Brian Westbrook

The final game at Veterans Stadium was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

The final game at Veterans Stadium was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

September 28, 2003.

It was the final game of the regular season. It would be the 10th consecutive season the Phillies would not have a Red October. The Braves beat the Phillies 5-2. None of that mattered. 

For me and 58,000-plus other fans in attendance, it was one final time walking up those winding ramps at Veterans Stadium sporting our Phillies gear. It would be the last time at the Vet I would hear a vendor yell "Hey! Hot dog here!"  

So much nostalgia for me on that day. Memories of my parents taking me to Sunday home games and sitting in the 500 level on a hot steamy summer day. We got wiser as years went on and sat in the shade down in the 300 level.  

As I got older, I remember taking the free ticket coupons from the Phillies' franks packages to the ticket window so I could sit in the 700 level for a weeknight game against the Expos.

It was so surreal on that cloudy fall Sunday in 2003 as ceremony after ceremony went on throughout the game. From then-manager Larry Bowa, along with 1980 World Champion manager Dallas Green, bringing out the lineup card, to seeing Harry Kalas change the Vet countdown on the outfield wall from one to zero, and then the walk down memory lane seeing the likes of Schmidt, Carlton and McGraw make one last trek on that infamous Vet turf.  

However, there is a moment that stands out to me that had nothing to do with the festivities on the field. It was late in the game. Most fans were just hanging around waiting for the postgame ceremony. Then all of the sudden, a roar erupts inside Veterans Stadium. You see, the Phillies game was played on an Eagles Sunday and a large percentage of fans, me included, were locked in on their walkmans listening to Eagles radio broadcasting legend Merrill Reese call the action. I remember vividly Merrill in typical Merrill fashion screaming, "20, 10, 5, touchdown" as Brian Westbrook ripped off a 62-yard touchdown with just over 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter to help seal a 23-13 victory in Buffalo. Fans are hugging and high fiving each other. 

The roar was so loud the play on the field briefly paused as the players on the field looked up to see what was causing the commotion. Chants of E-A-G-L-E-S rang throughout the bowl.  

It isn't at all the greatest game in Philadelphia sports. It was just one of those moments that's always stuck with me. The Phillies and Eagles called the Vet home. And on this final day of baseball, they made one more Vet memory for me.

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Eagles draft bust Scott Peters, who became MMA champ, lands coaching job

Eagles draft bust Scott Peters, who became MMA champ, lands coaching job

Ever wonder what happened to Eagles 2002 4th-round draft pick Scott Peters?

No?

Anybody?

The 2002 draft was one of the Eagles’ best ever, with Lito Sheppard in the 1st round, Michael Lewis and Sheldon Brown in the 2nd and Brian Westbrook in the 3rd. 

Their next pick was Peters, a guard out of Arizona State. 

Crickets … 

Wait … this is a cool story!

Peters spent his entire rookie on the Eagles' active roster playing for O-line coach Juan Castillo but was inactive for all but two early-season games against the Redskins and Cowboys in which he didn't play.

After training camp in 2003, the Eagles released him (along with Tim Hasselbeck, Jamaal Jackson, Rashard Cook and Jeremy Slechta).

Peters wound up with the Giants and played seven games in 2003 and then bounced around the league — without playing another snap — until 2009.

Along the way, Peters began serious training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and opened up an MMA gym, “The Lion’s Den,” in Scottsdale, Ariz. After he retired, he began competing in martial arts and, according to his website - tipofthespearfootball.com — he won two world championships in submission grappling and for a while trained Brock Lesnar.

Peters also founded a program called Safe Football, where he teaches youth, high school and college football programs how to use fundamental martial arts principles to help young football players avoid concussions. Safe Football at some point morphed into Tip of the Spear.

According to his website: 

“Tip of the Spear in no way means ‘soft football.’ With his program, the integrity and physicality of the game remain fully intact while also protecting players from career-ending and life-compromising injuries.”

Peters has been out of organized football since finishing his career in Arizona Cardinals training camp in the summer of 2009.

But on Thursday, the 41-year-old Peters was hired by the Cleveland Browns as their assistant offensive line coach, his first full-time job in football. The Browns’ offensive line coach is Bill Callahan, who worked with Castillo with the Eagles when he was on Ray Rhodes’ staff.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, who played at Penn, said Peters’ background in martial arts is one of the reasons the Browns hired him.

"I think his unique experience as a technician and how he comes at it from a different angle, from a Jiu-Jitsu angle, really is a unique way to coach the players in terms of hand placement and hip movement,” Stefanski said on the team’s website.

According to the Browns’ website, Peters and Callahan have known each other for years through Jim McNally, who was on Tom Coughlin’s staff when Peters played for the Giants in 2003 and was on Rex Ryan's Jets staff in 2010 with Callahan.

You never know. Peters was a bust as a player, but it seems like he’s been pretty successful in everything else.

So who knows? Maybe there’s hope for Danny Watkins yet!

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Hey, Doug Pederson! Miles Sanders is really good! Use him more!

Hey, Doug Pederson! Miles Sanders is really good! Use him more!

I’m pretty sure I wrote this same column about Brian Westbrook.

Probably wrote it about Correll Buckhalter, Duce Staley and LeSean McCoy, too.

The names have changed, but once again the Eagles have a dynamic young running back who isn’t getting enough touches.

And I just don’t get it.

The Eagles’ offense is a mess right now. The receiving corps is a wreck. The offensive line is in disarray. The quarterback is mired in a slump. The running back position has been decimated. 

Once-trusty players like Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Dallas Goedert don't look like themselves.

Half the team is injured. The other half is having a bad year.

There are two skill guys who have played consistently well of late. 

One is Zach Ertz, who has 30 catches over the last three weeks and is on his way to another Pro Bowl.

The other is Miles Sanders, and it seems like no matter how productive he is and how desperately the offense needs firepower, Doug Pederson simply won’t lean on the rookie from Penn State.

After a sluggish start, Sanders is averaging an excellent 4.4 yards per carry. Yet he’s averaging just 9.0 carries per game.

It made sense early in the year to limit his carries. It took Sanders a few weeks to find his way. We could all see it. Jordan Howard was healthy and productive, Sanders was struggling.

But things changed. Sanders showed in Buffalo he belonged with that explosive 65-yard TD run, and it seemed to give him renewed confidence. Since then he’s been more decisive, his vision has improved, his cut-backs have been sharper, and he’s hitting the hole hard.

We can all see it.

Through it all, he’s caught the ball well. And since the two fumbles against the Lions back in Week 3, he’s been secure with the ball.

I thought Sunday was one of Sanders’ best games yet. He ran hard, didn’t have a super long run but kept the chains moving. He averaged 5.3 yards a pop, caught three passes for 27 yards and picked up 86 yards of offense on a day when yards were hard to come by.

But he got just 12 carries. That’s been par for the course lately. And this was a one-possession game until a few minutes into the fourth quarter.

Since that 65-yard TD announced Sanders’ arrival as a legit NFL back, the Eagles have had 42 possessions, and Sanders has 33 carries.

That's 3/4 of a carry per drive.

In the Patriots loss, Sanders had only four second-half carries. Sunday, he had only five. Both were largely one-possession games.

It makes no sense. It’s not like there’s a whole lot of other things working.

Counting Carson Wentz runs as pass plays, the Eagles have thrown the ball 101 times and run it 36 in these two close losses. 

Why not play to your strengths?  

Sanders is averaging 4.9 yards per carry since Week 3. That’s 11th-best among all NFL running backs during that span. Ahead of guys like Matt Breida, Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook.

Yet he’s 32nd during the same span in carries and 33rd in touches.

Sanders has shown he’s a weapon in both the running game and the receiving game. He’s one of only eight players in the NFL with 300 yards both rushing and receiving. 

He’s on pace for 1,125 yards from scrimmage on just 183 touches. The last NFL rookie running back with 1,100 yards on 190 or fewer touches was Paul Lowe of the Chargers in 1960.

That’s big-time efficiency.

There’s no reason to think Sanders can’t handle an increased workload. Heck, Pederson gave rookie Josh Adams 42 carries in a two-game span last year. Sanders is clearly more of a weapon than Adams. But Sanders has never gotten more than 13 carries.

The Eagles need offense. 

Sanders has shown he can provide it. 

Take the kid gloves off. 

Let him run.

Hitting the road this week, or wasting away on the couch in a food coma? The perfect time to binge your favorite NBC Sports Philadelphia podcast! Click here for more.

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