Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Most What-If-full Time of the Year

When the Eagles aren’t dominating the NFC, December in Philly is clearly the most “What If”-full time of the year. Accordingly, here are a few “What Ifs” to make you think, until Sunday’s play-calling really makes you think.

* What if Andy Reid had stuck by his old “Logan’s Run” approach to 30-year-olds? Remember “Logan’s Run”—the movie where 30-year-olds were to be eliminated?

A friend noted that Reid has not stuck to his own rule in recent years—with disastrous results.

Remember Reid’s early years, when he believed players were damaged goods when they hit 30? It was clearly stated and understood even by the players. Guys like Jeremiah Trotter, Duce Staley, and Bobby Taylor, among others, were victims of the age whack—and yet the Eagles kept winning.

Now, the Eagles field a team of plus-30s that includes inconsistent performers like Donovan McNabb, Brian Dawkins, Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas, Juqua Parker, and David Akers, among others—and the Eagles figure to be playoff-wannabes for the second time in three seasons.

Seems like it was easier for Reid to cut guys back in the day because they weren’t “his” players, guys that he’d drafted or signed and gotten to know.

* What if Pat Burrell did the unthinkable for most pro athletes today and decided he’d rather go for a repeat title than for the big bucks?

Imagine if Burrell, already rich even by pro athlete standards, chose to sign with the Phillies for a “mere” $5 million or so per season and agreed to a platoon role. Would the Phillies want him for that amount in that role? Of course.

That’d be far cheaper than any free agent pick-up they could find, and they’d be keeping a player who’s respected in the clubhouse. And even Burrell might be relieved by not having to play like a $14 million player.

If he did it—a ridiculously unlikely idea—Burrell would bask in a season of adulation from fans recognizing a guy who just wants to win.

* What if Jamie Moyer signs with another team?

That’d be the first truly down note of the 2008 Philadelphia Story. Could it happen? Certainly. Will it? Let’s hope the Phillies don’t let it come to that.

* What if Detroit tanks this season, either by not making the playoffs or falling out in the first round? Will the rest of pro hoopdom finally realize what basketball purists have known for years: Allen Iverson’s style of play is a team-killer.

* What if we’ve seen the best days of Brian Westbrook? A 29-year-old NFL running back—dealing with multiple lingering injuries—is not the future of a franchise.

So if Westbrook’s days are numbered—and they are—who’s next? You can bet the Eagles are scouting the college ranks for running backs, because their next featured running back is not currently on the team.

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