Cary Williams' ingratiation with the Eagles, to media and fans alike, has not gotten off to the smoothest start. The former Raven -- who inked a three-year, $17 million contract ($10.5 million guaranteed) -- has received all kinds of flack for missing voluntary-in-name-only OTAs for a variety of reasons, ranging from getting married and building/decorating a house, to dental work and attending his daughter's dance recital.
Upon arriving in Philadelphia for the minicamp last week, Williams got to work making the media rounds and addressing his absences. He answered all questions, some rationally and some bizarrely, and the media came out snipping and snickering. Mike Missanelli's interview (transcript) with him was the most confrontational and, therefore, got the most run. It was a cringe-worthy exercise in antagonism. Missanelli, apparently champion of the average workingman Eagles fan, appraised Williams of his less-than-stellar first impression and let him know that he wasn't helping himself in the crucial relating-to-fans department. Williams threw in a few "I don't cares" to start, which should go over well, then talked about taking advantage of what little time off he gets and fulfilling responsibilities to his family. Would I have liked to see him, as a new addition, here for all the OTAs like every other able-bodied player? Of course. But the man has his own personal life to handle, and that deserves to be respected. The dental work excuse is weak, but, you know, Williams is not egregiously in the wrong overall. And, as he mentioned, it's not like he was getting in trouble with the law, womanizing/impregnating at will, or being a deadbeat parent absent in the lives of his children. Nevertheless, in this fishbowl of a media market, everything an athlete says will be finely combed over and scrutinized to the fullest (especially when there's already a controversy). Michael Vick's quotes about the QB competition got that treatment, including from yours truly. But without question, what's most fascinating and notable to me is how a single word has come to encapsulate this whole Cary Williams circus.
"Sconce." The definition, according to Merriam-Webster: noun. A bracket candlestick or group of candlesticks; also an electric light fixture patterned on a candle sconce. I want to invoke the throw pillow murder scene from Along Came Polly, but I also don't want to admit to watching the movie. "Sconce" is currently in the midst of its most popular moment probably in human history, particularly in Philadelphia, and if I never have to hear the fucking word again, I'll be happy. But it won't go away for awhile, and it won't go away forever if Cary Williams does his best Nnamdi Asomugha impersonation. Things with him have the potential to turn ugly real fast.
I came home to Philly for the weekend and stayed into Monday. As always, I listened to sports talk radio while driving around. From the moment I entered the city's air waves Friday evening, there's not a single host who hasn't sarcastically said the word "sconce" at least 5-10 times, and that's per car trip. I'm a WIP guy -- for better or worse -- since that's how I grew up, but I imagine it's no different on 97.5 since that's Missanelli's station. Yesterday morning, Angelo Cataldi had his insufferable buffoon moment du jour, quipping about how he wants the Eagles to succeed but hopes Williams fails miserably. He was totally serious, too. I guess that's a mature and reasonable stance, but I'm less inclined to bash a new signing before seeing him play for my team, preferring to give him the clean slate treatment.
Reports, and advanced stats, say Williams had a rough first half of last season but was much better in the second half (he's one of the best tackling CB in the league and also notched the first 4 interceptions of his career in 2012). His playoff numbers: 27 tackles (21 solo), 2 interceptions and 6 passes defended, but also allowed 6 first downs (for a total of 45 in the regular and postseason, second-worst among all CB). Two of Williams' best performances came in the AFC Championship Game against New England and the Super Bowl against San Francisco. Going into free agency, ESPN and Pro Football Focus slapped him with a "buyer beware" label. We'll see if he pans out as a signing and this hoopla fades to become an even dumber footnote, or if he goes in the bust bin and the word "sconce" lives in infamy.
By the way, Williams got plenty of first team reps during minicamp, so it seems as though the entity perhaps least irked with his absences is the one that actually employs him. And in the end, that's the only opinion that matters.
Please, training camp, get here. Posthaste.