The Philly Sports Media Has Gone Soft

The Philly Sports Media Has Gone Soft


     I made a silent vow after my last day at WIP not to listen to the station for at least one whole year because I would inevitably second-guess everyone at the station over their opinions. Well, the year is up, and my gloves are off. The sports media in our city has gone soft.

     At the risk of sounding like an old crank (which I am) and a radio dinosaur (guilty as charged), I am perplexed at how forgiving and docile our sports media in Philadelphia have become.

     In fact, soft made be a charitable assessment. The sad truth is, the image of Philly as a take-no-prisoners sports-media city is dead. Gone. Lost in a muddle of sympathetic takes after some brutal sports developments.

     Where have you gone Stan Hochman, Ray Didinger, Mark Whicker, Bill Livingston and yes, even Bill Conlin? Is the fan base so different now, so forgiving, that the people commenting on sports these days are merely a reflection of this tolerant new attitude?

      Specifically, my distaste for the way sports is being talked and written about over the past few months in Philly stems from the lack of vengeful fury over the recent exploits of the Eagles and 76ers.

     This just in: They both lost, spectacularly.

     They both failed.

     They both let their city down.

     When it mattered most, they both sucked.

     And yet, where was the outrage when the Eagles lost six of the last seven games after a 10-1 start? Where was the bitter dissent when the Sixers got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs? Where were the calls for Nick Sirianni’s job? Did Marcus Hayes – the last old-school columnist in Philadelphia – actually give Daryl Morey a B-minus after the overpaid Sixers GM underachieved for a fourth straight season?

      Before I go any further here, I would like to apologize to any writers or broadcasters who raised their voices and doubled down on their negative narratives in these dark days. If so, I missed it. Thanks for defending the reputation of a once-tough sports-media city.

      For the most part, though – based on what  I read and what I hear from listeners who are distressed at this new era of forgiveness – the media have become more interested in access, in their own comfort, than in telling the hard, cold truth.

     There are only a few of us out here who still believe sports figures should be held to a high standard in a passionate sports city like ours. Not enough, to be sure. But at least a few.

     For example, I learned through my trusty emailers that Ike Reese went on a classic rant when his gentle partners on the WIP afternoon show, Spike Eskin and Jack Fritz, expressed pride – or some equally absurd emotion – after the Sixers ouster. Bless you, Ike. (Now aim those same guns at your beloved Eagles when they disappoint.)

     I moved to Philadelphia in 1983 because it was the city closest to my sensibilities as a sports journalist. The day I got here, the Phillies fired Pat Corrales as manager. The team was in first place at the time.

     I knew instantly that I had found a home for my accept-no-excuses style of commentary. My goal was to continue the legacy of those bold shapers of sports opinion I mentioned above.

     This is not that city anymore.

     I know, I know. Life moves on. Nothing lasts forever. Get over it, old man.

     But I can’t help lamenting the death of one of the things that truly made Philadelphia special – at least to me and a dying breed of demanding fans.


     The one constant the past few years has been praise for Howie Roseman after every draft. If he could use the grades from his most recent drafts – pretty much all A’s – he could get into Harvard.

     So please allow me a brief reality check to the media sycophants who loved pretty much every pick this year. I’m not so sure the Eagle GM aced the test this time around.

     Howie’s success in recent drafts was based in a philosophy he appears to have disregarded this year, namely choosing the best players on college powerhouses rather than kids from lesser schools who dazzled at the Combine and the Senior Bowl.

     I am hardly an expert on college football, but I would have chosen Alabama CB Terrion Arnold with the 22nd pick, not Quinyon Mitchell of Toledo. Why? Well, if Alabama played Toledo, who do you think would win? It’s really that simple. Take the kid who faced the best talent in college.

     Yes, I have seen the tape of Mitchell glued to some wide receivers, and he is definitely talented. But can he do that against NFL receivers? Howie has prioritized Alabama and Georgia kids in recent years, with positive results. This pick harkens back to the way he used to do things when he fell in love with someone at the combine.

      If that were the only example of bypassing big-school players, it would probably not be all that alarming. But the GM did it again by trading up for Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean, who is versatile but maybe not a true NFL corner. Iowa is better than Toledo, granted, but it’s a far cry from Alabama or Georgia.

      Then again, Todelo is a football factory compared to the school where Howie’s third-round pick comes from, Houston Christian. Jaylx Hunt is a linebacker – something the Eagles need desperately right now – but he is, at best, a project. He is expected to help not at all this season, if ever. Ugh.

     After that, Howie reverted to big-school form with two kids from Clemson and one from Michigan, Texas A & M and Florida State.

     Was it too late by the fourth round to find proven kids to make the transition to the NFL? My guess is, yes.


Some idle thoughts. . . . .

  •     Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason got the boot from the awful CBS pregame show last week, raising the obvious question: Who does Bill Cowher have pictures of? How did he survive? Can anyone provide a single example of a memorable observation Cowher has made in 17 years on that show?
  • This raises a question about former great coaches who switch to broadcasting. Cowher has now spent more years in the studio than on the sideline coaching the Pittsburgh Steelers (15). Huh? Why do so many great coaches cash their chips early for the comfort of a microphone? Don’t they realize most of them are just ordinary broadcasters? (I’m thinking of you, too, Jay Wright.)
  • The Phillies have the best record in baseball, but I’m holding back on any expressions of joy until they play a team with a winning record. Has any team, in any sport, had an easier first month of the schedule than the Phils?
  • In my most recent blog post, I said if the Sixers lost in the first round, I was all-in on trading Joel Embiid. Well, they did, despite the brilliant efforts of Tyrese Maxey. So yes, goodbye, Joel. It’s time to cash in on him before he breaks down for good.
  • I have been getting lots of praise lately for the revamped website. There’s one guy to thank for that. His name is Dave Rosen, and he is both an honest sports collector and a brilliant website designer. You can reach him at this site if you need him for either of his talents.

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