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Phil Inquirer: Eagles reach end of rocky road with Mitchell...Good Postmortem


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Philly fans continue to hold these good news stories from us...:D


Eagles reach end of rocky road with Mitchell

By Bob Brookover, Inquirer Staff Writer

They were all wrong about Freddie Mitchell.

That much is obvious now that the "People's Champion" has officially been stripped of the title of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver.

In a move that surprised only the oblivious, the Eagles released Mitchell yesterday afternoon. They made the announcement with a two-paragraph e-mail that included a quote from coach Andy Reid.

"We appreciate everything Freddie has contributed to the Eagles organization over the last four years," Reid said. "By releasing him now, it gives him the opportunity for a new start with another team in the NFL."

No one from the Eagles was available to be questioned on Mitchell's release, and attempts to reach the normally talkative wide receiver were not successful. The silence was ironic considering that Mitchell's mouth ultimately signed his Eagles death certificate four years after the team made him its No. 1 draft pick in 2001.

Everyone was talking back then, and now we know that what they were saying was all wrong.

Reid on draft day 2001: "He has the intangibles that you look for."

It's safe to say that Reid regrets that statement about Mitchell, unless he truly was looking for that intangible in which a wide receiver taken in the first round never moves higher than No. 3 on the depth chart.

It's also hard to imagine that the coach fell in love with the trash-talking intangible that infuriated New England safety Rodney Harrison before the Eagles' Super Bowl loss to the Patriots and alienated many of his teammates this off-season.

Reid was concerned about that part of Mitchell's personality four years ago. Concerned enough that he made a trip to UCLA for lunch with Mitchell and a conversation with some of the Bruins' offensive linemen.

"Linemen won't lie to you," Reid said after the Eagles drafted Mitchell. "They loved him."

Reid was one offensive lineman who never truly fell in love with Mitchell. Last week, during the team's minicamp, Reid cordially invited Mitchell not to attend.

The Eagles, of course, were ultimately wrong about Mitchell. After acquiring star quarterback Donovan McNabb with their first-round choice in 1999 and eventual Pro Bowl defensive tackle Corey Simon with their first-round choice in 2000, the Eagles' draft duo of Reid and then-personnel chief Tom Modrak erred with the selection of Mitchell.

The Indianapolis Colts got Reggie Wayne five picks after Mitchell, and he has 18 more career touchdowns and 1,841 more yards than Mitchell. The Cincinnati Bengals took Chad Johnson 11 picks later, and he has 20 more career touchdowns and 2,856 more yards. The Miami Dolphins got Chris Chambers 27 picks after Mitchell, and he has produced 23 more touchdowns and 2,210 more yards than Mitchell. The Carolina Panthers got Steve Smith 49 picks after Mitchell, and he's one of the top receivers in the league.

Mitchell, of course, was wrong, too.

His most memorable quote on draft day 2001: "I'm ready for the world to see me."

In his first two seasons in the NFL, he wasn't even ready to consistently step on the field. As a rookie, he caught just 21 balls for 283 yards and one touchdown. A year later, the Eagles decided he still wasn't ready to handle the role of the No. 3 receiver, prompting the team to sign veteran Antonio Freeman. Mitchell had 12 catches for 105 yards and no touchdowns.

Mitchell finally became the No. 3 receiver in his third season as he made 35 catches for 498 yards and two touchdowns, then contributed one of the most memorable plays in team history with a fourth-and-26 reception that eventually led to an overtime playoff victory against Green Bay.

With the arrival of Terrell Owens last season, Mitchell's numbers again declined and he became discontented with his role.

When he was drafted, Mitchell referred to Donovan McNabb as Mr. McNabb, and he often spoke in glowing terms about the Eagles' quarterback during his time here. But this off-season, he described the quarterback in far less flattering terms.

By then, it was obvious he was going to be playing elsewhere and, finally, FredEx was shipped out yesterday.

Next stop?

Tampa Bay, Denver, Washington and the New York Giants are all possibilities.

Training camp dates. The training camp reporting date at Lehigh University for Eagles rookies is July 29. Veterans are scheduled to report the evening of Aug. 1, with the first full-squad practice scheduled the following day. Camp at Lehigh ends Aug. 14 with a closed walk-through practice before the team's exhibition opener at Pittsburgh.

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