Veteran NBA player Jason Collins announces he’s gay. Anybody got a problem with that?

“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”

Those three sentences suddenly have cast veteran NBA player Jason Collins as a transcendent figure in the history of sports.

Granted, it likely was no secret that he’s black. As for gay, well that’s certainly a horse of a different color.

Collins now is the first openly gay athlete actively playing a major American team sport.

It says something about our society that it took so long for someone to stand up and pronounce who they truly are.

If you think Collins in the only openly gay athlete actively playing a major American team sport, you’ve been spending way too much time with your head in your catered lobster bisque.

“I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different,’” Collins wrote in a Sports Illustrated cover story. “If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m my raising hand.”

The 7-foot, 255-pound Collins has been a strong, physical, team-oriented big man for a dozen NBA season, a relatively anonymous figure working in the trenches.

No longer. He’s now on center stage big time.

In a watershed declaration that obviously took balls, Collins really has taken one for the team.

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Eagles escalate their arms race

If you thought that the arms race between the Soviets and us during the Cold War was high stakes poker, Chip Kelly has trumped that.

The new Eagles coach certainly has a quarterback corps that is well-armed (five of them!) and perhaps dangerous.

It certainly is deeper than Lake Michigan at the moment.

So who will be the air to the throne as he next Top Gun in Philly?

Michael Vick?

Nick Foles?

Matt Barkley?

It’s going to be fascinating to see who becomes Kelly’s pilot.

Everybody but Chip Kelly keeps insisting that he wants a quarterback who is fleet of feet.

Kelly keeps protesting that he wants a quarterback who is fleet of mind with an accurate arm. And if the guy also has feet that are a Road Runner blur, so much the better.

You don’t need a fast QB to run a high-tempo offense. Tom Brady has glacial feet but a hiccup-quick mind. The Patriots are certainly more up tempo than Lawrence Welk.

Barkley doesn’t have a gun. Nor does he have the fast feet to run the zone read offense. But he can speed-read defenses and possesses more William Tell-accuracy than Vick and possibly Foles.

Once upon a time Barkley seemed anointed for transcendent things. He looks like a guy who fell off the back of a Wheaties box.

His USC career was memorable, not legendary, and ended in a downer that was not entirely of his own making.

Can a fourth-round pick be destined for greatness? It’s usually a longer shot than yours truly becoming Mr. Universe. But check your history books. The Pats took Brady in the sixth round. That sort of worked out.

Will Barkley, the one-time Hollywood Hero, morph into Big Bird?

This could be more fun to watch than Gilligan’s Island reruns.

Chip Kelly and the Birds tackle a mountain of athleticism with Lane Johnson in the first round

Offensive linemen are about as sexy as a Rotary Club poker night, but they certainly were the pick of the litter in Thursday night’s first round of the annual NFL Meat on the Hoof Market.

The Eagles got their big slice of beef, drafting 6-6, 303-pound Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson with the fourth pick and he would appear to an ideal fit for Chip Kelly’s high-octane spread offense.

Kelly, whose eyes twinkle with the unbalance of either a genius or a madman, also is a flint-eyed pragmatist. Kelly must have eyes with multiple skill sets.

And when Kelly sees athleticism, he wants it. And then the want becomes a need. Athleticism is the addiction that his fast-tempo attack feeds on.

Enter Lane Johnson, who while as raw as cactus as an OT, evidently is an amazing palette of size, speed and natural movement skills with potential that shouts to be heard.

A former quarterback and tight end in junior college, Johnson has the sleek, gliding strides to get out in space in front of the Birds’ plethora of playmakers.

Granted, it also will help if he’s as unflappable as an English butler when muscle, mayhem and bad intentions run amuck in the muck of the underground labyrinth that is the line of scrimmage.

Of course, the Eagles drafted another raw O lineman a couple years ago when they plucked guard Danny Watkins and then got shucked like an ear of corn.

“I think he is ready, but he is raw,” Kelly said of Johnson. “We look at raw as a positive, not a negative. If he’s doing what he’s doing right now, and he’s only played like two years on the offensive line . . . We felt that his ceiling is probably the highest.”

If Johnson does manage to bump his head on the ceiling, he presumably will start at right tackle with Todd Herremans moving back inside to his natural position of guard.

If healthy, Jason Peters will be the left tackle and Jason Kelce will be the center. If Herremans goes back to left guard, Evan Mathias will move to right guard ahead of Watkins.

Just to show you that there often can be a quick changing of, ahem, of the guard in the Not For Long world.

Here’s hoping that Chip Kelly, who has a knack for concocting creative schemes, also has a generous ladling of insight into picking personnel.

Congress is about as concerned about unemployment as it is finding a cure for laziness

Unemployment hit our country like an avian flu epidemic more than five years ago and it’s still gnawing on Uncle Sam’s ribs.

We’ve lost more jobs than American Idol has viewers.

Evidently Congress hasn’t gotten the memo because its members still have jobs – proving that life can be more unfair than a crooked dice game in a church narthex.

A hearing today on long-term unemployment held before the 19-member Joint Economic Committee began with just a single lawmaker in attendance — Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

You would think that those who have a job would do the job.

But politicians don’t work that way.

Canada foils al-Qaeda-supported terror attack on passenger train

Suddenly terrorism suddenly seems to becoming a tinderbox in North America.

Canada’s authorities today say they have arrested and charged two people with conspiring to carry out an al-Qaeda-supported attack on a passenger train in the greater Toronto area.

Terrorists are zealots, and unfortunately exhibit a readiness to fight without limit.

Nonchalant is not in their DNA.

In a morality tale, good is supposed to overcome evil.

But the good need to bust their ass to kick evil’s ass.

In the wake of the Boston nightmare, the question of terrorist linkages hangs heavy in the solemn air

With Boston under unprecedented siege today … in lockdown mode while a massive manhunt combs seemingly every nook and cranny and the hurt and loss of the Boston Marathon bombings are still hot to the touch … the mind reels at the possibilities of terrorist linkages.

If in fact the bombings indeed were perpetrated by two brothers – one now dead, the other evidently more elusive than a cure for cancer at the time of this posting — of Chechen origin, Tamerlan and Dhzokar Tsarnaev, the question is whether we are experiencing a further internationalization of Chechen terrorism and possible new linkages with international terror networks.

It is plausible that the alleged perpetrators were inspired by events in Chechnya and in Russia. It is also possible that they were radicalized by extremists at a mosque in the Boston area.

International terror linkages are making this world a hauntingly terrible place to inhabit. There are plenty of extremists filled with an ideology that percolates with the blackest rage against America.

Some individuals may be motivated by some grievance in their original homeland and then radicalized in local mosques and ultimately co-opted by international terror groups.

The Tsarnaev brothers lived in the U.S. for years, looked Caucasian, and blended in with the local population. They would have been ideal tools for terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda or Hezbollah.
Ultimately it may turn out that the brothers Tsarnaev were freelancing. But if they were part of an international terror network, that’s a much bigger uh-oh.

We must stand strong in this war of wills or else risk becoming so much chum in a sea of sharks.

We Americans frequently are distracted by our trivial pursuits. Which is a fatal flaw when we all need to be on sentry duty.

Three Earth-like planets discovered that could have life every bit as intelligent as Charlie Manuel

Since the only intelligent life we know of in the universe is ourselves, and I have my sincere doubts about the degree of intelligence some of our species possess, we think we’re pretty unique and special.

First of all, with humankind more violent than a jackhammer’s spasms, we aren’t all that special. Just ask the FBI, now hunting for two suspects in the Boston bombings.

And now we evidently aren’t all that unique.

Apparently Earth clones are sprouting like Justin Bieber gaffes.

Scientists announced today the discovery of three planets that are some of the best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our own solar system — and they’re more out there than Lindsay Lohan.

Two of the planets — Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f — are part of a five-planet system in which the candidates for life are the farthest from the host star.

The host star — the equivalent of Earth’s sun — takes the name Kepler-62, where the individual planets are designated by letters thereafter.

The third planet that’s potentially habitable is called Kepler-69c.

Granted, if there are intelligent beings on these three planets, they should be smart enough to have sexier names than the boring names we have assigned them and likely won’t be stopping by here for a cookout anytime soon.

The Kepler-62 star is 1,200 light years away; Kepler-69 is 2,700 light years away.

A light year, the distance that light travels while drinking light beer in one year, is nearly 6 trillion miles. And that’s not factoring in construction detours triggered by rogue asteroids.

Of course, if these folks do land on Earth, we will know that they either (a) have one freaking long shelf life or (b) have flying saucers faster than Chip Kelly’s offense.