Monday, August 29, 2005

McDougle speaks

For the first time since being shot in a robbery on July 29 in Miami, Eagles defensive end Jerome McDougle addressed the Philadelphia media from the NovaCare Complex.

He spoke of his physical condition as well as his appreciation of life and family.

Here are some selected quotes, provided by the Eagles, from his news conference.

On how he feels physically:
“I feel good. It was good to be around my family.”

On whether it set in on how close he came to dying:
“Yeah, it kind of did, but I always knew that everything was going to be all right. I have faith in God, so I was always confident that everything was going to work out. It was close, but I’m here. You can always talk better in hindsight, but I’m here and that’s all that’s important.”

On whether it makes him appreciate life more:
“Yes it does. Wouldn’t you appreciate it more? It makes you kind of wonder and makes you put things in a priority to see what’s important. Life is important. That’s one of the important things, life.”

On whether there was one thing from the incident that was the toughest to go through:
“All of it was tough. I really can’t just say one thing. I feel good now to be back. I just want to move on from it. I want to put that chapter behind me.”

On whether he is over the mental part of him being shot:
“Yeah. You’ve got to get past that first before you even get back healthy with the physical aspect. But mentally, once you know you’re okay and you made it, you have an incident like that and you make it through, the mental part of it is kind of behind you then.”

On whether he was conscious for the whole time it was going on:
“Right after it happened I went under and then I came back probably like ten minutes later. Then I was up until I went into surgery.”

On how tough it has been not being able to work out:
“It’s tough. Listening to what the doctors say, they want you to kind of do everything real strict. It’s tough not being able to lift your son, and not being able to do the things that you know you should be able to do. So, it really makes you be patient and you kind of have to have some self control.”

On how he appreciates life more:
“Just waking up and you’re all right. You can see your mom. You can see your son. Being able to talk to Coach [Andy] Reid, all the good stuff to look forward to after all you go through with something like that.”

On how tough it was, especially knowing that he was coming into the season healthy and competing for a starting spot:
“It was tough. I kind of fought with it at first, but I can’t do anything about it. I was kind of really getting into my groove. I’ll get back. I can’t worry about that stuff. I’ll get back. I just have to work that much harder now to get back from this. It’s always going to be something. There are always going to be obstacles testing you.”

On whether it has affected his physical conditioning:
“I feel good. I don’t get tired or anything like that. Everything is good as far as my body’s concerned. All of my pipes are working. Everything is working good. I guess the test will be once I get out on the field and start moving around.”

McNabb news conference

From the Eagles:


On how much this team will miss DT Corey Simon:
“It’s a tough loss for us. You are talking about a guy who is a great pass rusher, one of the premiere tackles in the game and a great guy. He’s a great individual and a great human being. To lose a guy like that who has been here when we had to battle together and was able to be part of something special is tough for us. We hope the best for him. I have been communicating with him back and forth now and then to wish him good luck. I’m sure that wherever he ends up, you will be hearing a lot from about Corey Simon.”

On what it will take for this team to recapture the energy from last season:
“Actually, I think we already have that energy. It is tough to say during the preseason, but the way things started in the preseason last year, we had that energy flowing, the confidence level was high and guys were willing to do whatever it takes for us to be successful as a team. I think we have that right now. That is always an exciting deal going into the season and we look forward to the things we are going to be able to do as a team. Not just the offensive side or the defensive side, but as a team. I think the sky is the limit for us. If we continue to take it one play at a time and focus in on our jobs, hopefully things will work out.”

On whether loosing the 4th starter from last year before playing a regular season game will hurt the team:
“I would like to say not necessarily, but when you are missing guys who were key components of your rebuilding and forming of a team that stands out among the league top, for guys to be missing that were part of that is tough. On a positive note, I think the guys that we have brought in, as a veteran, you want to provide confidence for those guys, make sure they understand exactly what we do around here and how to go about it and show by example. You have to show exactly what it is by giving all the effort that we have, playing well as a team and coming out with wins.”

On whether he feels the starting offense is ready for the season, now that the preseason is mostly over for them:
“I think we have done some good things this preseason. Not just in the passing game, but being able to convert on third down when we needed, putting ourselves in third and short after second and long. I think we have shown some good signs. But again, we know that when the regular season starts, we will be faced with a lot of different blitzes, coverages and things of that nature. What we have seen so far will prepare us for the plays that will be called and what we will be faced with on the defensive side. I think where we are at right now is exciting, but we still have a lot of work to do. We have to take advantage of the practices and get ready for when the season starts.”

On how he feels both mentally and physically now compared to other seasons:
“I feel great. I felt great last year, the year before and the list goes on. But, I think one thing about me is that you don’t have to worry too much about me being down and anything of that nature. My job is to make sure guys around me are prepared and the guys are loose and ready to go. The only way I feel that I would be able to express that is by showing them that I am loose and prepared and that I am excited for the opportunity of stepping out on the field and making plays. If I continue to express that to those guys and show that to them on the practice field, on the playing field or the locker room, hopefully it will be contagious where people understand exactly what my feelings are toward everything.”

On what it means to him to hear that this is “Donovan’s team”:
“I just feel the respect and confidence from the people in the organization, the head coach and my teammates. It shows that the hard work that I have been showing everyone, the way that I have been preparing and the way that I have been playing excites everyone. That has been my mentality since I got here, that it is my team and I want to go out there on the field and show people that I can handle myself in tough situations, I can get the guys in the right positions and we can be successful together.”

On whether being the leader of the team invokes a different feeling than it has in the past:
“Not necessarily. When you get a little older and get a few more years under your belt, the confidence continues to grow from an individual standpoint. But I think from the team’s standpoint, I just want to continue doing what I have been doing. I don’t try to go out of body and try to do something that is just not me. I don’t believe in that. I always believe that the only way people will begin to understand or to know a lot about you is just being yourself. That is the way I try to portray myself to all my teammates.”

On whether there are days where he feels down:
“(joking) Any time that I am down I step outside and look at the sun, water my plants and walk the dogs. I just can’t really see too much of a down day. To wake up the next morning is a positive thing in your life, first and foremost. Secondly, with everything that is negative and could bring you down, you have to find something positive to bring you back up.”

On what it tells him when he sees wide receiver Greg Lewis makes a great catch like he did last week:
“First for me, it’s like did I over throw him? I hope I didn’t lead him into a safety. I have always known that Greg is a great player and that he was going to develop into the player that nobody expected to become. He came out to Arizona and we were able to get some work together. I think what you guys have seen, with Greg making that great catch and other great catches that he made in that game and even through the preseason, is shocking to everyone, but it’s not shocking to us. We see Greg every day. He’s a great talent. He is from Illinois, so he is certainly a great talent. The exciting thing about it is that people were questing exactly what Greg was going to be able to offer, the same with [WR] Reggie Brown and the rest of the receivers and they have answered the questions so far. It’s going to be exciting to see how far we can go.”

On whether he would like to see a shorter preseason:
“It’s tough to say. For guys that are going with the ones or guys that are rotating in with the ones, you feel like it’s too long. But, it also gives an opportunity for the rest of the guys to showcase their talents and make the squad. Or if they don’t make the squad that they are playing with, to make another squad. So, it would be tough for me to say that yeah, we need to cut it to 2 or 3 games, because I think you kind of shut the door on a lot of guys who are trying to fulfill a dream of playing in the NFL. From a personal standpoint, I would say that I have no problems with 4 games because it gives guys an opportunity to make things happen.”

On whether the team is already preparing for the Falcons:
“We are preparing for the Jets. If I play or not, you still want to be prepared to go out there and make things happen. If you are not in the game, be able to provide advice or some type of guidance for the guys that are out there. You see it on the sidelines. You see a blitz that they might not have been able to pick up or you are seeing a weakness in the secondary’s coverage that you can give some hints to the offensive coordinator or even the quarterback. Things like that. I think that it is important, being on the team or being on the sidelines you have to be prepared in all times, despite whatever the situation is, you have to make sure you are ready.”

On how difficult the wait to the season opener will be:
“Just from the feel I got today, I don’t think it will be a difficult wait. We will be taking a lot of reps at practice anyway. It is different going into a game situation, but I think that going into the 3 preseason games that we have played, it gives us an opportunity to kick some of the rust off and we can get into some practice and work on our chemistry and timing like the way we expect it to happen come week 1 in Atlanta. I don’t think it’s tough at all, we know who we will be facing and we know that they will be fired up and that they have been preparing. So we are going to take full advantage of this opportunity, if we are rested, to go out there and score points.”

Kids and sports

I spent Sunday afternoon at a Pop Warner football game and saw youth sports up close and very personal. My son plays in the 90-pound division and while he was playing I was volunteering on the chain gang, moving the down markers.

It still amazes me how parents and coaches can't control themselves when it comes to their children and sports. I am not naive, having worked in sports journalism for 25 years. But the language and vitriol toward referees and kids that may miss a play is sad. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty is not enough.

There wasn't a kid who didn't leave everything on the field, trying to please and trying to succeed. Football is a rough sport and often produces bumps and bruises and tears of pain in a 9-year-old boy. But it's the other tears that hurt more. Tears of humiliation when a coach or parent gets in a player's face for a missed play and goes way too far.

It happened yesterday and it happens every day. There is so much good that goes on in youth sports and these incidents are few and far between, yet they do exist.

As parents and coaches, we have to regulate ourselves. Speak out when you see it. Identify those that are obusive. It is the only way.

Goodbye Corey

As you know by now, the Eagles gave DT Corey Simon his freedom, removing the franchise tag and allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Instead of making $5.13 million for one season with the Eagles, Simon can go out and find a new team.

Is there a team out there that wants him at his inflated salary demands? Doubtful. Most teams have already spent their salary-cap cash.

The Eagles were unable to move Simon in a trade because no team wanted to pay Simon what he thought he was worth.

Simon, looking for a long-term deal, will be a loser in this scenario and the Eagles lose as well, getting nothing for him.