Heard the Footsteps: Carousels and Ethics

Topics: Carousel | E-II | Coffin | RUT | TRB: World Cup | "Q" | Stat

I apologize for the lateness, I'm going to make it up by  writing another fanpost this week.

The Merry-Go-Round Effect



The last time I heard the name Reno Mahe it was after the Eagles' 2007 salary cap had been released to the public through the NFL.  The Eagles were able to take advantage of loopholes in the NFL's salary cap structure and carried over $4 million into the 2008 season through Mahe.  Mahe was given a "Likely to be Earned" bonus of the previously mentioned $4 million in his contract - he didn't earn it.  After the 2007 season, Mahe didn't return to the Eagles and his status as the team's starting punt and kick returner ended.  

Prior to Mahe's stint as a kick returner for the team in 2007, the Eagles had used five different starters at the kick return position after 2000.  Since 2000, the Eagles have used 8 different starters at kick returner. Those former kick returners were Brian Mitchell, James Thrash, J.R. Reed, Roderick Hood, Reno Mahe, Correll Buckhalter, Quintin Demps and Ellis Hobbs.  Of that list, only one returner started for more than a year - Mitchell - and he was also the only returner to have started consecutive years.  

From 2000-2002, Mitchell continued his long time success as a kick returner.  He had three straight years of 1,000 plus kick return yards and recorded 2 touchdowns in the same stretch.  Mitchell was named as the second best kick returner of all time by NFL Films and the Eagles were lucky to obtain his services for the three years they had them on the roster.  But for the Eagles, he was the last case of sustained success at the kick return position.

After Mitchell moved onto the New York Giants, and eventually retired, the Eagles seemed to lose the ability to either retain a returner or have a proper starter on roster.  The Eagles entrusted the leading role to James Thrash come 2003 and promptly removed him from the role after drafting safety J.R. Reed in 2004.  Reed tore ligaments after trying to jump over a fence during the offseason and his role was handed to Roderick Hood, who the Eagles signed as an undrafted free agent that offseason.  Hood lost the job to Reno Mahe, who became the first Eagles player since Mitchell to double as both the punt and kick returner for the team.  Mahe gave forth to Correll Buckhalter.  Buckhalter.  Buckhalter shared most of the time with Reed, who returned to the Eagles to return 31 kicks in 2007.  In 2008, Quintin Demps was drafted and obtained the status as starting kick returner.  However, the signing of free agent Ellis Hobbs removed Demps from the starting role.  Even after Hobbs went down for the season with a neck injury, Demps was not able to retake his starting role because of his own injuries.  

That long cast of characters leads me to the following conclusions:

(1) Other than established returners, Reid has had little success in cultivating a long time successful kick returner.  The question is, will new Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April be able to find a gem?  Or will he have enough impact to continue the carousel?

(2) Injuries limited the ability of a couple of the returners on the list.  J.R. Reed had an above average return season in 2004, but injuries kept him from playing in 2005.  His ability to return the ball led Reid to being him back to the team in 2007.  Buckhalter's knees were always a concern to the Eagles and Quintin Demps was not able to retain his starting role, in 2009, due to injuries.

(3) Hobbs is not likely to (a) return most of next year's kicks and (b) put up the same kind of numbers in 2010.  It hasn't happened since Mitchell, and Hobbs is coming off a season ending neck injury.  

(4) Demps should be considered for the starting role.  His numbers are gaudy compared to all of his competitors currently on the roster.  At this point, Hobbs is being looked at to start at cornerback and I'd rather not have him returning kicks because of cornerback depth.

(5) Chad Hall should be looked at to return.  He did it in college, he's fast and agile - why not?

(6) Can Trevard Lindley return?  He hasn't done so since his days in high school, but he has back end speed (his 40 was faster during the last 20) and is agile.  Perhaps the Eagles use him as the nickel corner and returner, ala Ellis Hobbs last season (kinda).

This is a subject I will definitely be covering as it changes.  Returning cost the Eagles a couple of games over the past couple of years, through lack of sufficient return yards or fumbles lost.   To see returners available during the offseason, check my "Overlooked" fanpost on kick returners here.

Lack of Class and Professionalism (Part II)

Yet another blogger gets hired to join the professional sports world.  JasonB reported that Daniel Jeremiah was hired by the Eagles to join their scouting staff.  But, as I discussed last week, that still doesn't give confidence to the blogging community as a whole that it is accepted.  It may appear on the outside that portions of the blogging world are accepted but diving underneath the surface proves otherwise.  This ability to be both used and ignored at the same time comes from a variety of reasons, but the main one is the inability to connect with a portion of the established sports media.

Where I believe blogging lacks a foothold is with the writing journalism community, namely newspaper sports journalists.  My reasoning behind this belief rests upon the canons of journalism.  The canons are, in layman's terms, the list of standards that journalists must adhere to.  I learned this important set of rules and guidelines back in 10th grade, when I took Journalism I at my high school.  Sure it was a year long class, but I learned them early on into the class and was constantly reminded of the duties of a reporter to adhere to the guidelines - while still putting out the best effort possible.  Some reporters walk a fine line on portions of their reporting and occasionally it pays out well for the public.  Other times we hear of reporters facing libel suits.  Nonetheless, there is a set of guidelines out there for professional journalists.  The First Amendment does not mean everything is open and free.  Arguments over plagiarism have even come onto BGN, which shows just how far reaching some of the more well known components of the canons are.  My breakdown will be based off of the canon summary found on Wikipedia (just to save time explaining each portion in great detail).

Accuracy and standards for factual reporting

Sites like Deadspin have caused a lot of discussion on this issue.  Blogs that detail the sports world like tabloids will never gain a footing in the professional world.  There are certain lines you don't cross and most of them involve sections of personal life.  Stories like that of Tiger Woods' infidelities come out every so often, but it should not be the intent of a journalist to discredit someone for malignant intent.  If research leads a journalist to the stance that someone used a PED, or Tiger had affairs, then by all means run with it.  But at this point in time, there are people who are simply intent on outing people for the sake of outing people, whether or not everything is in line fact wise.

ProFootballTalk comes into this discussion on their consistent choosing to ignore the context of quotes.  Instead of presenting the full story, PFT instead shows only the smallest of bites in order to gain a larger community of readers.  As seen with their choices of shortened quotes in the case of DeSean Jackson, it is clear to me that PFT and Mike Florio knowingly misrepresent athletes and their quotes.  There are two ways to give incorrect information to the public: misinformation and disinformation.  "Mis" is unknowingly doing so, while "dis" is done with the intent to spread the incorrect information knowingly.  PFT and Florio use disinformation to create events that are not already in play.  Jackson's full quote was nothing more than a statement of support for his new quarterback, Kevin Kolb, yet by shortening it into the equivalent of a TV sound bite, PFT and Florio created a supernova of sports news.  Soon ESPN jumped on the "DJax v McNabb" train, as did the rest of the sportsverse.  An non-issue turned into the issue, all because PFT and Florio decided to break a pretty straight forward cannon of journalism.  

Slander and libel considerations

I'm not going to go so far as to say that Florio and co. at PFT are committing libel, but I will state that I believe there is clear malicious intent by PFT to give disinformation/misinform the public. Their reporting of the "facts" led to a situation that could easily have scarred his reputation.  In fact, PFT itself pushed the limits of the effect of their reporting by creating another issue.  Jackson was quickly named "TO redux" by PFT and that pushed the idea to the web and that influenced the public image of Jackson.  The attack on his public image down the line could cost him money, whether in his NFL contract or possible sponsorship deals.  I can assure you that a sports journalist writing for a newspaper (sans a writer like SAS) would go for a yellow journalism move like PFT.  In my opinion, PFT is the sports reporting equivalent of the yellow journalistic newspapers that sparked the Spanish-American War (Remember the Maine!).  

Harm limitation principle

There are only part of this that needs to be touched on deals with reporting and minors.  Minors involved in crimes, victims or the criminals themselves, should not be named nor are they normally named.  However, this doesn't stop those aforementioned tabloid-like blogs from doing so.  It's despicable and that's all I really have to say on the matter.  


What is the summary provide on this section?

(1) "Correctly spoken or written language..."  Some users of BGN know that their writing won't fulfill this part, but that's fine because you're not putting yourself out there as a writer.  You all are commenting on a blog that runs stories about your favorite team.  This portion of the canons refers to anyone who wishes to pass him or herself off as a writer - amateur or professional.  No offense to JIBTA, but if someone tried to tell me your spelling was indicative of a professional writer, I'd freak.

(2) "Clarity..."  Not something to really harp about because I don't think this is a huge problem.  I know I sometimes have problems with writing north-to-south articles, but clarity in this case means presenting information clearly.  Perhaps PFT needs to learn that?  

(3) "Brevity (or depth, depending on the niche of the publisher)..." Don't say with more words than actually needed.  A lesson I need to occasionally put into practice, but of all things I covered here this is the last one I'm worried about.  It's in the eye of the beholder.  But in the case of PFT, 'depth' is definitely needed.

A week later, my rage/anger slowed down, so this entry was a bit less ranty.  I still hate PFT, though.

Coffin Corner

Durant Brooks was released by the Eagles today, leaving the punting competition down to Ken Parrish and Sav Rocca (BGN member Route36 reported it here).  It's yet another unfortunate bump in the road for Brooks.  Since winning the Ray Guy Award in 2007, while still a member of the Georgia Tech collegiate football team, Brooks has been released by the Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers and Eagles.  After displaying an amazing tenacity to not only be a consistent, but also a powerful punter, Brooks just has not been able to transition his game to the NFL.  I'll close this portion of the column with a video of Brooks' best punt of his college career.

The Jersey Connection: Rutgers

This week gave Rutgers' basketball program some hope.  It seems that a new coach can really change things for a program.  Two new recruits officially signed with Rutgers, putting new coach Mike Rice in a better position for the upcoming season.  Hopefully Rice is able to keep his scholarship players, unlike former coach Fred Hill, Jr.  Hill was considered a great recruiter but his inability to retain (and coach) players plagued the program during his tenure.  In all, Hill recruited 13 scholarship players and by the end of his tenure (including Mike Rosario), 7 had left the program.  A friend of mine, who is someone I will always go to about anything basketball or Rutgers related, gave me this great quote: "Honestly, if we kept all the players we were supposed to have, next year we would be a top 8 team in the Big East EASILY.  Our starting lineup next season would be: James Beatty, Mike Rosario, Dane Miller, Johnathan Mitchell, Gregory Echinque, with legit bench players.  Like extremely deep bench players, [I'd say] ten deep."

To put it simply, Eddie Jordan was a better coach for the Sixers than Fred Hill, Jr. was for Rutgers.  That says a lot to me. 

Sport of the Round Ball: USA World Cup Preview I

Czech Republic 4 - 2 United States

What did we learn from this game?

(a) Our defense is going to be shaky for a couple of games.

(b) I saw someone ask this question on Twitter... "We're a country of 300 MILLION and we can't find a decent left back?"  So true.

(c) Unless Donovan is used up front, the US is going to be lacking a speedy compliment to Altidore.  Ching is not the option, no matter how consistent he is (consistently average).  The loss of Davies is going to show.

(d) Holden not only cemented his place on the team, but I believe he showed why he should start as well.  Only problem is, where does Edu fit into this equation?  He deserves to start too.

(e) I feel like Gomez may have made his statement for being Altidore's strike partner.  He was dangerous throughout 



Cherundolo, Onyewu, DeMerit, Bocenegra

Dempsey, Bradley, Holden, Donovan

Gomez, Altidore

That's my starting lineup for the World Cup, based on play from this friendly.

Next week will be part two of the World Cup preview, which will feature breakdowns on all three group opponents for the United States, my predictions through the group stage and analysis of the final 23.

Quote of the Week

"Normally he uses his hands to punch people in the face."

- John Buccigross, Sportscenter anchor during today's Top 10, in reference to Arron Asham's goal from last night's Flyers victory over the Montreal Canadiens.  

Just when I didn't think I could dislike Buccigross or ESPN/Sportscenter more... this happens.  I realize that there's really nothing to "Phillycize" right now, but that doesn't mean a person should reach on insulting Philadelphia or its athletes.  Asham scores a fantastic goal and all ESPN can do is insult his style of play, not celebrate the great play.  Shame on you, ESPN.

Random Eagles Stat of the Week

Reggie Brown was second on the team last season with 17.2 yards per catch.  DeSean Jackson lead the team with 18.5 yards per catch.  Whodathunkit?


Follow me on Twitter and/or email me questions (, for use in a future column!

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