Your favorite team is now breaking camp, getting ready for pre-season games. You are doing your homework for your fantasy drafts (let’s face it, if you’re on this site, you’re in more than one league) and despite all this, only one thought runs through your mind, “What does the Betbot think about the TO mess?”…Well, the Betbot is in some sort of trouble with creditors and we haven’t heard from him recently, so you only get the Dolfi/Walls perspective. Sorry.
We’ll keep this short and sweet, because we weren’t planning on writing another column until after the first Eagles home game and need to get ready for our drafts. We do feel compelled to jump into the game of “Opinion Bunch-ball” that all media outlets are participating in around this mess.
If you are not an Eagles fan, you most likely aren’t reading this…anyway if you’re not an Eagles fan – we know you’re sick of this. Maybe you’re amused to a certain degree and wishing this on the Eagles, we can understand that – after all unless you’re a Pats fan, the Eagles are better than the team you root for. We’re sick of this whole melodrama too, the only Eagles fan who seems to not be sick of this is Betbot cohort and frequent Shark Tank poster Joe Petrizzi, who for some reason is amused…but he’s a very strange person (in fact, rumors persist that he writes many of his posts from a padded cell in Bedlam).
If you are an Eagles fan, you might have started to read this column – except for the fact that you saw it was another Last Row article, so you quickly closed your browser, said 8 “Hail Mary”s for your sins, and took 3 sleeping pills to drown the horrible memory.
However, for the 12 loyal readers we have (How’re you doin’ Apostles?), we know you’re interested in hearing just a bit more about the TO situation, and especially hear the Last Row’s take on this situation.
Now, you know that we refer to ourselves as ‘we’ which is not only good English, but implies that we agree with each other on everything. This is, of course, not always true. We do agree on quite a bit, however. For example:
- Love/hate relationships with the Eagles are the only kind of relationship with the Eagles.
- Natty Lite is a perfectly acceptable tailgate brew.
- Steaks wrapped in bacon is a good, good thing.
- Green Bay’s offensive line, secondary, and Favre’s predilection for mistakes makes Ahman Green a gamble fantasy-wise.
You get the idea, we agree on the important things.
One thing we didn’t quite see eye to eye on was TO’s projected course when he signed with the Birds. Walls was fooled; he really believed TO just wanted a good team, good QB and a chance at the Super Bowl. That’s all – if he had those things and a decent payday, he would be OK. Sure there would be minor incidents like TO chasing McNabb on the sidelines during the Pittsburgh game (which didn’t really surprise him), but nothing that would be a large problem. And when McNabb and Owens made fun of that incident during the thrashing they gave the Cowgirls, Tom was lulled back into his usual stupor. Dolfi wasn’t fooled, he saw this coming. Maybe not quite as bitter and vitriolic, but he saw it coming. Dolfi thought the Eagles would get 2 good seasons (and 1 Superbowl trophy) out of TO before he became a total nutcase. Unfortunately, that may be happening after a single season rather than two, but who’s counting right? When TO hired Jerry Maguire (aka Drew Rosenhouse) and demanded more cash, he wasn’t really surprised.
So, many Eagles fans (and NFL observers) were surprised by this episode, many more were not.
You pretty much know the sequence of events and the positions both sides are taking, although TO’s claims/position/reasons seem to change with each ESPN personality he talks to. We won’t rehash these for you. We will share for you our thoughts on what we would like to see happen, and what we think will happen.
The Last Row believes the following:
Unhappy, pissy TO < No TO < Relatively calm TO
This is a pretty simple formula. We think that if TO is going to be this much of a petulant child, calling out teammates and coaches – the Eagles are a worse team than if TO were nowhere near the Eagles. Of course, a relatively professional TO on the team is much better than either circumstance. Some fans may disagree with this, but you can not have a player like him being a distraction and openly insulting team members. In such a case, it would probably be best if he were away from the team.
Secondly – The Eagles are hurting for WRs
Todd Pinkston is no superstar. We know this. Now, Greg Lewis may be a better WR2 than Pinkston – he’s most likely more courageous anyway. Losing Pinkston did hurt the Eagles depth though. Losing TO would really cripple the WR corps. Sure, they have a promising rookie in Reggie Brown, but he’s a rookie and rookies historically have done nothing with Andy Reid’s team. Below them, there are some slim pickings experience-wise. We do think that these players have real promise and could mature, but it would be a rough first half for the WR corps. We see a receiver coming to the Eagles ina trade, maybe to be the number one WR. Keep in mind WRs who play in West Coast offenses already. Green Bay and Detroit may be on Andy Reid’s speed dial.
Thirdly – Wide Receivers are overvalued
Despite our second point, having a bunch of below average receivers is really not a death knell in today’s NFL. The Eagles got along fine (mostly fine) before TO. The players we referenced above are better than the Thrash/Pinkston/Mitchell trifecta the Eagles trotted out 2 years ago. Teams have shown that they can do well without a superstar at WR, or even a pair of very good WRs. Of course these designations are subjective, but most people would agree with us, we believe.
Fourthly – Mr. Brownstone is 89 years old – HE MUST DIE!!
For those of you who read our first column last year, you know that Mr. Brownstone refers to the streak of Philadelphia’s non-championship seasons. The last time Philadelphia won a major sports championship was the 1983 Sixers championship. Enough is enough.
Fifthly – The Eagles shouldn’t cave in to TO’s demand
The Eagles have a history of letting players talk their way out of the team and getting what they (the players) want. Two recent examples are Jeremiah Trotter and John Welbourne. These players made their unhappiness known through the media and got moved quickly from the team, release and trade respectively. If the Eagles hadn’t made these two moves (blunders we feel), perhaps they could more easily bow to TO’s ever-changing demands…but that’s not the case. We both believe they can’t cave in. If they do, this will be a tactic used by Eagles players wanting new contracts more and more. We know how good TO is, we’re not stupid, but despite the fact that we live in the most championship starved city in the nation (Cleveland’s up there too); simply caving in is a case of cutting off the Eagle’s beak to spite their face. We’re pretty sure this point will be the most controversial amongst Eagles fans, but we do believe this.
Sixthly – TO has a screw lose, he’s a few cards short of a full deck, he’s nuttier than a squir…ah, you get the idea.
We’re not doctors, but TO’s behavior is very strange. Of course, we can only judge based on what we see in the media. We’re not talking about doing crunches and weight lifting in his driveway…that’s strange, but that could be possibly attributed to ego…possibly. However, he constantly changes his story, he changes what he says he wants (Jerry Maguire changes his tune too, see the next point), and his motives are ever shifting. A rational person would not do some of the things he has done, and a lot of his actions have hurt, rather than helped the cause. TO’s narcissism has crossed the line from believing he’s the greatest football player (at any position) to ever play the game, and gone to thinking the entire world waits with bated breath on his next pearl of wisdom. (Although, who can really blame him when he acts like a moron on a daily basis and the media hovers around his front lawn like flies over three-day-old roadkill.)
Seventhly – Jerry Maguire has changed his tune a couple times, too
You know the comments Jerry Maguire has made regarding ‘outperforming a contract’, but did you know for awhile his demand was a little different? TO’s contract next year is due for a big bump. TO was most likely going to be cut by the Eagles after this year, with little impact to their salary cap – that’s how the contract is written, it was there in black and white when TO signed it on his then agent’s advice. Jerry Maguire had said that if the Eagles would promise not to cut TO, they would be fine with the contract as is. Of course, this is an unreal request, what if he gets hurt? We believe that if TO did have the promise of not being cut, he would be (more) happy with his contract situation (at least, we think this is one of the major issues). Given that such a promise is unrealistic, the TO/Maguire team decided to switch back to the original ‘outperforming’ argument.
Eighthly – Outperforming his contract? What do they think the Eagles expected when they signed him??
How did TO outperform expectations last season? Do they think this argument flies? It’s not like the Eagles paid that big signing bonus expecting 800 yards and 7 TDs? 1200 yards and 14 TDs was a great year, one of the best ever for an Eagles WR…But we don’t see how that was really unexpected from the Eagles, or TO at the time of signing his contract.We think they both signed the contract sort of expecting that kind of performance. As a matter of fact, TO under-performed last year compared to his recent history, with his second least amount of yards since 2000. We want some money back, TO.
Ninthly – More than anything else, egos will ensure this whole saga ends poorly
TO’s ego is legendary, and we don’t think it will even be enough if the Eagles met some of his demands at this point – it still wouldn’t satisfy his mammoth ego. For TO to be happy at this point, it might require the entire Eagles organization, including Reed, McNabb, and even Jeff Lurie on bended knee, pledging fealty to TO for eternity.
Reid’s ego is centered on the reality that he’s the captain of a tight ship, and woe be the player who crosses him – they’ll find themselves elsewhere, even if it means Reid cutting off his nose to spite his face, ala the Trotter fiasco. It would take a HUGE apology from TO at this point to get back in Reid’s good graces, and even then he’d just be happy with him in the short term and still look to shop him ASAP .
Even McNabb, who we normally don’t think of as egotistical – how much garbage being thrown by TO can he take? A man can only take so many challenges to his character and manhood before he digs his heels in and makes a stand. And unless TO makes some sory of apology or overture to McNabb, Donny Mac might not work well with TO.
How likely do any of us think it is that the Eagles bend over backwards to make sure TO gets exactly what he wants – effectively sending the message that the players (specifically star players) are in charge on this team, rather than the owner, coach, or front office? How likely is it that TO tries to kiss and make up with Reed, McNabb, or front office man Joe Banner? Unfortunately, the answers to those questions appear too obvious to The Last Row, and maybe after reading this column – to you as well.