Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie hadn’t formally answered questions from the media in a long time, and at the NFL owners’ meetings, a comment from his press conference raised eyebrows.

He specifically cited only three instances in which he very much wanted a particular outcome to happen in the draft for the Eagles. They happened to all involve successful players — Lane Johnson, Russell Wilson, and Jordan Mailata.

Lurie’s downplaying of his influence on football decisions strains credulity to beat writer Jeff McLane, who has reported on how it has actually increased. Yes, an owner has every right to be involved, and the Eagles have a Super Bowl championship under Lurie. But the comment came at a time when Lurie has averted public self-criticism when the team has made major mistakes, and while his opinions carry plenty of weight among Eagles decision-makers.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

Which players are you most looking forward to see the Eagles select in the draft?: sports.daily@inquirer.com

Early Birds

Lurie did spend time at his press conference giving the people what they want — the return of the kelly green jerseys in 2023. That has Cassie Owens and her family excited, and they aren’t alone. There’s something about the nostalgia of that color that’s deeply meaningful. Out of the different versions, which is your favorite?

And Lurie was among those praising Malcolm Jenkins on Wednesday after he called it a career. Jenkins helped lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl and was the team’s heart and soul. He was great on and off the field for Philly.

March Madness

Villanova heads to the Final Four thanks in part to Alan Kravetz, the massage therapist who came up big on short notice in getting an ailing Jermaine Samuels, the team’s top rebounder, ready to play in the Big East Tournament quarterfinal.

Here’s some more college basketball to get you ready for this week:

  • One of Mike Krzyzewski’s first assistant coaches while he was at Army, Bob Hutchings, is still coaching as well at Stockton, and he loved their time together.

  • Forty years ago, Cheyney State played in the first NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship game led by coach C. Vivian Stringer, and the memories haven’t faded.

  • Philly native Dawn Staley, the South Carolina women’s basketball coach who’s in the Final Four, was named coach of the year with the Naismith Award and also as voted on by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

Extra Innings

There’s a chance that April will be the cruelest month ever for pitchers. Managers and GMs routinely utter some version of the age-old baseball proverb about never having too much pitching. They will mean it this year. Even with the expectation of 28-man expanded rosters for the first month of the season, success on the mound will come down to the survival of the fittest. Do the Phillies have the pitching depth to survive April?

The fastball is coming out of Connor Brogdon’s hand the way it normally does, but instead of 95 or 96 mph, the radar gun is flashing 90 or 91. And the clock is ticking on him figuring it out.

Who’s going to make the team for the April 8 game against the Athletics at Citizens Bank Park? Check out our opening-day roster projection.

Next: The Phillies face the Yankees at 1:05 p.m. Thursday in Clearwater (NBC Sports Philadelphia).

Off the Dribble

The Sixers might have lost back-to-back games to title contenders in the Suns and the Bucks. But the competition shouldn’t be anywhere near as difficult in the final seven games of the regular season with playoff positioning on the line. They should be able to get some rest and also work on their execution, the lack of which cost them in the recent losses.

Next: The Sixers play the Pistons in Detroit at 7 p.m. Thursday. (NBCSP).

On the Fly

While the Flyers lost on Tuesday, it was almost a “picture-perfect” evening for forward Noah Cates.

Signed on Sunday out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Cates made his NHL debut against the Wild, the team he grew up rooting for. Over 150 friends and family members came to take in the hometown hero’s debut, including one very special guest who Giana Han caught up with, his brother and fellow Flyer, Jackson.

Next: The Flyers return home Saturday to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 p.m. (NBCSP).

Fleet Street

The deed is done, but there wasn’t much dancing in celebration as the US men’s national team qualified for its first World Cup since 2014 by managing to lose to Costa Rica by only two goals instead of six. The lack of style points notwithstanding, the USMNT is now ticketed for Qatar and will be one of the teams anticipating the upcoming World Cup draw, along with Concacaf squads Mexico and Canada. Costa Rica could even make it as well, depending on the outcome of a playoff game.

Jonathan Tannenwald has all the details.

Worth a Look

Off to regionals: Penn gymnast McCaleigh Marr is the program’s first NCAA qualifier since 2018, and she participates this week at the East Regionals in Norman, Okla.

What you’re saying . . . about how far Villanova can go without Justin Moore.

They have had a great year but this player loss is too much to overcome. Unless, the bench uncharacteristically starts scoring. —Nick B.

I am hoping for the best, but don’t see how they go any further. No matter, they should be appreciated. —Larry W.

Moore’s loss is plain old bad luck. His team had a reasonable chance of winning the Dance with him, but now has taller odds to overcome. Even if somehow, they do that, bind together, dig deeper, and win it all, it is Justin Moore’s big loss that will remain. He will rehab and play his senior year for the ‘Cats, like Collin Gillespie did before him, but that may never replace the Final Four experience that has been taken away from him. —John W.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Jeff McLane, Cassie Owens, Matt Mullin, EJ Smith, Jonathan Tannenwald, Mike Jensen, Jeff Neiburg, Matt Breen, Scott Lauber, Alex Coffey, Keith Pompey, Giana Han, and Lochlahn March.