Eagles see honor of White House visit, but players still undecided

Eagles see honor of White House visit, but players still undecided

The Eagles organization accepted an invitation to the White House to commemorate its Super Bowl LII championship on June 5. The question is how many of the flock be migrating to the nation’s capital that day? 

The decision was a hot topic of discussion on Tuesday, Day 1 of voluntary team OTAs. 

“I’m excited to be going to be honored as world champions. It’s a great honor,” Doug Pederson said. “We’re still working through some logistics right now, so we don’t have all the details today, but excited to be going.”

So the head coach will be attending. As for Carson Wentz, “I know for me, personally, if the team decides as a whole, most guys want to go or be a part of it, I’ll be attending with them,” he said. “I think it’s just a cool way to receive the honor nationally and be recognized. I don’t personally view it – I know some people do and everyone has their opinion on it – but I don’t view it as a political thing whatsoever. I don’t mess with politics very often.”

Wentz may not mess with politics, but Donald Trump’s short tenure in office is the definition of polarizing and it’s impossible for some of his teammates to be apolitical when it comes to visiting the White House. 

“Because of the political climate we’re in, it will be taken as a political statement one way or another, whether you want it to or not,” said Brandon Brooks, who has yet to decide if he will be making the trip. “The biggest thing is you have to separate politics from the experience of going to the White House. Me, personally, it really is a tough decision because the president we have now, I agree with some things and some I don’t, so I’ll be looking within myself.” 

Some players such as Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins are on record as saying they will not be going to the White House regardless of what the team as a whole decides. 

“For me, there’s a lot going on with that administration and I don’t think it’s the time to really have any kind of productive or constructive conversations about policy,” Jenkins said. “I definitely want to avoid being used as some kind of pawn. The way things have gone the last few months, I don’t think the time is right for that.”

Long and several other players made it very clear that whatever your choice, it will have no ill effect in the locker room. 

“As far as teammates, yeah, we all have a choice, so nobody’s judging anybody,” Long said. “It’s an honor to get to go to the White House and it means something different to everybody else.” 

Zach Ertz echoed Long’s sentiments about staying unified. 

“I’m still deciding. this isn’t going to be a divisive moment in the locker room,” Ertz said. “Guys are going to respect one another’s opinion. One of the things I’ve spoken about is my wife (U.S. women’s soccer player Julie Ertz) had gone in the past after they won the World Cup and she spoke about how fun it was to go there and to learn so much, see the history. So just an opportunity to go there whether you agree with the organization that’s in there or not. It’s the premiere building in this nation.”

Rob's Rants — Golden Knights' success is a good thing

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Rob's Rants — Golden Knights' success is a good thing

My latest installment of Rob Rant’s focuses on things I just don’t get.

Knight time
I don’t grasp the sentiment that the expansion Vegas Golden Knights' advancement to the NHL Stanley Cup Final is a black eye for the NHL. Maybe I’m a glass half-full guy but I think it’s the best national sports story of the year. They played their first home game just nine days after the horrific shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Vegas Strip that left 59 dead. And their season served not only as a distraction from the incident but as a galvanizer for the city. 

They had the fifth-most points in the regular season. And beat the Kings, Sharks and Jets in the postseason. Not an easy task. General manager George McPhee made smart selections in the expansion draft, including landing a Stanley Cup champion goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury and nabbing a quality winger in James Neal, among other transactions throughout the season. They showed through a smart front office, good coaching and players buying in, you can speed up the process. I love that unlike the NBA where a super team like Golden State is basically a lock to win it again, hockey has a great storyline. Vegas’ success proves that if you do the right thing in the offseason, next year could be your team’s year.           

Style over substance
On the heels of last week’s NBA combine, it’s always puzzled me how much stock organizations in various leagues put on workouts rather than game tape. I get it that to play any sport professionally there is a level of athleticism needed. But I’d much rather see how said prospect did against real game competition instead of a stopwatch or tape measure. How do they think about the game? How do they react when their team is down? What kind of teammate are they? You need look no further than Tom Brady’s 40-yard dash at his combine workout. His career turned out pretty well.    

Off base?
So Odubel Herrera got on base Sunday versus the Cardinals but his 45-game on-base streak was still snapped. Herrera struck out in his last at-bat but because of a wild pitch, he reached first base. The strikeout nullified the act of reaching base and keeping the streak alive, according to MLB rules. But if it’s not an out, and he gets on base, shouldn’t that count toward the streak?     

Loyal royal
The wedding of Price Harry and Meghan Markle this past weekend seemed like a lovely affair. My evite must have went right to my spam. Don’t get me wrong, Harry comes off as a sincere, caring dude who is genuinely concerned with using his platform to better the world. And his new bride is beautiful and an accomplished actress. They seem like a great couple. And I get that the new Duchess of Sussex’s biracial ancestry is of interest to folks.    

Sixers need LeBron James to compete with Celtics

Sixers need LeBron James to compete with Celtics

Despite the Sixers' meteoric ascension from 10 wins two seasons ago to 52 this past year, "the process" and how they got to this point remains a polarizing discussion. There are those in the anti-process camp who will never believe that intentionally losing to gain assets is the way to go. And nothing will change their mind. It’s been debated to death in these parts and it is fruitless to further the discourse at this point. This directive here is aimed at the "process purists," those who are opposed to adding big-named stars to the Sixers mostly organically grown core. Specifically, the player whose name rhymes with KeBron Dames.

This all boils down to talent and opportunity. The Sixers have two potentially transcendent foundation pieces in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Add to that mix the skill and toughness of Dario Saric and the potential of Markelle Fultz, and the Sixers should have a core four to be reckoned with for a long time to come. However, when you measure the Sixers' current talent head to head with the Celtics, it's advantage Boston. Their nucleus of a healthy Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown is better than the Sixers' core. JJ Redick is a free agent who wants to be back and had a very good year. His return would be huge, but it’s not a given. Robert Covington, for as bad as he was in the postseason, is a quality defender and a hot-and-cold three-point shooter with a manageable contract. But toe-to-toe, the Sixers don’t measure up. They need more players.

The one area the Sixers have a clear advantage over the Celtics is financially. They are positioned to be able to land the biggest fish out there in free agency or the trade market. Namely LeBron James (player option for 2018-19) or Paul George. Throw in a potential deal for Kawhi Leonard and they could net someone or multiple someones that could shift the talent scales in their favor this summer.

Looking at the Eastern Conference landscape, If James departs Cleveland, the Cavaliers are done. You can forget Toronto and Washington as well. They don’t have enough. Indiana is a nice team but still not good enough. Milwaukee is short on overall talent and coaching. We saw the Heat’s shortcomings up close and personal. This comes down to the Sixers and Celtics.

The whole point of going through the torture that was the process was to put yourself in a position to build the best roster, not the best homegrown roster. By any means necessary. If there was any doubt, the regular and postseason showed you that despite 14 seasons of heavy lifting, James is still the best player on the planet. He hasn’t lost a step. If you can get him, you must. Yes, it will take some ego curbing by Simmons and Embiid and James. Not to mention, co-existing on the court. But great players, even ball-dominant ones, figure that out. See James Harden and Chris Paul in Houston. Or James and Irving before their split

The Sixers and their fans didn’t come this far to be road-blocked for the next five to 10 years by the Celtics.