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FOOTBALL’21

George Anastasia’s

MOB SCENE

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Volume 11 • Number 4 – $3.95

NEW EAGLES HEAD COACH

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach

Bruce Arians From North Broad to the Super Bowl

Nick Sirianni

Donovan McNabb

FOREVER A LEADER

Ray Didinger’s New Memoir jerseymanmagazine com


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PUBLISHER

FROM JerseyMan Magazine THE VOLUME 11 • NUMBER 4 ____________________________________________________________________________________ BY KEN DUNEK

Ken Dunek Publisher ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Ashley Dunek

The way we “used to be”

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was in Atlantic City recently for a meeting, and it is almost ritualistic for me to stop at my favorite sandwich shop in the world for a White House Special Sub with the works.

This is a sandwich that is so packed with delicious meat, cheese, and hot peppers on fresh-baked bread that it is a must-stop for me and my family.  Interestingly enough, the sandwich isn’t why I am writing this column. As I was waiting outside in line to order my sandwich, there was a street woman standing near me trying to make conversation with the people ordering their food.  Our homeless population is at an all-time high and getting worse. And this is becoming an alltoo-common occurrence. 

He said that this is the way people “used to be.” And he was right.

Because of the frequency of being approached for money in these situations, I have become too callous towards the plight of these people. But I learned a valuable lesson from the guy standing in line behind me. 

EDITOR George Brinkerhoff ART DIRECTOR Steve Iannarelli CONTRIBUTING WRITERS George Anastasia, Jan L. Apple, Michael Bradley, George Brinkerhoff, Sam Carchidi, Alexandra Dunek, Ashley Dunek, Mark Eckel, Robert Kennedy, Sam Kraft, Dei Lynam, Anthony Mongeluzo, Mike Shute, Kurt Smith, Robert Strauss Event Coordinator & Administrative Assistant Alexandra Dunek Website & Digital Coordinator Jamie Dunek Editorial gbrinkerhoff@jerseymanmagazine.com Advertising 856-912-4007 Printing Alcom Printing, Harleysville, Pa. Controller Rose M. Balcavage Sales Associates Ashley Dunek, Jamie Dunek, Terri Dunek, Allison Farcus, JP Lutz

He ordered a whole cheesesteak and told the girl at the counter he wanted it cut in half. Half for him and half for Miriam, the street lady I just mentioned.

Interns Chloe Senatore, Jess Connell

Immediately I started berating myself for not doing this, and I extended my hand to him to thank him for his generosity. He said that this is the way people “used to be.” And he was right. Certainly, he was about me. I “used to be” the one to help.

Jerry Flanagan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . J Dog Brands

JerseyMan/PhillyMan Advisory Board Peter Cordua (Chairman). . . HBK CPAs & Consultants Bill Emerson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emerson Group Bob Hoey. . . . . . . . . . . . . Janney Montgomery Scott Kristi Howell. . Burlington Co. Chamber of Commerce Ed Hutchinson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hutchinson Robert Kennedy. . . . . . . . . . The Kennedy Companies Doug MacGray . . . . . . . . . Stonecrop Wealth Advisors

Miriam was beaming. Her toothless smile captured my heart. I didn’t have any cash on me (I should have gone to find an ATM), but I hugged her and will look her up in that location the next time I am back in AC. If she is not there, I will ask the people at the White House if they know where she is.

Anthony Mongeluzo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PCS

My family is so blessed to be healthy and prosperous. And I WILL be a better and more generous person in the future.

Joe Tredinnick. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Republic Bank

My plan is to give Miriam $50 and buy her another sandwich. It’s only $50… but I’m sure it will feel like a million bucks.

Charlie Muracco. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CLM Advisors Ryan Regina. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Big Sky Enterprises Scott Tanker . . . . . . . . . . . Tanker Business Solutions Les Vail. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Workplace HCM Jim Wujcik. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Santander Bank

“You can learn a line from a win and a book from a defeat.” – Paul Brown JerseyMan Magazine/PhillyMan Magazine, products of a partnership between Ken Dunek, Anthony Mongeluzo, and Alcom Printing Group, are published by New Opportunity Publishing, LLC, with offices at 5 Perina Boulevard Cherry Hill, NJ 08003. Copyright 2021.

www.jerseymanmagazine.com


INSIDE 20

RYAN DALY by DEI LYNAM

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WHERE WE EAT

“Before you win, you have to believe you are worthy.” – Mike Ditka

JerseyMan Magazine VOLUME 11 • NUMBER 4

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COVER STORY

BRUCE ARIANS FROM NORTH BROAD TO THE SUPER BOWL

PEACE LOVE PICKLES

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STILL CONNECTED NEIL HARTMAN & LESLIE GUDEL

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FOREVER A LEADER DONOVAN McNABB

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NICK SIRIANNI

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STARTING OVER LOCAL COLLEGES BACK ON THE GRIDIRON

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“FINISHED BUSINESS” RAY DIDINGER BOOK EXCERPT

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AN UNLIKELY DUO RICH MILLER & JOE DEVINE JOIN FORCES

COLUMNS

1 2 J O T T I N G S • 1 8 G E O R G E A N A S T A S I A ’ S M O B S C E N E • 22 GET FIT 70 THE CIGAR GUY • 74 TECH TIME • 78 THE WINE MAN

Cover photograph courtesy Tampa Bay Buccaneers

www.jerseymanmagazine.com


JOTTINGS

“When you have confidence, you can

have a lot of fun. And when you have ______________________________________________________________________________ fun, you can do amazing things.”

BY GEORGE BRINKERHOFF

– Joe Namath

Fly, Yellow Jackets, Fly?

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HE TEAM that eventually became the Philadelphia Eagles was the Frankford Yellow Jackets (pictured), part of the National Football League from 1924 to 1931. They played in Frankford Stadium, a 9,000-seat converted horse track in Northeast Philadelphia, and won the NFL Championship in 1926, finishing with a record of 14-1-1. In that year they recorded shut outs against 11 of their opponents, and their only loss was a close 7-6 affair against the Providence Steam Roller. According to The Eagles Encyclopedia by Ray Didinger and Robert S. Lyons, it would be 46 years before another NFL team (Miami Dolphins) equaled that win total. And for the first time in history, Philadelphia had the best team in the NFL. They disbanded after the 1931 season with a record of 69-45-14, and two years later in 1933 their rights would be purchased. Out of the ashes of the Frankford team flew the nascent Philadelphia Eagles, who would go on to four NFL Championships, the last with their Super Bowl win in 2018. While both teams had their very own legion of hard-core, die-hard Philly fans, each team also energized those fans with their own tailormade fight songs! Fight songs serve to invite participation and invigorate the crowd, helping them to be that “extra man” on the field. (Think the Atlanta Braves Tomahawk Chop, where thousands of musically challenged Braves fans can moan along to that repetitive, lyric-less dirge.) Let’s check them out: “The Eagles’ Victory Song,” or as it’s more popularly called, “Fly Eagles Fly,” is a singularly catchy fight song, sung with gusto by fans while tailgating, enjoying adult libations and while celebrating after

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every Eagles’ touchdown. Originally authored by two advertising men in the 1950’s, it has come down through the ages with slightly different lyrics (it was originally Fight, Eagles, Fight!) and with the ubiquitous E-A-G-L-E-S chant at its end for emphatic, hoarse-throated punctuation. “Fly Eagles Fly! On the road to victory! Fly Eagles Fly! Score a touchdown! 1,2,3! Hit ‘em low! Hit ‘em high! And watch our Eagles Fly! Fly Eagles Fly! On the road to victory!” Followed by the chant: E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES! Frankford Yellow Jackets fans also had their very own fight song. While the tune has apparently been lost to history, we still have the lyrics: “There’s a team in Frankford here, a team that can’t be beat. For them, we surely hold no fear, that they’ll ever taste defeat.” Hmm. Not quite “Fly, Eagles Fly!” Still the 1926 Frankford Yellow Jackets were Philly’s first NFL champs, and they were nearly undefeated, so…fans were likely more forgiving back then. Perhaps we’ll just end with a chant then: Y-E-L-L-O-W-J-A-C-K-E-T-S, YELLOW JACKETS!! (Nope, not even close, forget about it.)


What We Read Blessed by the Best: My Journey to Canton and Beyond by Brian Dawkins with Michael Bradley

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ormer Philadelphia Eagles legend Brian Dawkins, a Hall of Fame safety who’s considered one of the best in NFL history, has authored his brand-new autobiographical memoir Blessed by the Best: My Journey to Canton and Beyond, along with JerseyMan and PhillyMan Magazine contributor, Michael Bradley. We spoke with Michael about teaming up with the Hall of Famer. How did teaming up with Brian Dawkins as his co-author happen? Blessed by the Best: My Journey to Canton and Beyond, … is published by Camino Books, a local publisher. A few years back, Camino’s owner, Edward Jutkowitz, asked me if I had any connections with Brian, and I reached out to Brian Westbrook, who put me in touch with Brian’s manager. We put together a plan, and we spent considerable time together talking about his life, his goals, his accomplishments and his plans for the future.” What was it like collaborating on the project with the Hall of Fame safety? “From the beginning, Brian was willing to be as honest and raw as possible about his life, and it shows through in the book. He discussed his difficulties in college, how depression led him to consider suicide while he was a rookie and how difficult it was to commit to

being an All-Pro NFL player while still being a good family man. Brian never held back. He wanted everyone to know what he had been through, so they could understand they had the power to overcome hurdles and challenges in their lives. Brian was extremely involved in the process, offering countless revisions and additions that made his voice come through clearly.” Despite the hurdles he faced, Brian’s talent, drive and determination led him to become enormously successful. Yet he still seems a very self-less person, with a really inspiring life story? “The final result is a great portrayal of his life, his successes and the challenges he faced. The book is quite inspirational and shows how Brian is an authentic, spiritual man who wants to help others.” Sal Paolantonio, national correspondent at ESPN has lavished praised Brian Dawkins’ autobiography: “This book is without a doubt the most powerful and poignant autobiography I’ve ever read by a retired professional athlete—ever. And, of course, it would be. In my nearly three decades of covering the NFL for ESPN, I have never encountered anyone like Brian Dawkins. After reading this highly personal, truly inspirational autobiography, now I know why. If you are a parent, a teacher, a coach, a leader in any way in your profession or life, you can learn so much from Brian and this book.

His message cuts through all the clutter of our age. His life is a timely reminder that we can do good, for ourselves, our families, our community and our country. Brian is a living embodiment of that. This book is testimony to that achievement—and it can be yours, too.” In addition to being a contributor to JerseyMan and PhillyMan Magazines, co-author Michael Bradley is a writer, broadcaster and professor who lives in suburban Philadelphia. He has appeared on TV and radio networks across the country, including ESPN and NFL Network, and is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Communication at Villanova University.

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Adopt me.

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ans of the worldrenowned Philadelphia Zoo can demonstrate their support by choosing to adopt a zoo animal. As their caretakers say on their website, “By adopting a Philadelphia Zoo animal, you share your love for animals by helping ours receive the best possible care. … The Zoo’s annual grocery bill is over $500,000— your adopt purchase helps us buy monkey chow, trout, honey, mealworms, and much more!” You can choose from more than 30 different kinds of animals to support, like the Amur Tiger (pictured). For information and a list of adoptable animals visit philadelphiazoo.org/adopt.


FOR ALL YOU EAGLES FANS OUT THERE who want to upgrade your wardrobe while still demonstrating your allegiance, the Philadelphia Eagles and New Era are launching their new FLY Collection just for you. This collection is “inspired by the special bond the team shares with its fans and the City of Philadelphia. The lifestyle collection provides fans the ability to express their passion for the team in creative ways that accentuate their fandom beyond gameday.” Jen Kavanaugh, Senior Vice President, Media and Marketing for the Philadelphia Eagles said, “This apparel line is all about authenticity and creative expression. To many, being an Eagles fan is a lifestyle, so this exclusive collection provides a unique opportunity to showcase that fandom throughout the year.” Choose from short sleeve t-shirts, hoodies, jackets and headwear featuring the simple but fresh branding with monochromatic designs and “punches” of color. The collection is available exclusively at all Philadelphia Eagles Pro Shop locations. store.philadelphiaeagles.com

Photos Philadelphia Eagles

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DID YOU KNOW…

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id you know that the Pinelands National Reserve, (which encapsulates the ecologically and culturally unique area known as the New Jersey Pine Barrens) contains approximately 1.1 million acres in southern New Jersey, and amounts to 22% of New Jersey’s total land area? (As a point of reference, the Pinelands National Reserve is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island with its 788,000 total acres.) The Reserve encompasses portions of seven counties, Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Ocean, and either part of or the entirety of 56 municipalities. It was the nation’s first national reserve and was established in 1978. Called the “largest tract of wild land along the Middle Atlantic Seaboard,” the reserve contains rare plants and the 17 trillion-gallon Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system, some of the purest water in the country. Within its borders are many areas for outdoor activities, including hiking, jogging, bicycling and horseback riding trails, beaches and lakes and rivers for paddling, as well as a plethora of cultural and historic sites.

The Pinelands National Reserve makes up 22% of New Jersey’s total land area. For more information and to plan a visit go to: www.nj.gov/pinelands/reserve. n 16


Photo Steve I.

Franklin Parker Preserve 17


MOB SCENE

_______________________________________________________________________________ BY GEORGE ANASTASIA

The Continuing Tragedy

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E WAS, BY MOST ACCOUNTS, a computer “geek” who could have built a legitimate and lucrative career as a software technocrat. His father, however, had other ideas. He wanted his namesake to follow in his footsteps. That, in large part, explains why Nicodemo S. Scarfo—known as Nicky Jr.—is currently serving a 30-year federal prison sentence after being convicted in a multi-million dollar financial fraud case several years ago. “Nick is the continuing tragedy that is his father’s legacy,” Don Manno, the younger Scarfo’s former attorney and friend said recently. The father is the late Nicodemo D. “Little Nicky” Scarfo, the notorious Philadelphia mob boss who died in prison four years ago while serving what amounted to a life sentence following convictions on racketeering and murder charges. His legacy is one of wanton violence and murder, of familial disorder, of greed and treachery. Shakespeare would have loved the story. Scarfo had three sons. The oldest, Chris, married and took his wife’s maiden name to get out from under the infamy that came with his birthright. The youngest, Mark, tried to kill himself because of the shame, guilt and pressure that his father’s lifestyle brought on him. He was just 17 when he hung himself. He survived, but barely and remained comatose for more than 20 years. He died in 2014. The middle son, the namesake, fell in line behind his father and has paid a tremendous price. He is 56 and has spent about one-third of his adult life in prison. His first chance at parole for his current sentence will come in 2037. There is no guarantee that he will be released then and there is a chance that he, like his father, could die in prison. Little Nicky Scarfo was boss of the Philadelphia mafia from 1981 to 1989. His 18

time at the top was one of the bloodiest in underworld history. Some of that blood was spilled by his son. Thirty-two years ago, this month— Halloween night 1989—Nicky Jr. had just settled in for dinner at Dante & Luigi’s, a

Scarfo Jr. has spent about one-third of his adult life in prison. His first chance at parole for his current sentence will come in 2037. popular restaurant on 10th Street in South Philadelphia when a man wearing a mask and carrying a trick-or-treat bag walked up to his table. Scarfo was dining with two friends, according to police reports, and was looking forward to a plate of clams and spaghetti, one

of his favorite dishes. Instead, he was served a huge helping of lead. The trick-or-treater pulled a machine pistol out of his bag and opened fire. Nicky Jr. was hit multiple times in the arms and torso but miraculously escaped serious injury. He was out of the hospital in week, but the shooting effectively ended the Scarfo family’s control of the Philadelphia mob. The elder Scarfo was trying to run his crime family from prison by using his son as a proxy. Putting him in harm’s way, apparently, was not as important to Little Nicky as holding onto the reins of power. Shortly after the shooting Nicky Jr. headed to North Jersey where he was under the care and protection of the Newark branch of the Scarfo organization. The man tapped to keep watch over him was the late George Fresolone, a crime family soldier heavily involved in gambling and loansharking. It was yet another botched move by Little Nicky. At the time, Fresolone was secretly cooperating with the New Jersey State Police. He wore a body wire to record conversations and his phones were tapped. O ONE HAS EVER been charged with the Dante & Luigi shooting which ranks among the most audacious in Philadelphia mob underworld history. Only the shotgun slaying of mob boss Angelo Bruno outside his Snyder Avenue row home in 1980 and the ambush of mob boss John Stanfa in the middle of rush hour traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway in 1993 compare. But Fresolone as well as several other cooperators and many law enforcement sources point to Joey Merlino as the gunman that night. Merlino has repeatedly denied the allegation. Over lunch several years ago in Florida, shortly after his release from prison on racketeering charges, he explained with a

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straight face that he couldn’t possibly have been the shooter. The reason? He said he was on strict, supervised release at the time awaiting sentencing for an armed truck robbery and was not allowed out after 7 pm. Nicky Jr. has never spoken publicly about the shooting but in phone conversations with his father at the time—conversations secretly recorded by authorities—the two Scarfos described Merlino as “a snake.” The elder Scarfo suggested that his son take Merlino “to dinner,” a reference to the shooting and a veiled order to do to Merlino what he was suspected of doing to Scarfo Jr. This led to another bizarre, dark comedic twist to the Scarfo-Merlino saga. Reports began to circulate in the underworld that from prison Little Nicky had put a $500,000 contract out on Merlino. When Philadelphia’s Fox 29 television reporter Dave Schratwieser and cameraman Brad Nau asked Merlino about the report, Merlino looked into the camera and replied, “Give me the half-million dollars and I’ll shoot myself.” The Dante & Luigi shooting came amidst

a bloody power struggle that had its roots in a friendship gone bad. Salvatore “Chucky” Merlino, Joey’s father, had once been a close friend of the elder Scarfo. In fact, when Scarfo took over the crime family after the nail –bomb murder of Philip “Chicken Man” Testa in 1981, Salvatore Merlino began to move up the underworld ladder, eventually becoming underboss. His brother, Lawrence “Yogi” Merlino, became a capo. UT BY 1985, the friendship had soured. The Merlino brothers were demoted, taken down to the rank of soldier and Scarfo was threatening to kill them and their families. Fortunately for the Merlinos, Scarfo was the focus of intense law enforcement attention at the time. His eventual arrest and conviction along with the Merlino brothers and more than a dozen other members of his organization short-circuited his blood lust. But that left his son out of the streets to deal with a crime family decimated by the violence and mismanagement of Little Nicky. During Scarfo’s reign, about 25 made members and associates of the crime family were killed. Nearly 20 more were indicted

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and sentenced to prison. That was the legacy of Little Nicky Scarfo. The shooting at Dante & Luigi’s drove home the point in bloody detail. Phil Leonetti, Little Nicky’s nephew and underboss, said it best in the book Mafia Prince which he co-authored with Scott Burnstein. “My cousin’s not a gangster and never was,” Leonetti wrote. “The only thing he is guilty of is being a loyal son to my uncle. My uncle got him involved with trying to keep control of La Cosa Nostra…and almost got Nicky killed. “…That’s the kind of father my uncle is. My cousin owes my uncle absolutely nothing.” Thirty-two years ago, this month, Nicky Scarfo Jr. nearly paid the ultimate price for his loyalty to his father. For many, a shooting like that would have been viewed as a warning and seen as the opportune time to walk away. Scarfo Jr. opted to stay. Little Nicky died in jail serving what amounted to a life sentence. But it appears he has gotten his wish. His son and namesake is following in his footsteps. n

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DEI LYNAM

_______________________________________________________________________________ ___

Taking His Best Shot

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OR MANY COLLEGE studentathletes, the past two years have been anything but normal. The impact COVID-19 has had on their student life and playing careers is extensive, and there are no do-overs. Former St. Joseph’s University basketball standout Ryan Daly had big plans following an amazing individual Junior year that saw him average 20.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.3 steals. His numbers earned him first-

team All-Big Five, as well as the Big 5’s leading scorer award. The Hawks season concluded before authorities canceled the NCAA tournament in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. “I don’t think I ever went into a season less prepared just because I couldn’t get into the gym,” Daly said of last summer. “We were not allowed in the gym at Saint Joe’s, and I truly believe the summer sessions are the most important part. Fast forward to this past season with different pauses because of COVID. Because I am not a freak athlete, a 14-day pause costs me another week to get back into game shape. You are always playing catchup with the virus, essentially because

none of us had any control.” COVID-19 was not all Daly couldn’t control his senior year; he suffered a broken thumb and torn ligaments in his left hand that sidelined him for ten games. When all was said and done, he played a total of just ten games. Still, he managed to lead his squad in scoring and rebounding. When this season ended, Daly had a choice to make; return to college because everyone had been given an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic, or turn pro. After talking things over with his family, Ryan decided he was ready to chase the dream of being a professional basketball player. “I was never the most recruited kid in high school,” Daly reminded. “I went to ESPN the other day, and I think I had one star back then. Out of all the kids in Pennsylvania in my class, I was bottom five out of 25. Then

Daly has gone from being the best on his team for the last decade to selling his versatility and good character.

Photo St. Joseph’s University

I never thought I would go Division I, and it happened. So I say to myself, keep at it no matter how mentally exhausting because you never know when your life can change.” Keith Stevens has already changed his life. Stevens, an agent with Imperative Sports Consultants, signed Daly and wasted no time preparing the 23-year-old to find his “niche” 20


at the next level. “Keith Stevens told me straight to my face; you need to move to D.C. in April. We will put you with Luka Garza (Iowa), and we will get you both down 20 pounds and in the best shape of your life. It was non-negotiable. I said, ‘That’s good for me.’ I wanted to be around people who knew what they were doing, so I moved to D.C. I got there the second week in April, and I didn’t move out until July 1.” ODAY DALY is 18 pounds lighter. He is indeed in the best shape of his life, and it earned him a spot on the Chicago Bulls summer league team. He has gone from being the best on his team for the last decade to selling his versatility and good character. “Pop (Jim Lynam) and my Dad gave me the best advice,” Daly shared. “They told me that everyone in that gym can do something that you can’t do athletically, but you know that going in. They don’t need a million guys to be the best athlete, the best scorer in the gym; they need guys who can fill roles.” Daly is not a knock-down three-point shooter, but he is working on it every day. He believes he is a better shooter than the 29 percent made from behind the arc this past season. Still, he has to prove it. He looks at guys who made the jump from college to the pros and learns. “I am not as athletic as Pat Connaughton, and I don’t shoot as well as him, but I think his value showed in the playoffs because he is tough as nails,” Daly said of the Milwaukee Bucks reserve. “He goes for offensive rebounds, and he is willing to go one more step when others wouldn’t. “I also love watching Josh Hart. He can get you nine points, eight rebounds, and four assists, and you notice his impact. I look at versatile bigger guys that don’t necessarily go up and dunk on you, but they are strong and have good floor instincts, and that’s where I like to draw my thinking.” Daly is now playing a waiting game. There is interest from two European squads. The possibility of an Exhibit 10 contract exists, where Daly would end up in the G-league; the latter situation has strong appeal to the guy-in-wait. “I would be with a team that has my rights and will be paying attention to me,” Daly said. “If I go overseas, I may not get the same eyes on me that I will if I am stateside, in an NBA gym consistently. It is exhausting mentally because you think you can do something, but you are waiting on a call.” n

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GET FIT

For more guidance, follow Alexandra, NASM Certified

______________________________________________________________________________________________ Personal Trainer on Instagram at @TipsfromAFitChick BY ALEXANDRA DUNEK

Mind Over HARD

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F YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A DIFFERENT APPROACH to fitness, then you might want to keep reading. A challenge called, “75 HARD” has been growing in popularity and for a good reason. The free program was created by entrepreneur and owner of 1st Phorm Nutrition, Andy Frisella, and is guaranteed to help you, in his words, “permanently change your life”. I first learned about this challenge after seeing a friend post his journey and incredible weight loss transformation on social media. Justin Deal, originally from South Philadelphia (currently residing in Washington Township), has lost 45lbs with the program and 75lbs overall. He credits the majority of his success to his friend and mentor, Devin DiNofa. Deal explains, “I wound up at a place in life where I really disliked what I saw in the mirror, and more importantly, the way I felt. My wife Gina and I had our fourth child and I found myself more tired and less motivated. I knew I needed to make a change to become the leader my family deserved. Devin told me that 75 HARD was the answer.” It’s important to note that this isn’t a fitness plan...it’s a mental transformation program designed to tackle personal and professional goals. “What most people don’t realize about 75 HARD from the outside is that it’s truly a mental program, the physical changes are just a result of rewiring your brain and habits,” says Deal. Adding to his lifestyle changes, he re-evaluated his relationship with alcohol. “I realized alcohol added zero value to my life. As a matter of fact, it only takes from me, both financially and in my energy.” Deal says. He adds that he now has a drink here and there on occasion but it’s not in his everyday routine anymore.

Justin, before

Below is a description of Justin’s 75 HARD program:

• Two 45-minute workouts a day (one of those must be outside). • 1 gallon of water a day. • Read 10 pages of a self-development or entrepreneurial book a day. • Follow a diet plan of your choice that meets your goals. • Zero alcohol. • Snap a daily progress photo.

His busy day starts with a wake-up call time of 5:30 am to get a weightlifting session in at six before he begins his work hours as Vice President of PayDay Employer Solutions, a payroll service company. He prioritizes his evening with networking events and family time, which includes helping with the kids and dinner with his wife before ending his day with some daily influential reading. Twice a week he alternates between yoga or another kind of aerobic exercise like biking or basketball. If you’re interested in a unique networking opportunity or looking for some motivation, you can book Justin for a gym session by scanning the QR code at right for his online calendar! Justin is a refreshing reminder of how it’s never too late to take control of your life. “I used every excuse in the book for years as to why 22

Justin, after

I couldn‘t get in shape...I was getting older, my prime was behind me, I had no time due to four kids, I was not a morning person, and eating healthy is too expensive, etc. It’s amazing how many limiting beliefs that we all have and don’t even realize. Ultimately, I wanted to show people what is possible with daily execution.” You can keep up with his progress by following him on Instagram @jdeal6972. Learn more about 75 HARD by visiting www.andyfrisella.com or tune into his podcast, “Real AF with Andy Frisella.” n


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Where We Eat

Peace Love Pickles

BY ASHLEY DUNEK

Photo Ashley Dunek

Peace Love Pickles, who just recently changed their name from Elsie’s, is a hidden gem tucked away on the White Horse Pike in Haddon Township, NJ. WHO & WHY: Owner, Katherine Cohen, started making pickle sandwiches because of dietary reasons for her mother. Once some regulars got wind of her creation, they started ordering them out of their small market in Linwood, NJ. They were selling out daily. She and her husband launched their first location in February of 2018.

Photo www.peacelovepickles.com

They are the ONLY sandwich shop in the country that doesn’t serve bread. The name gives away their substitute bun—giant pickles, primarily made in-house but they also offer pickle and cucumber roll-ups. As if this concept isn’t unique enough, their menu offerings will have you salivating. WHAT? Our personal favorite, The Jersey Devil, was inspired by the owner’s daughter, Lenin. The secret ingredient? Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Absolutely DILL-icious! WHERE? They now have three locations in New Jersey: Haddon Township, Northfield and Atlantic Highlands. Be sure to stock up on their homemade pickle juice and Bloody Mary mix. Pickle-backs anyone? n 26

www.peacelovepickles.com


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Photo Ashley Dunek


THRU THE LENS

Photograph by Jamie Dunek 28


Philadelphia 29


NEIL HARTMAN AND LESLIE GUDEL

Photos courtesy Leslie Gudel

STILL CONNECTED

A AS THE SUN SHIMMERS off the water, two clear, familiar voices are heard above the happy hour din on the deck of a bustling bayside Stone Harbor restaurant at the start of a perfect Jersey Shore summer evening. “Hey, there’s Leslie!” “Oh my God, it’s Neil!” A warm embrace ensues between two people with very recognizable faces. Photos are snapped, there’s laughter and smiles. After a year of not seeing one another in person, these two old friends chat for nearly half an hour, just like they did nightly on TVs 30

BY MIKE SHUTE in living rooms from the Poconos to Cape May. It’s like being on that comfy sofa watching Neil Hartman and Leslie Gudel on Comcast SportsNet’s SportsNite, only now, their words are directed toward each other, not the sports fans of the Delaware Valley. This reunion of regional Emmy Award winners is a reminder of the great chemistry these two original members of the CSN team had on the air, right from the start in 1997. But something else rings true. Almost 25 years after their first meeting, Gudel and Hartman’s relationship remains one of genuine friendship

that went well beyond the Comcast studios. “We don’t talk every day or every week, but we just have a connection that will never change,” said Gudel, a southern California native who came east from Los Angeles. “We clicked from the very beginning.” “The photos show these really genuine moments of us hugging and it was great to see her,” said Hartman, a Connecticut native who started working in Philadelphia in 1988. “It’s something you can’t make up. It shows that what we built on the air, it wasn’t phony, it wasn’t fake, it was real.”


STILL IN SPORTS Both Gudel and Hartman were already off the air at CSN-Philly (now NBC Sports-Philadelphia) as the network rebranded in 2017 after Comcast merged with NBC/Universal. They have both moved on to new jobs, but are still in sports. Gudel is the COO of Elevate Sports and Media, a newly started, Downingtown, PAbased multi-faceted sports agency which is also under the same umbrella as Strategic Sports (a marketing firm) and the sports memorabilia and collectibles company, Sports Vault. Part of the organization’s mission is to make sure that when athletes’ on-field careers come to an end, they’ve built a brand that gives them career options and earning power going forward. The organization’s biggest project right now is helping their client, Philadelphia Eagles legend, Brian Dawkins, promote his new book, a memoir titled “Blessed by the Best: My Journey to Canton and Beyond,” which was co-written by JerseyMan and PhillyMan writer Michael Bradley and released on Sept. 10. Also, with the new NIL rules in the NCAA, which allow college athletes at every level to monetize their athletic success by licensing out their names, images and likenesses (NIL), Gudel hopes to help college student-athletes navigate this uncharted territory. “It’s new to everybody, and anybody who says they know what they’re talking about doesn’t, including the NCAA,” said Gudel, who herself was a two-year member and captain of the crew team at UCLA. “The good news is that’s going to mean helping people at the college level which I’m very passionate about… and female athletes as well. We have a couple of women that we’re in the process of finalizing deals with… women who have huge potential, not just as athletes, but in life.” Gudel, 55, who lives in Wayne, PA, with her son Chase, 16, and daughter Kendall, 17, is also a licensed realtor in the Greater Philadelphia area. Another one of her projects is Kendall’s Crusade, a non-profit she and her daughter started in 2016 to raise not only awareness of AVMs (arteriovenous malformations) and aneurysms, but also money to assist families who can’t afford the medical treatments of these rare vascular anomalies. In 2014, Kendall suffered a stroke from an AVM and the subsequent radiation treatment caused drop foot and the loss of the use of her hand, both on her left side. On Aug. 30, the first-ever Kendall’s Crusade One-Armed Golf Challenge was held at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club in Lafayette Hill, PA. The event raised $55,000 for the charity.

“I TRY TO CREDIT NEIL WHENEVER I CAN FOR MY TRANSITION. HE CARRIED ME THROUGH THAT EARLY PART.” – Gudel

Meanwhile, Hartman is helping shape the futures of college students as well, specifically with careers in sports communication. He was hired in 2019 as the Director of the Center of Sports Communication & Social Impact at Rowan University in the Edelman College of Communication and Creative Arts. He mentors students, helps them identify and acquire internships, and runs other special programs that include top-level guest speakers such as Charles Barkley, Merrill Reese, and Kevin Negandhi. And, he teaches what he calls, “Hartman’s Boot Camp,” in which he gives Rowan’s sports communication and media

freshmen an overview of everything they need to know to navigate their four years of college. He also teaches a class called History of Sport in Philadelphia, a course he started when he first stepped into education as an adjunct professor at Rowan College, Burlington County and Temple University in 2017-18. “We’ve got great professional partnerships with the Wilmington Blue Rocks and Delaware Blue Coats,” Hartman said, speaking of the minor league baseball team and G-League pro basketball team. “That is a massive part of our program. I’m really proud of that because that’s obviously relationships, and those are what get our kids opportunities. When I talk to incoming prospective students, they’re like, ‘Oh wow, I can get to call games? Yes.’ And that’s a huge selling point for our sports communication kids and it should be. We can really connect our students with so many great opportunities.” Not only do those pro sports partnerships give students a chance to broadcast games on the radio or a livestream for these local teams, but students can also gain practical experience with the two organizations in other areas, such as ticket sales, business operations, ingame entertainment, and more. Students can also call games for Rowan’s athletic teams or be a DJ or talk show host on the university’s award-winning radio station, 89.7-FM, WGLS.

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The university’s athletic communications office and television stations also give students a chance to participate in live sports broadcasts and other productions, both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Hartman, 61, is a Moorestown, NJ, resident and product of Ithaca College. Along with his role at Rowan, he’s also a Camp Director for Play-by-Play Sports Broadcasting Camps, which offers kids, 10-18, the opportunity to learn from industry professionals in about a dozen cities throughout the country. He also owns his own full-service production company, Talow Media Group, LLC, which specializes in unscripted sports programming. He’s been married to his wife Lauren since 1993 and has two children: Talia, 21, a senior at the University of Maryland; and Owen, 20, a sophomore football player at Johns Hopkins.

TAKING THE CITY BY STORM

October 1, 1997. Comcast SportsNet hits the Philadelphia market under the direction of Jack Williams, the network’s CEO. Gudel came to CSN from the nation’s firstever regional sports network, Prime Ticket, in Los Angeles where she had worked for two years. That was her second gig in the industry

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“WHAT WE BUILT ON THE AIR, IT WASN’T PHONY, IT WASN’T FAKE, IT WAS REAL.” – Hartman after her first stop in Pocatello, ID. When she was offered the job in Philadelphia, she simultaneously had a more lucrative job offer at another new network that was popping up in Washington D.C. – Home Team Sports (HTS). “I don’t remember that there was one exact thing, but I know that Jack made me feel like I was going to be part of something that really

would take the city by storm,” said Gudel, who was Philadelphia’s first full-time female TV sports anchor. “(In Philadelphia), people actually cared about what you were doing and you could make an impact. That was really the biggest thing for me. I did get concerned that when I took the job I was going to be the outsider… ‘She knows nothing about Philly.


She’s just a chick from L.A.’ “There were two things that helped. One, we were new, and the focus was on the network not the individuals, which I loved. The other part was Neil. I try to credit Neil whenever I can for my transition—I hadn’t really spent much time as an anchor. We would have a one-hour show and we’d have 20 minutes left and no script and Neil could just wing it. He carried me through that early part and he never embarrassed me. It was always about us being the best we could be. I had a great appreciation for that.” Hartman had been working in Philadelphia for almost 10 years when he and Gudel were among the original anchors and reporters hired by CSN (along with Michael Barkann, Derrick Gunn, Dei Lynam (now a JerseyMan and PhillyMan columnist), Ron Burke, Pat Boyle and Pete Christy). He started in Philadelphia in 1988 as a sports anchor for the nightly news on WPHL-TV 17 (Inquirer News Tonight) while also handling studio hosting jobs for Phillies and Sixers telecasts. He also called some Sixers play-by-play on television and hooked on as a sports-talk host at 610-AM, WIP, before putting in a couple of years as a sports anchor at CBS3. He also returned to sports talk radio at 1210AM, WPHT, co-hosting “The Sports Attack” with Scott Graham and the late Big Daddy Graham (Ed Gudonis), who passed away on September 8th. Then, like Gudel, he had a choice to make in 1997. “I was working for Channel 3 for about 2½ years and then SportsNet came around. Channel 3 made me an offer and I had an offer from Comcast,” Hartman said. “It’s very rare in this industry that you have two offers like that and I just thought the future was with Comcast and this new regional sports network. To me, it was a no-brainer and for many, many years, we became the big behemoth in town. The Inquirer was still the Inquirer, WIP still had a strong voice, but a lot of people got their sports information from Comcast SportsNet. I’m really proud of that.”

They called themselves “The Originals.” This was the first group of anchors and reporters for Comcast SportsNet when it launched in Philadelphia in 1997. Front (L to R): Derrick Gunn, Neil Hartman, Leslie Gudel, Michael Barkann. Back (L to R): Dei Lynam, Ron Burke, Pat Boyle, Pete Christy

who was thousands of miles away from family. “When I wasn’t working in the early times, and not knowing anyone here, I was with the Hartmans. That was an added bonus to the whole thing. It was a good friendship from the very beginning.” “Part of the key to the success was that

we had a genuine relationship and I really enjoyed her company,” Hartman explained. “It was fun to spend time with her, not only on the air and in the newsroom, but also with our families away from the office. That helped build our chemistry and the relationship we have had for many, many years.” n

FRIENDSHIP: THE KEY TO SUCCESS The former co-anchors’ recent chance meeting in Stone Harbor certainly was a reminder of the duo’s good old days. They’re thankful for the lasting friendship that came from their time together inside the studios and offices of the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly. “He and his wife, they opened up the doors of their home to me on holidays,” said Gudel, 33


D PROFILE

Donovan McNabb

is one of the all-time great quarterbacks in NFL history and will always be a local hero in Philadelphia. But today, he spends much of his time coaching athletes who are too young to remember his playing days. BY KURT SMITH

FOREVER

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Photo Kohjiro Kinno

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LEADER

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D

Despite the opportunity to gather quotes and jump into a fray of controversy, JerseyMan didn’t ask Donovan McNabb about the most talked about events during his career in Philly. We doubt our readers are interested in rehashing the decade-plus old rantings of a talented but ultimately cancerous ex-teammate…a receiver who was suspended and subsequently released by the Eagles for his statements and then signed on with their most hated rival. No thanks. But just in case you were wondering, no, McNabb didn’t upchuck in the huddle in the Super Bowl. There isn’t even discernible evidence that that happened in an event that benefited from the best that television broadcasting had to offer. As Mike Tanier’s Bleacher Report piece about the alleged incident puts it, “This urban legend is all about a quarterback’s inability to lead his team back from a double-digit deficit against one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history with four minutes to play in the fourth quarter.” And no, the last player to wear #5 for the Philadelphia Eagles doesn’t hold anything resembling a grudge against local fans for their reaction to the team’s choosing him over Ricky somebody in the draft. It’s easy to argue that the Eagles made the right call. We love our friend Jaws at JerseyMan, of course, and the Eagles’ fan faithful will forever be grateful to Nick Foles. But by nearly any measure, McNabb remains the best quarterback to wear an Eagles uniform. Put it this way. If you were a parent of a young quarterback, you wouldn’t object to having him as a mentor.

McNABB Photo Kohjiro Kinno

spends time today coaching young quarterbacks…junior high, high school, and college players. He is one of several former quarterbacks involved with The QB Legacy, a non-profit dedicated to teaching aspiring quarterbacks the fundamentals…not 36


Photo Philadelphia Eagles

During his tenure with the Eagles, McNabb led the team to five NFC Championship games (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2008), and Super Bowl XXXIX. He is also the Eagles’ all-time leader in pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns.

just of the game of football, but of being a leader in life. Ty Thompson, a University of Oregon freshman, is one young quarterback who McNabb has mentored. As FanSided reports, Thompson is already a strong candidate for the starting job and is Oregon’s top-ranked quarterback commit of all time. “I’ve had an opportunity to implant my wis-

dom,” McNabb told JerseyMan, “on the things that they want to accomplish. I try to prepare them from a fundamental standpoint of knowing the intricate parts of the game. And, also, provide a little bit of spark for these young men, to give them that confidence that they can play this position at a high level, if they put the right time and effort into their craft. “So many times, you see trainers doing

what they see Patrick Mahomes do or what they see Aaron Rodgers do. And I think that’s a negative because not everybody is on their skill level, not a lot of people can do what they’re doing at this particular point.” Most of the young players McNabb coaches don’t remember his playing career. But their parents do. “The last time I took a snap was nine, ten years ago, and that was in Minnesota toward the end of my career. A lot of these kids have never seen me play. It’s more the parents that know a lot about you. “And I have no problem with that because I’m not coming in there, Donovan McNabb, NFL quarterback, I’m coming in as Donovan McNabb, quarterback trainer, that’s going to help you be able to perform at a high level and prepare you from a mental and physical standpoint. “I’ll show up at their games and write down some different things that we can do on our next couple of sessions. I’ll be there when they need any assistance. Maybe something

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Photo Kohjiro Kinno

happened at practice, and they don’t understand why, how they can change it or things of that nature. “If I have a kid that’s in middle school, I want him, by the time he graduates from eighth grade, to be mentally where the sophomores are in high school. We know your body’s going to develop at some point. But from a mental standpoint, are you able to get out on the field and tell … every player what

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they’re supposed to do, explain to the coach what you’re seeing from a defensive standpoint, what blitzes they’re doing, how to attack those blitzes? “That right there gives you the upper hand when it comes to a lot of these kids who are just athletic, because now there’s a trust value that coaches are starting to build with you, because they know you’re well prepared and understand the games.”

And yes, you have to handle shots from critics. As we all remember, McNabb knows that better than anyone. “It’s not just younger kids,” he continues, “it’s adults too, who have issues with criticism. With social media now, people don’t like something that you post, or people comment negative to you, it affects them, instead of just moving on and using that as motivation.” So, is he tempted to tell young QBs not to


play in Philly if they can’t take the heat? “It’s not so much that. Philadelphia is kind of well known for that. But again, you’ve got to stand strong, and you’ve got to be able to take it, move on. “Smile. That’s what I did!” McNabb says with a laugh.

retired athletes have shown, success on the field doesn’t necessarily translate to success in other walks of life, but it definitely helps. Part of the goal of The QB Legacy program is preparing young athletes for life outside of or after football. “The most important thing for me,” McNabb explains, “is trying to get these young men to understand that being the quarterback of a Division I program or being a quarterback of an NFL organization, that you are the CEO. You are in a boardroom in front of millions or thousands of people. Can we put you in front of a room, and you explain to me what each and every person is supposed to do in this office?” “We’re building leaders, we’re building mentors, we’re building role models. We’re building CEOs. We’re building guys to understand that it’s much more than just playing the quarterback position. You have ten people on the field with you that are relying on you to make the right decisions, to lead them to a Super Bowl. “And so, you have to do your job. You have to be able to prepare yourself to go out and be at the highest level of your craft.” Whether it’s young quarterbacks, or softball or girls basketball players, whom he also coaches, McNabb today is preparing the adults of tomorrow for the game of life. As with many of the good guys in sports, it’s the preferred way of enjoying retirement.

THIS SCRIBE CHOKED on his chance to meet Donovan McNabb. We don’t have much in common as far as athletic achievement or income level, but we’ve both been known to frequent Gaetano’s in Willingboro. And yes, we’ve been there at the same time. My hang-up about approaching celebrities during meals overrode taking advantage of a rare opportunity to chat with an NFL superstar. McNabb lives in Arizona now, mostly just because the weather is better. It was where he started training in the second year of his

Wait, what? Donovan McNabb, the greatest all-time quarterback on a team that had Roman Gabriel, Ron Jaworski, and Randall Cunningham, isn’t in the NFL Hall of Fame? Nope, he’s not. Critics say something to the effect of his not having won a Super Bowl, despite coming within three points of doing so against the NFL’s great dynasty, or not being a leader in statistics during his prime years, with no mention of the subpar receivers he had to throw to at the time. Photo Philadelphia Eagles

AS A LOT of JerseyMan articles about

The Case for McNabb in The Hall

So, at best, McNabb’s entry into Canton is being denied by his crime of having less than championshiplevel teammates. He doesn’t go there, though. “There’s no need for me to make a case. I think numbers and film alone define that. Some people look at numbers, some people look at accolades, some people look at Super Bowl championships, some people look at appearances. And … you can’t please everybody. So, for me to try to state my case, no, it’s nothing to it.” “Look at Walter Payton, people always said that Walter had to win a Super Bowl. Walter Payton was the best running back to play the game at that particular time. He also was one of the best players to ever play the game, not just running backs.” “So, when it comes to a lot of these players, it’s sad that we want to sit and talk about, well, how many Super Bowl championships have they won, or how many times they’ve been AllPro? How about, why don’t you ask the defenders they played against, ask them how hard it was, the game plan against them. It says a lot.” So do McNabb’s numbers…37,276 passing yards, 3,459 rushing yards, and 234 touchdowns. Six Pro Bowl appearances, five NFC East championships, five NFC Championship game appearances, and nine postseason wins. If you find any QB with similar numbers, they’re probably enshrined in Canton. From 2000-2004, McNabb led the NFL in QB wins. During his career, he ranked fourth in wins behind guys named Brady, Favre, and Manning. There are always arguments with every Hall of Fame induction about who got slighted. Donovan McNabb shouldn’t be the subject of one.

career, and he liked the area enough to stay. “It’s a great vacation place,” he says. “My family was from Chicago. Friends in Philadelphia [and] New Jersey, when they come out here, drop the winter coats and Timberland boots, put on some shorts and a t-shirt and just relax.” But he’s got nothing against the city where he made his considerable mark. Donovan still visits and loves Philadelphia and South Jersey…and mentions Gaetano’s as one of his favorite eateries in the area. “I’ve still got friends there; I love the area. I’m talking over 15 years, pretty much, since I’ve been in Philly, but I go back and it’s like I still live out there. The people that know me are the people that watched me play, still remember you, have conversations with you.”

He’s happy for both the Eagles and Andy Reid for their Super Bowl triumphs. Regarding his former coach, McNabb believes that the Super Bowl win “implants him when it comes to one of the greatest coaches. For the things that he’s been able to accomplish over the years with us, and then turning the Chiefs organization around. Andy definitely is a sureshot Hall of Famer, and winning that Super Bowl is definitely going to help.” They fell just short as a pair themselves. But McNabb hopes people remember the good times, with Andy at the helm and with #5 as the field general. “I would love to have won a Super Bowl,” he reflects, “but that doesn’t define who I am as a player or who I am as a person.” Maybe someday Ty Thompson, or another McNabb pupil, will get that done for him.” n 39


SPORTS GUYS

Bruce Arians From North Broad to the Super Bowl

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BY MARK ECKEL

he year was 1983. Ronald Reagan was in his first term as President of the United States. Tom Brady had just begun first grade in Northern California and Gandhi won the Best Picture award at the Oscars. In Philadelphia, the Sixers were NBA champions, the Eagles were not relevant and a somewhat cocky 30-year-old named Bruce Arians had just taken over the Temple University football program. Before arriving at Temple, Arians had been a grad assistant at Virginia Tech and the running backs coach at both Mississippi State and Alabama of the powerful Southeast Conference. Who could have guessed 38 years later a much-less cocky and now 68-year-old Arians would be the head coach of the Super Bowl champions and that his six years spent at Temple would play so much into that? “I’ll tell you this,” Arians said in a lengthy telephone interview. “Those six years at Temple were something. I’m probably closer to those guys than any group I’ve ever coached.” 40


Photo Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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‘‘ Photo Temple Owls

I was 30, thought I knew everything, and didn’t know anything. It was a great time, just trying to take that [Temple] program to the next level.”

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It shows on Arians’ Super Bowl-winning coaching staff with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There are five former Temple players—special teams coach Keith Armstrong, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, running backs coach Todd McNair, safeties coach Nick Rapone, and cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross—and two former Temple coaches—quarterback coach Clyde Christensen and assistant special teams coach Amos Jones,—on Arians current staff. Fifteen more players and coaches from Temple came down to Tampa the week of Super Bowl LV to show their support for their old coach. “The guys here they were all calling us ‘The Temple Bay Buccaneers,’” Arians said. Arians’ six years with the Owls never produced more than a 6-5 record and his 27-39 overall record doesn’t usually translate to the success he’s had since. But when you consider in nine of the next 11 years after he was let go Temple went either 2-9 or 1-10, maybe 6-5 is equivalent to winning a Super Bowl. “I was 30, thought I knew everything, and didn’t know anything,” Arians said of his arrival on North Broad St. “It was a great time, just trying to take that program to the next level. We probably overscheduled ourselves, but we had a lot of fun. Great kids, started something that now is very special.”


ARIANS’ FIRST COACHING JOB came at Virginia Tech in 1975. He’s coached every year since, except for 2018 when, after retiring from the Arizona Cardinals, he spent a year at CBS. He got back to coaching with

Photo Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Arians is one of two former Temple coaches in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers Matt Rhule being the other. Al Golden left Temple for the University of Miami and Geoff Collins left the Owls for Georgia Tech. Arians really never wanted to leave. “I loved the vibe of the city,” he said. “Being Broad St. tough, Temple tough. When the Flyers were the Broad St. Bullies, we tried to make that Temple Tough slogan go, those kids that play there now still believe it. The Philly fans are fantastic, too. They love their teams. When they love their teams, they don’t accept anything but winning.” Arians wasn’t using Temple as a steppingstone to better things. It just turned out that way. “No, not at all,” he said. “I loved Temple. “The thing about it is I never learned how to delegate and ended up in the hospital three times a week those last few years. When you learn how to delegate it makes it a lot more fun.”

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the Bucs in 2019 and won the Super Bowl last season. “Arizona was a great experience,” Arians said of his first NFL head coaching job which didn’t come until 2013 when he was 60 years old. But after a second bout with carcinoma and a grandson on the way, “It was time to get out,” he said. “I thought CBS was going to be the answer. I loved going to the practices, seeing the players and coaches. But the travel, man that was hard. I was used to charter busses and charter planes. You just get on and get off. This was a lot tougher.” Arians had said that for him to get back to coaching it would have to be the ideal situation, and the Buccaneers presented him with just that. “Well, yes and no,” Arians said with a chuckle. “My son called me, he’s my agent, and said you need to call Jason (Licht, the Bucs general manager). Jason and I are good friends, great guy. The Glazers (the Bucs owners) are fantastic. I said, ‘Let me think about it’ and then all of my assistants became available, all 18. I told my wife, ‘We’re on the East coast, you’re near the (grand) babies. And when you walk in the door, you’re going to know 18 of

I thought CBS was going to be the answer. I loved going to the practices, seeing the players and coaches. But the travel, man that was hard.”

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the wives.’ When she got on board, I was on board.” Two years later after Tampa Bay had suffered through losing seasons eight of the past nine years it had its second Super Bowl title. “Thank God the Glazers wanted to hire an old guy,” Arians said. “Most of the guys hired today all look like (Los Angeles Rams head coach) Sean McVay. They took a shot and it paid off.”

WHEN ARIANS WAS LET GO by Temple after the 1988 season he bounced back and forth between “assistants” jobs in the NFL and major college. He was the running backs coach in Kansas City (1989-92). The offensive coordinator at Mississippi State (1993-95). The tight ends coach for New England (1996). The offensive coordinator at Alabama (1997). And then the offensive coordinator for Indianapolis (1998-00), Cleveland (2001-03), Pittsburgh (2004-11) where he was part of two Super Bowl wins and a Super Bowl loss and Indianapolis again (2012). That second stint in Indy is where he got his break because it was beginning to look as if he would never be a head coach again. “Oh yeah, after Super Bowl 43, usually every winning offensive coordinator gets an interview at least,” Arians said. “We beat the Cardinals and I didn’t even get a phone call. I figured it just wasn’t in the cards. It wasn’t going to happen. “It took Chuck to get sick for me to become a head coach.” Chuck is Chuck Pagano, the Colts head coach in 2012 who battled cancer throughout the season. Arians took over as the interim head coach and led the Colts to an 11-5 season and a wild-card berth. “It was a dream year. Chuck getting sick, and then getting better,” Arians said. “The team, we weren’t very good, but we had a cause to play for and that was to get Chuck healthy and get him back. We knew football was the best medicine for him. We did everything we could for him every single day, made sure he was caught up on what we were doing, we had chalkboards in his hospital room.” When Pagano returned, Arians became a hot name in the coaching circles. He had seven interviews lined up, but only one—Arizona—actually came to fruition. “I went to the Bears because they were the first team to put in the paperwork and found out about three in the morning I didn’t get that job. Five of the other ones had dropped me. Arizona wasn’t one of the jobs I wanted to 44


‘‘

Thank God the Glazers wanted to hire an old guy. Most of the guys hired today all look like Sean McVay. They took a shot and it paid off.”

interview for, because Ken Whisenhunt (who the Cards had fired) is a dear friend. I called Kenny, he said, ‘Come, don’t worry about the rest of the stuff.’” Arians only had one losing season (7-8-1 in 2016) in Arizona, where they haven’t had a

winning season since, but his time there ended after the 2017 season. It appeared his coaching career had as well. Then the Tampa Bay job opened. And two years later he has a Lombardi Trophy.

“IT WAS A CRAZY SITUATION. You had to beat the virus before you could beat any other team,” Arians said of the 2020 COVID-19 season. “I’m sitting home in May and June wondering if we’re even going to play. We had just signed Tom [Brady] and we could never meet and practice. We didn’t start meeting until the first day of training camp. It was a struggle the first eight or nine weeks, but we gradually got through it all. And put it together those last eight weeks.” The 2020 season turned into a dream for Arians and the Bucs. Here are some of his thoughts. On signing Brady: “No one thought he’d come here. The first time we talked I knew he had great interest. He knew every single thing about us. He was recruiting me as much as I was recruiting him. He knew the players. He knew the offense. He watched all the films. Tom does his homework. He doesn’t make any decisions without doing his homework. It was a really good match.”

On Winning Three Playoff Road Games: “I’d been with the Steelers when we won three straight road games. But the stands were packed. This was different. Until we got to Green Bay (for NFC Championship Game) we hadn’t heard any noise. They had about 9,000 in the bottom bowl and it sounded like 50,000. I think that brought some energy to the game.” On Being Home for the Super Bowl: “It was crazy. Our practice field is straight across from the stadium. We’re getting ready to play the Packers (in the NFC title game) and they’re hanging Super Bowl banners everywhere. You can’t help but see it. I’m having to tell the guys, ‘You can’t worry about that game, you have to worry about this game or we’ll be watching that game on television.’ We had to stay focused. Then to go to practice after we won and look across the street and know you’re going to play the Super Bowl in your home stadium it was amazing.” Arians’ Bucs blew out Andy Reid’s Chiefs, 31-9, in Super Bowl LV. It would be a great way for a great coach to end a great career that started a long time ago and grew on North Broad St. It’s not happening. Not yet. “I’m still having fun every day,” Arians said, “so until it’s not fun anymore…” n

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Photo Philadelphia Eagles


BY SAM CARCHIDI

NEW EAGLES HEAD COACH

Nick Sirianni In some ways, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni has a tough act to follow, replacing the only man to ever lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship. In other ways, his first year, which is in full swing, should be pressureless because expectations were low when the season started, and because most of the Eagles coaches who preceded him didn’t exactly look like the second coming of Vince Lombardi in their initial seasons with the Birds. Which shouldn’t be surprising because when a new coach comes in, it’s usually because he is inheriting a bad situation.


Photos Philadelphia Eagles

Going back to 1976, many Eagles coaches have struggled

mightily in their first season with the team. Heck, even the great Dick Vermeil went 4-10 in his first season in ’76. Marion Campbell’s Eagles were 5-11 after he took over in 1983—and it was a sign of things to come. It took Buddy Ryan until his third year to get the Eagles into the playoffs, and his first team was a miserable 5-10-1 in 1986. There were some exceptions to the Welcome to Philly Blues. Odd exceptions. In their first seasons in Philadelphia, the unremarkable trio of Rich Kotite, Ray Rhodes, and Chip Kelly directed the Eagles to 10-6 records in 1991, 1995, and 2013, respectively. (The rest of their coaching careers were, ahem, not too memorable.) Growing pains, however, have been the norm for new Eagles coaches as the players get acclimated to their system and their personality. Andy Reid, who got the Eagles into the playoffs in nine of his 14 seasons and later won a Super Bowl in Kansas City, is among those who had an inauspicious start: a 5-11 record in his first year in Philly in 1991. And Doug Pederson’s Birds went 7-9 in his first year in 2016 before improbably winning the Super Bowl the next season. All of which means Eagles fans should be patient with Sirianni. Hope for the best this season, but know that the lows will probably outnumber the highs. Also, know that good days should be ahead. “I’m excited for him,” Vermeil said just before the season started. “He does things differently and contrary to my philosophy, but when I see someone doing things differently, I don’t evaluate it as them being wrong and me being right. It’s just different, and I watch the way it works.” In Sirianni’s first season, the Eagles have had “much shorter practices,” Vermeil said, comparing them to his coaching days. “And he gives veterans the day off, and that kind of stuff. That was not part of my way of thinking in building football teams, so I’m anxious to see how it

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works because then I learn something. And a lot of that is controlled by the Players’ Association today—days off and the shorter practices and dropping OTA’s (organized team activities) because the players didn’t want them.” Vermeil, who is the coaching finalist for the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, paused. “My old motto was, ‘If you’re going to make them happy, buy them beer. If you want to make them better, make them sweat,’” he added.

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So who is Nick Sirianni and how did he unexpectedly

land on the sideline of Philadelphia’s most famous sports team? He is personable, enthusiastic, and likes to learn about his players’ personal lives. After he was named the Eagles coach, Sirianni phoned his players in the offseason. He didn’t want to just talk about football; he wanted to know what made them tick, what they enjoyed doing off the field. “He wanted to build relationships,” Eagles running back Miles Sanders said early in training camp. Sirianni comes from a family of teachers, is the son of a legendary high school football coach and has close ties to his upstate New York community. He paid his dues by spending 12 years as an NFL assistant before being named the Eagles head coach when he was 39. That made him the youngest Eagles coach since Vermeil was hired when he was only a few months younger in ‘76. If the Eagles get back to the promised land, it will be because Sirianni learned from the man perhaps most responsible for the lone Super Bowl triumph in franchise history, Frank Reich. Reich, of course, was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator in 2018 when they beat Tom Brady and

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Photo Philadelphia Eagles

Is Sirianni prepared to coach under a microscope, in a football-crazed city that fills the radio airways IN THE SUMMER with passionate talk about who should be the backup right guard? We shall see. New England, 41-33, and won Super Bowl LII with backup quarterback Nick Foles leading the way. Reich was the Chargers’ offensive coordinator when Sirianni was there as a quarterbacks coach. When Reich became the head coach in Indianapolis, he named Sirianni to direct the offense, saying he knew if he ever had the chance to lead a team, “he would be the guy I want to be my coordinator.” During Sirianni’s three years as Indy’s offensive coordinator, the Colts were solid. They were 30th in the league in points the year before Sirianni and Reich arrived. They ranked fifth, 16th and ninth in points in the three years Sirianni and Reich were together, making the playoffs twice in that span. “He’s football smart,” Reich said of his prodigy. After the Eagles hired Sirianni, Reich called the new coach “brilliant,” and said he was a “natural leader” who held players accountable. “He’s been preparing for this his whole life,” Reich said in an interview on the Eagles’ website. Reich called Sirianni his “right-hand man” on play-calling, and said he was the “driving force in everything we did.” But was he prepared to coach under a microscope, in a footballcrazed city that fills the radio airways IN THE SUMMER with passionate talk about who should be the backup right guard? We shall see.

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When Sirianni was hired, Twitter went atwitter. Naturally.

One delighted fan tweeted a photo of Tony Soprano and his boys, saying it was “Nick Sirianni and his coaching staff.” Another fan said the hiring prompted him to make garlic bread and meatballs. 52

A woman noted that “my meeting was pushed back and my team hired a young hot Italian coach. Yes, I’m having a fantastic day.” There were also cynical views, of course. Sportswriter Frank Fitzpatrick, who has since retired from The Inquirer after a distinguished career, tweeted that Sirianni “is from the same hometown—Jamestown, N.Y. … as Lucille Ball. Won’t be long till he’ll have some ‘splainin to do.’”

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Comparing Sirianni to Vermeil isn’t fair, but it’s

inevitable because they both were hired at the same age. Both are comfortable showing their emotions—Philly kind of guys—and both try to get close to their players. It’s tempting, then, to compare Sirianni’s path—wherever it may lead—to that of the legendary former Eagles coach who is now a California winery owner. Vermeil, whose teams began an upward trend after quarterback Ron Jaworski was acquired from Los Angeles for tight end Charle Young in 1977, got the Eagles to the Super Bowl in his fifth season. (Vermeil was familiar with Jaworski because he was on the Rams’ coaching staff when they drafted him. “I knew he was a tough-minded kid from the East, and that he would fit in this community,” Vermeil said.) Eagles fans, mindful the (aging) team went just 4-11-1 last season and has many question marks, would probably accept a similar fate under Sirianni—a Super Bowl finalist in five years—with open arms. Vermeil’s team struggled mightily in his first year in Philadelphia, matching the 4-10 record of the previous season and missing the playoffs for the 16th straight time. Philly was the center of attention during America’s 200th birthday in 1976, but the Eagles didn’t do much celebrating. “The Philadelphia fans are the most loyal in the country,” Vermeil told his team in that


Photos Philadelphia Eagles

preseason, “and they deserve the best. … The Eagles will never be taken for granted this season.” But Mike Boryla threw five more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (9) and finished with an unsightly 53.4 quarterback rating as the Birds’ offense, despite the presence of future Hall of Fame wide receiver Harold Carmichael (5 TDs), struggled mightily. The Eagles were outscored, 286-165. Gradually, they got better. “I had been a head coach in high school, junior college, and college, and I had been an offensive coordinator in the NFL and a special teams coach,” Vermeil said. “So even though I was young, I had experience and that helped me. Nick has some of those experiences, but never as a head coach. I wish him well. I’m pulling for him. I’m an Eagles fan. I’m not an Eagles critic. I never want to criticize someone for a mistake that I made three times myself.” Vermeil’s early teams improved steadily—from 4-10, to 5-9, to 9-7, to 11-5, to 12-4 and a spot in Super Bowl XV. Asked what he recalled about his first year in Philly, Vermeil was quick with a reply. “I remember not having any draft choices,” he said, mindful the Eagles’ highest picks in his first three years were in the fourth, fifth, and third rounds, respectively. “I remember putting a real, real strong emphasis on those later picks. And my guys did a great job with it. Carl Hairston was drafted that year (1976, seventh round) and Herb Lusk (10th round) came in that year. We didn’t have a first-round pick until 1979 (Jerry Robinson). That was tough. And what was also tough for me was that we had six preseason games and I don’t think we won one (he’s right), and we had a long training camp. A lot of long days and a lot of pad work and a lot of development work, trying to build what they now call a culture.” Now it’s Sirianni who is trying to turn around the Birds’ culture. This will help: The Eagles potentially have three first-round draft picks next year because of trades.

Sirianni will make adjustments, no doubt, like Vermeil did in his first season. In Vermeil’s initial year, for instance, he changed his practice routine early in the season. Instead of alternating practice days for the offense and defense like he did between the first few games, “we began doubling up and had offensive days and defensive days EVERY day,” Vermeil said. “We stayed on the field longer and harder and we sent them into games more prepared—and they started getting better. We didn’t have first-round picks coming up to replace them.” Sirianni, like Vermeil, is a people person. Both are passionate about their profession and yet humble. “He sounds like a good communicator,” said Vermeil, who was a big admirer of Pederson. “I’m excited about him. I would just tell him to be yourself, be demanding, and be honest.” n

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STARTING OVER BY MICHAEL BRADLEY

ZWAAN

I

N EARLY AUGUST, as West Chester football coach Bill Zwaan prepared to leave the house on the first day of coaches’ meetings before fall practice began, his wife, Rosemary, had a question for him. “Are you ready for this?” she wanted to know. Zwaan answered quickly. “Yes.” “So am I!” she said. After more than a year of coping with a disrupted football calendar that scrubbed the 2020 campaign from the Rams, Zwaan was delighted to be returning to normal. He and his coaches would gather to plan the pre-season. Players would then report. Finally, everybody would take the field in preparation for West Chester University’s season opener, a September 3 visit to Boston to take on Bentley College. Zwaan has been coaching for more than four decades, and his competitive fire still rages, but he’s so happy to be back coaching again—and not managing a program remotely—that wins and losses might be secondary to the overall experience of playing football once again. “From a coaching standpoint, we are so methodical,” Zwaan says. “Do this at this time on this day. During the year-and-half we lost, we haven’t had that regimen. For 40-plus years, I have been getting up at the same time 54

PRIORE every day. “The person most happy that I am back to football is my wife. I’ve been driving her crazy.” Coaches across the area felt the same way Zwaan did as the 2021 season dawned. Other than Temple, which played seven games last fall, and Villanova, which was able to play four games last spring, college programs idled anxiously during the 2020 season, as their schools kept students away from campus or shut down athletic programs for those who were able to show up. Like everything else that dominated the world from March 2020 until this spring, when vaccinations helped the Philadelphia region come back to life, it was unprecedented. And nobody liked it. “When you’ve done it as long as most coaches have done it, from Pop Warner on up, football starts in August,” University of Pennsylvania coach Ray Priore says. “That’s how our mental clocks work. It was very different not playing. We had to occupy ourselves with a lot of different things. “It wasn’t natural. Our job is to work with kids and keep them together and focused. I watched a lot of football, which I never get a chance to do. I got a chance to see my family, which I don’t get a chance to do during the season. There were a lot of lessons learned.

My biggest bit of gratitude from the process was realizing what we once had when we didn’t have it.” They have it now. Across the region, Saturdays (and some Thursdays and Fridays) will mean college football. It’s a great thing for fans. It’s huge for students who go to games.

“MY BIGGEST BIT OF GRATITUDE FROM THE PROCESS WAS REALIZING WHAT WE ONCE HAD WHEN WE DIDN’T HAVE IT.” – University of Pennsylvania coach Ray Priore

And it’s a major step forward for the players and coaches who spent much of the past 18 months cobbling together workouts and meetings in order to maintain a sense of that order that Zwaan and Priore mentioned. Now that everybody is back on the practice fields


and in the stadiums, the autumn continuum is intact and natural once again. “Tons of kids on my team need football desperately,” Zwaan says. “They relate to themselves and others as football players, and that’s what they think of themselves, and what their families think of them. They’re not the same people without it. It helps them, on and off the field. “It is an identity for them.”

O

ACCORSI

F COURSE, things won’t be completely normal. The rising Covid-19 cases across the area and—especially—the nation mean teams must continue to observe protocols moving forward. For Mike Barainyak at Widener University, that’s not the worst thing. Now in his third year leading the Pride, Barainyak preaches the importance of sacrifice to his players. That means thinking about the team on and off the field.

“This is part of the program,” he says. “If you want to be a successful football team, you have to sacrifice to make everyone successful. “You may be a linebacker, but it might be best for the team to play fullback or defensive end. Will you make the sacrifice for the team? We fold this into the program. If you want to come to Widener and get a degree, you need to sacrifice in the classroom. If you want to play 10 games this year, you’re going to wear a

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Photos courtesy West Chester University (wcupagoldenrams.com), University of Pennsylvania, Widener University, Rowan University

BARAINYAK


mask. We want everybody to stay safe.” Wearing masks and going through other potentially uncomfortable protocols will be a heckuva lot better than what programs endured last year when most were informed in the late spring and summer that there would be no season. Trying to keep teams together through remote meetings and working to come up with workout and training plans players could execute on their own was frustrating at best and maddening at worst. At Rowan University, coach Jay Accorsi and his staff were able to conduct some “workouts” in the fall, without pads and with the players six feet apart. That’s not exactly conducive to teaching blocking and tackling. But at least the Profs were able to gather and keep some sense of team unity. When the team was able to have spring practices, it was quite clear the team had been away from the sport for quite a while. “It was drastic,” Accorsi says. “Everything we did was different. It was evident for those who had been away from football for a year that they were really rusty. Some of the high school students who came to campus early had a fall season. “Obviously, in terms of being in shape and with football skills, you could tell most of them hadn’t done a thing for a year, in terms

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of real football.” Other area coaches experienced similar conditions from their players during their spring drills. Few had the opportunity— thanks to restrictions by their universities— to do what was necessary in order to be ready to play ball. At Penn, the Quakers went through 12 practices and then had a spring game. Before a player stepped on the field, though, Priore and his staff spoke with coaches at schools that had fall seasons, but no summer programs. They found that there was a disproportionate amount of muscle pulls and other soft-tissue injuries because players hadn’t had the opportunity to maintain the kind of conditioning they need to go all-out on the football field. That information led to a change in focus during the spring. “We crawled, then we walked, then we jogged, then we ran,” Priore says. “We took it slow. Fortunately, we had a very, very limited number of pulls.” The good news for teams during the 2021 season is they had the opportunity to have workouts this summer—for those schools whose players stay on campus. Those players who headed home had access to gyms, high school weight rooms and other facilities that would allow them to come back for the start of

fall practice in good shape. It’s hard to know what will happen in the coming months, but everybody is happy to be back to something of a normal football season. “My goal is to put a team together that is competitive,” Accorsi says. That’s the mantra of just about all coaches across the country as they enter what they hope will be a relatively ordinary season. They have made it through the pandemic isolation, worked extremely hard to maintain team unity and did whatever they could to prepare teams for the upcoming season. As games continue, and the focus is on how the offense is performing and if the defense can stand up to opposing attacks, the memories of last season will fade, even if there are still some lingering effects. “It has been a slow build back,” Priore says. “It has given us optimism. Our kids treated every moment since February 1st with great excitement. We couldn’t have done it if the kids weren’t passionate about playing. They love what they do. “The whole spring was like that. It was like a three-month birthday party. The players worked hard, but there was gratitude. We were able to build our team and our culture and get back to what’s normal.” Back to football. n


Book Excerpt

S

portswriter, radio personality, TV analyst, playwright, sports commentator and in this case author Ray Didinger has seen and talked to just about everyone who’s anyone in the world of sports and has been covering the Philadelphia sports scene through one form of media or another since 1970. In his new memoir, Finished Business: My Fifty Years of Headlines, Heroes and Heartaches the five-time Pennsylvania Sportswriter of the Year, six-time Emmy award winner (as a writer and producer for NFL Films) and best-selling author captures the incredible highlights of his five decades of living and breathing sports reporting. He’s interviewed the likes of Hank Aaron, Wayne Gretzky, Muhammad Ali, Julius Erving, Jack Nicklaus, and Mike Schmidt, and has written film scripts for Hollywood stars such as Bruce Willis and Alec Baldwin. As this excerpt from his new book demonstrates, Ray also treads the line between being an Eagles fan who bleeds Eagles green and covering them as a professional journalist, reveling in their highs, suffering in their lows and bearing everything in between. – G.B.

On the Thursday before the Super Bowl, I made my weekly appearance on the WIP morning show with Angelo Cataldi. I had my usual stack of statistics and almost all of them favored the New England Patriots. I went over them point by point, spelling out all the reasons why the Patriots were the better team. By the time I finished, Angelo was face down on the desk.   Then I said, “But I think the Eagles are going to win.”   Angelo jumped out of his chair, grabbed his head and let out a howl that probably startled the carriage horses in Independence Mall. “After all that,” he said, “you’re picking the Eagles?” “I just have a feeling about this team,” I said. It was vague and unscientific and probably not very convincing to anyone outside the Philadelphia area, but that’s how I felt. I believed in the Eagles. I picked them to beat Atlanta. I picked them to beat Minnesota and even though they were underdogs again I was confident they would beat the Patriots. I don’t always buy into the team-of-destiny thing but I believed it with the Eagles. I believed it because I could tell THEY believed it. In the conference championship round, the AFC game was played first. The Patriots hosted Jacksonville. The Jaguars went ahead in the first half and extended their lead to 2010 in the fourth quarter. We were watching the game in the NBC Sports Philadelphia studio. The producers and cameramen were cheering for Jacksonville; they felt the Jags would be an easier opponent in the Super Bowl. I was rooting the other way. I wanted the Patriots. To me, it would have been a letdown to get to the Super Bowl and face the Jaguars. If you are the Eagles, a team that never won a Super Bowl, do you really want the first win to come against the Jacksonville Jaguars? Where is the 58

glory in that? You would finally have the chance to tell that big mouth Cowboys fan at the office that your team won the Super Bowl and his reply would be, “Big deal, you beat the Jaguars.” I also didn’t like the fact that Jacksonville brought back painful memories of Super Bowl XXXIX. The Eagles lost to the Patriots in that stadium. If the Eagles were on their way to the Super Bowl -- and I felt certain they were -- I didn’t want any trace of Jacksonville.

Also, I was certain the Eagles would be favored over the Jaguars and that would mess up the underdog karma. The Eagles had become so comfortable in that role -- and coach Doug Pederson had become so good at playing it -- that it would have flipped the script at the worst possible time. Better to be the underdog, especially against the Patriots. Besides, who goes to the Super Bowl hop-

ing for a soft touch? It is supposed to be about beating the best, right? Well, the Patriots were the best. The proved it again by storming back to beat the Jaguars, 24-20, on two Tom Brady touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. The Eagles took care of the Vikings so the matchup was set for Super Bowl LII in Minnesota. The NFL set up shop at the Mall of America, a 96 acre complex of stores, restaurants and amusement parks all under one roof. The Eagles were in an adjoining hotel which meant their coaches and players spent the week in the mall, mingling with fans and buying souvenirs. You couldn’t walk ten steps without bumping into a player, usually with his entire family. They were incredibly loose and having a really good time which I thought was a good sign. I mentioned it to my broadcast partner Seth Joyner, who played in two Super Bowls with Green Bay and Denver “These guys can’t wait to play this game,” Seth said. “They aren’t nervous, not even a little bit.” On Saturday, I called home. My wife said, “I have to tell you something. You’re not going to believe it.” She said there was an eagle flying over our house. It circled long enough that she had time to get the binoculars for a better view. Yes, she said, it was definitely an eagle, majestic and unmistakable, right above our house. At one point, it actually landed on our garage. In the 32 years we had lived there we had seen every kind of bird but never an eagle. So why now? Why on Super Bowl eve? “I know it sounds crazy,” Maria said, “but I think it is the spirit of your mother and father.” “I do, too,” I said. Just for the record: We never saw the eagle again. That was the one and only time. Scoff all you want: I think it meant something. n


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Photos courtesy MillerDevine Leadership Advisors

Rich Miller (L) and Joe Devine

Rich Miller & Joe Devine Join Forces Once Friendly Rivals – Now Business Partners AN UNLIKELY DUO? Well, think again. Leadership—it seems—is a tie that binds. Rich Miller, former president and CEO of Virtua Health and Joe Devine, former president and CEO of Kennedy Health System, have joined forces. They plan to use their expertise to give back to the community. In May 2021, the two launched MillerDevine Leadership Advisors. The consulting firm’s mission: to help organizations and leaders be successful, not only in the healthcare industry –but all business sectors, including profits and non-profits as well as higher education. “Leadership knowledge is transferrable,” explained Devine. “We believe we can help 62

develop leaders, improve performance and build strong workplace culture.” They also plan to work with boards of trustees to assist in enhancing their effectiveness. Why now? The need for their services, according to the business partners, is great. Many of the changes in organizations, they explained, are due to a world that has been dramatically altered because of the pandemic. “There’s definitely a need, especially postpandemic, especially in healthcare,” said Miller, who has witnessed significant burnout (emotional and mental) among nurses as well as all clinical professionals. “We are facing very difficult times. It wasn’t only the numbers; it was the frightening kind of care people had to give. There are nurses that

BY JAN L. APPLE

have left the field, saying they can’t do this anymore. I’ve seen a lot of nurses in specialty areas over the years and they had tough jobs, but this was monumental.” The two plan to help stabilize organizations to get them back on their feet, underscoring the importance and need for healthcare professionals. “Something Joe and I did well over the years was build culture and camaraderie,” said Miller, who has received national recognition, including an appointment to the Leadership Advisory Council of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare. The men have known each other for 30 years. “We were friendly competitors,” said Miller. “We have similar personalities and


learned a lot from each other.” Devine described Miller as a longtime mentor, noting they have much in common, including their integrity, values and faith. When Devine retired, Miller was one of the first people he called. “We’re both from South Philly,” said Devine, adding that they often crossed paths over the years at charity events and youth soccer tournaments. Both men are married and have two daughters. Miller’s daughters are 38 and 34; Devine’s are 34 and 31. “Rich and I saw each other on the soccer fields,” remembered Devine, as his 31-yearold and Miller’s 34-year-old played the sport as children. MILLER AND DEVINE SHARE A PASSION for leadership; their names are known and respected throughout the region. They feel this trust and familiarity will bolster their efforts. Their vision encompasses not only assisting leaders to be more successful and rebuilding, but also preparing future leaders to take on executive positions. “Most people have been off-site for 18 months or more,” said Miller. “Due to the severity of COVID, there has understandably been a bit of separation between leadership and front-line clinical staff. The emotional

WE ARE FACING VERY DIFFICULT TIMES. IT WASN’T ONLY THE NUMBERS; IT WAS THE FRIGHTENING KIND OF CARE PEOPLE HAD TO GIVE. THERE ARE NURSES THAT HAVE LEFT THE FIELD, SAYING THEY CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE.” and mental stress on clinicians has been significant. Making sure the bond between leadership and front-line staff is strong postpandemic will be critical for the well-being of the team going forward.” The men feel enthusiastic about the task before them, but also a responsibility to the community. Virtua Health, Kennedy Health System and Jefferson Health (which merged with Kennedy in September 2017) have long been immersed

in the community. All have maintained a strong presence—in healthcare, of course—but also with charitable endeavors. Miller and Devine share that commitment. Both are past chairs of the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey and the New Jersey Hospital Association. Each has received numerous accolades: Miller was named healthcare CEO of the year by the Philadelphia Business Journal and Devine was named an executive of the year by South Jersey Magazine, SJ Biz and NJ Biz. The idea for the consulting firm evolved from an outdoor meeting that took place on a beautiful fall day in November 2020. They were called upon by a mutual friend and business associate for advice and direction. Devine started thinking that he and Miller might have something valuable to offer if they teamed up. “We were both interested in leadership, developing emerging leaders, helping organizations build cultures,” said Devine. So, he asked Miller if he wanted to collaborate. Miller didn’t hesitate. Not only did he agree that they would provide value and extraordinary insight, but they could have fun working together. “We were all about engaging people,” reflected Devine of his leadership style as well as that of Miller’s. And they both believe in

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driving organizations from the top. “We’re not afraid to say this is what we would have done,” he added. Devine said he and Miller spent decades working 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. This would be an entirely different enterprise. And in keeping with the times, their firm—for now—is offering virtual options. There is no physical office, but that may change as the business expands. Miller, 68, retired from Virtua Health in 2017 after 36 years. He was CEO for 22 years and CFO and COO prior to that. He said he was always out and about, interacting with staff: clinical, administrative, support, every level. His stint at the health system included overseeing the merger in 1997 between what was then West Jersey Health System and Memorial Hospital of Burlington County. “I’m a rare breed,” chuckled Miller. “I understand numbers and I have a personality.” Miller earned a bachelor’s degree in business and finance from Mount St. Mary’s University and an MBA from Southern Illinois University. In 2017 he received an honorary doctorate for leadership from Mount St. Mary’s University. In addition, he serves as executive-in-residence at Rowan University’s Rohrer College of Business. Devine, 64, retired in June 2020. His path to leadership was starkly different from Miller’s. “Through a variety of fortunate circumstances, I ended up having a wonderful career in healthcare,” said Devine, who initially dreamed of being a television news anchor. He began his 34-year stint at Kennedy as a member of the financial staff. He moved his way up through multiple positions, becoming CEO in 2013. “It was very rewarding to see Joe become CEO of Kennedy,” recalled Miller. Following the merger with Jefferson Health, Devine served as president, Jefferson New Jersey and executive vice president, Jefferson Health. Devine earned his bachelor’s degree in organizational theory and accounting from La Salle University and an MBA from Saint Joseph’s University with a specialization in information systems. Devine resides in Washington Township and Margate. Miller, who lived in Marlton for 30-plus years and later in Philadelphia, resides in Ocean City, New Jersey in the warmer months and will spend winters in a new home in Charleston, South Carolina. Miller said he’s a strong believer in goal setting and feels it’s a critical component to success. When he was in his early 20s, he aspired to be a CEO of a healthcare organization. That goal evolved from a life64


changing event. In Miller’s recently published guidebook, Leadership A Matter of Faith, he shares that transformational experience that led to his road to leadership. “I was in a really bad car accident when I was 21,” said Miller. “I was on life support and lived to talk about it. I had total kidney failure, was on a ventilator and eventually became addicted to Percocet. I sort of understood life a little differently than other 21 or 22-year-olds.” BOTH MEN HAVE CLEARLY LEARNED A LOT over the years and are passionate about preparing for the future. “We’ve had a positive ability to impact the community,” noted Devine. The two have been busy at work, garnering feedback from CEOs to get a feel for what they need to rebuild—emotionally and mentally. “Instead of going to a search firm, we can help create a template that will be tailored to fit (an organization’s) specific needs,” said Miller, acknowledging the current challenge of navigating new hires, of finding solid, good people. But the men are focused and committed to their mission. “We’re not trying to conquer the world,” said Devine. “We’re trying to help organizations and leaders to be successful.” n

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BY SAM KRAFT

Sponsored by The

Smoking Dog

Toscano – Nobile

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OSCANO CIGARS HAVE A RICH HISTORY that dates back more than 200 years. They are a staple in many European stores yet American smokers tend to be unfamiliar with this historic Italian cigar. However, the Kentucky seed tobacco that is in every Toscano brings this cigar closer to The States. Grown in Italy, the tobacco goes through a unique fire-curing process and is then aged. In the case of today’s Nobile, this Toscano is aged 10 years. The Nobile stands out with its double-truncated cone shape and dark chocolate color. Its name is the Italian word that means noble. The Nobile’s specific blend is a tribute to the cigars that were smoked by the prominent Medici family of Florence. Per tradition, the cigar is handmade in Toscano’s Lucca factory by their all-female rollers. The first thing to notice about the Nobile is its leathery texture and deep color. Each cigar is unique, and it is these small variations that give Toscano cigars their character. Every little bump and pore feels like it has a story behind it. The cigar lights easily and instantly fills the air with rich tobacco flavors. The smoke’s scent hovers between cigar and pipe tobacco. It’s engaging and aromatic. On the palate, the flavor is sweet and toasty. It tastes like vanilla and white pepper with a bready finish. There’s an earthy quality to it that is reminiscent of fall leaves and soil. The sweetness of

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it tastes fruity and fermented like figs and rum. The second half of the cigar picks up, becoming bolder. The retro remains easy and smooth, but the spices have become more prominent. This is where the fire-cured flavors become most distinct. The earthy flavor pivots to something more grassy and less woodsy. It finishes with cocoa and firewood. The cone shape of Toscano cigars makes the Nobile such an interesting experience to smoke. It is different from anything on the market. The unique process by which Toscanos are manufactured makes their cigars more hygroscopic than a traditional cigar. This means they retain their moisture and can survive outside a humidor for longer stretches of time. This makes the Nobile perfect for weekend trips, and the Nobile’s agreeable scent provides enjoyment to both the smoker and their company. n

Photo toscanocigars.com

THE CIGAR GUY ______________________________________________________________________________________________


ADVISORY BOARD

___________________________________________________________________________________ ___

Peter Cordua (Chairman), HBK CPAs & Consultants

Bill Emerson, Emerson Group

Bob Hoey, Janney Montgomery Scott

Kristi Howell, Burlington Co. Chamber of Commerce

Ed Hutchinson, Hutchinson

Robert Kennedy, The Kennedy Companies

Doug MacGray, Stonecrop Wealth Advisors

Anthony Mongeluzo, PCS

Charlie Muracco, CLM Advisors

Ryan Regina, Big Sky Enterprises

Scott Tanker, Tanker Business Solutions

Joe Tredinnick, Republic Bank

Les Vail, Workplace HCM

Jim Wujcik, Santander Bank

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Jerry Flanagan, J Dog Brands


@PCS_AnthonyM

TECH TIME

Have any tech ideas you want to talk about? Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@PCS_AnthonyM) or email me any time at Anthony@helpmepcs.com.

_______________________________________________________________________________ BY ANTHONY MONGELUZO

Looking Ahead Tech predictions as we finish 2021 and look toward 2022 AI will be front and center

Self-Driving Innovation

More and more companies are relying on artificial intelligence (AI) and more artificial learning capabilities. This is promising and scary at the same time. While studies have shown that artificial intelligence was able to trick its creators and did some unexpected things, there are many pluses to this capability as well. Regardless, AI is here to stay.

In recent years, self-driving technology has taken off. By the end of 2022, this technology will be more functional than ever, and it will evolve at a rapid pace. Tesla has been releasing updates constantly, and the features get better every month. Between AI, 5G, and continued development, this industry will continue to expand. My prediction is that if you have children under 10 years old, they might not ever drive in the traditional sense. But this technology will continue to evolve at a fantastic pace.

5G 5G is the talk of the town, but it is currently underutilized. The speed 5G offers will change the way we utilize technology. We will be able to do more with wireless, and software developers will have more bandwidth to use and change how we live and work. 5G will transform live events by providing enough bandwidth to include virtual reality (VR) experiences. It will change our shopping experience and will be the backbone of smart cities. We have only scratched the surface of utilizing 5G.

MY PREDICTION IS THAT IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN UNDER 10 YEARS OLD, THEY MIGHT NOT EVER DRIVE IN THE TRADITIONAL SENSE.

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Smart and Digital Homes Builders are now starting to use smart technology when building homes. Homes will be able to be fully operated with a phone or tablet and everything will be tied into one device. With the arrival of cheaper technology, the Internet of Things (IOT), and everything being connected with WiFi, we will truly become the Jetsons. n


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THE WINE MAN _______________________________________________________________________________

For comments, questions, suggestions and/or feedback, contact Robert Kennedy at rkj@Kennedy-companies.com.

BY ROBERT KENNEDY

Knowing When Wine is “Corked”

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ANY OF US WHO ENJOY wonderful dining experiences also include the excitement of careful choices made between menu course selections and that perfect bottle of wine that enhances both the flavors and aromas of each dish and each sip. After all, one begets the other. We all know the drill. The sommelier reaches our table with a wine menu that can sometimes read longer than Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. But we are laser-focused on that perfect pairing, and thus systematically narrowing down those wines which will bring out the best flavors of each course. And so, with the helpful eye of the somm, the decision is made, and thus the ritual begins with the presentation of the wine bottle, followed by the perusal of the label, vintage and varietal. The cork is then pulled and placed by the glass stemware, while a small pour hits the glass for the ceremonial swirl, view, scent, and taste to ascertain the wine is not “corked” or undrinkable from over oxidation. Before this tasting formally takes place, the cork that sits idly sidelined awaits inspection. Why should something so small and incidental need attention? There are those

experts that believe it’s always important to examine, then scent the cork in advance of the tasting. Some would encourage the push of a fingernail into the end of the cork to feel its firmness or lack thereof. Even though wine aficionados are not uniformly in agreement here on what to do with this act, the cork can say a lot about the next steps in the determination of the wine experience. When the cork of an expensive bottle of wine is extracted, then presented by the somm to be viewed through the diner’s attentive eyes and keen sense of smell, what might be detected from this natural wood can also tell us much about the health of the wine. “Cork taint” as it’s called, can dramatically affect the quality of the wine. Cork taint is caused by the production of trichloroanisole or TCA, for short. TCA is a chemical compound that forms through the interaction of chlorine, mold and plant phenols. When airborne fungi and bacteria come in contact with phenolic compounds and chlorine, TCA is unleashed. It is extremely pungent and can ruin great wines. So, when sniffing the cork of a newly opened bottle of wine, there could one of a few interesting discoveries. First, the cork

can smell of wine. Not a bad thing. If older vintages have been cellared for some time, the wine may have penetrated the cork. Second, no odor may be noticeable at all. This is also good, since the cork may not prove to be tainted. Third, the cork could have a soft smell of wood, particularly with older corks. This too is not a bad thing. However, if there is a presence of cork taint caused by TCA, the smell will be musty, moldy, and that of a damp basement, thus, the given name “corked.” Generally, if the cork is tainted, it may mean the demise of the wine. It will be spoiled and undrinkable. HE CHALLENGE of knowing if the wine has become contaminated by cork taint might be difficult to discern through the sense of smell. TCA’s concentration, in many instances, is very low, so it may only flatten the other aromas and flavors of the wine. If a particular wine is just turning “south,” it could take up to 10 to 15 minutes while oxidizing before it becomes noticeable. (After confidently announcing to the somm upon the pour that the wine is enjoyable, you then discover 10 minutes later that it’s tainted.) At that point, it’s simply too late to turn around. I will say this is not the norm, and most likely, if the cork is tainted on the scent, the wine will be too, but keep in mind that this isn’t always true. Also, the sensitivity to smells varies among individuals since some simply cannot detect cork taint below 20 parts per million. So, careful examination of the cork is extremely critical to the discovery of a good bottle of vino. Next time out at a high-end dining establishment, when that favorite bottle of wine is presented by the sommelier with that unassuming just pulled cork, be sure to give it a careful look, feel and smell. After all, it can certainly be a foreshadowing of things to come whether a good wine experience or a bad one. n

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Careful examination of the cork is extremely critical to the discovery of a good bottle of vino.

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