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Family, football, and a reason to be thankful | Sports Daily

A longtime Eagles beat writer gets to watch a game from a different vantage point.

Thanksgiving is all about family and turkey.

For longtime Inquirer and Daily News journalist Les Bowen, this year was all about family and a different bird: the Eagles.

In truth, family and the Eagles, whom Bowen covered for 19 years before retiring in August, have long been a big part of the 65-year-old’s life. This year, the two finally intertwined, as Bowen, for the first time ever, was able to attend an Eagles game with his two sons.

While sons Matt, 32, and Dan, 28, are both huge Birds fans, they were never able to share those weekly Sunday moments or even the Eagles’ 2018 Super Bowl victory with their father, who was always working the games and sat in press boxes across the country.

That finally changed on Nov. 14 in Denver when Les, Matt, and Dan attended the Eagles-Broncos game as fans. How did the day go other than the Eagles winning 30-13? Let’s leave it to the man himself:

“I know I’ll remember this game much more vividly than most of the more than 350 that I covered,” Les said.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

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Early Birds

The Eagles head out on the road to play against the Giants, and the game presents an opportunity for the Birds to continue their playoff push and maybe even challenge for a division title. Eagles fans from Philly to NYC to Hoboken, N.J., have to be fired up. Easy to predict a win on Sunday, right?

Jalen Hurts is coming off a memorable performance, and with the Giants coming up, it’s got columnist Mike Sielski wondering about the idea that Hurts can ultimately become a “franchise quarterback” — something New York once had. Hurts, of course, isn’t quite there yet, but his ability to be a force in the running game has continued to draw comparisons to one Lamar Jackson. Columnist David Murphy explores the comparisons between the two and how Jackson and Hurts will have to prove themselves as defenses adjust to them. Hurts does have an offensive line that protects him like family.

Meanwhile on the defensive side, Jonathan Gannon has started to put on the pressure with blitzing, and it’s working against lesser quarterbacks. Beat writer Jeff McLane breaks down the film on how there’s been some good and not-so-good when it comes to blitzing.

Off the Dribble

Matisse Thybulle has built a reputation around the league as a defensive ace. Last season, he made the All-Defensive team without starting for the Sixers. Now, his presence on defense has been even more integral with Ben Simmons no longer mentally fit to play for the team.

But Thybulle has been honest about his slow development on offense, which has sometimes left him struggling with confidence in his outside shot, as he explained to The Inquirer’s Gina Mizell. Since missing time with COVID-19, however, Thybulle has returned to a skeleton crew and been expected to produce more. He has answered the call. While Thybulle averages only 6.4 points and 2.3 rebounds, he produced nine points against the Portland Trail Blazers in his first game back and 15 against the Sacramento Kings, and seven against the Golden State Warriors.

Next: The Sixers return home to play the Minnesota Timberwolves at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.

On the Fly

Nick Seeler bought a new truck this offseason, and it is a good thing he did. That’s because the Flyers’ seventh defenseman is racking up the miles on his Ford F-150 driving between Allentown and Voorhees.

While all the driving might not be great for the lifespan of Seeler’s truck, it has been great for his career. Signed to a two-way contract in the offseason, the 28-year-old defenseman has shuttled back and forth between the AHL and NHL so far this season, although because of injuries he has largely been in the big club’s lineup on game days. (He has appeared 16 of the Flyers’ 18 games.)

Seeler says he is embracing the opportunity, even the 80-mile commute that comes with it, after spending a year away from hockey last season.

Next: The Flyers host the Carolina Hurricanes today at 3:30 p.m. (NBCSP).

Extra Innings

Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are officially on the Hall of Fame ballot, but The Inquirer last week dived into the numbers to look at where Bryce Harper stands in a bid for Cooperstown. Ten seasons and more than 5,000 plate appearances into his career, Harper looks most similar to 15 players — some Hall of Famers and others who came up well short. ZiPS, a system developed by FanGraphs’ Dan Szymborski, projects him to finish with some compelling numbers, but as history shows, anything can happen on the road to Cooperstown.

Fleet Street

It hasn’t been an easy year in which to give thanks for many, including Union goalkeeper Andre Blake. Sure, his play has helped get the team into the second round of the MLS playoffs for the first time, but his native country, Jamaica, has been struggling in World Cup qualifying. Plus, the recent death of his grandmother has been an emotional blow. So if anyone understands the dictum of keeping calm and carrying on, it’s Blake.

There’s also been a transition to a new generation for the U.S. women’s national team, and its first showcase match is against Australia.

Finally, on the college scene, a look at a unique situation at St. Joe’s, where a midfielder applies his military drive and discipline on the soccer field.

Next: The Union will play Nashville on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN). Also, check out other soccer action.

Worth a look

  1. Rivalry renewed: The pandemic has changed many things, and many families have just begun to revive traditions that had to be put on hold last year. Football families are no different, and some of them are especially grateful to revive a Northeast vs Central game that has meant so much to so many for so long.

  2. Home for the holidays: With so many internationally born students — and athletes — in Philadelphia, have you ever wondered where they all go during the holidays? For La Salle basketball’s twin sisters Amy and Claire Jacobs, it means more time with ... Coach. That is because the Australians celebrated Thanksgiving with their La Salle basketball family at coach Mountain MacGillivray’s house this year.

  3. Cameroon → Temple → Penn State → NFL?: Penn State defensive end Arnold Ebiketie hasn’t followed the traditional path to football stardom, but the fifth-year senior is suddenly emerging as an NFL draft prospect. Not bad for someone who didn’t move to the United States until he was 13 or play football until high school.

  4. Family affair: For the last seven seasons, there has been a Herlihy on the women’s basketball team at Villanova. This season is no different, as graduate student Brianna Herlihy is back for one final season as a Wildcat. While this will be the first season she will be without sister Bridget, the early returns hint there will be no drop-off in the forward’s production.

  5. ‘Mayor of Westtown’: Why Westtown hoops star Jameel Brown decided to stay in-state and play for Penn State. And could his signing reopen the Philadelphia recruiting pipeline for the Nittany Lions?