THERE'S CHIP KELLY, bent over his loom, forehead furrowed, trying to weave a silk purse out of a sow's ear of a football team. And here's Michael Vick, pestering Kelly to name his starting quarterback now, as in right now, even though the Eagles don't play a game that counts until September.
"With Chip, the facts are on the field," Mark Saltviet says. "He couldn't care if Vick puts a clown suit on and leads a parade down Broad Street once a day. Do the job on the field, that's all that matters."
Who in the name of Vince Lombardi is Mark Saltveit? And what does he know about Chip Kelly's philosophy? Or his tao, whatever that is.
Turns out Saltveit lives in Portland, is an obsessive fan of the Oregon Ducks, a blogger (Taoish.org), a stand-up comic, the World Palindrome Champion, and now the author of a paperback book called, "The Tao of Chip Kelly."
He arrives in town tomorrow, will do a book-signing at the Exile Theatre on Saturday night, appear at the Helium Club on Tuesday and Wednesday, make the talk-show rounds, visit with friends and relatives, scattering clues about Chip along the way.
Kelly doesn't do hypotheticals. Doesn't do lengthy bare-your-soul interviews either. Politely declined an interview request from Saltveit. So Saltveit studied every news conference Kelly did at Oregon, every article he wrote for Nike's coaching series, and patched together a profile that may or may not fill Philadelphia's insatiable lust to find out more about what's going on above that Eagles visor.
What they really want to know is whether he can replicate that success (45-7) he had at Oregon, so we can tuck a visor on Billy Penn's forehead any time soon. Mark?
"Very first game, against Boise State," Saltveit answers, "they lose 19-8. And that hurry-up high-power offense? Doesn't get a first down the entire first half.
"Took him a game to adjust to the next level [up from New Hampshire]. Lost three games that first year, beat USC, wound up No. 11. When had Oregon ever been No. 11?
"It might take him half a season to adjust in Philly."
And Michael Vick might want to use some of the free time between now and training camp to read the book, especially the chapter about Darron Thomas, the Oregon quarterback who left school early and is now buried on the taxi squad of the Calgary Stampeders.
Turns out Kelly played nine quarterbacks his first 3 years at Oregon. Thomas got the job when the incumbent ran afoul of the law, something involving drugs, burglary. Threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns against Auburn. And then saw the Marcus Mariota steamroller on the horizon, and left.
"Thomas led 'em to the championship game," Saltveit said, "but that wasn't enough to guarantee him the starting job the next year. One thing is absolutely true, and that Chip believes in an open competition. What's the hurry now?
"He'll wait, watch big guys tackle his quarterbacks. He runs so many reps in practice it will soon become clear, everyone will know who the starter is."
And, as time goes on, we will get to know more about Kelly. Right now we have to settle for one-liners. Quarterbacks are like tea bags, you don't know what you've got until you put 'em in hot water.
Oregon owns the rights to "Win the Day" another Kelly mantra. He borrowed "Water the Bamboo" from Greg Bell, a former Oregon hoopster and now a motivational speaker.
Turns out there's a species called Giant Timber Bamboo. After the Oregon State game, Kelly said, "if you water it in the first year, nothing happens. If you water it in the second year, nothing happens. If you water it in the third year, nothing happens. If you water it in the fourth year, it grows 90 feet in 6 weeks."
Fee, fi, fo, fum, are Eagles fans prepared to wait 4 years for bamboo to sprout? "Whether it's life or whether it's football," Kelly warns, "you just gotta keep watering the bamboo and eventually it'll grow for you."
Eagles fans don't do eventually. Just one of the many adjustments Kelly will have to make here. Meanwhile, put your hands together and give Mark Saltveit a warm Philadelphia welcome.
We're still euphoric about the best golfers in the world humbled by Merion's East Course, and now we've got the World Palindrome champ in town. That's where you invent phrases and sentences that read the same forward and backward, like "Madam, I'm Adam."
The city may close Otto Street in his honor. Then again, they may not.
DN Members Only: The Linc is a site for more eyes at training camp this summer.