THE MOST wings Jason Kelce had ever eaten in one sitting was 70 at an all-you-can-eat Hooters extravaganza. He's going to have to do better than that on Friday when he participates in WIP's Wing Bowl 22.
Yesterday at the NovaCare Complex, media gathered to watch as the Eagles center participated in his qualifier so he could become the first active athlete to take part in the annual bock-bockanalia. Morning show co-host Al Morganti presented Kelce with his challenge: five wings in five minutes.
Kelce took his qualifying challenge in stride and finished the five in 51 seconds. Shortly after, he started chowing down on a bowl of 100 wings to prove he was no chump.
Jon Dorenbos, the Eagles' long snapper and second-time Wing Bowl commissioner, was on hand to give Kelce tips. Would he ever follow in Kelce's footsteps and enter?
"I have zero aspirations," Dorenbos said. He was sporting a close-cropped beard in solidarity with his teammate, though. He added, "I would do cheesesteaks, but I wouldn't even place [in competition]."
Kelce hadn't thought about strategy yet but learned that the drumsticks are more difficult to take down than the wings, prepared by NovaCare chef Steve Rommeihs with a little sugar to keep them sweet enough for Kelce's stomach. Kelce said facial hair was a major concern and he had trimmed his beard before the qualifying round to ease his poultry consumption.
His goal is 100 wings at the actual event, but he admitted it was a lot harder than it looks.
"He's obeying all the rules, and staying in the lines," Morganti said when I asked him about Kelce's performance. "That's not what this event is about."
As a two-time Wing Bowl attendee, I must agree with Morganti. Kelce's going to need to step up his game if he's going to compete against the likes of powerhouse Jonathan "Super" Squibb or last year's champ, Jamie "The Bear" McDonald.
That did not faze Kelce. "When adversity strikes," he said, "the strongest persevere."
In other WIP news, on yesterday's show Angelo Cataldi recounted his near-death experience choking on a piece of cheesesteak while recording a video. The day would have ended in tragedy if not for Spike Eskin, who came to Cataldi's aid, administering the Heimlich maneuver.
Some called foul on the story, saying it was just a way to drum up business for Wing Bowl.
"If they were going to do a stunt with Angelo, they would have picked someone higher profile than me to do it," Eskin said. "It's not a stunt. The ground up cheesesteak on the floor proves it. He looked legitimately scared. You don't see Angelo scared all that much."
Cataldi, who still sounded shaken up even after recalling the events on air, told me the irony of Eskin saving Cataldi was not lost on him, but added that he has nothing but respect for Spike.
"You would never think he sprung from the loins of Howard Eskin," Cataldi told me.
So what do you pay back the guy that saved your life? Cataldi assured me that Eskin would receive an excellent wedding gift when he marries Valerie DiBaggio in October.
"I'll tell [DiBaggio] when she gets home, she should aim for the stars with the registry," Eskin joked.
So will a near-death experience change Cataldi?
"It probably won't change me. This old dog isn't going to learn any new tricks but it gives you a moment of pause," Cataldi said, adding that the seriousness of the day didn't really hit him until later. He added, "I kind of lost my taste for cheesesteaks."
Brent Celek celebrated his 29th birthday this weekend at Chinatown karaoke hot spot Yakitori Boy (211 N. 11th St.) with buddies A.J. Feeley, Todd Herremans, Hugh Douglas and Tra Thomas in attendance. I hear that all the guys were exceedingly friendly. By the way, Celek and Herremans were partial to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Foo Fighters. Hey boys, do you take requests?
Writer's Night in America, a monthly reading series at Jose Pistola's (263 S. 15th St.), will celebrate its first anniversary tonight by featuring some of the city's exceptional writing talent, including organizer/TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb frontman Dan Bruskewicz, City Paper staff writer Emily Guendelsberger, phillymag.com contributing editor Dan McQuade and, well, me. Reading goodness starts at 9 p.m.