MVP will once again be a backup.

“It is a crazy situation,” Nick Foles said this week. “I don’t know how many times it’s happened.”

It’s never happened. No quarterback has ever been a Super Bowl MVP and began the next season as a backup.

But this is a unique set of circumstances. Wentz remains the unquestioned Eagles quarterback of the future. And Foles, as long as he’s here, is his backup.

“It’s not easy, because part of you wants to be able to lead a team and stay in the huddle,” Foles said Tuesday.

“But I’ve been very blessed to have experienced so much in my career so whenever those thoughts sort of hit you, you have to home back in and take what I learned early in my career, when I went to St. Louis, when I went to Kansas City, when I came here, that I really just need to worry about today, because tomorrow’s not guaranteed. This moment is. And I’m going to enjoy it and do it to the best of my ability.

“And it really makes everything a lot easier. Because whatever is going to happen is going to happen. A lot of it I have no control of it. If I’m traded, it’s really not my decision, so why would I even worry about it?”

Wentz was having a record-setting season when he tore up his knee Dec. 10 in Los Angeles. Foles responded with a record-setting postseason.

But Wentz is 25 and Foles is 29. When Wentz is healthy, he will start.

“My (role) right now is to help this team in practice while Carson’s getting healthy, which I’m excited for,” he said. “I want him to get back out there and get healthy and get back to (being) Carson Wentz.

“I want him to (pick up) off where he left off. That excites me from a friend’s perspective and a teammate’s perspective.

“My mindset won’t change. There’s definitely times where I’m tempted to look at the future, like any of us are. I’d be lying if that wasn’t the case. But you have to reel back in and stay in the present because that doesn’t do you any benefit.”

Foles said he’s had people tell him he should have demanded the Eagles trade him so he can start now.

And after his record-setting postseason, it would be understandable if he did.

“I’ve seen both sides of it,” he said. “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Do I want an opportunity to run a team again? Absolutely. But am I trying to run away and do it right now? Well, I’m grateful to be here.

“There’s so much here that I really enjoy and I love it here. So I’m not banging on the table. I’m really grateful to be in this moment.”

Some people made a big deal about Foles telling an Austin television station that he would like to be a starter again, but anybody who knows Foles already knew that.

“All I’m telling y’all is what y’all already knew and everyone knew,” he said. “I can’t believe that I had to actually come out and say that I want to be a starter again. Because I’ve always believed your actions speak louder than words. I shouldn’t have to come out and say that I want to be a starter again.

“The key is to go out on the field and lead your team and show people, ‘This guy is a good guy in the locker room, he can lead a team, he did it on the field, and he’s shown it.’

“Right now, I’m a part of this team, I’m a piece of the puzzle, I’m going to help this team win in any way possible, and whatever my role is, do it to the best of my ability and do it with a lot of joy. Because I’ve seen the other side of it, and I have a lot of joy going to work here.”

Emotional Jason Kelce explains origin of epic speech

Emotional Jason Kelce explains origin of epic speech

More than two months after Jason Kelce gave that now-famous and impassioned vulgarity-filled speech on the steps of the art museum, the emotions that led to it haven’t dissipated. 

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia folk hero got choked up trying to explain the impetus of his words for the first time since he spoke them. 

“I found myself literally [after] the Vikings game in the shower, like,” Kelce said before pausing. 

He choked back tears for a full five seconds. 

“Goddamnit,” he said under his breath, cleared his throat. Another three seconds passed. 

“You get pretty emotional, you’re crying,” said Kelce, recomposed. “And all of that, after the Super Bowl, after the game is finally over, I’m running on the field and I still can’t believe it happened. And it all hits you all at once. I think that’s what the whole speech was. It was the culminating of all the stories I’m thinking about at night, I can’t go to sleep, of how I got there. Then you start thinking about how everybody else got there. Then you start thinking about how the city got there.”

Kelce said he didn’t know how much his speech would resonate with fans and that’s not why he gave it anyway. He delivered his speech because in the lead-up to the Super Bowl, he began thinking about all the adversity he had overcome. He didn’t get a scholarship coming out of high school, needed to prove himself at a new position, and not long ago even questioned his own ability to still play at a high level. 

Then he realized it wasn’t just him. He thought about all of his teammates and what they went through. Then he thought about the city’s waiting to get a Super Bowl. 

The epic speech was born. 

“The whole speech was a realization of myself, realizing that I’m not the only person that’s been through something,” Kelce said. “I’m not the only person that’s had to go through [something]. Literally everybody has had something that they’ve overcome. Everybody’s pushed through. Everybody’s persevered through some sort of adversity and that was kind of the mantra the whole season. We had so much adversity, injuries, all these things happening. It just seemed like nothing could stop us.”

Since the Super Bowl and the speech, Kelce has become a wanted man. Everyone wants a photo and everyone tries to get a mic in his hand. A lot of people expect Kelce to be a great speaker, but what he said at the art museum that day had been building for years. He won’t always have that magic. 

While Kelce has spoken to some of the other local teams and his face appeared on beer cans with proceeds going to charity, Kelce has turned down most offers. Because of added fame, Kelce said just going out for breakfast is more difficult these days; and we all know what happens when Kelce doesn’t eat breakfast. 

He understands the new level of fame, though. It comes with the territory of helping the city achieve its dream. There are too many stories to list of fans telling him how much it meant to them and he understands the Eagles are glue for families in the region. He remembered one teammate walking up to him at the parade after a fan poured the ashes of their grandfather into his hands. The teammate didn’t know what to do and Kelce didn’t have any answers either. 

“It’s one of those things for the first seven years,” Kelce said, “that’s all anybody ever talked about when they came up and talked to you as an Eagle. They were like, ‘Just get us one. We’ve been waiting forever.’”

That’s pretty emotional stuff. You’ll forgive Kelce for getting choked up.