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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Talking On Radio Bad For Eagles Players' Future (Updated)

First it was Irving Fryar.

Next it was Brian Mitchell.

Then it was Ike Reese.

Followed by Jon Ritchie.

Now it's Hank Fraley's turn.

Interspersed among these noble men was Freddie Mitchell, the Mouth That (Occasionally) Scored, who didn't have a regular show but who appeared as often as he wanted on Howard Eskin's drive-time slot on WIP. The King of Bling hosting the King of Underachieving (for a first-round draft pick who liked talked about himself) -- a mutual lovefest.

The history is simple. Fryar had his own radio show (co-hosted by a WIP regular), admittedly was at the end of his career, and then was gone shortly thereafter. Mitchell had his own show (WIP), did well as a kick-return man, but left town two years ago after the Eagles only offered him a one-year deal (at age 37) and the Giants offered him a two-year deal. (Good move for the Eagles: Mitchell fared poorly with the Giants and ended up leaving pro football after only one season at the Meadowlands). Reese had his own show (WIP) played very well on special teams, was special teams captain, made the Pro Bowl last year, but essentially was the fifth linebacker in a 4-3 defense and, because he was an eight-year veteran, was compelled the Eagles to do a serious cost-benefit analysis in terms of the salary cap (in other words, he was replaceable with a less experienced and less costly player). The Eagles opted not to re-sign him after last season, and he is now in Atlanta, where he'll either show that the Eagles goofed or the Falcons did. Ritchie hurt his knee in the first game of the season last year, went on injured reserve, and lost his job to Josh Parry in the pre-season. The show, not on WIP, was well-hyped, and I'm sure neither the radio station nor the player felt good about the injury. Mitchell's history was well-documented. Cut before camp started, he signed with Kansas City, hurt his knee, refused the Chiefs' recommendation that he have surgery, and was cut, principally because the team didn't think his knee would hold out for an entire season. At 26, he may have very few NFL options left.

Enter Hank Fraley. He now has his own radio show, he's about 29, and for the Eagles once you hit thirty you're getting old. Offensive tackles Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas are 32 and 30 respectively, and the talk in Birdland is that one reason the Eagles are stockpiling their cap space is to use it in the off-season on free agents. (A side note: talks have broken off with Brian Westbrook on a contract extension, and reports are that there will be many free agent RBs after this season, which is probably why the cap-savvy Eagles did not feel a need to give Westbrook the kind of money he was seeking). Look for the Eagles to sign a veteran OL -- or two, in the off-season. The team just re-loads, it doesn't seem to need to re-build.

So what will Hank Fraley's future be?

Given the history of those who have had their own radio shows, the prediction here is that the Eagles will have a new center in the fall of 2006.

Update: (original posted on 9-9-2005): I read in this morning's papers that DT Sam Rayburn and LB Jason Short also will be alternating on a radio show on the Eagles' flagship station. As most of you know, T.O. has a radio show with Dan LeBatard. Speculation on WIP is that T.O. might not rock the Cradle of Liberty next year. Short is a special teams tough guy and backup LB, and Rayburn is in the DT rotation, and my guess is that the jinx just can't be that widespread. Still, we'll have to wait until after next year's training camp to know for sure.


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