Joel Embiid and the biggest/worst contracts in Philly sports history

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Joel Embiid and the biggest/worst contracts in Philly sports history

On Tuesday, Sixers center Joel Embiid finalized his five-year contract extension worth $148 million. The sum could rise to $178 million if certain incentives are met in the 2017-18 season.

It's official. The ink is dry. No takebacks.

As no shortage of folks have already observed, this was simultaneously a great day and a scary day in Sixers history. The new contract essentially cements Embiid as the face of the franchise, which is a hopeful sign for the future. And while not all the details were concrete at the time of this writing, we are told the deal provides the organization significant financial protection against injury — crucial with a player who's dressed for all of 31 games over three NBA seasons. Yet, still, it's difficult not to feel some trepidation about an expensive, long-term deal for any athlete given the track record of such moves in the Philly sports scene.

Ryan Howard immediately comes to mind, with a contract similar in length and money that the Phillies only finally got out from under last year. Ilya Bryzgalov is another, and though the Flyers were allowed to escape Bryz and any salary-cap implications via an NHL-granted one-time buyout, the club will be paying the squirrely netminder literally until 2027. Let's not forget how quickly Nnamdi Asomugha went from being one of the biggest free-agent signings in Eagles and NFL history to one of the biggest-free agent busts ever.

Just look at the last time the Sixers committed big bucks to anybody for any length of time. Almost a decade ago, the 2008 offseason saw the organization pay Elton Brand $82 million over five years in free agency, not to mention a six-year extension worth $80 million for Andre Iguodala.

Brand was 29 at the time, but looked much older. Iguodala was fine, but not a superstar-caliber player, which that money represented at the time. (These deals look like chump change now, but both were close to top dollar in '08). Those contracts quickly became a burden for the Sixers — moves that helped lead them down the road toward The Process in the first place.

A deal like Embiid's can and often does have lasting repercussions if it goes awry. However, not every long-term contract is destined to become an albatross.

Every once in awhile, there is a transcedent talent who is totally worth the risk. For example, there's no way the Eagles ever regretted giving Donovan McNabb a 12-year, $115 million contract in 2002. McNabb was in the midst of a run of four straight NFC Championship appearances and a trip to the Super Bowl, and though he was slowed by injuries and natural decline in his later years, he was still good enough to guide the team to the playoffs on a nearly annual basis. Sure, McNabb's tenure didn't end with a parade down Broad Street, but his presence provided stability for the better part of a decade.

Even when a player runs his course with a team before a deal expires, as tends to happen for various reasons, most contracts can be traded. That's ultimately what happened to McNabb. The Phillies were never able to move Howard, but Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels all got dealt. In some ways, the Hamels trade was reminscent of when the Flyers suddenly shipped out Jeff Carter and Mike Richards early, in that they were early in their recently signed long-term deals. And just last year, the Eagles were able to move some pricey contracts, namely that of Byron Maxwell.

A massive contract isn't necessarily a death sentence if it doesn't work out perfectly or for the entire duration. Michael Vick. Jim Thome. Vinny Lecavalier. Chris Pronger. Their contracts were impediments, but only temporarily, until other arrangements could be made.

Depending on what the injury clause covers and the extent of the money that can be recouped — rumor is around 50 percent — the Sixers may not even feel much or any short-term pain if Embiid isn't working out a few years from now. And this is also what makes this situation so unique. While NBA contracts are tradtionally guaranteed, like those in the NHL and MLB, it sounds like this one is structured closer to that of an NFL deal, with plenty of outs for the franchise at nominal fees. It's well worth the risk for a player with Embiid's tremendous upside.

But as we've seen far too often, players signing these types of massive deals in Philly rarely equates to sustained success for long periods of time. On occasion, there's no success at all. Embiid certainly has a lot to prove to be the rare talent who avoids winding up in either category. Yet, even if he doesn't live up to his contract — and it will be a tall task — it's structured in such a way that it's not likely to set the Sixers back for years to come.

After all, it's only money.

Joel Embiid expects 90 percent of his tweets to go viral


Joel Embiid expects 90 percent of his tweets to go viral

One of the things that I love about Joel Embiid is the fact that it seems like every day we find another reason to love him even more.

Today's entry comes from a profile in GQ magazine in which he talks about plenty of things. But it was one of the first things he was asked about his Twitter account that had me rolling once again.

How do you find out if one of [your tweet] has gone viral, then?

Joel: I think 90 percent of them [will be viral]. That’s the expectation.

Amazing. The thing is, I don't know if he's giving himself enough credit. ONLY 90%????

Oh, and he subscribes to the Jah Rule school of thought: WHO CARES?

"Then I had so much time, too, because I missed that whole year and the second year after, so I didn’t have anything to do," Embiid said. "[I’d] just go on social media and converse with fans, make crazy jokes, and tweet crazy stuff because I don’t care. I say whatever I want to."

His critique of other players' boring Twitter accounts is also incredibly on point:

What do you mean some guys are always tweeting the same thing?

Joel: Bullshit like, “Game Day!” “It’s a great game.” I don’t know. They’re all the same. It’s boring.


The whole Q&A is worth any Sixers fan's time just to get to know a little more about Jojo. Be happy he's ours. And pray he stays healthy so he can take his game on the court to the same level as his game off of it.

Eagles-hater Pete Morelli allowed to referee future Birds' games

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Eagles-hater Pete Morelli allowed to referee future Birds' games

If you like penalties and hate the Eagles, you clicked on the right story.

Alleged Eagles hater Pete Morelli will be allowed to referee future Birds' games after the league found no signs of bias towards the Eagles. 

How's this for bias? In a Week 6 win over the Panthers, the Eagles were flagged 10 times for 126 yards. Compare that to the Panthers' one penalty for one yard and you see the problem.

But it wasn't the first time Morelli got flag-happy against the Eagles. In Morelli's last 4 Eagles' games — all away from the Linc — his crew has thrown 40 penalties for 396 yards to opponents' eight penalties for 74 yards. I'm not a numbers guy, but something seems off here.

In true Philly sports fashion, the Eagles will now reach the Super Bowl where Morelli and Co. will be waiting to rain yellow on the field, leading to an Andy Reid-led Chiefs' victory where Reid orchestrates an efficient two-minute game-winning drive, perfectly utilizing all three timeouts.