Phan ManePhesto
Eagles Free Agency 2013: No Big Splashes, But Solid Building Blocks

First things first: this is not 2004 or 2011. These Eagles are not a big name player or two away from being a contender, they are far from it. The addition of guys with the stature of Terrell Owens, Jevon Kearse, Nnamdi Asomugha, DRC or Vince Young (had to suppress a loud chuckle followed by an equally loud sigh on Young) will make this team an odds on favorite to win a championship. They have some solid, young pieces on the offensive side of the ball that can form an explosive offense one day, especially if Chip Kelly can translate his scheme to the NFL. They have a couple players on defense that can be successful if put in the right positions. So what I wanted this season in free agency was plenty of guys; guys who can play. No big contracts that will cripple the team if they don’t pan out, just people who will compete for jobs and incrementally make the team better. I believe that is what they have done.


Isaac Sopoaga is the guy I am most excited for. In the transition to the 3-4 defense, the key is having a big mauler in the middle that will take up blockers and allow the guys around him to perform. It’s not a glamorous job, but it is the most important job in this formation. Sopoaga is a proven commodity. He has been the lynch pin of a defense that has made two straight NFC championship games and a Super Bowl appearance. He will make Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks, two of their young defensive standouts, much better and make the transition to the new defense effective hopefully from day one.

The secondary players they have signed are right up there for me as a necessary new component to this brand new defense. Patrick Chung, Kenny Phillips, Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher will most likely compose the new secondary for the Birds and Philly should rejoice in song and dance at this fact. They go from one of the softest, most finesse secondary units in the league to an instant force to strike fear into opposing receiving corps. Cary Williams is probably most known for shoving a referee in the middle of the Super Bowl last year and getting away with it. Many other incidents like this occurred over the course of last season, Eagles fans will probably remember him getting into a scuffle in last years game against the Ravens, and that is the attitude I want for this team. He is a no-nonsense kind of player and should help change the mindset of the defense. Kenny Phillips is quite simply a knock you on your butt kind of safety. If he’s healthy he can be a great pick up and subtraction from a divisional opponent in the Giants. Phillips, slong with Williams and Chung, make this a defensive backfield that opposing wide-outs will not want to face. Add in Chung and Fletcher who both have starting experience in the league and you automatically have a new and improved secondary (in theory anyway…)

Later in the day the Eagles picked up a must-have pass rushing outside linebacker in Connor Barwin. He comes from a Houston Texans team with stars all along their front seven, from JJ Watt to Brian Cushing and Barwin was one of the most productive members of that unit the past few seasons. He had a drop off in production last year, going from 11.5 sacks in 2011 to just 3 in 2012, but he is still a legitimate pass rush threat the 3-4 defense thrives with. I figured this position would be addressed in the draft and could very well still be, but now we have a real threat off the edge to make it rough on opposing QBs.

James Casey is an interesting player. He has never caught more than 33 balls in his 4 seasons in the NFL, but seems to be a guy people place into that “match-up nightmare” category. He plays the H-back position, which is not really a TE and not so much a FB. That means he is a versatile player, always a plus in the league. I’m sure with the offensive mind Chip Kelly has, the more weapons he has to play with the more effective this offense can be, so I’m excited to see what this guy can do.


Possibly the most important thing that the Eagles have brought in with their moves is big-game experience. Four of the eight guys they signed have played in a Super Bowl (Sopoaga, Phillips, Williams and Chung). This is critical when you are transitioning to a new regime, guys who have been to the mountain top and know what it takes to get there. Overall, I am thoroughly pleased with what the Eagles have done so far in free agency. Obviously there is still time in the FA period and the draft is still to come, but I’m excited to see how this team is going to shape up in August.

State Of The Phandome: Rough Times In Philly

How ‘bout we start this back up, huh? It’s been a long, long, extremely, dare I even say unacceptably long time since I put my thoughts on Philly sports to the keyboard, but now more than ever it’s necessary to throw something out into the blog-o-sphere. The reason? For lack of a more substantial term, it really sucks to be a Philly Phan right about now. To miss-quote the Academy Award winning rap group 36 mafia, "It’s hard out here for a Phan", and I need to Inception this thing and examine exactly why.

It all started going down hill around mid-October of last year, Two-Thousand and Twelve. This is a time most fans have come to relish. The MLB is in playoff mode, the NFL is a quarter of the way into its season and the MLB and NHL seasons are coming up in the near future. The month began with such promise in Philly, but at the same time, there were some tell-tale signs that maybe we shouldn’t get our hopes up too quick. On the bad side, you start off with the Phillies. They had just capped off a year that officially marked the rock bottom moment for the steady decline they were on for 5 consecutive seasons. From a 2008 season that brought the first Championship to the city in 25 years to 3 straight Playoff defeats to finally, a mediocre-defining .500 season in 2012, the Phils had seemingly passed off the torch to the Washington Nationals for them to become the class of the NL East. The Flyers season was in complete Limbo. No one knew if the NHL season was going to happen. They were dangerously close to facing their 2nd play-stoppage in less than a decade while also losing their lock on being the 4th most popular professional league in America’s sporting quad-pod. To add insult to injury, of the 4 teams in Philadelphia, the Flyers were probably the most entertaining squad to watch and had the best chance to do some damage in the post-season. In a town that actually values their Hockey, Philly was due to take a big hit with an NHL lockout.

Now onto the seemingly positive aspects of the month of October. Early in the month the Birds were flying high. They had just come off a dramatic win against the defending Super Bowl champs and NFC East rival New York Giants. This having been a Sunday night game against a hated foe, me and some friends decided to watch this game at a local bar. I tell you this may have been the most strenuous, tiring and all-around heart-racing game I have ever watched outside the confines of my own home. Normally I like watching games at home so I can curse out the players without repercussion and eat my own food and drink my own drink without paying someone to keep bugging you to buy more beer when all you want to do is throw your plate of bare-boned wings at the plasma screen that is like 3 seconds faster than the TV with the sound playing so you see the Eagles mess up before you hear it, therefore giving you an echo of frustration. But this game was different. A bar with Eagles sympathizers made for a welcoming atmosphere and the Birds managed to pull out an unlikely win after yet another Andy Reid timeout mistake made. Even adding in a tough loss to cross-state rival Pittsburgh the next week you still felt good about the team so far. As for the 76ers, we finally had it. A Star. An All Star. A Champion. A Franchise Player who, as far as we knew, didn’t mind practice from time to time. We got Andrew Bynum. In my opinion the trade to get Iguodala out of town was long overdue. Don’t get me wrong, dude can ball. He can can jump out of his shoes, he can defend, he can even light it up from the perimeter when he’s feeling it. But he needed to go. No one is winning anything, especially with the way the NBA is set up today, with AI2 as your best player. Sure, he can be your 3rd or 4th offensive weapon and your lock-down defender, but if he is your main option, the best you will ever do is a second round exit in the playoffs against a team that is just plain better that you. So shipping him out for picks would have been swell with me. To my surprise, they went out and got arguably the best big man in the game, someone who could potentially, with the help of the rest of the young nucleus the Sixers posses, challenge the Bulls, Knicks and Heat for the top spot in the East. Now that we had that piece, things were looking up. Then time had to keep on ticking, and as any Philly Phan knows, time is not our best friend.


First off, we learn that Bynum might not be ready for the beginning of the season. No biggie, he would be back by Halloween, maybe Thanksgiving, absolute worst case scenario, Christmas. Aint to thang, let him rest up and get in there for the stretch run in 2013. So now we play the waiting game. That’s all good though, we have the Eagles right? They had a date with the lowly Lions before a bye and could go into the meat of the schedule with a win and a good week off to recuperate. Easier said then done. The Birds blow a double digit lead in the second half and take a devastating loss to put them at 3-3, mediocre. The Phillies are long done and the Flyers have no idea if they will be hitting the ice anytime soon. Still, it’s early for the Birds, the Sixers could tread water without Bynum a few months and the Flyers would get underway soon right? No need to panic, yea? Wrong! (in my Charlie Murphy voice). This would be the perfect time to panic…

As we all know, the Eagles would go on a monumental losing streak, the likes of which the Andy Reid era had never seen. In fact, as so many media outlets would report each week, until a last second win over the Buccaneers on December 9th, the Birds last win was that unlikely Giants win September 30th. The Phillies won a game over the Nationals the next day. For over 2 months, the Phills, without even making the post season, had a win more recently than the Eagles. There is no way that feat has been repeated too many times in this or any other city. So change was imminent. Out goes Big Red aka Walrus Beard, in comes “Chocolate” Chip Kelly. I think it could work. Something in me thinks they will be OK in a few seasons with Chipard at the helm. But the reality is that now we sit with a college coach with zero NFL experience that runs a gimmick offense many think will be thwarted once any coherent defensive coordinator realizes that “The Human Turnover” Mike Vick is still the Eagles QB. Hooray. Yippie Skippy. Is it too soon to see what Ray Rhodes is up to these days?

Bynum. Who could have called that one? A stud, can’t miss, best center in the East prospect still hasn’t suited up and it is now into March. If I gave you odds on the amount of baskets Bynum would make as a Sixer this season vs times Bynum would bowl a strike while bruising his knee + crazy hair cuts, you would have bet the house on him getting buckets. You’d be one homeless son of a gun right now. I like to give you, for the first time (I think), an new curse for the city. Its the curse of Charles Barkley. Trade away an elite big man in his prime and all other big men to come through town will be injury-prone, crazy or a combo of the two. At least we got Nick “Swaggy P” Young to entertain us…


Thank god for the Flyers finally starting up right? We can take the mental load off of ourselves about the misfortunes with the Eagles and 76ers and focus on a young team with potential out the yin yang. That is until the games actually begin. Injuries on injuries on injuries have the team sitting technically at .500, but also technically below .500 since somehow the NHL loves giving out points for losing in OT. I’m pretty sure Vince Lombardi would roll over in his grave and Donnovan McNabb would rejoice and sing if the NFL adopted that rule. Last years leading goal scorer and unfortunately my 3rd round pick in my first ever fantasy Hockey draft, Scotty Hartnell, gets hurt the first week of the year. A plethora of other injuries and suspensions has forced the team to make a deal to bring back a familiar face, Simon Gagne. I was ecstatic to hear this because now that I actually get hockey I can add in a guy I know to my extensive knowledge of the teams roster, which now is up to like 10 guys I can pick out of a lineup now. I’m trying guys, give props for that.

Now the Phills. They look good so far this spring. Ry-Dog and Dom-B are smacking the hell out of the ball, Chase isn’t fielding ground balls in a folding chair like previous spring trainings and the 3 aces we still have look solid. So there is some hope there. Too bad the Nats are the defending division champs and only got better adding a top of the rotation guy in Dan Haren and a lock-down 8th inning guy in Rafael Soraiano. But at least Larry Jones’ stupid self is gone from the Braves, am I right guys? Oh wait, they just added the Upton brothers who can both ball and lock up the outfield with another young studly OF guy in Jason Heyward. Damn. Well good luck guys, hopefully that bell curve is on the up-turn this season.

All in all, 2012 into 2013 has been one of the more frustrating, maddening and disconcerting times in my Phandome. Not since the Bobby Hoying and Jerry Stackhouse years have we had less star power with real upside to get excited about. These are the life and times of Philly Phans right now. We will make it through comrades, just like we always do. We will keep on with the hoping and wishing, the cheering and booing, because that’s what we do. And we won’t let anyone, not even our own crappy teams, take that from us.

Divine Debuts

Divine Debuts

Of the many different past-times I have, discovering new music may be my favorite. Back before smart phones and the google there was nothing more thrilling than hearing a song on the radio, not knowing what the hell it was, using all of the resources you could possibly think of to figure out what this glorious tune was. Once the sleuthing was completed it was all about learning everything you could about that artist then proceeding to play your new favorite song out till your heart was content. There is no other feeling like hearing a song and immediately falling in love with it. Be it the content of the lyrics that just speaks to you or just a catchy beat that makes you want to find the nearest nightclub and fist pump until your arm falls off, a new song can really change your life.

Now on to my list of game-changers. Here are some of my favorite finds over the course of my own music discovery. These are not necessarily the first songs by all of my favorite artist, because most of my favorite artist debuted before I was musically conscience. You will only find songs that came out post 1998 or so, when I was 10, got a walkman, and was finally able to buy my own CD’s and make my own musical choices. Oh yea, my list is 11 songs long by the way, with a few honorable mentions. My opinion, my ranking system. 11 is the new 10, remember that. So here you go, the official list of Ed “Rosebud” Roseboro’s Divine Debuts.

Honorable Mentions: Ludacris-“What’s Your Fantasy”

I was back and forth about putting this or the #11 song on the list, but I think this was not even the best song from “Back For The First Time”, Luda’s debut album. “Southern Hospitality” was a beast on that CD, and the #11 song may be that particular artist’s best song of their career. But Ludacris came out with an anthem that is still quoted by random drunks and still a karaoke favorite, but just didn’t crack the top 11.

Childish Gambino “Freaks And Geeks”

The only reason this isn’t on the list is it isn’t technically a debut track. Its Troy Barnes’ aka Donald Glover’s foray into the mainstream rap world though, so it deserves a mention. Is it just me or does it seem like some dudes get all the talent? I mean Don can act, write, perform stand-up and rap. Save some talent for the little guys like me, damn. Anyway, this song came out the box with ridiculous swag, if you haven’t heard it yet and would like a rapper with the punch line ability of Lil’ Wayne combined with the storytelling skills of Drizzy Dranke, do yourself a favor and look it up. While you’re at it find all of Gambino’s free mixtapes and his first major label album “Camp”, because Childish is the ish man…

    11. Drake- “Best I Ever Had”

    The summer of 2009 was a pretty good one for me. I turned 21, was heading into my final year of college, and Drizzy came out with this track that was only the tip of his emotional iceberg. Drake is now known now for being sort of emo rapper, which kind of sounds like an oxymoron when you think of most hip-hop artist. For example, he party pooped his last album, “Take Care”, with weird, trippy ballads that would make crooners like Michale Buble say “Dude, man the eff up”. Its a good thing his debut single was a monster. “Best I Ever Had” catapulted him into the mainstream and made people recognize a new generation of rappers was on the horizon. No longer was he that dude from the nickelodeon show who couldn’t walk, he was now a rapper with the skills to be co-signed by the likes of Lil Wayne, Jay-Z and others. As I said before this song was glimmer into the heartfelt rapper that is Drake. He doesn’t hide behind a tough exterior and pretend that he has no emotions when it comes to the lady-folk like most rappers. When you deliver lines like “You ain’t even have to ask twice, you can have my heart or we can share it like the last slice”, you can tell that he was a bit more respectful of the ladies than most rappers in the game. Even though he did have a sensitive side, there was still a bad boy rapper mentality that you expect from hip-hop artists now a days. Specifically the lyrics “She call me the referee ‘cause I be so official, my shirt ain’t got no stripes but I can make your p**** whistle”. Yea, ts another one of those referee and whistle lines that everyone single rapper has used once, but it was delivered in such a way that only Drake with his unique charisma could pull off. The back and forth of him rapping about the beauty and charm of the woman he is talking about and also the gritty, more obscene thoughts in his mind make this a perfect song to usher in a new wave of rap.

    10. Kid Cudi “Day N Nite”

    Did someone say Emo rappers? Because Kid Cudi may well be the quintessential heartfelt hip-hopper. He has some songs on his albums that make you think he may off himself once he gets out the studio, thats how deep and emotional his lyrics are. I’m legitimately afraid one day I may wake up to the news that Cudder has jumped off a building or something. Not really…but kinda. Cudi is now one of my favorite artist and as an actor he has performed well on “How To Make It In America” (Sidenote: From what i’ve heard this show won’t be coming back to HBO and that no bueno with me. That show was the younger, more street version of ‘Entourage’ and could have taken over for Vinny Chase and the crew, and if it doesn’t come back, what will I do with my post-football Sundays? But I digress…) Cudi’s debut was a fantastic track with all the necessary pieces of a hit song: an infectious beat, a catchy chorus, and a brand new artist with a different flow than anyone else out there. The songs beat may be the most catchy thing to flow by my ears, and i’m convinced it was produced with crack-cocaine in the soundboard, because once you will be begging to hear it over and over again, and there was the problem with it. Much like with any popular song the radio gets a hold of, it was played over and over until it came dangerously close to dying a miserable, over-saturated death. Luckily for me though this song still holds its value. The beat, the delivery and uniqueness that Cudi brings to the table is just too good to ignore. Sure, the lyrics are pretty sappy. I mean listen to this: “The pain is deep. A silent sleeper, you won’t hear a peep, peep. The girl he wants don’t seem to want him too. It seems the feelings that she had are through.” Not something you would expect to hear from a rap song. Maybe a Fall Out Boy or My Chemical Romance cut, but not a hip-hopper. These first two artists on the list broke a few barriers in a musical world. Most rappers were most likely to wear a $50,000 Jacob watch on their sleeve, not their hearts like Cudder and Drake. To spill your guts out on a track as an unknown looking to make an impact was a bold move, and these two artist made it work.

    9. Gorillaz “Clint Eastwood”

    Don’t worry, even though Clint Eastwood is a well known country-western actor there’s absolutely no country music on my list. The only country music I like is made by guys who are no longer with us (Johnny Cash) or pretty much no longer with us mentally due to lighting up the green for decades (Willie Nelson), so no country music artist debut was released in my lifetime that i’d be willing to write about. “Clint Eastwood” was the debut for the rock/rap/alternative group “ The Gorillaz”, and the name of the song really has nothing to do with the content. The song is another one with an absolutely mind-intoxicating beat that gets stuck in your brain hole and won’t leave. The group is pretty much faceless, because the artist chose to remain anonymous and be replaced by cartoon characters that are the face of the group. This song has a really eerie feel to it, with squeaks and growls and other various sounds strewn about the track. It makes it feel like it could be the theme song to a haunted house in that really hip and with it neighborhood in the ‘burbs. Its a track that really has no home. Its all over the place as far as they style goes, but I guess if I had to place a genre on it i’d say its “Rap-ternative”. It’s an alternative hip-hop kind of track because most of the lyrics are spoken word in the hip-hop style, but there’s also sung lyrics for the chorus and like I said, the production makes it feel like something other-worldly. The Gorillaz are certainly in a category all on their own, and this song opened them up to the masses in a gigantic way.

    8. Franz Ferdinand “Take Me Out”

    Madden NFL Football” is my favorite franchise in video game history. As revolutionary and joyful it was to pull a drive by on some fools or punch a random person on the street in a “Grand Theft Auto” game or how satisfying it is to stick some Alien-being with a sticky grenade or snipe some noobs from across the map in “Halo”, there is nothing like Madden. No other product, let alone video game, would have me at a store at midnight and drafting my fantasy squad deep into the night like the king of the obvious , John Madden’s brain-child. This probably seems like a meaningless rant, but it will make sense soon enough. Madden 2005 was a big game. It introduced to me one of my favorite innovations in gaming, the “Hit Stick”, and also introduced to me one of my favorite groups, Franz Ferdinand. Madden soundtracks are known for being wide-ranging in genre and the ‘05 version was no exception. “Take Me Out” was a standout track on that musical line up. I can vividly remember going through the menus with the intro to the song blaring, the bass line setting up the scene and bringing you into the moment until the guitar drops in and really gets into a great experience of a song. There are barely any lyrics in the song and it is extremely repetitive, but thats part of the magic of it all. The guitar lick alone is worth a listen in my opinion, but be careful, because it will get stuck in your cranium for quite some time. Franz is one of those bands that has a very similar sound to most of their songs, but being that this was their coming out party and that it had such a good pedestal to launch their career with in Madden, “Take Me Out” far up and above the rest.

    7. N*E*R*D “Lapdance”

    Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo are the members of the uber-succesful production team “The Neptunes”. Name an artist from the past 20 years and they have probably produced a track for them and Pharrell, in his his high falsetto voice, probably sung the hook. From hip-hop acts like like Jay-Z, T.I. And Busta Rhymes to pop stars like Brittney Spears, N’Sync and No Doubt, your favorite artist has either worked with the Neptunes, or wishes they could. When you’re that successful and are behind the scenes of countless hit singles for all kinds of big name talent, you might want a piece of the lime light yourself. Enter the N*E*R*D experiment. Williams and Hugo brought along friend Shay Haley to form this indescribable group and hit the scene with “Lapdance”. Now the name of the track may sound a bit dirty, grungy and/or seedy, and thats probably because it is. The funny thing is, there is a distinct political message in the song amongst the ruckus and chaos. That message is simple: Politicians are hookers, selling their services to the highest bidder for positions of power. Its a subtle dig that maybe i’m over-analyzing, but its what I interpret from the song nonetheless. Like the Gorillaz, N*E*R*D is a genre defying group you can’t place a finger on, and this first single shows that. The main lyrics are delivered with the dulcet tones of Pharrell’s voice, but with an extremely gritty subject matter. Listen to this: “It’s a raw night. Who wants to bar fight? Well come on alright. And I dare a mother f***** to come in my face”. Thats not the words of a happy go lucky producer who sits in the background, those are the words of a thug, straight up. Pharrell may not be the most imposing man in the world, but with lyrics like this, who would mess with him? Not I, said this blogger…

    6. John Legend “Used To Love U”

    MTV Jams” on digital cable used to be, for lack of a better term, my jam, back in my high school days. I’d watch that channel all day long, looking for videos from my favorite acts. Regular MTV only played 30 second clips with screaming pre-teens interspersed throughout on TRL, so “Jams” was my only chance to see good videos with artist I liked. I can remember watching this channel one morning before school, I believe I was in 9th or 10th grade at the time. A video by a new artist named John Legend came on my TV. It looked like a gospel song for a second, which is cool, don’t get me wrong, but just wasn’t what I would call an “MTV Jam” really. As the video went on there were some soulful and deep gospel feelings to the beat, but thats where the comparisons to gospel music ended. The lyrics formed a tale of a man, trying his best to keep his lady-friend happy, by any means necessary. This man was willing to rob someone to keep his significant other happy, but even that was not enough for his greedy jezebel (sorry for the old-person language, but thats all I could think to use to describe this insatiable, probably fictional woman). John was pouring out his soul to his lady, with lyrics like “Baby when I used to love you, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do. I went through the fire for you, but i’m not gonna play the fool”. He’s saying he wants to appease his significant other, but he’s not Superman. There’s only so much one man can do. I think all men, and probably some women who can relate to his pain. This song stuck with me and I like to think I was a fan before John’s grammy award winning days. Sometimes its good to be a hipster, especially when it comes to quality music like what Mr. Legend puts out.

    5. Eminem “My Name Is”

    The next two songs on the list may not be my favorite debuts, but are probably my favorite two opening lines of debut songs that I can remember. We start off the big time beginning lines with one of my top two favorite rappers of all time. Eminem has the ability to turn and rap into an all out blitz on someone he has beef with or create a love ballad to his daughter, and just about anything in-between. This song is in that middle area of his musical genius. Many of his singles are extremely poppy and i’m almost positive are made only because his record company said to him, “Look Marshall, you’re flipping crazy. Give us something we can promote you with and get you out there to the public without them feeling like you will murder them and everyone they love”. I think “My Name Is” is in that mold of radio friendly singles with an infectious beat and catchy hook, but is not as gimmicky as some of his other singles. Now back to this beginning line business. Here is that gem of an opener I was talking about: “Hi kids! Do you like violence? Wanna see me stick Nine Inch Nails through each one of my eyelids? Wanna copy me and do exactly like I did? Try ‘cid and get f***** up worse that my life is?”. Wah-wah-wee-wah! How do you begin your career with lyrics like that? In 4 lines he pissed off parents who don’t like violence, threatened to self-mutilate himself and talked about substance abuse and how jacked up his existence is. If thats not enough to get your attention then you must have no type of filter on your brain at all, and in that case you and Em are the same person. Slim Shady has pissed off more rappers, singers, actors, and politicians than Howard Stern could ever dream of. And he started it off from the jump with a song that gave white rappers street cred, helped many teens upset their parents and kind of rejuvenated Dr. Dre’s career after finding the diamond in Detroit. Em has never been shy with sharing his personal life in the public through his music or just public speaking, and that is why so many people feel so connected with him. He has no problem talking about the stuff you may be going through and helping you deal with it, and it all began with us figuring out his name.

    4. Rick Ross “Hustlin’”

    Who the f*** you think you f*****’ with, i’m the f***** boss!”. Well now that I know you are in fact “The Boss” I will not be messing with you Mr. Ross. A good day to you sir. Really? You kick off a career with one of the most braggadocios, rugged and just plain bad-ass lines in the history of music? Good for you man. “The Teflon Don” gave us my all time favorite first words of a song ever. Period. I just love the cajones it takes to pull off a move like that. You either just don’t care what any one thinks about you so you can brag all you want or you’re too full of yourself and need a reality check. Ross is the former. If you were an ex-correction officer, possible drug dealer even to this day, and a hit maker on top of all of that, would you care what anyone thought about you? Being a big black guy in the mold of Ricky Rozay, I love the confidence this man exudes. Between him and Christopher “Big Black” Boykins I have all the role models I need to be the coolest, most boss-like big black guy there is. Now back to the actual song itself. It works because of the simplest hook in the history of the rap game. It is literally 3 words long: “Everyday i’m hustlin’”. This has become the motto for people all over, from athletes out on the courts or fields sporting it up to folks on their daily 9-5 grind who are looking for some motivation to get through the day. Its crazy how those 3 little words can have such an impact on the psyche of a person to get them through the task at hand. Besides the chorus there are some pretty clever lines in the song. My favorite part is this: “Don’t tote no twenty-twos, Magnum cost me twenty-two. Sat it on them twenty-twos, birds go for twenty-two. Lil’ mama super thick, she say she twenty-two. She seen them twenty-twos, we in room two twenty-two.” Those are the lyrics of a serious raper with some seriously intricate word play skill. Ross is one of the best in the game right now. You want a hit, you put him on your track and presto, instant fire. It all began with just a little bit of hustle…

    3. Clipse “Grindin’”

    Going back to the “Neptunes have worked with everyone” theory, Pharrell and Co. produced the hell out of this track here for fellow Virginians Malice and Pusha T. “Grindin’” came out like a bear with a beat that still to this day may be one of the most simple and amazing Pharell and chad have ever made. I still find myself banging my knuckles on a wall or a table and making that all too familiar knocking sound that the Clipse rapped over. Did I say rapped? I should have said “Created a Scarface like persona in the public eye”, because that is exactly what these cats did. All these guys do is talk about pushing weight all day, every day, even on Sunday. I mean Jay-Z has moved “On To The Next One” when it comes to talking about being a street pharmacist, will Clipse ever make that change? Nope. Wanna know why? Cause thats all they know about, thats why, and I doubt they will ever try to change. I can remember when this song came out it was right around the time when I got a stereo for my room, which was the coolest addition I could have had to my room. Now I could annoy my mom and dad with loud booming music and not just listen to my tunes quietly via headphones. The system came with a recording cassette tape deck (if you’re younger than me you man not know what that is, but trust me, it was cooler than an ipod), and I was all about dubbing radio tracks to tapes. For whatever reason I could not catch the Clipse from the beginning of the song, and who wants to hear the song a minute in? You already missed Pharrell introducing his VA boys and the “I’m yo Pusha” line, so whats the point? At the time Power 99 was the only station that mattered to me and I remember hearing that they were going to do a recap of all of the best songs of the year on New Years Eve. So I sat in my room and taped the entire show. Cool huh? I got plenty of repeat songs I already had, and songs I never wanted in the first place. Every time I had to switch a tape I feared in that few seconds i’d miss Grindin’ that quick. Finally it came on as the best song of the year and I could not agree more. I got the tape, and blasted that bad boy all throughout the new year, cause thats the way to grind.

    2. Musiq Soulchild “Just Friends (Sunny)”

    I was brought up listening to smooth R&B and artists like Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and others. Being a Philly boy, I am of course a big fan of good old-fashioned R&B from the city of brotherly love. And that is exactly what you get when it comes to the music of Musiq. Musiq Soulchild, or just Musiq if your nasty (thats a bad Janet Jackson joke, if you don’t get it look up “Nasty” by JJ), fits that mold of being a throwback, classic type of artist. He actually writes his own songs (a serious rarity and something that is overlooked now a days) and he can legitimately sing without the use of studio magic. His first single “Just Friends (Sunny)” is a true love story, and when I say story I mean a full on journey of a song. It starts off with a little beat boxing by Musiq himself, and that sets the mood for a chilled out, relaxed track that sits you down on its lap like grandpa and tells you about how he and grandma fell in love. Each line unfolds the story of a guy who meets a girl, likes her style, and just wants to know more about her. He’s not trying to be overly aggressive, not looking to overwhelm her, just wants to hang out for a while. The title of the track itself says it all, he just wants to be friends, no pressure. The chorus tell the story: “I’m not trying to pressure you, just can’t stop thinkin’ ‘bout you. You ain’t even really gotta be my girlfriend. I just wanna know your name. And maybe some time, we can hook up, hang out, just chill” Its the kind of song that shows that real gentlemen are still around and that guys aren’t only about “That Thing” as Lauryn Hill calls it. It may be sappy, it may go back to being emo like Cudi and Drake, but its genuine, and you have to appreciate that.

    1. Lupe Fiasco “Kick Push”

    Rap music is something I get. The lyrics, the beats, the beefs, and everything else that comes along with it is not necessarily relatable to me, but i’ve been listening to it for a while now. Going from only owning Will Smith’s “Big Willie Style” when I was about 10 to now having an itunes library chocked full of thousands of un-edited songs by various artists, I have come to know and love the genre. There is a certain swagger that comes about with this music though. A majority of artists are cocky, from the streets and have seen some stuff in their lives that i’d rather not deal with. Lupe Fiasco somewhat fits into that mold, but at the same time, he is a rebel to the cause that is rap, in a good way. He doesn’t rap about jewelry, women or the streets…at least not in the traditional hip-hop sense. The only streets he talks about are the ones he skateboards around in his native Chi-town. Wait, what? You’re telling me he’s a skateboarding rapper? Or is he a rapping skateboarder? Either way, he is a different type of artist that blends two lifestyles, the hip hop crowd and the skateboarder scene. I remember the first time I heard this song. I was perusing MySpace (when it was relevant and if someone was in your top 8 they were your best friend) and I came across my friends page who had it as his profile music. I valued their judgement in music so I clicked play and it may have been one of the best decisions of my life. An orchestra plays you into the song which right away gives you the feeling that this is not just a song, its an experience. Lupe then hops on the track, by introducing himself to the world and dedicating this one to his ‘homies’ out there grinding “legally and illegally” (meaning those out on the streets figuratively grinding to make money and those who are literally grinding their skateboards up and down the rails). You can really tell that he lived the life of a boarder, fell in love with that way of life and wanted to share this with the hip-hop crowd. The story has a humble beginning with a boy who can’t even stand up on his board. As he learns the ropes he talks about the feeling of freedom he gets from riding: “He said it was somethin’ so appealing, couldn’t fight the feelin’, Somethin’ about it. He knew he couldn’t doubt it, couldn’t understand it. Branded, since his first kickflip he landed”. I have never, nor do I ever plan on stepping foot on a skateboard, long board, or any kind of board, but I get a sense of the passion those who do ride all day and night have from Lupe’s lyrics. The song goes on to tell about the friends and females this particular border meets on his travels as he kicks and pushes his way around his neighborhood. Fiasco managed to blend the two counter cultures of skating and rap to create a song that bridges the gap.

I’ll be back. And I am back. For good!

“Hey, do you remember when that Rosebud guy had a blog?” “Yea, he was always talking about sports or something like that, it was stupid…” This is how I feel people felt when I took my first step into writing about a year or so ago. I mean honestly, who wants to hear another dude whining and crying about sports? There are plenty of people out there getting paid buku bucks to spit their opinion at you about Tim Tebow or Tiger Woods and a plethora of other athletes you might not give two craps about. I feel ya, I feel ya. I don’t always want to talk sports, other things intrigue me as well. I enjoy music, television, movies, food, a nice glass of scotch, and my friend Baxter here (oh wait, I just Burgundy-ed, my bad. Scratch the scotch and Baxter talk). I’m re-opening this blog to talk about probably everything, including sports because that is my wheel house. Later today I will throw out my first non-sports related blog entitled “Divine Debuts” (I really like alliterations, so you’re gonna have to deal with that). It will be about my favorite breakthrough performances by musical artist in my time, so basically anything 1998 and on will fit into that category. So if you like stuff, and I mean a wide variety of stuff, of if you like me, which I mean who couldn’t, look out for my posts from time to time. Basically whenever I get the urge to let my fingers do some talking and throw my opinion about a topic out there. Any suggestions on what I could write about in the future would be greatly appreciated. Welcome back to the ManePhesto people, hopefully this time it’s a dynasty, not a passing fad…

9) The NNFP (Non-National Favorite Player)

"Finally, they put Athlete X in the game. He’s not the fastest, not the strongest not even the smartest player really, but for some reason I love it when he comes into the game. He has to be my Non-National Favorite Player

Professional sports are based off of excellence. Only the top percentage of Football, Basketball, Baseball and Hockey players make it into the league in the first place. Then, the top five or ten percent of those players become super-stars. Those players are the ones who really drive their respective leagues. The Peyton Manning’s, LeBron James’, Alex Rodriguez’s and Sidney Crosby’s of the world are nationally, and in some cases, globally recognized figures that transcend the sport and enter into the realm of not only being athletes, but being pop-culture icons as well. I mean, Manning has hosted ‘Saturday Night Live’, LeBron has been in commercials as a puppet and pulled an Eddie Murphy from ‘Nutty Professor’ and played an entire family of ballers, A-Rod has dated Madonna, Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz and Sid the Kid was booking GQ photo shoots before even playing in an NHL game. You don’t get these type of opportunities if you ride the pine. These are the players that make the game exciting and make the casual fan watch a game even if they don’t care about the teams participating or even if they don’t like the sport. The stars are essential to the success of the game on the field and off. They can’t do it alone though, and the real Phan knows that. That is why every real Phan has his favorite under the radar player who they know is as important or more important to the team as the celebrity-dating, endorsement-signing superstars they play second fiddle to.

The “NNFP’s”, as I have so cleverly named them, are the players that fans know get the job done. Rarely are they the flashy players, although sometimes they are your favorite because they provide the energy that can spark up a rally when put in the game. Usually they are the guys who come in the game, play solid defense, solid offense and make a difference in the game. Then when the game is over, and the media is interviewing the star player for a sound bite, the NNFP heads to the locker room, not having to brag about it his contributions, because all he did was his job. It’s like the guy who plays the Bass in your favorite band (except for Flea from ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers’, and people mostly know him because he’s crazy and was in ‘The Big Lebowski’). Almost no one ever cares about the bassist and who he really is, but without him the band would not be the same. All of your favorite songs would be lacking the heartbeat that pulls everything together, and that is what the NNFP provides.

My favorite NNFP would have to be Aaron McKie of the 76ers. First off he was a Philly boy, born and raised in the city. He went to Simon Gratz (also the Alma Mater of everyone’s favorite hot-head, Rasheed Wallace), and then played for Philly legend John Chaney at Temple University (Alma Mater of everyone’s favorite pudding pusher, Bill Cosby). Mckie came to the 6ers in the deal that also brought Theo Ratliff to Philly, and to this day is still one of my favorite trades in the history of Philly sports. McKie came in and was right off the bat a good addition to the team, as a great spot up shooter and defender. His real value came to fruition in the teams 2000-2001 NBA finals run, where he played a vital role in getting the team through the season. He was the primary back-up to Allen Iverson and Eric Snow and was almost always in the line-up at the end of games for defensive purposes. His biggest contribution to the team was in the playoffs, where he was turned into the terminator of the other teams big-time perimeter scorer. In consecutive playoff series, McKie guarded Reggie Miller, Vince Carter, Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant. At least three of those four are hall-of-famers, with a slight possibility for Carter to get the honor. All four were close to the prime of their careers at the time. McKie had to defend all four of these players for 23 straight games in the playoffs, and did it about a well as humanly possible. McKie would win the Sixth Man award for his contributions off the bench, while Allen Iverson won the MVP for that season. In my opinion, McKie was the MVP of the playoffs, at least for the defensive assignments he took on throughout the post-season. It was obviously Iverson’s team that season, and he deserved all the accolades he got, but in the grand scheme of things, Aaron McKie was as important to that season as ‘The Answer’ was.

Examples: Aaron McKie, Doug Glanville, Duce Staley

Percentage: 99% that there is someone on the team not know to the rest of the country that you know is as important to the team as the star is.

The mecca for all Philadelphia Phans. Wingbowl. Created by WIP talk show hosts Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti, it is a way for the eternally frustrated Eagles fans to still have fun Superbowl weekend, by watching large men eat copious amounts of buffalo wings while hot chicks parade around cheering them on.

The mecca for all Philadelphia Phans. Wingbowl. Created by WIP talk show hosts Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti, it is a way for the eternally frustrated Eagles fans to still have fun Superbowl weekend, by watching large men eat copious amounts of buffalo wings while hot chicks parade around cheering them on.

8) Hate The Haters

"Oh No. My Philly team is having their game announced by Announcer X/is being talked about by Analyst Y. He always talks down my team for no apparent reason, and always has some smart comment to say against us. I can’t even listen to him talk without wanting to punch things. That’s why I always Hate The Haters

It’s a few months after football season is over. You finally forgave the Eagles for their perennial collapse, and you are all ready to invest your heart and soul into the next group that will more than likely break your spirits at the end of the season. You hear that the NFL schedule is coming out, and like every season you go through the schedule, checking off the probable wins, losses and a few toss ups that could go either way. Upon further investigating, you look to see which are the prime time games that will be on the schedule. You want to see when the rest of the world will get to see your team in action and you and your Phellow Phans get a chance to brag to the nation if you win. Or formulate some excuses if you lose. Then you remember. All the Fox 4 o’clock, prime time games will be announced by the team of Troy Aikman and Joe Buck. Aikman, even though he was the QB for the hated Cowboys and cause you plenty of heartache by himself in the past, is not the problem. That distinction belongs to Joe freaking Buck.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Buck is a cool guy outside of his work, and he seems to be pretty down to earth. As an announcer though, he needs some work. Let me re-phrase that, he needs to be resuscitated because he seems to be on the verge of death when he is in the booth. He may be the least excitable play by play guy to ever pick up a microphone. The same infliction and tone comes from him and whether someone just committed a holding penalty or just ran a kickoff back after jukeing 8 guys out of their shoes and socks and running over the kicker on the way to a 108 yard kickoff return. It’s almost like he is emotionless. In fact the only time he ever seems to get up in arms about anything is when he is yelling at an Eagle for a play he thought was dumb or unnecessary. That’s it. Otherwise he is Robo-Joe. I have talked with plenty of other Phans about this and they agree with me. Buck only seems to raise his voice when he yells when an Eagles Linebacker for a facemask penalty or when an Eagles receiver drops a pass. I may be overly critical but that’s just what I hear whenever I listen to him announce an Eagles game. I will admit though, that this past season Buck has been a bit more excitable on some plays. Someone high up at Fox probably gave Aikman a cattle prod to poke Buck and wake him up when something big happens. Even if he does improve to get to be on the level a of Gus Johnson (who was an Eagles play-by-play guy in the pre-season a few years ago and I think has a Red Bull I.V. during a game he is so excitable), he still could not make up for the atrocity he committed in announcing the final out of the Phillies 2008.

The 2008 World Series was the one and only Championship I have experienced, and I cherish it as much as just about anything else I have in life. Then again, I’m only 22 and the only thing that compares would probably be finally beating M. Bison in Street Fighter II when I was about 9, but its still a big deal. I still remember that week vividly, because it was Homecoming week, Halloween week and Championship week, all rolled into one. Me and some friends went down to the stadium that Monday the game was supposed to be played, without tickets, just so we could possibly experience the city in Championship celebration mode. It just wasn’t meant to be though as the game was raid delayed half-way through, so I would have to wait another two days to experience the win. So I settled for the Fox broadcast that Wednesday instead. Guess who was on that announcing crew. Yup, Joe Buck. The game re-started with a bang, when Geoff Jenkins hit a lead-off double and eventually scored on a Jayson Werth single. From then on it was a set of emotions I had never experienced before and have not experienced since. Eventually the final out was at the plate and “Mr. Perfect” (for that year), Brad Lidge was on the mound, ready to wrap up the ring for us. The anticipation of that had me hovering over my seat and as I saw that last pitch and swing, I jumped about 24 feet in the air. I tried to savor that moment as well as I could: the joy, the relief the triumph and everything else that came with it. For some reason one of the biggest things I remember about that last out though was Joe Buck, sounding like a computer text-to-speech program saying, “the Philadelphia Phillies have won the World Series”. That will forever taint my memory of that moment, and for that I don’t think I will ever enjoy listening to Joe Buck again. It made it even worse when I saw the video of Harry Kalas and Chris Wheeler in the booth when that same pitch was thrown and swung over. Kalas, like he always did, made the perfect call of “And the Philadelphia Phillies are the 2008 Word Champions of Baseballllllllllll!”. Wheels was in the background of the shot, uppercutting and punching the air, seemingly knocking out the anti- championship monkey that was on Philadelphia’s back for a quarter century. Watching that made me feel like I had been gypped out of hearing Kalas announce that strikeout. Instead I got Buck. Just my Luck.

Examples: Joe Buck, Merrel Hodge, Chris Collinsworth, Bill Walton

Percentage: 90% chance that there is some announcer or analyst that you hate because they they hate your team.

This kid has obviously been born and bred to be a Philly Phan…

This kid has obviously been born and bred to be a Philly Phan…

7) Phormer Athlete Phallout

"Tomorrow will be the first time Athlete X comes back to Philly since the trade/free agent signing. Everyone loved him when he was here so I expect there to be a nice ovation when he step out for the first time. Then again, you never know. I guess we will have to see what the PHAN ATHLETE PHALLOUT will be”

Whenever a beloved, hated, disgruntled or over-paid athlete finally cuts ties with a team in Philadelphia, there is always that major question that goes through the minds of Phans: “How will it be when he comes back into town?”. It’s also the biggest question the media asks once next season’s schedule comes out and the game’s date is circled. The answer to that question all depends on the athletes time in the city, and can be broken down into three categories. Most athletes, if they did their job right, didn’t piss off people too much and were liked, will get a nice standing ovation. Those are the guys like Jim Thome and Jeremy Roenick. They both played well in the town, but didn’t start or build their careers in Philly. It’s not a knock on them, just a fact. The guys who fit this profile are loved in the town, but didn’t become stars while we watched. They just don’t have the town’s heart as much as the next stage of guys.

The all-stars who built a career in Philly, left and came back are the ones who get the biggest cheer upon re-arrival. Guys like your Allen Iverson’s and Brian Dawkins’ will get an ovation that will pretty much shut the stadium or arena down, because these are the athletes that really became big while playing in Philadelphia. When you spend close to or more than a decade in Philly and became legends right in front of out eyes, we have a special place in the hearts of a Phan. They played the game like it should be played, with passion and emotion to spare. These are the “Rocky” figures that, just like Balboa, are revered in the town as local gods, get showered in praise and no matter how messy or weird their departure might have been, are always welcomed back.

The last category includes the Darth Vaders of Philadelphia. You know, the guys who went over to the “Dark Side”, seemingly just to spite the Phans, not because our girlfriend was killed. These were the players who complained and complained until they got their ticket out of Philly. Some of them just plain didn’t want to be here in the first place. The J.D. Drew’s and Terrell Owens’ of the Philly sports world fit into this category. So much promise, just not enough heart to stick around. And when these guys come back into town, their mommas ears hurt because of the boos. They get boo-ed down to the very core of their bodies. I’m talking about the bone-chilling, bassy boos that register on the Richter scale. And they deserve the hell out of it.

Now there are a lot of cities that have an athlete leave on bad terms. The most recent victim of the “Baller Bailout” is Cleveland. the perpetrator: “Mr. Decision” himself, LeBron James. His move to south beach may have been one of the worst to ever happen, because of the history Lebron has with the town, being basically from right down the street, and him drawing out his departure to the agonizing dismay of Cavs fans all summer long. Watching that situation unfold was like watching an old school gangster flick. The type, where one of the characters is acting really shady, but you like him and never think that he could be the bad guy in the end. Once it comes time for everything to hit the fan though, you find out he was the traitor all along, and are heart-broken for those done wrong. LeBron did that entire state wrong, not just a family of mobsters. And in this instance, Cleveland knew what is was like for me and my Phellow Phans from 2004-2006 with the Philadelphia Eagles and “The Player”.

It all starts with the 2003 NFC Championship game, which was very possibly the most depressing game in the history of my Phandome. This was the game after the miraculous “4th and 26” victory over the Green Bay Packers (I still thank Fred-Ex’s hands for being so great for that play, but I digress). The Eagles then had a home game against the Carolina Panthers, a team that we beat earlier in the season pretty handily in their place, so this was just a formality. I should have know though that there is no such thing as a formality when it comes to Philadelphia. The Eagles got beat down, and for a 3rd straight year, the season ended with extreme disappointment in the Championship game. It was time for a change at that point. The Phans knew, the analyst knew it and luckily Andy Reid and the rest of the Eagles higher-ups did too.

Next off-season after that debacle of a game against the Panthers, the Eagles got busy in free agency. The first splash was bringing in “The Freak”, Jevon Kearse. Big move, but the defense was not the major problem in that Championship game. The problem was that our receivers were man-handled like a drunk dude getting tossed from a club after causing a scene. They needed receivers who could get off the press, run down field, catch the damn ball, make a guy miss and then take it the distance. There were only a handful of guys at the time who were able to do this, and just our luck, the Birds were able to scoop one up in “The Player”, Terrel Owens. T.O. came in and right off the bat made an impression on the Phans. He was flashy, cocky, goofy, but most importantly, he was pretty freaking good. James, Trash Who? Todd Stinkston, what? We didn’t need anyone else but McNabb to T.O.. That combo worked all season long, up until when Roy Williams, the fat Cowgirls safety, broke T.O.’s leg in the second to last game of the regular season. Long story a bit shorter, he missed the playoffs, came back in the Superbowl after the Eagles got there without him, but wasn’t enough to help them beat the Patriots. It was O.K. though, we had T.O. for a few more seasons we had time to win one. Yea, good one. Like it could be that easy for us.

The next off-season brought us the infamous Drew Rosenhaus “Next Question” press conference in Terrel’s front yard. Reason being? Terrel wanted more money. He was greedy, and he knew we really needed him to make it to the next level and finally win the big one. What he didn’t know was that the Eagles do not negotiate with terrorists…I mean athletes. So, nothing got worked out. From there, T.O. destroyed the next season, got himself suspended halfway through the year, then got himself dropped and picked up by the hated Dallas Cowboys. Now T.O. is 3 teams, 2 television shows and a possible suicide attempt down since leaving the Eagles, and the Eagles have not been the same either since the break up. I am over it, because T.O. is a charismatic guy and him teaming up with one of my favorite players, Chad Ochocinco, has made me tolerate him again. But he will never, ever be welcomed back in Philly. If he would have stayed and won us a ring, he would have been the King of the Castle. Instead, he’s just a mercenary who will never have a real home. His loss. He could have been the one. Instead, he’s just another one that got away.

Examples: Jeremy Roenick, Jim Thome, Allen Iverson, Brian Dawkins, Terrel Owens, J.D. Drew

Percentage: about a 70% chance in the free agency period that your favorite or one of your best athletes left and came back to one of the three reactions.

For who? My teammates. For what? To win.
Aaron Rowand. Based off of Ricky Watters’ famous quote. One reason Aaron Rowan will probably never have to pay for a beer in Philadelphia, even if he did leave us for San Fran…