Is The Drought Over?

The Philadelphia Soul beat the San Jose SaberCats in the Arena Bowl yesterday. That makes the Soul the champions of the Arena League. The last team in Philly to win a championship was the Sixers in 1983 with Moses Malone and Dr. J. So, the interesting question now for sports fans in Philly is this:

    Does the success of the Soul mean that the championship drought in Philly is over?

As NFL teams head for training camp and there is rampant optimism for the upcoming season in at least 20 of the 32 NFL cities, may I inject a note of reality here to point out the continued excellence of the New England Patriots over the period 2001 – 2007. Before anyone gets their knickers in a knot about the Pats success vis a vis “the tuck rule” and “Spygate” and a bunch of other things that might distract you from facts, please consider:

    1. From 2001-07, the Pats won the AFC East six times. The only year they did not make the playoffs in that span (2002), they tied for first in the AFC East but the Jets got in on a tiebreaker.

    2. In April of this year, the Pats had a draft pick in the top ten because they traded to get it. The last time the Pats had a top-ten draft pick based on where they finished in the league was in 2001. [They took Richard Seymour with that pick and that helped them more than a little bit.]

    3. From 2001 to 2007, the Pats won 86 games; no one else did that.

    4. From 2001 to 2007, the Pats were in the AFC Championship Game five times and were in the Super Bowl four times.

    5. In their AFC Championship Game loss to Indy (2006), they lost in the final minute of play. In their Super Bowl loss to the Giants (2007), they lost in the final 40 seconds.

This record does not match success of the five NFL Championships by the Lombardi Packers from 1961 – 1967, but it does come awfully close…

When training camps were about to open, Terry Glenn and Lamont Jordan were released by the Cowboys and Raiders. Jordan was not on the market long; the Pats signed him about 24 hours later. It will be interesting to see if Jordan’s game gets the same boost upon going from the Raiders to the Pats that Randy Moss’ game did…

The Chargers cut WR Eric Parker; they said he got caught up in a numbers game. Parker missed last season with a foot injury that he is still in the process of rehabbing. However, assuming that it heals and he can return to form, Parker might be a worthwhile acquisition for a team needing another WR. Prior to his injury, Parker averaged 50 catches per year and more than 12 yards per catch. Those may not be Hall of Fame numbers, but there are not a lot of WRs in their 20s who are available with those kinds of numbers on their résumé.

Speaking of Hall of Fame numbers, the first game of the Exhibition Season will be the Hall of Fame game this Sunday between the Redskins and the Colts. That makes me think that the Hall of Fame balloting ought to be very interesting in 2012 because Michael Strahan and Warren Sapp will be on the ballot then for the first time. I have heard lots of people say both are sure-fire first ballot inductees and anyone who has watched NFL games for the last decade has to realize that Michael Strahan was a dominant defensive end for a decade and Warren Sapp was a dominant defensive tackle for a decade. But let me channel Lee Corso here and say, “Not so fast, my friend.” Consider:

    Chris Doleman also had a fifteen-year career in which he had 9 more sacks, 20 more forced fumbles, 9 more recovered fumbles and 4 more interceptions than did Strahan. Chris Doleman has yet to make the final cut for Hall of Fame consideration.

    Kevin Greene had 20 more sacks in his career than did Strahan. Greene has been passed over five times for Hall of Fame induction.

    Charles Haley has five Super Bowl rings and he has not made it into the Hall of Fame yet. He has been eligible since 2004.

I suspect that Strahan’s presence in the media over the next five years will aid his cause a lot since the electors are media folks too.

It might also be interesting to see how the media voters treat Warren Sapp in his first year of eligibility. Sapp was known as a “go-to guy” for interviews and candor. He was also a really good defensive tackle for much of his career making the “all-decade team of the 1990s” and eight Pro Bowls. He was Defensive Player of the Year in 1999. Now let me channel Stephen A. Smith and say, “HOW – EVAH”…

    Cortez Kennedy was also on the “all-decade team of the 1990s” as a defensive tackle and Kennedy also was selected for the Pro Bowl in eight different seasons. Kennedy was also NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992. Cortez Kennedy has never been a finalist for the Hall of Fame since he became eligible in 2003.

Finally, here is an interesting viewpoint on Bill Belichick from Scott Ostler in the SF Chronicle:

“Hasn’t Bill Belichick earned the benefit of the doubt? How do we know he wasn’t filming all those other coaches to steal fashion tips?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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