It was a bummer to hear that the Philadelphia Eagles fired head coach Chip Kelly just before the NFL regular season finale. After all, Kelly was the only NFL coach to “friend” me on Facebook! Granite Staters who otherwise could care less about the Eagles were pulling for Philly to succeed because of Kelly’s Manchester roots—as in how the San Antonio Spurs have countless New Hampshire fans because Concord’s Matt Bonner has been with the NBA team for a decade.
Kelly worked wonders as an assistant at the University of New Hampshire, helping the offense to set multiple records, first with running back Jerry Azumah in the late nineties, and later with quarterback Ricky Santos. In 2005 UNH was second in the country offensively, averaging almost 500 yards a game. Santos was runner-up for the Walter Payton Award, presented annually to the nation’s top Division 1-AA gridster. Santos would win this award outright the next year.
The University of Oregon scooped up Kelly up as offensive coordinator and the Ducks led the Pac-10 in scoring in 2007, averaging over 38 points per game. Named head coach in 2010, Kelly immediately led the Ducks to the Rose Bowl. The next year found Oregon in the BCS National Championship Game.
Numerous collegiate “Coach-of-the-Year” honors set Kelly up for an NFL shot with the Eagles in 2013. Philly was 4-12 in 2012, but Kelly led them to a 10-6 record and an NFC East title in his first year as NFL honcho. The team went 10-6 again in 2014 and then in 2015 Kelly was given the additional title of “Head of Football Operations.” This gave Kelly the power to make personnel changes he couldn’t make on his own previously. He moved people out and brought people in. Things didn’t click, and now Kelly is jobless.
Ex-Eagles slammed Kelly from afar, casting aspersions upon his character. This was hard for FOC (Friends of Chip) to take, knowing him to be a good guy, but that goes with the territory in the NFL. (See below re: Peyton Manning.)
But don’t weep for the Chipster. Kelly has already had job offers. He’s only 52 years old and many cool things lie ahead of him. There’s even been FOC speculation that someday he’ll replace Bill Belichick as New England Patriots head coach. Heaven help whomever has to replace Coach B, but Kelly’s resume far exceeds what Belichick’s was when the Pats hired HIM in 2000. Look for Kelly to end up with a team like the Tennessee Titans for a while, before (maybe, hopefully) coming home to New England.
Peyton Manning’s place in sports history was recently challenged by an assertion on Al Jazeera television that the injured Denver Bronco quarterback may have used illicit performance enhancers when in Indianapolis. More specifically, an Al Jazeera source claimed that Peyton’s wife received human growth hormone (HGH) substances in the mail. The clear implication was that Peyton may have accessed the HGH materials in violation of NFL policies. The source has reportedly recanted, leaving Al Jazeera pulling things back a bit.
The NFL is reviewing the situation. Hopefully this won’t be a drama that lasts as long as Deflategate, which still has court appeals pending. But it’s clear that Al Jazeera was premature with its story.
Ironically, all the hoopla will HELP Al Jazeera in terms on raising awareness about the Qatar-based communications enterprise. It became a player on U.S. television when it purchased cable rights to “Current” television from former Vice President Al Gore in 2013.
Gore, of course, is from Tennessee, where Manning played college football. Peyton remains beloved in the Volunteer State. (Tellingly, Gore was unable to win his home state when he ran for president in 2000.) When this controversy is over, Peyton’s place in history should be more secure than ever, not just with Tennesseans but with fans everywhere.
It’s 2016—a Summer Olympics year! Where are these games going to be held? (Answer follows)
Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on January 7 include one-time BoSox outfielder and power hitter Tony Conigliaro (1945) and current Cub and former BoSox pitcher Jon Lester (1984).
“Cross country skiing is great – if you live in a small country.” – Steven Wright
This year’s Summer Olympic Games will be held from August 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The 2020 Games will be held in Tokyo. (The 2024 Games will NOT be held in Boston.)
Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management at Plymouth State University and at NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail is email@example.com.