NOT SO FAST

NFL’s popular theory on Watson takes a big public hit

NFL’s popular theory on Watson takes a big public hit
The Watson situation looks different in Philly. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Today on The Maury Povich Show:

"In the matter of 25-year-old Derrick Deshaun Watson …. Philadelphia Eagles, you ARE the team most likely to trade for the Houston Texans talented but troubled quarterback."

At least that's what we're hearing from national football pundits at ESPN, the NFL Network and Sports Illustrated.

It does make sense, if you're not plugged into the Philly sports scene. The Eagles seem to be the only team that has the trade capital the Texans are seeking for Watson: two first-round (possibly three) draft picks coming up, and a couple of veterans who might start for the Texans or at least make the squad.

But up in Philadelphia things look different. As Lee Corso would say, when it comes to Watson to the Eagles, not so fast, my friend.

I contacted my buddy Glen Macnow, veteran sports talk host on WIP Radio and co-author of several bestselling books including The Great Philadelphia Fan Book, The Great Book of Philadelphia Sports Lists, and children's biographies of Allen Iverson and Charles Barkley.

Macnow isn't known as "The Professor" in Philadelphia media for nothing.

I asked him, "In addition to rumors of Watson going to Philadelphia, we're also hearing that many teams won't touch him because it could be a public relations nightmare. Are the Eagles unconcerned about that? They did sign Michael Vick after he spent two years in prison for his involvement in an unimaginably cruel dog fighting ring. I'm thinking that the Eagles would sign Kim Jong Un if he could throw 60 yards on a frozen rope. What about it?"

Here's how Macnow sees the probability – or let's say improbability – of the Eagles emptying their first-round treasure chest to trade for Watson.

Macnow said, "I think you're incorrect. The Eagles did sign Vick. The owner (Jeffrey Lurie) initially disapproved but was talked into it by Andy Reid, whose own kids had gone through the criminal justice system. Reid argued that Lurie should believe in criminal rehabilitation. To Vick's credit, he really did seem a different person after imprisonment. He got involved in charities here and never again got into trouble."

"Watson is toxic right now. With Vick, there were no more surprises to arise. He had done his time and there were no pending cases. With Watson, who knows where this is going? One other factor, Jeff Lurie may not be a dog lover, but he got his doctorate in women's studies. He's a feminist. Watson's civil court accusations and potential criminal charges involving sexual misconduct go against everything Lurie has ever stood for. Next season, maybe, after all this plays out. Right now? I can't see it."

Like any hard-hitting investigative reporter, I followed up: so how come the national media keeps pushing the Eagles as Watson's likely landing spot? Surely those reporters know all this stuff about the Eagles and their owner.

Macnow: "The Eagles are always cited because of the Vick precedent. Carson Wentz is gone and a second-round untested quarterback (Jalen Hurts) has the keys to the car. The Eagles own two first-round picks, perhaps three if Wentz plays 75-percent of plays with Indy. It adds up, so reporters keep going with it. That doesn't make it true. Rumors come out for a lot of reasons. This could be Watson's agent floating it to reporters for all I know. And if Watson is suspended or goes on the NFL commissioner's exempt list, how does that help the Eagles? Anyway, that's what I've been telling my listeners. I've been incorrect before."

Macnow's resume is impressive. He made his mark writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, then moved to WIP Radio where he's a trusted voice of Philadelphia sports, and he's a respected author.

But his real claims to fame: Macnow grew up in Buffalo, and one summer his parents sent him to overnight summer camp. His camp counselor was Wolf Blitzer, anchor of The Situation Room on CNN.

And No. 1 on his LinkedIn resume (or should be), one of his first newspaper jobs was at Florida Today in Cocoa, where I also worked, and we lived in the same apartment building across the Banana River in Cape Canaveral. Rocket launches rattled our windows. That's when Macnow and I developed an insane habit, given our newspaper starting salaries, of attending jai alai matches in Melbourne. We occasionally snuck out from work at lunch to catch matinées at the fronton. Here's a jai alai betting tip. Don't box the 1-2-5-8, especially at the end of the month when your gas tank is on E and rent is due.

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against Seattle. Composite Getty Image.

The Astros were a season low 12 games under .500 (12-24) on May 8th but were able to turn things around and entered the All-Star break with a respectable 50-46 record.

The turnaround can be attributed to better performances on the field by a multitude of players, but there are still things that could be improved to ensure a successful second half of the season.

As it currently stands, Houston is only one game behind the Seattle Mariners in the American League West division race, and the Astros should have key players returning from injury to further bolster their playoff ambitions.

The return of the King

Kyle Tucker has been on the injured list with a shin contusion for six weeks now, and looks to return in the near future.

The Astros have done surprisingly well without their three-time All-Star outfielder thanks to contributions from guys like Joey Loperfido, Jake Meyers and Marcio Dubon in the outfield. Plus, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yanier Diaz and Jeremy Pena carrying the offense while King Tuck is away.

Before getting hurt, the 27-year-old was hitting .266/.395/.584 through 60 games. Houston already has one of the best offenses in baseball, and adding Tucker back would give the Astros another high-quality bat to further bolster their lineup.

The latest update is Tucker has been playing catch and could start a rehab assignment soon if all goes well.

Fix the rotation

Starting pitching has been a major issue this season due to a multitude of injuries.

Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and J.P. France have all been lost for the year with various surgeries and guys like Justin Verlander and Luis Garcia are trying to work their way back from their injured list stints.

Garcia was recently pulled from his rehab assignment and won’t pitch again until he is ready. Meanwhile, Verlander could be closer to his return and is throwing bullpen sessions as of July 14. Getting both of these pitchers back at some point this season will be a huge boost to this roster.

The current Astros’ rotation consists of Framber Valdez, Ronel Blanco, Hunter Brown, Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss. Although not a bad rotation by any means, the starting pitching depth is getting pretty thin and Houston can ill afford another injury to their staff.

Astros general manager Dana Brown has been vocal about his desire to add starting pitching, and could have some options heading into the trade deadline. Players like Jack Flaherty, Garrett Crochet or Yusei Kikuchi, just to name a few, could be low risk high reward pitchers the Astros could acquire to add depth to their rotation.

Another option would be to call up A.J. Blubaugh from Sugar Land. The 24-year-old has a 6-2 record with a 3.46 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched this season for the Space Cowboys and could be a necessary depth piece to add to the rotation.

Play Astros baseball

The Astros have been playing better baseball as of late and have won 18 of their last 23 games. With players like Kyle Tucker and Justin Verlander potentially returning soon, there is reason to believe Houston can make the playoffs for the 8th consecutive season.

The 'Stros will try to take sole possession of first place in their division from the Mariners when the two teams meet for three games at T-Mobile Park starting on Friday night.

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