Au Revoir Bob!
Nothing good lasts forever, but a 13-year run is pretty good these days.
We are reluctantly saying au revoir to my good friend and wine columnist Robert Kennedy, who is positioning himself towards an impending retirement and moving part-time to Kiawah Island to enjoy life.
A very successful businessman in SJ, Bob is the owner of The Kennedy Companies in Mt. Laurel. But his passion is wine.
Early on, he approached me about a “different” kind of wine column. He didn’t necessarily want to judge any particular wines and review them, but rather talk about wines in the abstract.
Ice wines, regional wines and the challenges facing small local wineries, different varietals and what they mean when the process is complete and hits the palate were all subjects that Bob wrote so eloquently about. And he did it without compensation.
Friends like that are hard to come by these days.
So I wanted to publicly thank my loyal associate, and wish him well as he splits his days between SC and NJ.
And of course, try to wriggle my way into a tee time at Kiawah Island Ocean Course!
Thank you, Bob.
Ken Dunek Publisher
George Anastasia, Jan L. Apple, Michael Bradley, George Brinkerhoff, Sam Carchidi, Alexandra Dunek, Mark Eckel, Allison Farcus, Emily Halbert, Robert Kennedy, Sam Kraft, Dei Lynam, Anthony Mongeluzo, Kevin Reilly, Kurt Smith
Event Coordinator & Administrative Assistant
Website & Digital Coordinator
Printing Alcom Printing, Harleysville, Pa.
Rose M. Balcavage
Ashley Dunek, Jamie Dunek, Terri Dunek, Allison Farcus, JP Lutz
JerseyMan/PhillyMan Advisory Board
Peter Cordua (Chairman) ........ HBK CPAs & Consultants
Don Eichman Alcom Printing
Bill Emerson .............................. Emerson Group
Jerry Flanagan J Dog Brands
Damien Ghee ..................................... TD Bank
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 Cornerstone Bank
Les Vail ................................... Workplace HCM
Jim Wujcik The Joseph Fund
“If you are afraid of confrontation, you are not going to do very well.”
– Bill ParcellsThe “Wine Man” Robert Kennedy
“When you win, nothing hurts.”– Joe Namath
Everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery
Breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that Can’t you read the sign?”
– “Signs” – Five Man Electrical Band
THERE ARE MANY SIGNS that the spooky season is upon us again, some subtle, some much less so. Leaves
changing, light fading, cold coming. Signs, that summer has gone, of time passing, of the fall harvest and that winter is coming. So, one brisk autumn eve as the days were getting shorter (and the shadows longer), whilst whistling past a particularly ancient graveyard, this sign appeared and ignited a shudder in an incomprehensively muddle headed and bone chilling way. What profound, heretofore undiscovered secret meaning is being relayed here?! Does this astonishingly incongruous, stunningly intractable symbol set within the
“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”– Mike Singletary
final resting place of so many souls confirm, umm, at least two possible otherworldly destinations? Or is it a signpost of a mocking, vengeful god or perhaps the apocalypse? Nah, don’t think so either, but it’s still weirdly or, dare I say, even gravely amusing.
For more oddly amusing signs o’ the season or perhaps of folks just having a good time, check out Jan Apple’s seasonal happenings on page 28. And for additional atmospheric musings turn to Emily Halbert’s somber photo journey on page 32.
The Raven in New Jersey
THE COMMON RAVEN, once numerous in New Jersey, has seen its numbers dwindle since colonial times due to the destruction of New Jersey’s old growth forests and its reputation as a pest. (Fun fact: Just as a group of crows are known as a “murder,” a group of ravens is known as a “conspiracy”, a “treachery” or an “unkindness.”) According to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, by the 1920s they were nearly gone from New Jersey and most of the eastern United States, but since that time as forested areas have regrown, numbers have rebounded and now the Common Raven is increasingly found once again in New Jersey.
The raven has been perhaps unfairly used as a dark symbol in art, literature and film history representing evil, fear or death. As a cultural icon, perhaps the raven’s most famous appearance has been in the 1845 poem, “The Raven,” by Edgar Allan Poe, (with the haunting refrain repeated, “Quoth the Raven: Nevermore!”)
Despite their undeserved reputation, ravens have been found to be exceptionally intelligent and demonstrate this quality in a variety of ways. They use tools, are exceptional hunters that work in pairs to obtain food and they apparently play games for the fun of it. They are great mimics and can even imitate human speech. They have good memories and are the only animals other than primates who will gesture to communicate! So, the next time you encounter a raven in New Jersey, tell them “Hello,” and maybe, just maybe you’ll hear a familiar croaked, three syllable response… nevermore.
A 72-year-old record holder is facing eviction from Philadelphia.
The S.S. United States, the largest ocean liner to be constructed entirely in the United States (at 990 feet it’s over 100 feet longer than the Titanic), today rests and rusts quietly along the Delaware River in south Philadelphia, a floating ghost ship.
In 1952, the S.S. United States set a record for the fastest crossing the Atlantic Ocean in either direction, an unofficial record it holds to this day. Its many passengers have included Walt Disney, Marilyn Monroe, Duke Ellington, Salvador Dali, Cary Grant, Judy Garland and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The ship remained in service until 1969, after which various owners tried to make her profitable. In 1996 she was towed to Philadelphia’s Pier 82 and has been berthed there ever since.
A preservation group, the S.S. United States Conservancy, was formed and, since 2010, has been helping to raise funds for the ship’s continuous maintenance and restoration, ultimately purchasing the ship in 2011 and saving it from the scrapyard. Yet despite its storied
history, its survival is once again threatened as the ship now faces a possible eviction from its current dock site due to a dispute with the pier owners, who doubled the rent. The ship’s owners, who consider the rate hike illegal, have stopped paying. A court will decide whether the Conservancy must pay the bill of now more than $160,000 in dock fees or be evicted. n
MOB SCENEBY GEORGE ANASTASIA
It Comes With the Territory
ALPHONSE “LITTLE AL” D’ARCO called it a “saga.”
This was back in 1993 when he testified in the racketeering trial of the leaders of the New Jersey branch of the Lucchese crime family. It was one of his first appearances as a government witness.
D’Arco was the acting boss of the Lucchese organization at the time and was making the point that the New Jersey wing of the family was a rogue group that the leaders in New York – this would have included the notorious Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso – wanted to eliminate.
Three of the defendants in the case, Anthony “Tumac” Accetturo and the brothers Michael and Martin Taccetta were part of what D’Arco described as a crime family within a crime family. They didn’t always play by the rules. Or more to the point, they played by their own set of rules.
This had already been demonstrated for all to see during a big federal racketeering trial a few years earlier in Newark. It was not the government’s finest hour. Twenty members and associates of the New Jersey group were on trial, including Accetturo, the Taccetta brothers and Tommy Ricciardi, all of whom were defendants in the 1993 case as well.
The federal trial lasted 21 months. It was a circus, reminiscent in many ways of the infamous “maxi trials” in Sicily that targeted hundreds of mob defendants at a time. There are many who believe the judge lost control of the proceedings early on.
One of the defendants, mob associate Giacomo “Fat Jackie” DiNorscio, acted as his own attorney. DiNorscio, who had ties to both the Lucchese organization and the Philadelphia mob, regaled the jury with what amounted to a stand-up comedy routine disguised as witness cross-examination. The friends and families of the defendants filled the courtroom on many days and the repartee during breaks was a cross between a wedding reception and a wake. Lots of noise and laughter. The comfort level of the defendants was amazing. They
had literally made the courtroom their home. And after nearly two years of testimony, the jury, which clearly had picked up on the vibe, deliberated for only 14 hours before returning its verdicts.
Just fourteen hours after sitting through 21 months of testimony and evidence. NOT GUILTY.
All defendants. All counts.
Bob Rudolph, a reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger, covered the trial and wrote a fascinating book entitled “The Boys from New Jersey: How the Mob Beat the Feds.” Sydney Lumet directed the movie based on that book. It was called “Find Me Guilty.” Vin Diesel starred as DiNorscio.
“The defendants celebrated their victory with unseemly swagger and contempt,” a defense attorney wrote recently, adding that the verdict, the book and the movie “were almost unbearable embarrassments to New Jersey law enforcement, both federal and state. The result was a conspiracy to get even with the Lucchese family by any means possible.”
The 1993 case in which both D’Arco and former Philadelphia crime family underboss Philip Leonetti testified was the “retribution vehicle” authorities used, say lawyers for Martin Taccetta.
THE TRIAL TOOK PLACE in state court in Toms River. Taccetta and the others were convicted of racketeering. He was also named as one of the assailants in the brutal, golf club beating of Vincent “Jimmy Sinatra” Craparotta. Craparotta was killed, au-
thorities allege, in a dispute over mob control of an illegal poker machine operation run by his two nephews who were being forced to pay tribute to the mob.
Trial testimony indicated that both the Philadelphia crime family and the New Jersey wing of the Luchese organization claimed they were entitled to that tribute which amounted to $1,000 a month.
The testimony of both D’Arco and Leonetti, lawyers for Taccetta now claim, was tailored to fit the prosecution’s version of the case. Both mob informants, the defense alleges, lied on the witness stand. What’s more, they contend, authorities withheld information that would have proven Taccetta played no role in the Craparotta murder.
Martin Taccetta is the only defendant still in prison. He is serving a life sentence. He has steadfastly denied the charges and through this latest appeal has asked that his case be retried or his conviction overturned.
FOLLOWING THEIR CONVICTIONS
in the 1993 case, both Accetturo and Ricciardi began cooperating with authorities. The defense now alleges that both men initially provided information that would have exonerated Martin Taccetta in the Craparotta killing and raised serious questions about the credibility of Leonetti and D’Arco.
None of that information was given to the defense.
“D’Arco and Leonetti were not ordinary witnesses,” the defense contends. “They were seri-
“The defendants celebrated their victory with unseemly swagger and contempt. The result was a conspiracy to get even with the Lucchese family by any means possible.”
al murderers and professional criminals whose credibility was inherently suspect.”
The same, they argue in their appeal document, could be said of Ricciardi who, they say, eventually changed his story to fit the prosecution’s version of the case.
Prosecutors and investigators playing fast and loose with the rules in order to win a conviction? That’s the heart of the allegation. It is a common complaint from mob defendants and, sometimes, there is validity to the charge.
In Philadelphia, for example, the feds cut a deal with mob boss Ralph Natale in order to build a case against Joey Merlino. Merlino had become the face of the Philadelphia mob and his high profile had gotten under the skin of the feds. Christmas parties for homeless children. Free turkeys at Thanksgiving in the housing projects. Merlino as Robin Hood.
So the feds made a deal with Natale. He became a witness, although his testimony was riddled with inaccuracies. It wasn’t about the truth, it was about winning.
Taccetta’s lawyers say his situation was even more egregious. Authorities knew their witnesses weren’t telling the truth, they allege, yet they put them on the stand to tell a story that the prosecution wanted the jury to hear. No one in law enforcement wanted a repeat
of what had happened in Newark. This, the defense argues, was a win-at-all-costs prosecution, truth and justice be damned.
All of that, of course, is for an appellate court to decide.
THIRTY YEARS AFTER THE FACT, the appeal filed by Taccetta’s lawyers is full of allegations of deceit, spite and revenge. It is a sometimes convoluted tale that exposes the ever-shifting alliances that were part of the New Jersey wing of the Lucchese crime family. It is a story that would have provided fodder for several episodes of The Sopranos, the classic HBO mob series that some thought was based on the DeCavalcante crime family, New Jersey’s only indigenous Mafia organization.
In fact, it is the New Jersey branch of the Lucchese organization that best reflects the chaotic, often violent but sometimes humorous life depicted in the HBO series.
Taccetta’s pending appeal in many ways repeats allegations made by convicted mobsters throughout federal and state court systems. There is an irony in all of this., of course. Mobsters who live a life in the underworld where lying, cheating and stealing are part of their everyday existence, where all social rules are ignored or flouted, find themselves under in-
dictment and complain that law enforcement bends (or in some cases breaks) the rules to convict them.
It is human nature. It never shows up in a legal document or a courtroom argument, but there have been times when investigators and prosecutors have morally justified their actions by arguing that their targets have gotten away with murder in other cases. That may have been the thought process in the Toms River case. It is certainly what the pending Taccetta appeal contends.
During a trial lunch break one afternoon back in 1993, Michael Taccetta, Martin’s brother and co-defendant, sat in a sandwich shop near the courthouse in Toms River and waxed philosophically about the case against him and his co-defendants. They had beaten the feds in Newark but they were constantly dealing with law enforcement attempts to put them in jail. It was never going to stop, he said.
“It’s like Willy Loman said, ‘It comes with the territory,’” Taccetta said between bites of his sandwich.
A mobster quoting a classic line from “The Death of a Salesman.”
Thirty years later it is still the most succinct description of the case that has kept Martin Taccetta in jail. n
SONNY VACCARO has had a lot of ideas in his 83 years, but none more successful than the day he said, “Give it all to the kid.”
The year was 1984. Vaccaro sat with a few Nike executives in a conference room in Beaverton, Oregon. The company was struggling, and they were deciding on a plan to infiltrate the professional basketball market, as they had done with college basketball. The question was how?
“ We had two schools that won National Championships,” Vaccaro said in a recent phone conversation. He was referring to NC State and Georgetown. “At the time, I have nothing to do with the pros. Nike had players like George Gervin and other players, but all they did was make posters. They didn’t market their players. Nobody did.”
Eight years earlier, Nike had nothing to do with college basketball. Vaccaro changed that.
“Here’s how I did it,” Vaccaro said. “I said we will hire the coaches. We will pay each of them $10 thousand and give them free sneakers for their teams and tee shirts for their camp. They will sign because I knew these guys weren’t making much money, and $10 thousand was significant in 1976-77.”
Vaccaro was living in Las Vegas. He went to Jerry Tarkanian, his friend and the head basketball coach at UNLV. Tarkanian listened to his friend’s pitch and got on board. Within three years, Nike had 80 NCAA basketball schools wearing their product. Vaccaro’s idea proved brilliant.
So when he sat in that meeting in ‘84 and said, “Give it all to the kid,” people listened, but they also thought he was crazy.
“I had never met Michael Jordan when I made that statement,” Vaccaro explained. “The only time I had seen Jordan was when North Carolina beat Georgetown with that shot.”
The “shot” came with 15 seconds remaining in the 1982 National Championship game. The jump-shooter was an unknown freshman named Michael Jordan. Something about that
shot; that moment resonated with Vaccaro. Two years later, he was willing to risk his career betting on a 19-year-old he had never met.
“The best asset you have is not what you think you can do or what somebody else has done, but something no one has done,” he said. “The biggest thing you have is your subconscious. There was always something in my mind that wasn’t supposed to be there.”
Vaccaro called a friend, George Raveling, an assistant coach with USA Basketball. Jordan was a member of the 1984 National team. They were training in Los Angeles in preparation for the Olympic Games, scheduled to be played in that same city later that summer. Raveling came through for his friend. Jordan met Vaccaro at Tony Roma’s, a popular Santa Monica restaurant.
“It was just a personal meeting, but that’s how it all started,” Vaccaro recalled. “I was a big underdog to get it done, but I went through three and a half months of recruiting.”
“It is about how we got it done, through to the final meeting with his mom, played by Viola Davis, the greatest actress in the world.”
Matt Damon plays Vaccaro. Ben Affleck directs the movie and plays Phil Knight, cofounder of Nike. Other names you will see in the credits include Chris Tucker, Justin Bateman, and Chris Messina.
One scene in the film rings true to Vaccaro’s core. Remember that “shot” Vaccaro saw in 1982? Affleck and Damon find a way to portray the significance of that real-life moment for Vaccaro perfectly.
“Michael got the ball 18 seconds before the shot,” Vaccaro said. “That scene where Matt Damon watches it made my wife cry. I cry at everything. But it is as close to the truth because it captures the emotion.”
Vaccaro and his wife Pam were invited to the set to watch the filming one day and attended the movie’s premiere. The experience has been a whirlwind.
The underdog succeeded. In September of that year, Michael Jordan was offered $2.5 million over five years with a 25% royalty on every shoe sold by Nike. Jordan had a signature shoe, and with that, Vaccaro would change the sneaker industry forever.
“It’s the most unlikely thing I ever did, but it just came out of my mouth, Vaccaro said. “Give it all to the kid.”
This past spring, the movie Air debuted. A star-studded cast tells the story of those three and a half months Vaccaro spent recruiting Jordan, or better yet, Dolores Jordan, Michael’s mom.
“I have nothing to do with the movie,” Vaccaro said. “I have nothing legally but everything to do with it.
“Pam deserves to walk down the red carpet, not Sonny Vaccaro, the kid from Trafford, Pennsylvania. But it’s happening. It is getting great reviews. The cast is the best since Ocean 11. Ben (Affleck) knows Michael (Jordan); he blessed the movie. Viola is in it because Michael requested that she be a part of the movie.”
Watching a part of his life portrayed on the silver screen is surreal, but Vaccaro reminds people of the significance of Air.
“People are making millions and millions of dollars, but no one will ever do what Michael Jordan did for this industry,” Vaccaro said. “He cracked the color line. The black athlete was playing, but he wasn’t getting endorsements. He opened up a whole new inventory. Everything started with Michael. Everybody thinks something is crazy until it’s successful.”
“Everybody thinks something is crazy until it’s successful.”Sonny Vaccaro with movie poster for “Air” Photo courtesy Sonny Vaccaro
Kevin Reilly is an author, motivational speaker, and former Philadelphia Eagle. To contact Kevin Reilly, visit https://www.kevinreilly52.com
KEVIN REILLY An October to Remember
ICANNOT REMEMBER when I have been more focused and excited about the Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles in the same year. This has all the potential of being the best sports October that we may ever see.
My hometown of Wilmington, Delaware has the reputation of having one degree of separation from all their neighbors. Twenty years ago, a sign was placed at the city limits that simply said, “Welcome to Wilmington where you can be Somebody.” That being said, a short trip to the bank, grocery store or the gym for me usually involves questions from all the “somebody’s” on my predictions on the Eagles or Phillies or sometimes both. True sports fans are everywhere, excited to talk about what could be.
This energy has been going on since last year’s excitement when both teams went to the respected World Championship games. I can spend an hour talking about the possibilities of this year’s rerun to the World Series and the Super Bowl but if you asked me to condense it to the top four reasons, this might happen again, here they are:
1) Both teams have camaraderie that is rarely seen these days in professional sports. It starts in the locker room and is conducted
on the field. Neither the Phillies nor the Eagles players seem to care who gets the credit or the stats, as long as their team wins the game or the season.
2) Both teams have head coaches and assistant coaches who are visibly respected by most, if not all their players. In my opinion, the coaches are living the Dick Vermeil philosophy… “People don’t care about how much you know until people know about how much you care.”
3) Both teams have a leader that is the “straw that stirs the drink.” For the Phillies this would be Bryce Harper, and, for the Eagles, it would be QB Jalen Hurts. These two topnotch professionals have extraordinary work ethics, honed skills, positive attitudes, and a drive to be number one in all that they do. This unique leadership style in prosports is a rare breed in today’s athletics. Their style can raise their teammates to a higher level across the board.
4) Finally, our incredibly enthusiastic fan base, simply put, is the most passionate, well-informed group of people in the sports world. As an example, look what they recently did for Trea Turner to show their love and support during his slump. The fans gave him a
standing ovation to show their encouragement when he was down, which led him to break out of his slump to play at an all-star level.
For me, my greatest NFL fan experience happened Sept 23rd, 1974, when we beat the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football 1310. It was on a 48-yard walk-off field goal by Tom Dempsey with seconds left of the game. I was on the Field Goal Team and when the refs put their hands up that the field goal was good, Veterans Stadium exploded with a noise level that I could feel from head to toe. It was electrifying and it went on for a good 5 minutes. Our whole team stood on the field basking in the sound of victory over our number one nemesis, The Dallas Cowboys. I was euphoric as I scanned the stands watching and hearing the cheers from our fans. It was something that I dreamed about as a young kid at Franklin Field during the 1960’s seeing games with my dad.
That night the Philadelphia fans became the 12th Man. They were there then, and are here still, in greater numbers, today. I cannot wait to see what the next five months bring to us from our Phillies and Eagles.
I can guarantee this, the 10th and 12th Man will never let us down. n
I was euphoric as I scanned the stands watching and hearing the cheers from our fans. It was something that I dreamed about as a young kid at Franklin Field."
GET FITBY ALEXANDRA DUNEK
New, Low-Calorie Drink Options
Football season is here, which means all the tailgates and watch parties are too. If you are looking for some new, low-calorie drink options to enjoy this season, I got you covered!
Pineapple Ginger and Grapefruit Kiwi to name a few. Even though they are known as a seltzer company, they also occasionally offer other beverages such as hard coffee, hard tea and hard kombucha.
If you were wondering about the origin of their name, Two Robbers, it comes from two unfortunate home invasions that happened while the owners were in the process of developing the product. As quoted from their website, “Adversity often breeds creativity” and just like that, Two Robbers was born.
3. Prosecco (Sparkling Wine)
1. BeatBox Beverages (Wine)
BeatBox Beverages are wine-based or malt-based mixed punches that come in box containers, from a drink company that appeared on Shark Tank in 2014 and was ultimately invested in by Mark Cuban, making it one of the biggest investments in ST history. They branded themselves as the “party drink for millennials,” and have a bunch of flavors such as Blue Razzberry, Juicy Mango and Pink Lemonade, all available in low-sugar (6g) and zero-sugar options.
This option is a bit of a reach but even if Prosecco is not a common drink on game days, it’s still one of the best low-calorie options to consider! It depends on the brand, but a typical glass is around 80 calories and the brand, Thomson & Scott Skinny Prosecco runs about 70 calories. Quick tip, the drier the wine, the lower the calories.
2. Two Robbers (Seltzer)
If you’re looking to switch it up from White Claw or Truly, Two Robbers is a Philadelphia-based seltzer company that launched in 2017. Their 12oz cans contain 0-3g of sugar in flavors such as Orange Mango,
4. Buzzballz (Cocktails)
Buzzballz is a ready-made cocktail that comes in a cool, sphericalshaped container. The product was founded by Merrilee Kick in 2009 and is run by her and her two sons. There are so many choices such as Espresso Martini, different flavored margaritas and mixers like Chili Mango, Peach and Forbidden Apple.
Buzzballz isn’t exactly a low-calorie option (it is gluten-free and kosher certified), but if mixed drinks are more your thing, these are a convenient choice for cocktail lovers! n
Chairman’s Club at the Phillies game courtesy of Rob Curley & TD Bank
FALL FUN & FRIGHTS
From Jersey farms to bone-chilling Halloween happenings, the region offers quite a mix
Goblins, ghosts, haunted houses, hayrides, pumpkin picking and more. As autumn arrives and leaves start to turn a brilliant, natural hue, the region abounds with activities galore. For those seeking the spinechilling thrill of haunted houses to the family-friendly hayride to explore a pumpkin patch or apple orchard, it’s all at your doorstep.
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Inside the walls of this once operational 10-acre prison, a National Historic Landmark, those seeking the thrill of a fright, can find it at during Halloween Nights. Described as a “Halloween Festival of Epic Proportions,” it was reimagined in 2021.
Halloween Nights, offered on select evenings through November 11, features five haunted houses, live entertainment, themed bars and tours of the long-abandoned cell blocks and yards. Haunted houses include Delirium, Big Top Terror, Machine Shop, Nightmares and The Crypt.
“We’re thrilled to bring visitors another year of festive fun,” said Erin Davis, director of Halloween Nights. “This year, we’re adding more scare zones and photo opportunities, enhancing our characters and sets and increasing the number of performers throughout the festival.”
Visitors who prefer to spice up their night of terror with a bit of history can tour the museum and spe -
cial exhibits. Award-winning exhibits about mass incarceration and its history in the United States include The Big Graph and Prisons Today. There’s also an audio tour “The Voices of Eastern State,” featuring the voices of people who were incarcerated at the prison and those who worked there.
The penitentiary, with vaulted, skylit cells, was closed as an active prison in 1971. According to easternstate. org, the prison, “known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, was the world’s first penitentiary, designed to inspire penitence, or true regret in theBY JAN L. APPLE
hearts of prisoners.” Eastern State imprisoned nearly 85,000 inmates in its long history, including “Scarface” Al Capone and “Slick Willie” Sutton.
All proceeds from Halloween Night ticket sales will support the preservation of the Eastern State Penitentiary.
For information or to purchase tickets, visit www. halloweennights.org. And you can learn more about Eastern State Penitentiary at www.easternstate.org
Creamy Acres Night of Terror
Mullica Hill, NJ
According to nightofterror.com, the haunted houses at this Mullica Hill, New Jersey farm are among the Northeast’s scariest Halloween destinations. Located on a 100-acre park, participants will come face-to-face with zombies, attack dogs, chainsawwielding maniacs and killer clowns. There’s also a haunted paintball hayride.
Night of Terror was named by HGTV as one of the scariest destinations for haunted houses, second only to the home of the famous witch trials of the 1690s in Salem, Massachusetts.
The farm’s fall activities, offered through November 4, also include the more traditional, such as pumpkin picking.
eastern state penitentiary is a popular attraction providing halloween thrills and chills
Fresh Springdale Farm Market Cherry Hill, NJ
The last and only operating farm in Cherry Hill, NJ, their popular pumpkin-picking hayrides are offered every Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through October. This autumn activity, a go-to for more than 20 years, continues to attract people of all ages: school groups, teenagers and adults. The farm also hosts birthday parties, special events and private campfire hayrides, to name a few.
The family-owned business was established in 1949 at a time when the surrounding community was sprawling with farms, orchards and pastures – a stark contrast to what exists today.
Michala Jarvis, a third-generation co-owner, works in the farm’s market and oversees the bakery and seasonal departments. The family business includes her parents, Mary Ann and Tom Jarvis, brothers Clayton and Alan Jarvis and her uncle, John Ebert. It’s not unusual to find Jarvis in the fields as well, driving a tractor. She explained that everyone in the family helps out wherever needed.
Jarvis noted that some farms tend to focus more on entertainment. Although Springdale Farm Market offers this as well, their primary concentration is their crops. Jersey Fresh remains a priority. “First and foremost, we are a production farm,” said Jarvis. “We grow tons of fruits and vegetables. Anything we can grow, we do grow. We also sell wholesale to restaurants.”
The farm is also well known for its homemade pies made fresh daily, as well as muffins, cakes, breads and other specialty items. They also have an extensive plant nursery and an array of novelty gift items for the home and garden.
Jarvis points out that their pumpkin-picking hayride is not only fun but also educational. It gives people a chance to see the farm’s crops and sprawling fields. A tractor with an attached wagon brings people to the large pumpkin patch, where they can select from a wide variety of pumpkins, often snapping some memorable photos. The pumpkins are grown in many shapes, sizes and colors: the traditional orange, along with white and blue.
With 100 acres of land, the farm produces an array of seasonal fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, sweet corn, yellow and green squash, eggplant, apples and cole crops. Cole crops, explained Jarvis, are those that thrive in the cold. These include leafy greens, such as lettuce, brussels sprouts, collards, broccoli, Swiss chard, cabbage and cauliflower. Although corn and tomatoes are at their peak in the summer, they are usually still available through mid-October.
Tickets for hayrides and other activities can be purchased online at www.springdalefarms.com.
Johnson’s Corner Farm Medford, NJ
With the fall harvest at its peak, Johnson’s Corner Farm continues its annual family tradition of hayrides to pick pumpkins, gourds and apples. Their Harvest Festivals, held every weekend through October, include live music, a food tent with freshly grilled fare, a corn maze, sunflower picking, a Discovery Barnyard animal farm and playground. Visitors can feed (not pet) the animals, such as sheep, goats, chickens and cows.
“We have a really great apple harvest this year,” said Gil Johnson, who runs the farm with his father, Eric. There are 10 varieties this season, with apple picking in full swing through October. Some of the most popular, noted Johnson, include Pink Lady, Stayman and Fuji.
The family-owned and operated farm is celebrating its 70th year. The farm was purchased in 1953 by Johnson’s grandparents, Bill and Bette.
A long-standing tradition is for school groups to visit every year. Johnson noted that class trips come from schools throughout South Jersey, North Jersey and Philadelphia
The farm’s 110 acres of land is also known for its sprawling sunflower fields and three-acre corn maze. “The sunflower fields are really beautiful,” said Johnson. Johnson’s Corner Farm is also home to a market with a variety of produce, including seasonals such as apples, sweet corn and tomatoes. They also have a bakery, with a full line of pies and breads. “Right now, our specialty is apple pie, pumpkin pie, apple bread and pumpkin bread,” said Johnson. “We always have our famous apple cider donuts.”
Tickets for hayrides, sunflower picking and familyfriendly scavenger hunts in the Corn Maze, should be purchased online at www.johnsonsfarm.com. n
WORDS AND PHOTOSBY EMILY HALBERT
FOR THE Macabre l i ng
s the leaves take on their fiery autumn hues and the crisp breeze hints at the arrival of Halloween, there's no better place to embrace the spirit of this ghoulish holiday than in South Jersey's hidden gem—Eglington Cemetery and Memorial Garden. Nestled in the heart of Clarksboro, New Jersey, this historic cemetery has stood the test of time for over two centuries, making it the nation's oldest continuously operated privately owned burial ground. But Eglington is more than just a serene resting place for the departed; here the past and present coexist in harmonious splendor as the cemetery is open to the public and bustles with local residents strolling through it’s beautiful acreage. Join me on a photographic journey as I take a stroll through this haunted haven, where history, nature, and the supernatural converge.
Rebuild should make this an interesting, fun season The Philadelphia Flyers
will have little pressure on them during the 2023-24 season.
After all, few people expect them to challenge for a playoff spot, let alone the Stanley Cup. But after several half-hearted attempts at a rebuild, management – which includes two rookies in the front office, Danny Briere and Keith Jones – finally seems to get it.
Let the rebuild begin.
A true rebuild.
The Flyers, who have missed the playoffs in each of their last three seasons, will take their lumps as they use several young players. But the hope is that many of those players will blossom and become part of the foundation.
So enjoy watching the kids make the climb. Young players like Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee, Cam York, Tyson Foerster, Owen Tippett, Noah Cates, Bobby Brink, and Emil Andrae, among others, could play prominent roles this season.
Briere is excited about the season, and he put his stamp on the team by dealing defenseman Ivan Provorov to Columbus in a three-way deal in which the Flyers’ return included a first-round pick and two second-rounders.
From the time he was a player, Briere said, he envisioned himself being a part of management someday.
“I was always more interested in how teams were being built,” the new general manager said. Now it’s his turn to do the building. He will construct the Flyers with an emphasis on the draft and developing players.
“ We want to continue to have our younger players develop into more than what they’ve already demonstrated,” said Jones, the Flyers’ president of hockey operations. Jones said he and Briere want “player development to become a really high standard for where we want to go.”
Heading into training camp, here is how the roster was shaping up under John Tortorella, who is in his second season in Philadelphia:
The Flyers averaged a paltry 2.68 goals per game last season, placing them 29th in the 32team NHL.
Improvement is expected. For several reasons.
The main reason: Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson are healthy again. Both missed last season with injuries.
If they can regain their form, the Flyers will be getting a pair of top-six offensive threats. They will also help a power play that was last in the NHL a year ago, clicking at just 15.6 percent.
Couturier’s return from two back surgeries is the key to the Flyers’ season. He plays in all situations and scored 31 and 33 goals the last two times he played at least 80 games in a season.
The 30-year-old center will anchor the top line, which could include two players coming off career seasons – Tippett (27 goals) and Travis Konecny (31 goals, 61 points in 60 games).
Atkinson is rebounding from neck surgery, and he could be on a line with Frost (career-best 19 goals) and Farabee. Farabee (15 goals), 23, should be much improved after being slowed last season by the effects of neck surgery.
Cates, 24, a strong two-way player who had 13 goals and 38 points as a rookie last season, should center the third line. Scott Laughton (18 goals), another hard-working 200-foot player, and the ultra-promising Foerster could be his linemates.
Foerster, 21, owner of perhaps the team’s hardest shot, had seven points in an eightgame stint with the Flyers last season. Brink and Elliot Desnoyers are other rookie for-
has had an injury-plagued past.
The fourth line might have Ryan Poehling centering hard-nosed wingers Nicolas Deslauriers (6-1, 220) and Garnet Hathaway (6-3, 208). Poehling, 24, is a speedy center who was drafted in the first round, two choices ahead of Frost in 2017. He and Hathaway were freeagent signings.
With Provorov traded, the Flyers will have a new look on their top pairing.
During his seven seasons in Philadelphia, Provorov was an uneven performer. He mostly underperformed since being drafted No. 7 overall in 2015, but he was still a guy who blocked loads of shots, ate up minutes, and contributed on the power play.
He was the warrior of the Flyers’ blue line.
But with Provorov gone, Travis Sanheim will have to take on a bigger role. Ditto Cam York, who was solid in 54 games last season.
Heading into camp, it seemed likely that Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen would compose the top pairing. York was favored to be on the second pairing with Marc Staal, who signed as a free agent. Staal played five years under Tortorella with the New York Rangers, so he knows what to expect.
The third pairing is the most difficult to predict. The Flyers could go with steady Nick Seeler and veteran Sean Walker.
Or they could roll the dice and go with one or two young guys.
Andrae, Ronnie Attard, Egor Zamula, and Helge Grans will get a long look. It wouldn’t
wards vying for jobs.
“It’s going to come down to the guys who want to grasp it and make the most of that chance,” Jones said before camp started.
Wade Allison, 25, is also in the running for a spot. The right winger has lots of promise but
be surprising if one or two are on the team when the Flyers start the season on Oct. 12 in Columbus against Provorov, Johnny Gaudreau and the Blue Jackets.
The 21-year-old Andrae has been compared to a young Kimmo Timonen. That’s a huge compliment.
Briere said that just because Andrae doesn’t have lots of experience – he played 10 games with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms last season – it doesn’t mean he can’t play in the NHL this season.
“He’s played pro in Sweden as well; he’s played against men over there,” Briere said.
A year ago, the Flyers allowed 3.37 goals per
Couturier’s return from two back surgeries is the key to the Flyers’ season.Couturier Photos courtesy Philadelphia Flyers
game, 23rd in the NHL. Unless some of the young defensemen make a quick transition to the NHL, that figure probably won’t improve.
Then again, having defensive whiz Couturier back in the lineup should help the overall defense.
Carter Hart, 25, is the unquestioned No. 1 goaltender. He has been a good-to-very-good goalie for most of his five seasons but has yet to reach an elite level. And he will be playing behind a defense that, on paper, looks like the Flyers’ weakest link.
Hart, who had a 2.94 GAA and .907 save percentage last season, was the subject of trade rumors in the offseason. Those rumors will surface again at the trade deadline, especially if one of the other goalies shows he is highly capable.
At the press deadline, the situation surrounding promising goalie Ivan Fedotov was muddled. On Aug. 14, the International Ice Hockey Federation ruled that Fedotov’s contract was the Flyers was valid – and that he breached the contract when he signed a twoyear deal to play in Russia.
The Russian Federation appealed that ruling.
If Fedotov comes to Philadelphia, he would be the frontrunner for the No. 2 spot and might challenge Hart for playing time. He led Russia to a silver medal in the 2022 Olympics, and the 6-foot-7 netminder has all the tools to be an NHL regular.
Sam Ersson, who was capable in 12 games with the Flyers last season, and Felix Sandstrom are other goalies trying to demonstrate they are ready for the NHL.
The other goalie is the once-promising Cal Petersen, 28, who struggled with the Los Angeles Kings last season, but has some good work on his resume.
The Flyers are expected to finish in one of the last two spots in the Metropolitan Division. But this isn’t a year about wins and losses. It’s about the development of the youngsters and laying the foundation for the future.
That future will one day include players like center Cutter Gauthier – now a sophomore standout at Boston College -- and Matvei Michkov, an 18-year-old phenom playing in the KHL.
Gauthier could be the Flyers’ No. 2 center in 2024-25. Michkov, a right winger and center who has a three-year deal in Russia, may be in their top six in 2026-27.
By then, the Flyers hope to return to their glory days. n
Nothing went the way Louis Riddick wanted it to, until it did.
Now the 54-year-old Riddick, a Quakertown, Pa. native and Gloucester County resident, is doing exactly what he wants and doing it rather well.
Riddick played high school football at Pennridge High in Perkasie and his college ball at Pitt. He also played eight years in the NFL. But that’s not how you know him.
Not long after his final year of playing — in the XFL for Orlando — he became an NFL scout, first in the pro department of Washington and later with the Eagles where he was the director of pro personnel from 2010-12. You probably don’t know him from that, either.
Where Riddick became known is on ESPN where he went from studio talent and NFL draft analyst to the Monday Night Football booth to now one of the network’s top college analysts.
None of that was planned. And even Riddick himself can’t believe how it happened or where he is today.
“I wasn’t thinking either personnel or media,” Riddick said of his post-NFL career. “I had an economics degree from Pitt. I was thinking I would somehow — everyone likes money — be involved with a big brokerage house, be affiliated with Wall St. somehow, managing retirement funds.”
Being a scout, being on TV, they weren’t even dreams because they were never even considerations.
“Personnel was never a thought,” Riddick says rather emphatically. “As a player, you develop a feeling that (personnel) people, who weren’t talented enough to play the game, sit around and scrutinize you. So I hated those guys. I always had the feeling they were tryingBY MARK ECKEL
to replace me and come to find out when I became a personnel person that’s exactly what they were doing, trying to upgrade the team any way they could. That’s their job. So I didn’t want to do that.
“As far as TV, I was always fascinated by the great commentators whether it was Keith Jackson doing college football who was the standard when I grew up, or Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, or Dick Enberg. I thought that would be cool to be able to do that, but I never thought when I stopped playing that I would do that.”
He didn’t. He spent over a decade with the people he hated.
“I sat around for a couple of years [after he was finished playing] and it was time to transition into my second job, working in a brokerage house or manager or whatever it was going to be,” Riddick said. “I wasn’t in a rush. I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do.”
YEARS BEFORE ALL OF THAT
he had received a call from long-time personnel man Ken Herock, who he knew from his playing days with the Falcons and Raiders. Herock was now in Green Bay and worked with Riddick’s cousin, Will Lewis, a scout for the Packers.
“He asked me if I wanted to get into personnel,” Riddick said. “He said he admired how I approached the game as a player and thought I would make a good scout. I told him, ‘Ken, I hate you guys. This is not what I want to do.’ He said, ‘Well, think about it.’
Two years later there was another phone call. This time from another veteran personnel man, John Schneider, the current general manager of the Seattle Seahawks, then with Washington. That made Riddick think even more.
“John called and said ‘Your cousin Will and
Ken Herock said I need to talk to you. Both of them think you would be a great scout.’”
Riddick gave in, met with Schneider, and . . .
“The next thing I know I’m packing up my stuff and telling my wife we’re moving to Washington,” he said. “She said. ‘I thought you hated those guys.’ Yeah, go figure.”
Riddick worked in Washington from 200107 and moved to Philadelphia in 2008. He left the Eagles and the personnel world after the 2012 season.
A year later he was at ESPN.
“Before, let’s say, my parting ways in Philly, I started paying more attention to what was going on in the media,” Riddick said. “What storylines were being spread? What kind of spin would writers put on stories? I became more and more intrigued by who were the good ones, who were the ones I thought were [not good]. So, when I left Philly, I thought about staying in personnel but to be honest I was tired of all the BS.”
IT WASN’T AS EASY AS HE THOUGHT to get into the media. He tried and failed a few times. The NFL didn’t even allow him to attend their annual Broadcast Bootcamp held every year in South Jersey.
“They told me I wasn’t a big enough name,” he said. “I was crushed.
“Everywhere I looked I got shot down. So when people ask me now how to get started in the media, there is no blueprint. It’s opportunity, luck and being able to take advantage of the opportunity when it happens. That’s what happened to me.”
That same cousin, Will Lewis, who helped him get into personnel, helped him get into TV. ESPN was starting a show called “NFL Insiders”. Lewis knew some people involved and thought his cousin would be a perfect fit. He was right.
After a 20-minute phone conversation, Riddick was asked to come up to Bristol for an audition. It went well, but not as well as he hoped it would. At least not financially.
“They offered me $800 per show with no guarantees,” he said. “I took it because the first time I did it, I was hooked.”
So was the network. He was hired in August and by late October he was offered a real contract. Six months later came another contract.
“It exploded,” Riddick said. “It just exploded.”
Riddick made his name doing NFL Draft content. He worked the draft on radio in 2014 and then caught a break the following draft when Hall of Famer Ray Lewis had to back out
THE ONLY TIME the same two teams have met in consecutive Super Bowls happened in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills in both games.
ESPN analyst Louis Riddick thinks it’s going to happen again, with the same result.
“It would be weird,” Riddick said of a Kansas City Chiefs/Philadelphia Eagles rematch in Super Bowl LVIII. “But I see it happening. They’re the two best teams. The only way to pick otherwise would be just to go against the grain.”
Kansas City came from 10 points down at the half to beat the Eagles, 38-35, in Super Bowl LVII. Can the Eagles reverse that this year in Riddick’s Rematch?
“I have to go with Kansas City, because of Patrick [Mahomes],’’ Riddick said. “You better start to document what he’s doing. It’s special.”
Since Riddick spends much of his time focused on the NFL Draft, we thought we’d get his opinion on this year’s choices for Rookie of the Year.
On offense: “He’s probably not going to win Rookie of the Year, but I think the one who could be the best player in this draft is Darnell Wright the tackle from Tennessee who went to Chicago. He’s a friggin’ monster. I said he could be All-Pro as a rookie and I’m standing by that. He has that Lane Johnson impact as a right tackle.”
On defense: “Here’s a guy who just needs to stay healthy, Nolan Smith [of the Eagles out of Georgia]. He could be the steal of the draft. For [the Eagles] to get him at 31 was ridiculous. That was malpractice on the rest of the teams to let him get to 31. He has Von Miller-type ability. He’s going to be a difference maker.”
of doing the live TV broadcast.
“I got a call, ‘You’re supposed to be doing radio, right? Get on a plane now, you’re doing TV. You’re replacing Ray Lewis.’” Riddick said.
“ When I get there all the main guys are there, Chris Berman, Jon Gruden, Mel Kiper, they’re all freaking out. ‘Are you ready? What do you need?’ I was like, ‘I have everything I need just tell me where I have to be.’ The first round is ready to kick off, and Boomer just looked at me and said, ‘Hey Riddick don’t (mess) this up.’”
“My phone was blowing up during the show, so either I suck, or people liked what I was saying. I had 85-90 texts and they were all telling me to go on Twitter that people loved me. My whole life changed from that point. It was one big assignment after another.”
Riddick went from the studio to Friday night college games and then to Monday Night Football in 2020 with Steve Levy and Brian Griese.
“Throughout my career at ESPN I always wanted to do the biggest, most watched, most impactful, most important events that I possibly could,” he said. “So, after the draft I had my eye on calling live events, because live events is where it’s at, it’s where the money is, it’s where the eyeballs are.
“ When Gruden left Monday Nights to go
back to coaching, I let it be known I wanted an opportunity to do that. I kept bugging them. Doing Monday Night Football is about as big as it gets. It was surreal for me. And during the ‘COVID’ year, it was even more surreal.
“Every game before kickoff I would just stand there with my headset off, and just listen to the crowd and smell what the vendors were cooking. I’d say to myself, ‘You got to be kidding me.’”
Through it all, there were times when he thought about going back to personnel. He interviewed for general manager jobs with a half dozen teams.
“I thought I had a job,” he said. “I was disappointed. (But) I wasn’t searching for jobs. I
got attention because of what I was doing and saying on TV.”
This season Riddick is on the second MNF crew with Chris Fowler and Dan Orlovsky. And he works a top college game every Saturday. “I couldn’t be more fired up,” he said.
Oh, and he continues to live in Gloucester County where he has since he worked for the Eagles.
When I went from Washington to Philly, we were looking for a house in the Philly area, West Chester, Exton, somewhere around there. We couldn’t find anything. Our real estate agent said there were nice places over the bridge in Gloucester County. I said, ‘New Jersey?’”
“ We’ve been there ever since.” n
Throughout my career at ESPN I always wanted to do the biggest, most watched, most impactful, most important events that I possibly could.”Photo Al Powers / ESPN Images BY DAVE SPADARO EAGLES INSIDER
Jalen Hurts is on a mission
Everyone wants to know about the smile. Or, more accurately, why Jalen Hurts doesn’t smile. How is it possible that someone who is 25 years old, who just signed a contract through the 2028 season worth a reported $255 million, at the time an NFL record, who was a finalist for the league’s MVP Award in 2022, who put up 374 total yards and four touchdowns in the narrow Super Bowl loss in February isn’t smiling all…the…time?
Well, the truth is that Hurts does smile, and he does smile quite a bit. But when he’s in the public eye – on the football field, in press conferences, etc. – he’s all business. And he is deadly serious about his business because, for Hurts, football is just his love. If you really want to know, Hurts is just a young man who loves the game of football – the competition, the mental challenge, the brotherhood – and that’s his focus when he’s out there “keeping the main thing, the main thing,” when he’s outrunning flailing defensive linemen and when he’s dropping back in the pocket and delivering strikes down the field to wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, or when he’s barreling into the end zone using those powerdriving legs to score six points.
“It’s everything to me, really,” Hurts says. “I’m never satisfied. The drive that I have to succeed, that’s it for me. Anything I can do to improve our chances to win a game, I am going to do.”
Hurts has demonstrated that in his meteoric rise to greatness in the NFL. A four-star recruit in high school, where his father coached him at Channelview High School in Texas, he was in the limelight from an early age. Hurts
chose Alabama and had a career that helped shape who he is today – Hurts led the Crimson Tide to the FBS Championship Game in 2017, but was replaced at quarterback by Tua Tagovailoa and then came back the next season to replace Tagovailoa in the SEC Championship Game to lead Alabama to the win, and then he transferred to Oklahoma for his senior season and was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy and in all compiled a 38-4 record as a starter –so the idea that Hurts has come from nowhere isn’t exactly accurate.
“I think what people don’t see is how dedicated he is to the game because he has that drive to win every day, every game. He loves to compete and it doesn’t matter what he’s competing in,” says Brown, his best friend whom the Eagles acquired in a trade with Tennessee on the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft. “He just doesn’t accept losing. He’s going to kick and scream every bit of the way and I think that is a big reason Jalen is so successful. He has that crazy drive.”
Hurts is the focal point of an Eagles team lining up in 2023 as a favorite to return to the Super Bowl and win it. None of that crazy talk is part of the conversation around the NovaCare Complex as the Eagles have this “one-day-at-a-
time” mentality, but it’s out there in the ether. Everyone is talking about the Eagles and the conversation usually starts with Hurts, a second-round draft pick in 2020 who stayed quiet and learned the NFL game in a volatile season for Philadelphia as starter Carson Wentz played himself out of a position. Hurts started the final four games of that season and gained a taste of what the league was all about, and then everything changed after the season when Doug Pederson was fired and Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie hired Nick Sirianni as the new head coach.
With that came Wentz’s request to be traded, so General Manager Howie Roseman obliged, sending Wentz to Indianapolis and clearing the way for Hurts to be the starter.
“This is an opportunity for Jalen,” Sirianni said at the time.
No doubt, Hurts has taken full advantage. The Eagles won down the stretch in 2021 and reached the postseason, losing to Tampa Bay and exposing an offense that relied on an NFL-best rushing attack to make the playoffs. In that offseason, Roseman traded for Brown to complement Smith, beefed up the offensive line and added those necessary pieces to surround Hurts with the right supporting cast. The idea was to build the offense into a multipronged attack capable of slicing and dicing defenses in a myriad of ways.
THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED
last season when Hurts delivered 4,461 total yards, breaking a franchise record set by former quarterback Randall Cunningham. Hurts threw 22 touchdown passes and ran for another 13, and those 35 scores tied Cunningham’s Eagles mark. It’s fair to suggest, then, for those old enough to remember, that Hurts could be the modern version of “The Ultimate Weapon,” except that Hurts plays more into the “Triple Threat” idea, that his third weapon is his brain and that is what truly separates him from the other quarterbacks in the NFL.
identity; everybody has different styles of doing things and I think that’s why quarterback is one of the most unique positions because everybody gets it done in different ways. I just think my way is a little different and it’s rare in a sense. Regardless, I talk about just finding a way to get it done and we have great players on the team and we all play well together and we just want to continue to do that.”
What does Hurts do for an encore in 2023? He’s just hitting the prime of his career – Hurts turned 25 on August 7 – and he has contract stability, a coaching staff that he knows well, and a cast of players around him who give the Eagles a chance to have one of the best offenses in the league – so the present is bright. Philadelphia’s offense has the same threats –Brown, Smith, tight end Dallas Goedert and now running back D’Andre Swift, a big-time weapon in the passing game as well – with an offensive line that should be among the best.
“I know that I am embracing the uniqueness of my game and just being a triple threat out there, being someone knowledgeable and understanding what’s going on out on the field, being able to make those throws, and being able to cause problems on the ground as well, those are the three areas of being a quarterback that I’m embracing and I want to continue to excel at,” Hurts says. “We talk about
The goal for the Eagles is, obviously, to win one more game than they won a season ago. But nobody on the team talks about that. They know this season is a long one, and they understand they are a hunted team.
Everybody wants to knock off the Eagles.
“That’s fine. That’s what this is all about and I welcome that,” Hurts says. “It’s a competitive environment. The best bring out the best, so that is the challenge every day. It’s how you prepare that dictates how you play. I like to challenge myself every day. Nothing that has been done prior will get us to where we want to be now. There are a ton of experiences that we documented and definitely deposited in the bank, if you will, to learn from and we will learn from and have learned from. It’s a day-by-day thing and I think everybody is taking that approach and we’re excited to continue that progression.”
That’s our quarterback and there is every reason to love him for the way he approaches the game of football and the game of life. If you’re looking for a blowout expose’ on his personality or what he likes to do off the football field, it’s going to be hard to find because, truthfully, Hurts is all about the challenge of football. He loves to ball and has ever since he was a little kid in Channelview, TX, attending Houston Texans’ practices, getting an autograph from former Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson and remembering to this day how it meant so much to him.
Jalen Hurts is here to win a Super Bowl and nothing else will make him satisfied. It’s the mission. It’s his purpose. And it is the goal for the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles as they start on the day-to-day, week-to-week 17-game regular season, with a big target on their collective backs, just the way Hurts likes it. n
The Greatest Party in PhiladelphiaBY KURT SMITH
There is no gathering anywhere in the region like an Eagles tailgate.
sages, burgers, and yes, frequent whiffs of reefer. And anywhere you happen to be, you won’t often go five minutes without hearing an Eagles cheer…usually begun by one person, which easily gets at least a dozen more to join in.
It’s that no matter your political persuasion, your religious denomination, your ancestral roots or your musical taste, you have something in common with the stranger next to you. In the parking lots surrounding Lincoln Financial Field on game day, everyone bleeds green and shows their commitment. On Game Day, the Birds are the only thing that matters to anyone.
Tailgating, at first glance, seems an alternative to paying the eternally brazen “atmosphere fee” for food and libations inside a sports venue. But when the party encompasses more than a square mile and looks like this, its purpose goes well beyond thrift. To call an Eagles
tailgate a party, to even call it a celebration, is a rank understatement.
Throughout the lots at the home of the Eagles, including those meant for other teams who happen to play here, you can walk in any direction and see buses, campers, trucks and vans…the majority of them covered with artwork that would provoke a double take on the highway. It gives one pause to consider how much of a fan one must be to shell out the kind of coin needed to decorate a vehicle so magnificently.
Everywhere in this mammoth block party, one hears loud music from a variety of styles and eras. Everywhere, you can smell coal, sau-
If you’ve never been a part of tailgating at this level, you’ll be truly amazed at the dedication of a large number of participants. The seasoned pros arrive early…as much as six to eight hours before game time. (Do the math of how early you’d have to get out of bed, on a cold November Sunday morning, to tailgate for a 1:00 game.)
Veterans of Eagles tailgating even have their designated parking spots, that they head directly to when the gates open…for various reasons, such as being near a grate that can be used as a bathroom. True.
You can easily spot the amateurs…the late arrivals. They spend far too much time in an agonizingly slow quest…not only to find an
Most of the thousands clad in green at the party on Pattison probably don’t even realize it, but there is a truly special element to being in the parking lot on Eagles game day.Lower Mayfair Eagles bus Photo by Kurt Smith
open spot, but to work their way into it as carefully as possible to avoid gazebos, coolers, and equipment that other tailgaters have established hours before.
Hopefully, they’ve learned their lesson from the experience…you need to take this party a heretofore unheard-of other level of seriously.
Dan Kukral is the head chef of the Danny Burke tailgate, named for his brotherin-law who runs much of the party. He was given the chef’s role, he says, because “I come up with all the fun ideas for food.”
Kukral is a research scientist at a pharmaceutical company, which is remarkable given what you’re about to read about his contribution to game day.
He and Burke usually begin the party preparation about five to six days before game day (yes, you read that right). Once they’ve gathered food and supplies for a party that can be for as many as 200-300 people and brought it all to the Linc, he takes on the sizable cooking duties.
Needless to say, it’s a lot for one guy. Kukral simultaneously looks after the preparation of ribs, pulled pork, shrimp and sausage bayou, Buffalo chicken dip, and of course, dogs, burgers, wings, sausages with peppers and onions… even long hots with stuffed provolone and prosciutto. As anyone can easily see from the hefty, mouth-watering piles of grub, he’s more than up to the challenge.
Kukral is just one of many for whom Eagles fandom is a passion worth the investment of time and money.
This observer also spoke with Ed Callahan, whose camper has occupied a spot in the Wells Fargo Center lot since the opening of Lincoln Financial Field. Ed tells an amusing story of why he and his crew acquired a camper.
“In 2004,” he recalls, “I went to a road trip game in Cleveland. There were four of us, and we parked in the lot next to a beat-up old RV. For a swap of a cheesesteak, the guy who owned the RV let us use the bathroom.”
An even trade, certainly. But bringing a bathroom to a tailgate, they realized, was a super idea, for obvious reasons.
Ed and his crew bought an old RV, fixed it up, and made it a staple of the parking lot. They eventually had to replace it following a wreck, so they’ve upgraded to a new one.
Callahan’s current camper is a thing of beauty to behold for a Philadelphia football fan, and it
The Jetro Lot
While the Eagles’ tailgating scene is a thing to behold throughout all of the parking lots, some lots are at a different level of enthusiasm than others, and the parking lots at the Jetro Warehouse east of the Linc are undoubtedly the wildest.
To Philadelphians, the name “Jetro” is probably more known for what takes place in their parking lots than for what they do… they are a wholesale restaurant supplier, selling catering supplies and food preparation equipment to caterers and restaurant owners throughout the region.
But it’s likely that their most important…and maybe profitable…contribution to the city is their ample amount of parking spaces in the Sports Complex. The Jetro folks are, needless to say, aware of this, and they even have Facebook and Twitter pages dedicated expressly to their parking offerings for Philly sports events.
The most serious of Philly tailgaters seem to congregate at Jetro. In this observer’s visit, just a small sampling of things to see were a large number of beautifully decorated buses, a gentleman by the name of Jonathan
might be the most artfully decorated vehicle at the Eagles tailgate…which is undeniably saying something. The back of the RV is adorned with a large-scale timeless image (above) of Frank Gifford lying motionless on the field, following the epic Chuck Bednarik hit. On the side is a wide panorama skyline shot of our city, ranging from 30th Street Station to Billy Penn’s statue.
Metz selling superbly Eagles-themed woodworks, coasters and other items (above), and a live band whose guitar player could mimic Eddie Van Halen’s licks quite well. That’s a ridiculously small sample, but magazines have space limits.
Jetro’s lot isn’t a place where you’d want to bring the kids or your church group. It’s loud and raucous, with music that often features lyrics full of f-bombs. There are also a few flags that are openly critical of the current occupant of the White House, and not in a polite way.
It’s all a labor of love, he says. No kidding…a system as efficient as this doesn’t happen casually. The Danny Burke folks get contributions from participants, which covers the food and drink, but he doesn’t get paid for his more than considerable efforts.
The cook of Callahan’s crew is a gentleman named Anthony. Anthony is definitely keeping busy looking after sausages and other comestibles. He estimates that their party serves anywhere from 30-100 fans each home game.
Executing a successful tailgate, Anthony
But if you can handle that, and you truly want to show your Eagles fan dedication, the Jetro lot is likely the destination for you. It’s well worth a visit, if only just to see the level of fandom the local football team inspires.
As Seen In The Movies: The Silver Linings Playhouse Eagles Bus
If you’ve ever seen the movie Silver Linings Playbook…and if you’re an Eagles fan, you should… you likely remember the scene where the Eagles-decorated “Asian Invasion” bus shows up in the Linc’s parking lot on game day.
In the scene, protagonist Pat Solitano Jr. has just been released from a mental health facility for bipolar disorder. At the game, he notices that his therapist, Dr. Cliff Patel, has emerged from the bus.
He catches up with Patel…whose face is painted green and silver…and Patel dispels any concerns about their meeting outside of the facility: “Today, I’m your brother in green, not your therapist.” Soon, the two have a discussion with Pat’s friend about the Eagles strategy for the game, punctuated with hilarious foul language.
After the movie was made, no one really knew what to do with the bus, and so a movie hand decided to sell it on Craigslist.
says, is a full-time job. “All week, getting food together, cleaning the RV, getting all the grills, utensils, tables, and all that. It’s a full day… breakfast, lunch and dinner in the parking lot.”
Ed says their breakfast specialty is an Irish American Philly Omelet… made with imported Kerrygold cheese from Ireland, Cooper brand American cheese, and Philadelphia cream cheese, all in a three-egg concoction.
Bill Curley, a long, long-time veteran of Eagles tailgates, went for it, and today the Asian Invasion bus is parked in the Wells Fargo lot for every Eagles home game.
“One of the people working on the movie ended up with the bus, and nobody wanted it,” Curley remembers. “The [Philadelphia] Inquirer wrote an article about how the bus was for sale prior to the Super Bowl. Once they won it, I called the guy on the phone and said, ‘Hey, is the bus for sale?’ and he said yes.”
Curley bought the bus for $9,000 in 2017. He estimates that he’s put a total of $30,000 into the investment. The bus is comfortably remodeled inside, with cushioned benches and Eagles decorated chairs, offering a spot to escape weather that can be trying in this part of the world any time of year.
“I come here early and park right here at the end, so people can take pictures. It attracts people from all over the country, I’ve had several people from Canada. A lot of ‘This is my first game, I’m from Utah, it was a birthday gift.’ They come and introduce themselves. It’s a neat thing.”
He still gets into the party, showing up early, saving spots for family and friends, and cooking sausage and peppers for whoever shows up. He was at the Linc at 11:30 AM for the Thursday evening home opener. “It starts early and it ends late,” he laughs. “My daughter’s coming today with her friends.
“This isn’t the most comfortable thing to drive in traffic, so I leave early.”
If you’d like to see the movie scene, you can search for “Silver Lining Playbook Eagles Tailgate Scene” on YouTube. And the next time you’re at an Eagles home game, check out the Asian Invasion bus…it’s well worth a look.
There might be a few NFL cities that are in Philadelphia’s universe when it comes to the magnitude of the pre-game party. But there are things that The City of Brotherly Love offers that are unique: cheesesteaks, scrapple and pork roll.
Buffalo can keep their wings, December weather, and four straight Bowl defeats.
To witness football fan dedication of this level brings to mind a whole world of entrepreneurial opportunities for local businesses. Incidentally, our friends at Duck Donuts realized this…on the day this article was written, the author received an email with a subject line that read: “Win The Tailgate With Donuts!” They get it.
Sure, for liquor stores, sandwich shops and food markets in the area, it’s obvious. Put it in your promotional materials that you offer everything Eagles fans need for Game Day… cases of beer, large bottles of liquor and mixers. Ready-made subs and pizzas, bulk packages of burgers, sausages, chips, dips, and rolls.
But that’s just scratching the surface. A party this size needs it all.
An owner of an RV dealership can add a bar and lounge to the inside of a used camper to make a sale to a dedicated Eagles supporter. Vehicle wrapping and decorating outfits could market their wares to fanatics that buy multiple spots at considerable cost for their RV.
Needless to say, anyone selling Eagles gear could market to the block party…most all of whom represent their team faithfully with jer-
seys, caps, face paint or any kind of accessories featuring the Eagles logo and colors. Outdoor stores could make a serious profit too. Grills, propane tanks, coolers, generators, portable toilets, anything associated with RV adventures might be applicable to a tailgating demographic. Space heaters and fuel would undoubtedly be in big demand in the colder months. Decorating anything with the Eagles
colors and logo could make the sale to the typical Linc lot enthusiast.
It’s even an opportunity for catering services, private event coordinators, DJs, even live musicians, all of which you can easily find at an Eagles tailgate.
If nothing else, fly a plane towing a banner over it all for the thousands in the lot to see… which also happens frequently.
You get the idea, but even if you’re a realtor or a financial advisor, there’s no reason why you can’t build goodwill by renting a camper, hosting a game day party and inviting your customers, as one business owner (who asked for her name not to be shared) does.
No doubt, your Eagles fan patrons will speak well of you.
Because after all, you’re family.! n
GAME DAY DELIGHTSBY ALLISON FARCUS
SMOKY SOY GARLIC WINGS
What goes well with beer, wine, large groups, and doesn’t need utensils? WINGS! These are smoky and sweet, and if you like heat, use chipotle en adobo in place of the smoked paprika. Top with sesame seeds and chopped scallions to add appeal. Serves 6
• 3/4 cup honey
• 1⁄2 cup soy sauce
• 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
• 6 minced garlic cloves
• 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
• 1 tbsp smoked paprika
• 1⁄4 cup water
• Sliced scallions and or sesame seeds
• 3 lbs. wings - tips removed, drumettes separated 1 tbsp oil of your choice
• Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Pat dry wings to remove any moisture.
3. Toss in oil, salt and pepper.
4. Place a wire rack over a lined baking sheet. (this will capture the drippings and protect your sheet pan from a sticky mess)
5. Place wings on a rack with space in between. Bake for 45 minutes.
6. While baking wings, place honey, soy, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, smoked paprika and water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until reduced and thicker but not quite to a glaze consistency, ensuring it’s not bubbling to the top of the pan.
7. Remove wings from oven, add a few to saucepan at a time, removing and placing back on the rack. Repeat until all wings are fully coated in sauce. Bake for 10 more minutes and use any remaining sauce for dipping.
8. Place wings on a platter and scatter scallions and sesame seeds over.
WARM ONION ARTICHOKE DIP
What’s a football party without a dip? This addictive dip is a combo of two favorites: onion and artichoke. This dip is as easy to make as it is delicious. Serve with a variety of colorful raw veggies, corn chips, pretzels, and crackers; or let your guests create their own “toast” using store-bought or homemade crostini, a schmear of that dip, and sliced tomatoes. Serves 6-8
• 1 sweet onion- chopped
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 Cup mayonnaise
• 3/4 cup grated parmesan
• 1/4 cup shredded part skim mozzarella 8 oz cream cheese, softened
• 1 minced garlic
• 1 (one) 14 oz. can quartered artichoke hearts, drained Salt and pepper to taste
GARLICKY BISTRO “FRIES”
1. Warm oil over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent and lightly brown.
2. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Set aside two artichoke quarters
4. Place remaining ingredients in a food processor or mix well until incorporated, smooth, and creamy.
5. Pour into an oven-safe baking dish, top with two remaining artichoke quarters, and bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is bubbly and golden brown.
Ditch the deep fry and still please the crowd. Oven fries are super satisfying, waaay less labor intensive, and deli- cious. The fresh garlic and herb oil elevates this classic and is still dippable in your favorite condiment.
Serves 6 as a snack/side
• 4 large baking potatoes- washed, dried, and cut into desired fry shape. The thinner, the crispier the result.
• olive oil
• Salt & pepper
• 4 garlic cloves- minced
• 2 tsp dried oregano
• 1 handful fresh herbs of your choice- rinsed to remove dirt, and finely chopped
Optional 1st step helps remove starchiness: Soak cut potatoes in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes. Remove and dry on a flat surface very well.
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a large-rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.
2. Place cut potatoes in a bowl and toss with olive oil to coat, about 1⁄4 cup, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper
3. Spread in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet. Roast potato slices/wedges for about 30-45 minutes, until golden brown, turning once after 20 minutes. (Small pieces will cook faster)
4. While potatoes are cooking, add olive oil to a small bowl and mix in garlic, oregano and fresh, chopped herbs.
5. Remove potatoes after desired brown color is achieved, carefully move oven fries to a serving dish and drizzle with herby garlic oil and sprinkle with more salt and pepper to taste.
Need more flavor? Pick one or both:
Heat a pan to medium heat and add chopped bacon or pancetta. Cook until crispy and add to fries with garlic and parsley.
Sprinkle grated parmesan.
THE CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT FRENZY CONTINUESBY MICHAEL BRADLEY
It won’t surprise too many people that the recent orgy of college sports realignment that has featured the Pac-12’s implosion, the Big 10’s gorging itself on schools thought previously to be geographically undesirable and new homes for just about every school but the College of Cardinals was, is and always will be about one thing: Money.
As far back as 1950, when college football still featured one-platoon football, and many players eschewed facemasks on their helmets, the NCAA took control of the TV broadcasts of its member schools. The organization feared that if fans could watch their favorite teams’ games at home, they would have little motivation to dust off their raccoon coats and cheer on State or Tech in person. That would limit revenues and rob schools of funds needed to support non-revenue sports on campus.
Over the next 30-plus years, the NCAA limited schools to a total of six appearances every two years. It negotiated contracts with broadcasters and distributed the money, leaving fans to often see just one game a weekend and no control over what was beamed onto their sets. Fast forward to 2023, and a toxic
combination of poor leadership, shoddy management, greed, and outright incompetence has triggered the most recent round of musical conferences that threatens to alter the college sports landscape forever – and most likely not for the better. Meanwhile, Temple, an FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) school trying to build a winning program and find some sort of fiscal normalcy amidst the swirling climate, is stuck in a conference whose personality has changed drastically over the past year and could well become even more alien to the Owls and their mission as the realignment fervor continues. Villanova looks safe in the hoops-centric Big East, but that could change quickly.
Schools in the Big Ten and Southeastern Conferences are the big winners because they are getting the biggest payouts from media companies, and they have been able to swell their ranks with coveted new members. The Big Ten gets USC, UCLA, Washington and Oregon. The SEC gets Oklahoma and Texas. The Big 12 gets Cincinnati, BYU, UCF, Houston, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Arizona State. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 gets consigned to college football history’s graveyard, and the American Athletic Conference – Temple’s home – has added schools like UT-San Antonio and North Texas.
Those institutions shouldn’t be ridiculed, but their football programs don’t exactly help bring in big TV dollars.
“There are some institutions where the basketball brand and overall athletic department carry some weight, but in a lot of discussions with TV people football is the most important,” Temple Athletic Director Arthur Johnson says.
It’s not hard to imagine that in 10 years (maybe less), the biggest college football teams will form their own super-sized confederation that ingests the vast majority of available TV/ streaming/media cash and leaves schools like Temple in a purgatorial state that neither provides enough cash for sustenance nor allows for a drop down to the next rung on the Division I ladder, where Villanova, Penn and others who decided to eschew a shot at the big time reside.
“I hope we can create more balance and structure so we can avoid a superconference with the elite teams separate from those that don’t have as much and the have-nots,” says Villanova AD Mark Jackson.
That may be a nightmare scenario for some, but it could lead to a redistribution of membership in other sports. Regional rivalries are rekindled. Ridiculous travel for softball teams is eliminated. Sanity prevails.
Those big-time schools could decide that communing with the little people is beneath them. They form a 60-school group (give or take) that competes for championships in all sports. The biggest casualty in that would be the NCAA Tournament, which would then lose its first-round upset charm and prevent the entire City Six from competing. March Madness ceases to exist in its current, perfect form.
Say goodbye to a magical Final Four run by a school like Florida Atlantic. Forget about that wild opening weekend, when it seems like everybody in the country is paying attention to college basketball.
It could happen. Really.
Back in 1984, few people could have predicted a U.S. Supreme Court decision would play a significant role in the future of conference realignment. Oklahoma and Georgia had sued the NCAA for limiting their football teams’ ability to appear on television, a practice that was preventing them from maximizing their revenues. The Court, in a 7-2 vote, sided with the schools and called the NCAA policy “inconsistent with the fundamental goal of antitrust law.”
The decision invalidated the NCAA’s deals with ABC, CBS and Turner and allowed schools and conferences to negotiate their own TV contracts. It also assured that more games than ever before would be broadcast on a variety of networks – and today, streaming services. As the competition for rights fees grew, conferences realized the best way to secure the fattest contracts was to secure the strongest lineups of members.
It all began in 1990 when South Carolina and
Arkansas joined the SEC. The Gamecocks had been independents, but the Hogs were members of the Southwest Conference, which was left with eight members, all from Texas. Expanding to 12 teams allowed the SEC to stage a conference championship game and take in even more money from its broadcast partners. The move led to a flood of other activity. The Big Ten added Penn State. Florida State joined the ACC. And the Big East added football to its list of sponsored sports and Miami to its lineup. In ’94, the SWC blew apart as Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas Tech teamed with the Big Eight schools to form the Big 12.
Over the next 30 years, the Big East left the football business, the ACC added Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Pitt, Miami, Louisville and Boston College. Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC. Colorado and Utah headed to the Pac-12. Maryland, Rutgers and Nebraska became part of the Big Ten, and several smaller conferences came and went while adding and subtracting a bunch of members.
The recent cataclysms have effectively killed the Pac-12, and bought the Big 12 a few more years, although its members will receive media rights payments that are less than half of what the Big Ten and SEC schools will pocket. It’s clear this isn’t finished. Florida State wants out of the ACC. It sounds like Clemson does,
too. And what of Notre Dame, the most prized catch of them all? Will the Irish surrender their coveted football independence? And could the Saudis flood the college football world with silly cash, as they have golf and soccer?
Think that sounds crazy? So did Oregon and Washington to the Big Ten – until it didn’t.
Over the past decade, it has been suggested – most recently by The Inquirer’s Mike Jensen – that the perfect spot for Temple’s athletic program is the ACC. That’s not an outrageous idea, although the Owls have historically struggled to find highlevel homes. Even when they were part of the Big East for football, they couldn’t gain full admittance, something Temple would have loved for its basketball program. When it appeared the Owls would be fully made members, the conference’s previous model collapsed and took on its current configuration.
If the ACC loses some members, there would be a home for Temple, which fits well into the ACC footprint, especially if BC, Syracuse and Pitt stick around.
Temple’s more pressing concern is what happens if members of the American Conference, its current home, join the Pac-12 orphans in some Jenga-like configuration. The AAC will likely dip further into Conference USA or the Sun Belt to grab schools like Appalachian State and Southern Mississippi, not exactly good matches for the Owls.
“Something’s going to happen there, one way or another, whether the schools go independent or into other conferences,” Johnson says. “It’s all driven by television.”
Then there is the interesting case of Villanova, which appears quite happy in the Big East, with a Colonial Athletic Association affiliation for football. Suppose the Wildcats used the land they acquired from Cabrini University to build a 35,000-seat stadium and jump to the FBS level? Nova would then be an intriguing potential ACC candidate, especially since that conference is historically known more for hoops. It’s highly unlikely, especially the FBS football part. Besides, Villanova likes the Big East.
“Being in the Big East, we pride ourselves that we are like-minded,” Jackson says. “We are mission-driven universities with basketball as the flagship. We have great academics and are majority faith-based. We have a lot of common elements that tie us together.”
There is no way to predict what will happen, but fans would be wise to prepare for everything and remember the one rule of college athletics:
Money talks. n
THE CIGAR GUYBY SAM KRAFT
WELCOME TO THE WORLD of Rojas Cigars, crafted by the talented Noel Rojas, who works out of the Dallas Fort Worth area of Texas. Born in Cuba and later settling in Nicaragua, Noel Rojas has made a name for himself in the cigar industry through his exceptional work on brands such as Guayacan, Ohana, and Ezra Zion. His most celebrated creation, the Street Tacos cigar, has captivated aficionados worldwide. But it doesn’t stop there—Noel Rojas has a bigger purpose in mind.
Noel Rojas’ vision goes beyond crafting exceptional cigars. His appearance on the Cigar Authority podcast interview revealed his mission to go beyond simply producing a good cigar: “It can’t just be a good cigar, it has to have purpose.” He strives to help people develop their palates and become well-educated consumers, regardless of where they are in their cigar journey. His brand, Rojas Cigars, represents the culmination of his aspirations, with each cigar telling a story.
ONE SUCH CIGAR is the Unfinished Business, which holds a significant place in Noel Rojas’ heart. Symbolizing the last piece in his journey to establish his own brand and company, this cigar represents the culmination of years of dedication, passion, and expertise.
From the initial dry puff, the Unfinished Business cigar reveals its character with the distinct presence of cherry and cocoa. This delightful fusion of sweetness and richness sets the stage for an enjoyable smoking experience. The underlying touch of black pepper adds a subtle spice, adding depth and complexity to the overall flavor profile.
The cigar contains a closed foot, meaning the wrapper folds over slightly at the end of the cigar. When lit, all the strong flavors from the
wrapper hit the smoker immediately. This gives the cigar a very strong start and hints at flavors to come. During the first third of the smoke, this cigar continues to impress with its smoothness and the emergence of sweet leather flavors. The interplay of sweetness and leather creates a unique taste that satisfies the palate. The draw remains consistent and smooth, enhancing the overall smoking pleasure.
Transitioning to the second half of the smoke, bready flavors become more pronounced, while hints of cherry persist. This evolution of flavors adds a delightful variation, keeping the smoking experience engaging and enjoyable.
The Unfinished Business cigar concludes with a distinctive finish. The flavors shift to a harmonious blend of fermented oaky notes and the richness of molasses. This unexpected combination adds a touch of complexity to the cigar.
Noel Rojas and Rojas Cigars continue to leave his mark on the cigar industry through his commitment to purpose and cigar education. With every puff of his brand, cigar enthusiasts embark on a journey with Noel Rojas, exploring flavors, expanding palates, and savoring the essence of what it means to be a cigar smoker. ! n
A social club where business happens
We are proud to introduce you to our private business network
H Do you want to expand your network in Philadelphia and South Jersey?
H Do you want to create powerful connections with other business professionals in the area?
H Do you want to attend exclusive networking events once a month at local venues?
LEGACY CLUB SPOTLIGHT
“The Legacy Club has truly been the best networking experience I have had professionally. The amazing people that make up the club are all top notch in every way and truly very friendly and willing to get to know you and your business. My network has not only grown but the members of the Legacy Club have gone out of their way to recommend me and my business. Finally, let me shout out the staff of the Legacy Club as they always schedule great events each month and provide an atmosphere that makes you want to attend.”– Ross Askelrad, President, Pulse Entertainment/Productions, Member since 2022
To learn more about the Legacy Club contact Ken at: email@example.com or call 856.912.4007Photos: John Wilchek Photography
Legacy Club Members
Martin H. Abo Abo and Company, LLC
Melissa Aidukas Metwalk
Ross Akselrad Pulse Entertainment/Productions
Alexis Allegretto City Abstract
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Dr. Victory Anyiam Victory Chiropractic & Performance, LLC
Joel Ardman Carroll Engineering
Tyler Ardron Risk Reduction Plus Group
Liz Arking Weichert Realtors
Bob Arnold SeatonHill Partners LP
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Keith Baldwin Spike’s Trophies & Awards
Michael Barreto Metropolis Passenger Logistics
Brian Barry Keller Williams Cherry Hill
Justin Bathurst CODA Search
Robert Beach Procision Commercial Realty & Procision Business Brokers
Kevin Beaford WSFS Bank
Robert Bender The First National Bank of Elmer
Tom Bentey Suburbanite Productions
Karl A Berger Fractal Sales Solutions
Tom Bernetich BDO USA, LLP
Brian Bielawski Dynamic Advertising Solutions*
Matt Blatz PCS
Matthew Bledsoe Richard Green & Son Public Adjusters
Christine Blithe ARS Truck & Fleet Service*
Eric Blumenthal Commonwealth Capital, LLC
Ken Bode Integrity Staffing Solutions
Anastasia Boucher Workplace HCM, Inc.
Michael Bowman Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board
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Al Branca AXE PRIME, LLC
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James Corbett Project Refit
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Erin Dimitriou Smith Triou Marketing, LLC
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JP Sawyer The Alias Group
Sergio Scuteri Capehart Scatchard, P.A.
Jeremy Shackleford WSFS Bank
Hala Shawaf-Barson VoIP Doctors Business Telecommunications
Lee Shields Marcum
Jennifer Sherlock Jenna Communications, LLC
Dr. Joel Shertok Process Industries Consultants
Gary Shickora Northwestern Mutual
Joe Silva HBK CPA’s & Consultants*
Jerry Silvi Cornerstone Bank
Joe Simone Regional Resources Energy Group
Josh Smargiassi Boomerang
Chris Smith Micro Integration Services, Inc.*
Ralph Smith Capehart Scatchard, P.A.
Michael Snyder Spark Creative Group
Richard B. St. Maur III Coordinated Project Solutions, LLC
Robert Sullivan Schooley Mitchell
Melissa C. Tagye Truist Wealth
Scott Tanker Tanker Consulting Services
Mark Tate McGriff
Dr. Keisha Taylor Dr. Keisha Stephenson Taylor Consulting Services, LLC
Thomas Taylor Repice and Taylor, Inc.
Robert Telschow, Jr Colliers Engineering & Design
Brooke Tidswell Farm Truck Brewing
Christopher Toppi Compass Wire Cloth Corp.
Manuel Torres Insperity
Kenneth Toscano New York Life Insurance Company
Joseph Tredinnick Cornerstone Bank
Jim Turpin Chelsea Wealth Management
Tracie Ullman Life Transformations TU
Dave Uygur BHHS Fox & Roach
Les Vail Workplace HCM, Inc.
Emory Vandiver Interactive Security
Joseph Velez 3D Voice & Data
Angela Venti Alloy Silverstein
Matt Verney TRUIST
Josef Vongsavanh Center City Photo
Douglas Walker Walker Cutting Services
Jeff Walter The Wallet Group
Anthony Ward PCS
Eileen Ward Calamos
Jennifer Washart SERVPRO
Bill Webb Saratoga Benefit Services
Michael Weinberg Weinberg, Kaplan & Smith, P.A.
Phil Wessner Fulton Bank
Drew Whipple OceanFirst Bank
Michael White Edge Tailoring
John Wilchek, Jr John Wilchek Photography
Christofer Wilhelm Gateway Mortgage
Ashleigh Wilson CLM Advisors
Pamela Wilson Bank of America
Jason Wolf Wolf Commercial Real Estate
Nicholas Yodock Archer & Greiner, P.C.
Vittoria Zaslavsky TD Bank
Jim Ziereis Tropicana, Atlantic City
Chris Zirpoli Emerson Group
Jack Zoblin Jacy Technology Advisors, LLC
Jason Zucker 76 Solutions
Staying Safe Online: Your Friendly Guide to 2FA, Encryption, and More
IN TODAY'S DIGITAL WORLD, our lives are intertwined with the internet in more ways than we can count. We shop, socialize, bank, and even work online. While this connectivity brings convenience, it also brings concerns about keeping our personal information safe. The good news is that you don't need to be a tech expert to protect yourself online. By using a couple of simple techniques like 2FA, encryption, and a few other tips, you can enjoy the online world with confidence.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Imagine having not just one, but two locks on your digital front door. That's what 2FA does for your online accounts. In addition to your regular password, 2FA requires a second step to verify your identity. It's like having an extra layer of security armor. Most often, this second step involves receiving a code on your phone that you'll need to enter along with your password. Even if someone cracks your password, they won't be able to get in without that additional code.
Setting up 2FA is usually simple. Just go to your account settings on the websites or apps you use and look for the 2FA option. Many platforms support it, including social media, email, and banking websites. Trust us, the tiny bit of extra effort is well worth the peace of mind.
Encryption: The Shield for Your Messages
Have you ever sent a private message or shared sensitive information online? Encryption is like turning your message into a secret code only the recipient can decode. When you use encrypted communication, even if someone intercepts the message, it'll look like gibberish without the right key. Look for the little padlock symbol in your
browser's address bar when visiting websites. This indicates that the connection is encrypted, which is especially important when you're sharing personal details or credit card information. For emails and messaging apps, you can opt for end-to-end encryption, which means only you and the person you're communicating with can read the messages.
Update, Update, Update
Imagine if your front door had a rusty lock that anyone could easily pick. That's what outdated software is like for your devices. Whether it's your smartphone, laptop, or
even your smart TV, keeping your software up to date is crucial. Those updates often contain patches for security vulnerabilities that hackers might try to exploit.
Turn on automatic updates for your devices whenever possible. This way, you don't have to worry about checking for updates regularly. Your devices will quietly keep themselves secure in the background.
Be Wary of Phishing
Picture someone pretending to be a friendly neighbor, but really, they're trying to trick you into giving them your house key. That's what phishing scams are like in the digital world. Hackers will send you emails or messages that look legitimate, asking for your sensitive information. They might claim to be from a bank, a social media platform, or even a friend in trouble.
Always double-check the sender's email address or the URL of the website they're asking you to visit. If something seems off, don't click on any links or provide any information. Legitimate organizations won't ask for your password or personal details through email.
Staying safe online doesn't require a degree in computer science. By using two-factor authentication and encryption, updating your software, and being cautious about phishing attempts, you can enjoy the digital world with confidence. Remember, just like you lock your front door before leaving your house, taking a few extra steps to secure your online presence is a small effort that yields significant peace of mind. n
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.
Two-Factor Authentication requires a second step to verify your identity. It's like having an extra layer of security armor.
THE WINE MANBY ROBERT KENNEDY
FOR ALMOST 13 YEARS NOW,
I’ve had the distinct honor of writing a column for the JerseyMan and PhillyMan brands. Let me be honest, it’s not quite like getting paid a gazillion dollars for playing a sport that you absolutely love, but for me, it’s pretty darn close. You see, when you have a very strong passion for anything in life, it comes down to one thing: Doing what you love regardless of the financial reward. You find a way of getting there somehow, someway. Pragmatically, writing for JerseyMan Magazine permitted me to hone my writing skills, while thinking about, and researching, topics and subjects about wine that hopefully had a genuine interest to the JerseyMan readership. It gave me purpose and enjoyment about something I love as a pastime, but everything has a half-life, and mine is at that point.
I remember when publisher Ken Dunek launched his very first publication back in late 2010 or early 2011. Former Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil was promoting his wines at a local wine store, and Ken had invited the coach to feature the Vermeil wines while introducing the world to the newly minted inaugural JerseyMan publication. I attended the Vermeil wine tasting event that evening, and Ken knew about my penchant for wine and wine collecting; so he invited me to be a part of this wonderful collaboration as a columnist the evening of the launch. I was intrigued by the idea, and I knew this was going to be very special, so I dove into my first article, which was published in the magazine’s second edition.
As Ken does with all his columnists, he gave me free rein to bring out my passion for the sport of wine and permitted me to put my own DNA on the articles that followed. It was, at times, difficult to decide on an appropriate topic, but once I sat down to pen an article, it flowed easily.
I wrote broad articles about utility wines, NJ wineries and the laws, regulations, and challenges that each state discovered when selling against the monster state of California.
For comments, questions, suggestions and/or feedback, contact Robert Kennedy at rkj@Kennedy-companies.com.
Broader strokes of the pen came later when I continued to find myself rarely recommending any particular wines; as I wrote many times throughout many publications, “Drink what you love, regardless of the price point or label.”
about things such as the Coravin system, and the benefits of synthetic corks, screw caps and natural corks. It was truly a panacea of wine subjects from soup to nuts. And, throughout it all, I had you, our readers, in mind. I hope you enjoyed my column as much as I had the pleasure to write.
I took on this mantra because each of us has a unique palette, and what one likes another may not. Additional articles abounded, including New World vs. Old World wineries, what makes up the DNA of the fruit that is grown to make this incredible juice, and a “buyers beware” of fraudulent sellers. I included articles that hopefully educated our readers
So, I close with a farewell. It’s time to “pass the torch to a new generation” as President Kennedy said in his presidential inauguration speech in January 1961. I want to thank each of you for allowing me to pen a passion of mine that continues to flame brightly and will do so for many generations to come. But I particularly want to thank Ken, who on that very fateful evening in 2011, had the foresight to believe in my ability to connect with each of you about the passions we share for this very special love of wines. This was truly the experience of a lifetime, and I am extremely appreciative of the incredibly wonderful opportunity to be a part of something that I knew in 2011 would be spectacular. I was not wrong.
I leave you one last thought as I write this last JerseyMan/PhillyMan article: Drink what you love, regardless of the price point or the label.
I leave you one last thought: Drink what you love, regardless of the price point or the label. Cheers!