Did the Eagles wait until next week for their bye?Nuh-uh. No way. They took tonight off against the Giants in the Meadowlands, losing a listless 16-3 yawner to plummet to 1-3.Perhaps the Birds were hung over from the Phillies’ clinching of the NL East title Sunday afternoon.Or perhaps they simply were decimated by playing without five injured starters in running back Brian Westbrook, safety Brian Dawkins, cornerback Lito Sheppard, offensive tackle Thomas and tight end L.J. Smith.Obviously losing Westbrook hurt, but Correll Buckhalter wasn’t bad in relief. He rushed for 103 yards on 17 carries and caught four balls for 35 yards.But the real ouch of a loss was Thomas. Second-year OT Winston Justice, who essentially was red-shirted as a rookie after being a stud at USC, supposedly filled in for Thomas. But Justice resembled a turnstile more than an offensive tackle. He was totally terrorized by Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who had a whopping six sacks as the Giants accumulated an amazing 12 sacks overall. That dirty dozen tied the NFL record.Donovan McNabb was reduced to a human piñata by all that Giants’ pressure, somehow standing upright long enough to complete 16 of 32 passes for a pedestrian 138 yards.McNabb went through more hits than a DJ on a golden oldies station. No wonder he had to have his left hand X-rayed. McNabb said he’d suffered a sprain that should be OK by the time the team begins preparations for its next game, back at the Meadowlands Oct. 14 against the Jets.With Westbrook out, the Eagles couldn’t counter the Giants’ relentless pass rush with explosive screens or edge runs. And the Philly wideouts kept getting jammed at the line, neutering their contributions. The Eagles’ offense was as lifeless as a mummified Pharaoh. And the Birds’ coaches were dweebs in headsets as they failed to slide a tight end over to Justice’s side to help prevent the Giants’ carnage of McNabb.Well, the Birds undoubtedly will be saying they have to go back to the drawing board. But just where is this drawing board? In the lavatory? Because the Giants may have flushed the Eagles’ season down the toilet.In fact, cleaning the bathroom had to be more fun than watching the Giants turn the Eagles into such pathetic sad sacks.
Turtles, of course, are not known for their warp speed afoot. Which is why they sometimes wind up as turtle soup.When someone has to use a sundial instead of a stop watch to clock your time in the 40-yard dash, more than hares are on your behind.In fact, pitching legend Satchel Paige may have been referring to turtles when he said: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” Actually, I disagree. I think it’s a glitch in the evolutionary master plan that turtles aren’t born with rearview mirrors.But not all turtles are victims of this reptilian coldness. There is a two-headed turtle on display at Big Al’s Aquarium Supercenter in East Norriton, PA.No word on whether the turtle has developed lumbago by trying to look at both its heads. But no matter what direction the turtle is plodding along in, at least one of its heads can see the oncoming speeding traffic. And if this particular turtle ever makes it to Reading — if it’s walking it ain’t happening in my lifetime — it will be able to see gunmen approaching from either end.
About 30 students and staff encircled the flagpole as part of a prayer service at Daniel Boone High School yesterday morning.Their gathering was part of See You at the Pole, a nationwide event in which prayers are said for friends, family, teachers and a safe school year.Reading about their prayer service immediately set off pinpricks of memory concerning my parochial school years.Of course, prayer in Catholic schools is part of a religious regimentation.The kids praying at Boone Wednesday didn’t have to be there. They were there voluntarily, which threaded their prayers with additional piety.In a time when too many high school kids are getting busted for drinking or drugs or worse, it’s sure nice to read about students who are in touch with their maker.
For those folks who somehow still thought the massive drug problem around here was confined to the city, the genie is out of the bottle.Drugs, like weeds and dandelions, are everywhere in Berks County. The law is battling this conflagration burning a gigantic hole in the fabric of our society on many fronts, including the upscale suburbs. For instance, the feds raided three homes — two in Green Valley Estates in Lower Heidelberg Township, the other in the Beacon Hill section of Alsace Township — and a business in West Lawn on Tuesday after arresting nine suspects in a multimillion dollar international drug ring.Authorities said the ring sold marijuana and Ecstasy, an amphetamine derivative, throughout the eastern U.S.The ring, headed by Son Ngo and his girlfriend, Hien Dang, both of Philadelphia, used the Berks homes and Penn’s Nails, 3915 Penn Ave., to grow and warehouse marijuana, officials said. The ring also imported marijuana and Ecstasy tablets from Canada and weekly wired tens of thousands of dollars to banks in Canada and Vietnam, according to court papers.The drug culture, like oxygen, is everywhere. So keep an eye on your kids and their peers. Because they’re about as safe as a discounted parachute.
People get up in the morning and figure they’re facing just another rather pedestrian and mundane day at the office.But some days are different than others. Days that usher thunderbolts into lives, perhaps altering them forever. Of course, as people brush their teeth and look in the mirror in the morning, they have no idea what those eyes staring back at them may see that day. Jay Eckenroth of Bern Township and the Rev. Keith Yeager of Rehrersburg probably were no different Monday morning.They likely had no clue they soon would become heroes. Heroes with all the swagger of action movie stars.But when they saw a flaming 18-wheeler barreling down Route 183 in Penn Township yesterday morning, it wasn’t a scene from a Schwarzenegger or a Stallone flick.This was real life throwing a gigantic fireball right at them and the quiet life as they knew it was coming horribly apart before their very eyes. Their retinas could feel the heat of the moment.To their credit, neither Eckenroth nor Yeager even blinked. Their eyes never even had time to spill with tumbling demons of terror.Indeed, they were too busy responding in an amazing heroic fashion to what was a cruelly cataclysmic situation.They jumped from their cars, ran to the burning rig, and using a baseball bat and a tree branch, smashed a window on the rig whose doors had melted shut. And then pulled the trapped trucker, Clifford Samsel of Douglassville, through the window to safety. There is a haunting quality of timing in life. And death. A mere 30 seconds after they rescued Samsel from a burning hell on earth, the truck’s fuel tanks exploded, engulfing it in flames.Eckenroth had been standing on one of the tanks during the rescue.Had it not been for Eckenroth and Yeager, Samsel would have been incinerated beyond recognition. And if the tanks had exploded a few tantalizing seconds earlier, Eckenroth and Yeager would have been toast as well. But God must have been looking after them.God apparently blesses heroes.And the heroism of these two men was absolutely breathtaking.
The Detroit Lions came to town surprisingly undefeated.And left town as fleeced lambs.I guess they were frauds of the first rank, not even good illusionists as NFL players.Either that or the Philadelphia Eagles’ throwback powder blue and yellow uniforms turned the Lions lime green with nausea.A third explanation could be that the Birds bartered with Beelzebub (the devil to all you non-Biblical scholars). Whatever actually happened before all of our very shocked retinas, it sure was lively entertainment. Which, of course, was appropriate for a resurrection. Exhibiting an uproarious appetite for destruction today, the Eagles transformed the Linc into one Petri dish of manic energy as they dismantled Detroit more viciously and dramatically than Japanese automakers. I believe the final score was 56-21, but I’m not convinced the Birds haven’t yet stopped scoring. Philadelphia, its offense MIA in opening 0-2, played on the ledge of immortality in a first half that should be preserved for posterity on a postcard. The Eagles scored on their first five possessions en route to a 42-21 lead. So much for the Eagles being more decimated than an M*A*S*H unit.Brian Westbrook, despite a supposedly gimpy knee, had a crackerjack of a first half, dipsy-doing for 102 yards rushing and 98 yards before intermission. He finished with three touchdowns, two of them in the first quarter. Alas, the perpetually porcelain-fragile Westbrook injured his ribs in the third quarter.Donovan McNabb, so bad in the first two games he probably couldn’t have thrown in the towel if he had wanted to, threw away his knee brace and threw for 381 yards and four touchdowns. His passing numbers could have been incredibly astounding if Andy Reid hadn’t backed off the accelerator in the second half. The Detroit secondary looked dumber than an ash tray in the opening 30 minutes as McNabb – normally as accurate as my arithmetic – was a dazzling 14-of-15 passing for 332 yards. In fact, he completed 18 straight passes at one point before throwing an incomplete pass in the end zone in the third quarter. He finished 21 of 26 and muted all talk – at least for a day or two – of his imminent demise as the Eagles’ starting quarterback.Granted, it is a bit of a stretch — even for the notoriously negative Philadelphia fan base — to criticize perfection. And McNabb finished the game with a perfect 158.3 passer rating. In fact, there were times when his performance exceeded perfection. More like a 158.7.Then there was wideout Kevin Curtis, the free agent burner the Birds signed in free agency in the offseason. You remember him. He’s the guy who couldn’t separate from DBs even if he had a crowbar in the first two games. Today the dude was a stiletto between the ribs of the Lions’ soft zone coverage.He had a whopping 11 receptions for a staggering 221 yards, including touchdown catches of 68, 43 and 12 yards. He had a spectacular 132 yards receiving just in the first quarter.Hell, even Shakespeare didn’t have opening acts better than that.So how do we put this off-the-margin Eagles’ victory into perspective?We don’t. We just savor it. And lament that we likely will not see its kind again for sometime.
So many colorblind folks around here whose eyes normally see everything in blue and white are only seeing black today.Because the significance of Penn State’s football season faded to black Saturday when the 10th-ranked Nittany Lions inexplicably were executed by Michigan 14-9.Indeed, there had been legions and legions of Pennsylvanians vibrating with anticipation over the Lions’ chances for a sensational season.But that all changed yesterday with their loss to the Wolverines. Yep, it was an extinction-level event.It seems as if a black cloud settles over Joe Paterno like a shroud whenever he plays Michigan. He’s lost to the Wolverines nine straight times. Perhaps he suffers from arthritis of the mind whenever he lines up against them. Whatever the reason, his Lions play with all the poise of a drunk wrestling with a crab claw against Michigan.I don’t want to suggest that time has passed JoePa by, but the guy does listen to fifes and drums on his iPod! There’s absolutely no excuse why Penn State couldn’t score a touchdown yesterday. Michigan had allowed 73 points and 1,011 total yards in losses to Appalachian State and Oregon.Both teams had gone through the Wolverines like Sherman through Atlanta, Hitler through Poland and Mexican food through your digestive tract. Only Notre Dame had come a cropper against Michigan, and the Fighting Irish are so godawful that even the Vatican has questioned whether there is indeed a God.The Lions drove inside the Michigan 25 five times and couldn’t reach the end zone. That is so outrageously atrocious it had even atheists looking to the sky for answers.Actually, despite my all theological references, this was hardly a religious experience for overmatched Penn State quarterback Anthony Morelli. He hardly was a passing fancy yesterday, tossing for a mere 169 yards on 15 of 31.This guy has to become more of a gunslinger, develop more of a killer instinct in the red zone. Perhaps this kid should go by Tony, not Anthony. Italians called Tony (i.e. Soprano) seem to have a pretty good track record when it comes to pulling the trigger.Well, enough said about the Nittany Lions. Their season is over.
Well, my personal streak of never having made the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans has continued.So much for the public perception that media tycoons such as myself are filthy, filthy rich. I could take all my assets and roll them in the muck at Blue Marsh and I still wouldn’t be filthy rich.My problem is that I grew up in the 1960s when money was a bad word. The Love Generation definitely was for losers. We should have ignored the sexual and cultural revolutions of the Sixties and gotten into hedge funds and private equity instead. Who knew then that hedge funds were groovy? Then again, there were certain chemical reasons why we weren’t thinking straight at the time. The 25th anniversary edition of the Forbes 400 list is out and I didn’t even bother searching for my name. Your net worth to make the cut this year had to be $1.3 billion.I fell about $1.3 billion short. It seems I have a serious shortage of zeroes in sequences of three separated by commas in my 401(k) and my mutual funds. Perhaps if I cut back a bit on my 3% tips and did without such luxuries as food and shelter, I’d be a bit more flush.Oh well, money can’t buy me love.But I bet the 45 new members who made this year’s list are getting plenty of love. Half of these freshly minted billionaires made their fortunes in hedge funds and private equity. Meanwhile, schmucks like me only get near hedges when we’re trimming them. And tell me THAT isn’t a thankless task.The bottom line is while the Forbes 400 folks and me all pull our pants on one leg at a time, their pockets are much deeper. Bill Gates, of course, remains No. 1. His net worth is $59 billion. This is one guy whose wallet doesn’t break out into a cold sweat whenever his wife goes on a shopping spree.
Once upon a time, black quarterbacks totally got the shaft in the NFL. Victims of racial stereotypes, they were ushered to cornerback or receiver or to the sideline.But those times, like the days of Jim Crow, fortunately have slipped into the mists of history.Nobody really cares anymore if a quarterback is black, white, purple or lime green. They only care if he can win.Of course, everybody now is talking about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb’s comments on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” which aired Tuesday. McNabb said black quarterbacks “have to do a little bit extra” because there are relatively few of them, adding “people didn’t want us to play this position.” The issue of race and quarterback seems to have settled upon McNabb like a mollusk. He still doesn’t seem to realize that black quarterbacks these days are rather common in the NFL. They are six of them starting right now. And he still doesn’t seem to get it that black quarterbacks, like their white brethren, are all beloved in good times and despised in bad times.McNabb, a genuinely good guy, sometimes talks as if he thinks he’s being fleeced and slaughtered by the media and the fans. Perhaps he is. But the state of his game and the nature of his comments make him a public lightning rod, not his skin color.
So how close were you to your college roommate?I bet not thisclose!And if the Eagles had this sort of chemistry, their despairing fans wouldn’t be ready to kiss off the season.