Jump to content
Washington Football Team Logo

Of Winners and Losers


Recommended Posts

...but mostly losers. And you wonder why there are so many obnoxious Philly fans. Myself excluded, of course. :D


Posted on Wed, Jun. 11, 2003

Stephen A. Smith | Others get winners; Philly gets questions

By Stephen A. Smith

Inquirer Columnist

Scott Stevens and the New Jersey Devils won another NHL title. Only 90 miles away, Philly fans have not seen a title in any sport in two decades.

Models aren't always on the cover of magazines filled with R-rated temptations. Sometimes, they are sports figures, individuals with character and principles, whose achievements culiminate with them hoisting trophies.

Just 90 miles up the road from Philadelphia, a city where teams contend but few ever care, a different ambience unfolded Monday night, even as a familiar event occurred.

Martin Brodeur was the toast of the town, just as he was three years ago. So was Scott Stevens, just as he was three years ago. Another Stanley Cup Finals ended and the New Jersey Devils finished as champions for the third time in nine years.

Translation: Less than half the amount of time since any professional team in this town last won anything.

If Flyers fans are bitter, don't knock 'em. Don't bother messing with 76ers' or Eagles' or Phillies' faithful either. At some point, it's fair for a paying customer to demand a level of excellence, particularly when shining examples are in close proximity.

Even as Anaheim's stellar goalie, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, cried his eyes out after the Mighty Ducks' 3-0 loss to the Devils in Game 7, through his disappointment that he couldn't win the title for his mother, suffering with Alzheimer's disease, he expressed his admiration for the Devils.

Brodeur is "probably the best [goalie] in the game," Giguere said. His teammates know about guys such as Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Jeff Friesen.

Evidently, you can have one of the league's worst power plays, reside in swamplands on the bad side of the Hudson River, have a goalie (Brodeur) and defenseman (Stevens) serve as your best weapons, have a marginal supporting cast, and still win titles.

So why can't Philadelphia enjoy similar success?

Why have the Flyers been unable to capture a title since 1975?

Why have the Sixers visited only one NBA Finals since 1983?

Why couldn't Mitch Williams handle Joe Carter in the 1993 World Series?

And why was Andy Reid so conservative offensively in last season's NFC championship game?

Why? Why? Why?

Such pleas could make any Philadelphia fan sound worse than one of the toddlers from a Huggies commercial. And worse, they couldn't be blamed.

Listen to the Devils: "This is so hard to win, and I never would have thought this would have happened again," Stevens said after the final victory. "We've built and worked hard as a team and we've got a lot of character and guys who work together. All year, we've found a way to win."

Impressively, I might add.

The Devils became only the seventh team in NHL history to win as many Cups in a 10-year span, and they did so without a payroll like that of the Flyers. They won with different coaches: in 1995 with Jacques Lemaire, with Larry Robinson in 2000, and now with Pat Burns.

The one constant has been Lou Lamoriello, the CEO/president/general manager who just finished his 16th season running the franchise. He is a man who is loved by the man who signs the checks, George Steinbrenner, who is infamous as owner of the Yankees.

Hard-nosed and disciplined with a no-nonsense approach, Lamoriello is a tireless competitor.

He's not known for overpaying players. (See Flyers.)

Only team members are allowed on team planes. (See Sixers.)

Everyone I've talked to calls the Devils a first-class organization, one that won't embarrass its talent and keeps everyone in line.

That includes following team rules, no tardiness, and adopting a bunker mentality, especially when it comes to keeping one's mouth shut.

If you're a journalist, Lamoriello is a nightmare. But we get into the games for free with great seats, so who cares?

Especially if the home teams are successful.

The Eagles under Reid can draw comparisons to the Devils because of his no-nonsense approach, but Hugh Douglas, Jeremiah Trotter and Duce Staley could have something to say about how the organization treats players.

The Phillies under Ed Wade appear calm, unemotional and look as if they have a plan. But someone could argue that the struggling David Bell may have been given too many years on his contract.

The Sixers need a coach before they can devise a plan.

So where does that leave Philadelphia? Probably with more questions.

Championship glory. What's the formula? We've asked for so long, but still can't find our way.

Sadly, it appears it was right up the turnpike all along.

Yet another view that isn't so pretty.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Philly has had some great sports teams in the past. In some cases the Philly fans haven't appreciated the teams and players until they were gone.

As a Lakers fan I remember the battles in the 1980, 1982 and 1983 NBA Finals with the Sixers. The 2001 edition just didn't have enough name talent on it to be memorable and fell apart the following season.

The Phillies had their time with the 'geezers' in 1980 and again in 1983. I think the 1993 Phillies team was a Cinderella that like the Mighty Ducks this year finally had the luck run out on them at the worst possible time, in Game 7 vs. Toronto.

Any objective assessment of the two teams, though, indicated tha the Jays were a much better club overall.

In football the Eagles have been close a number of times, but have failed at the doorstep, in 1980 and then again in 2001 and 2002. The problem for the Eagles was being in the toughest division in pro football from 1970-95. The NFC East produced 10 Super Bowl winners during that time.

The Eagles were up against Tom Landry, Joe Gibbs, Bill Parcells and Jimmy Johnson.

That's a pretty tall order when your coaches, outside of Vermeil, were guys like Buddy Ryan, Ray Rhodes and Rich Kotite :)

Reid made the Eagles a playoff contender. The question is does he have the stones to take the team over the top.

Right now, it appears Reid is stuck because to get over the hump he needs to make one or two big moves and TAKE SOME RISKS.

Reid has been risk-averse as a coach/GM and that has been his downfall.

With money under the cap, the Eagles each year watch other teams acquire the wide receivers, backs, and linebackers that would be ideal fits in Philadelphia.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Although, I gotta admire the Eagles ability to pick (or develop) cheap replacements, and get enough out of them to make the playoffs. Maybe they don't hang on to them after they develop, but they just go out and dig up another one.

They certainly know which Redskins to pick.

(But, they still suck). :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...