Philly Sports moment of the Year, 94WIP

Kevin Jairaj/Mark J. Rebila-USA TODAY Sports

Sports moment of 2018: BG sack or Philly Special?

Dave Uram
December 13, 2018 - 9:51 am
Categories: 

Philadelphia sports is anything but boring these days, as was the case for the entire year of 2018.

WIP’s Philly Sports Awards does a great job giving you a recap of what happened, who was great and who was terrible.

You can vote on the awards and see the results here.

Here’s my ballot.

 

Sportsperson of the Year: Nick Foles

Until it happens again, if it ever does, February 4, 2018 will be the greatest victory in the history of Philadelphia sports. The Philadelphia Eagles do not win Super Bowl LII if Nick Foles isn’t the quarterback relieving an injured Carson Wentz.

Foles was the guy the fan base didn’t want, and prior to the NFC Championship Game, was forced to block out all the noise about his inability to lead the Eagles like Wentz would.

Foles played well enough, especially in the second half, to outlast the Falcons. He was spectacular against the Vikings and out-dueled Tom Freaking Brady in the Super Bowl, part of which included suggesting the “Philly Special” to Doug Pederson, which is an epic moment that parents and grandparents will be able to tell folk stories about.

Now, while Pederson was instrumental in calling great games throughout that season, his two main offensive assistants, Frank Reich and John DeFilippo, were clearly instrumental in Foles’ turnaround, as well as the Eagles excellent execution. Not to mention, since Reich and DeFilippo departed for other jobs, Pederson’s performance dropped, as did the entire Eagles offense.

As far as Wentz, his MVP candidacy developed during 2017, not 2018, and while this season’s debacle isn’t his fault, Wentz has regressed in recent weeks.

Foles beats Pederson and Wentz, as well as Joel Embiid and Aaron Nola, who were excellent in 2018, but didn’t win a championship.

Moment of the Year: Brandon Graham’s Strip Sack

The 76ers burnergate scandal is one of the most bizarre and unforgettable sagas in the history of Philadelphia sports, but it wasn’t franchise altering. The Sixers, as a result, switched general managers from Bryan Colangelo to Elton Brand, who is still very early in his tenure. Acquiring Jimmy Butler could be a game changer for the 76ers, but that’s yet to be seen. Angelo Cataldi versus Gabe Kapler was extremely entertaining radio, so much so I aired clips on KYW Newsradio the next morning. However, Howard Eskin got into several, and I mean tons, of respectful debates with Kapler before ballgames in the dugout last season. Kapler wasn’t as intense with Eskin like he was with Cataldi, but arguing with a media member about baseball topics (Eskin only) isn’t unusual for Kapler. It’s part of his personality and interest in what’s being said, Tweeted and written about his team.

This category comes down to Brandon Graham’s strip sack of Tom Brady and the “Philly Special.” Even though both were incredibly instrumental in the Eagles winning the Super Bowl, there was still another half to play after Nick Foles caught his touchdown pass. On the other hand, when Derek Barnett recovered that ball, it felt like the game was over, despite there being plenty of time left and the Eagles only up five.

Before Graham got to Brady, the future Hall of Fame quarterback was lighting the Eagles up. They desperately needed to force a turnover to end the back and forth jabs. Fittingly, seconds before Graham stripped Brady, Eagles radio voice Merrill Reese begged for a turnover, and was certainly rewarded. That was not only the moment of the year, but the greatest defensive play in Philadelphia Eagles history. The only thing Graham could’ve added to make it even more perfect was emulate the late, great Chuck Bednarik and say, “This bleeping game is over!”

One side thought: Why wasn’t Jason Kelce’s parade speech nominated? Something tells me if Kelce was going to perform a reenactment of that moment, him getting snubbed in this category should be added in.

Game of the Year: Super Bowl LII

With all due respect to WIP web site editor Andrew Porter, this category is silly.

The Sixers knocking out the Heat won a first round playoff series. Yippee.

Villanova’s second National Championship in three years was incredibly impressive, but doesn’t even come close to topping Kris Jenkins’ buzzer beater.

The NFC Championship drubbing of Minnesota was insanely important because those conference title games were historically a nightmare for the Eagles franchise, but then they won the Super Bowl.

No contest.

Bust of the Year: Markelle Fultz

Ron Hextall stunk as a general manager for several seasons. There was very little expectation for Carlos Santana coming in because people were wondering why the Phillies signed him for so much money. Same goes for Mike Groh, who was practically an unknown before he spectacularly failed as Frank Reich’s successor, at least to this point.

Markelle Fultz was the number one overall pick in 2017, played 14 games in the 2017-18 season before finding himself on the bench during the playoffs. He then went to shooting guru Drew Hanlen in the off-season to work on his shot before eventually parting ways. Then, literally hours after getting benched in the second half of the Suns game for T.J. McConnell, his agent/attorney unilaterally shuts him down to see multiple shoulder specialists despite Fultz insisting two weeks prior that he was healthy enough to play. Eventually, Fultz was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

Yikes.

Seriously though, it’s a shame what’s going on with Fultz. He’s a good kid, who the Sixers shouldn’t have traded up for, let alone draft in the top three. In addition, it sounds like his representation isn’t providing proper guidance, but that’s a subjective opinion and one with little knowledge of what’s going on behind closed doors.

Again, I feel bad for Fultz. Hopefully, he can turn his career around and be the player he was at Washington.

 

You can vote on the awards and see the results here.

 

Newcomer of the Year: Jimmy Butler

Gabe Kapler was too negatively received by the fans, on top of the Phillies conducting a monumental collapse in Kap’s rookie season. Golden Tate should probably be in the bust category, so he’s definitely not Newcomer of the Year. And giving this award to Gritty, who’s hilarious and a riot, would be giving the Flyers too much props. Gritty is great, but the Flyers should find a way to give their fans a good hockey product for their in game entertainment, instead of a funny mascot.

Jimmy Butler is transforming the 76ers into Eastern Conference royalty. Brett Brown won’t say that just yet, but I will. Butler’s personality is perfect for this city, his game fits the Sixers very well and this team should make the NBA Finals, assuming everyone stays healthy. Butler is the Newcomer of the Year, despite a small sample size. That’s how good he has been.

Team of the Year: Eagles

The Eagles don’t get my nod for this award because of their 2018 season, that’s for sure. Simply put, the 2017-18 Eagles should win this because they brought Philadelphia its greatest desire, the Lombardi Trophy and a Super Bowl parade. And they accomplished this as a team, not as individuals.

No one, other than Carson Wentz, and maybe Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery a little bit, stood out statistically. The ball was spread around on offense, while defense featured role players such as Patrick Robinson, Chris Long, Tim Jernigan and Derek Barnett. Guys like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Malcolm Jenkins, Nigel Bradham and Jalen Mills stepped up in crucial moments. Special teams were phenomenal, highlighted by Jake Elliott’s laser foot and Donnie Jones’ precision. Then at quarterback, you had an MVP candidate in Wentz, followed by the ultimate feel good story in Nick Foles, worthy of a full length Hollywood motion picture starring the dude who played Napoleon Dynamite. Lastly, leading everything of this well put together concoction was “unqualified coach” Doug Pederson, who called trick plays and went for it on fourth down.

Like their Super Bowl MVP, this team also deserves a biopic.

No matter how frustrating the Eagles may be for you now, or in the future, you’ll always have that magical parade up Broad Street, Jason Kelce’s speech and “The Underdogs” that defied the odds.