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🙏🏼 What we (and the Phanatic) are thankful for | Sports Daily

From MVP cleats to a wingless Phanatic to Jalen Hurts and Tyrese Maxey, there is a lot to be grateful for around Philly sports.

Sports can be a pretty cutthroat world, a results-driven business with little loyalty. All the clichés are true. That makes Thanksgiving week a good time to slow down and put some things in perspective. Sure, there’s no resolution to the Ben Simmons saga, but the 76ers somehow have a winning record with seemingly every player rotating in and out of the COVID-19 protocol. Yes, the Phillies missed the playoffs for a 10th straight year, but Bryce Harper scored his second MVP award. And the Eagles might have started 2-5, but here they are, winners of three of their last four with a matchup against the lowly Giants up next.

On Tuesday, we asked: What you are most grateful for this year as a Philly sports fan. Tyrese Maxey? Jalen Hurts? Harper? Gritty? Here’s a few of the responses we received:

  1. “All Philly sports fans should be most thankful for Bryce Harper. not only due to his performance on the field, but the way he has conducted himself.” — John W.

  2. “I’ll say all of the above EXCEPT Gritty. #DUMP GRITTY” — Don G.

  3. “Jalen Hurts looks to this fan to be a generational keystone and a ‘Philly Tough Guy’. To me, he has IT.” — Jonathon G.

  4. “Bryce Harper: In the beginning many of us thought he was overrated and over paid. He proved us wrong. He brought excitement to the Phils when we thought there was very little to be excited about.” — Mark R.

Harper gave thanks to a Camden youth baseball team that tried to show its appreciation for his generosity with a custom pair of kicks. And even the Phanatic himself is giving thanks. With the lawsuit over his look settled, the Phillies mascot can ditch the wings, the stars under his eyes, and that “big butt that was just “getting in people’s way.”

Like most of you (including probably even the Phanatic), Sports Daily will be taking time on Thursday to watch some football and celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends. We’ll be back on Friday after our turkey hangover has passed. Happy Thanksgiving!

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

Where do you stand on the contentious issue dividing American families today — what’s truly the best Thanksgiving side dish? Tell us:

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Early Birds

Jalen Hurts has rushed for 63.6 yards per game with an average of 5.2 yards per carry over the last five contests, three of which were Eagles wins. Their commitment to the run has proved to be a winning formula, but former Eagles GM Joe Banner has actually gotten more nervous about Hurts’ ability to throw from the pocket. Banner tells The Inquirer’s E.J. Smith: “I want to give him credit for what he’s done, which I think is really dynamic and challenging for a defense. But against good teams, his ability to throw from the pocket needs to really show up. If we’re predicting the future, the things that they’re doing now give them a chance to be good and competitive, but I don’t think it will give them what they need to beat really good teams when you get to the playoffs or if the NFC East ever became a challenging division.”

Eagles coaches are expecting defenses to adjust to Hurts and the running game, beginning with the Giants, who have not faced many dual-threat quarterbacks.

Next: Eagles at Giants, 1 p.m. Sunday on Fox29.

Extra Innings

When $15,000 worth of equipment was stolen from the North Camden Pirates Little League in 2019, the Phillies’ Bryce Harper helped out, donating money to buy new equipment and cleats. Two years later, they paid tribute to Harper, who was surprised at his home in Las Vegas soon after he won the National League MVP Award with a pair of customized cleats. Eight players from the 2019 team helped design the cleats, which include the Phillie Phanatic and “MV3,” which was the campaign slogan for Harper’s MVP case. “This was a really sweet surprise,” Harper said.

Off the Dribble

The Sixers have had tough luck this season. They started the season as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference before Joel Embiid, Seth Curry, Matisse Thybulle, Danny Green, and Tobias Harris started to miss significant time from the lineup.

The team appeared to be coming out on the other side of its issues with injuries and COVID-19, but the revolving door continued to turn this week. Harris spoke with The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey before the Sixers’ Monday game against the Sacramento Kings and explained how tough it has been for the snakebit team. Harris, who recently returned from COVID-19, played five games after coming back but suffered a hip injury against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. He told The Inquirer he now needs to miss more time to recover from this recent setback.

Next: The Sixers travel to play the Golden State Warriors tonight at 10 (NBCSP+) and finish up their long, long six-game road trip.

On the Fly

With top-pair defenseman Ryan Ellis and second-line center Kevin Hayes out injured, will the Flyers be tempted to call up highly-regarded prospects such as Morgan Frost and Cam York?

“I don’t think there’s any rush. These guys are so important to our future, and you have to make sure you’re doing it right,” assistant GM Brent Flahr told our Sam Carchidi. “The last thing you want to do with these guys is put them on yo-yos. Every time you do that, it really hurts them in the long term.”

Maybe the Flyers could use Frost after they were shut out Tuesday night against Tampa Bay, 4-0. The Flyers continue to search for offense, as they have scored just 20 goals total (19 if you exclude empty-netters) over the last 12 games.

Next: Flyers at Panthers, 7 p.m. Wednesday (NBCSP).

Fleet Street

The Union know their next opponent in the MLS playoffs! It’s Nashville, and given how evenly the teams matched up during the regular season, it may make all the difference that the Union get to host the game.

Spies are the latest twist in shady things going on in Qatar, but what else is new?

Next: The Union will play Nashville on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN).


  1. Committing to Franklin: After a season full of speculation about whether he would take another high-profile college football coaching job, Penn State’s James Franklin has agreed to terms on a 10-year contract worth a minimum of $75 million

  2. His own anthem protest: A Penn donor has told the school he will not be renewing any scholarship gifts or pledges in response to many of the members of the men’s basketball team sitting during the national anthem to protest social injustice for Black Americans.

  3. Good timing: With Penn’s juniors and seniors staggering their four-game suspensions over the first eight games, sophomore Jordan Obi has emerged as a force at just the right time.