What makes a Philadelphia sports legend? Zach Ertz has some idea, as well as some words for the Philly fans who prodded, pushed and praised him at every step of his Eagles career. For those willing to take charge in the spotlight, such as the Chicago Sky’s Kahleah Copper, awards and adulation await. At some point, there might even be a statue involved, such as the one for boxing legend Jersey Joe Walcott.
Fame usually needs substance to last. As the Flyers start their NHL season, is it a problem if their mascot, Gritty, is more famous than any particular player? Or is the brand, like the buzz for the NHL’s new Seattle Kraken, bigger than the roster?
Unforgettable players result when good players take their skills to a new level, as the Sixers’ Joel Embiid aims to do this season. Sometimes, players also overcome adversity and antipathy to redeem themselves in the eyes of bitter fans — can Ben Simmons do such a thing? Does he even want to try? We’re still not sure, but one thing is certain: Simmons was at the latest Sixers practice.
— Inquirer Sports Staff | @phillysport
On the Fly
What in the world is a Kraken? A Kraken is a mythical sea monster of Scandinavian lore that resembles a giant octopus. It is also the nickname of Seattle’s new hockey team. Wait — Seattle has a hockey team? Yes, and the expansion side is off to a 1-1-1 start. The Kraken play the Flyers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center. While the Kraken might be unfamiliar, their head coach, Dave Hakstol, is someone Philadelphians will remember well … even if it’s unfavorably.
Hakstol coached the Flyers between 2015-18, but was run out of town for what GM Chuck Fletcher labeled a “disconnect” between coach and players. Has Hakstol learned from the experience of his first NHL coaching gig? He’ll be keen to exact some revenge Monday.
Next: The Flyers will be looking to bounce back after a shootout loss to Vancouver. While the Flyers fought back late to earn at least a point, as Sam Carchidi writes, the game showed the team has a long way to go from a chemistry perspective.
As part of the fallout from the Eagles’ 2-4 start, Ertz finally got traded. It no longer made sense to keep an all-time, yet aging Eagle — not when they haven’t looked like playoff contenders through a third of the regular season. After all, they can build on the future with Dallas Goedert and the salary-cap breathing room.
But the fallout also means more scrutiny on the coach-quarterback duo that hasn’t worked out thus far. Columnist Marcus Hayes is calling for Jalen Hurts to be benched because the Eagles can’t win right now with a developmental quarterback who’s unable to execute basic throws consistently. Former Eagles president Joe Banner is wondering if coach Nick Sirianni’s lack of confidence in Hurts is more a result of the quarterback’s inexperience or actually what Sirianni envisions the offense to be in not aggressively going downfield.
Beat writer Jeff McLane also assigns blame to Sirianni’s offense, Hurts’ limitations, and the roster that the front office built. But he adds that the Eagles’ struggles shouldn’t be a surprise and he’ll need more than six games to come to conclusions about the job Sirianni’s doing.
Next: Sometimes looking ahead means looking back, so take one last look at all that Ertz accomplished with the Eagles.
Off the Dribble
The day Philly basketball fans were waiting for finally came — sort of. The Sixers saw a slight sense of finality finally come to the Ben Simmons saga on Sunday. Of course, it still remains unclear when he will play or whether he will be traded in the near future, but Simmons was present at practice and was a full participant for the first time this season and could speak with the media in the coming days. It’s a step forward in what appeared to be a fractured relationship.
Next: The regular season is fast approaching for the Sixers, who debut against the New Orleans Pelicans at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
As the Philadelphia Union barrel toward the playoffs of Major League Soccer, the team’s investment in developing its youth players is paying off in the form of valuable contributions from the likes of teenagers Paxten Aaronson and Quinn Sullivan. Will their talents also serve as a wake-up call to some bigger names on the roster who are pulling down hefty salaries even while no longer starting? Perhaps so.
Next: Can USWNT legend Carli Lloyd prolong her club career by getting Gotham FC to the NWSL playoffs? A goal scored in the team’s latest win certainly helped, but the playoff race is tight and still not settled.
Someone to believe in: Sports are about second chances, and Andre Drummond feels that he has one with the Sixers, but the connection and inspiration go deeper than that. Check out the backstory of a best friend, an adopted son, and the inside joke that became a reality.
Just a champion: Kahleah Copper made her first All-Star roster this season, the same one in which she became a WNBA champion and Finals Most Valuable Player. Yet she considers herself first and foremost just a kid from North Philly.
Show Staley the money: Years after her Olympic days, Dawn Staley gets the gold — the gold of a lucrative coaching contract.