The USFL Needs to Move to Home Markets for the 2023 Season

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The reborn United States Football League did what other Spring football leagues were unable to do, they made it through a season.  The season, according to ownership and investors, was deemed a success.  The USFL and Fox Sports have already announced that season two of the league will kickoff next Spring.  But where is the million dollar question.  

The Birmingham “bubble” made sense for season one especially with uncertainty around the pandemic and local rules.  But the bubble environment made for an odd looking affair with nearly empty stadiums, unless you were watching the hometown Birmingham Stallions.  That won’t work for season two.  

If the USFL wants to be taken seriously they will need to move most, if not all, of their teams into the home markets.

Having the players and coaches in the community will increase their visibility and create connections with fans. The USFL doesn’t need to be the NFL to be successful especially in a sports crazed city such as Philadelphia. Case in point, the Blazers, Firebirds, Phantoms, Soul, Kixx, RiverSharks, and Wings all enjoyed decades of success here. 

They were here in the Delaware Valley. They lived here, practiced here, and more importantly they played here. 

Playing “here” might be the hardest part of the equation. Where will the Philadelphia Stars play if they move to the region? 


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Philadelphia Stars Come Up Short in USFL Title Game

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Philadelphia Stars bid for a USFL title came up short on Sunday night at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The Stars fell 33-30 to the top seeded Birmingham Stallions in the USFL Championship Game in front of 20.000-plus fans at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.  

Philadelphia, winners of six of their last seven, defeated New Jersey to reach the title game. Birmingham, the only team to have a regular season home field  advantage, defeats New Orleans in the semifinals. 

Stars’ quarterback Casey Cookus was 17-for-29 with 3 TDs and no picks before leaving the game in the second half  with an apparent knee injury.  He was relieved by KJ Costello who immediately threw a pick six to Birmingham’ s Scooby Wright to extend the Stallions lead to 10-points. 

What is it with Philadelphia quarterback and nail-the-coffin interceptions late in the game?

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McLeods Discuss "I Am" Youth Leadership Summit, Men's Health

By Jennifer McGraw, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

Though he’s no longer representing the midnight green, former Eagles safety, Rodney McLeod, and his wife Erika’s heart, and foundation, belong to the city of brotherly love.

Their foundation, Change Our Future, is staying in Philadelphia after starting up during the pandemic to continue serving its mission of bringing youth empowerment, health and wellness, community empowerment and education and career resources to its youth. The McLeods are also working to expand Change Our Future to other cities, especially with Rodney playing for the Colts next season, but for the most part, the foundation has held ground in Philadelphia.

“I think it’s important for us to keep Change Our Future existing here in Philly as well as some of the other programs that we’ll touch on, but we felt as though being here for six years, Philadelphia became home for us,” Rodney said.

Besides keeping the foundation in Philadelphia, they also hosted their first “I Am” Youth Leadership Summit at the Community College of Philadelphia on Tuesday, June 28. This all-day event allowed rising tenth and eleventh-grade students to learn what it means to be a leader and their true selves.

The event featured numerous workshops such as leadership definition, self-confidence building and perfecting your pitch. The workshops led to a networking event for the students to engage and connect with each other using the skills they learned during the day.

“I just think that it’s very important that we need to connect the dots in terms of saying something and putting it into action and I think that the leadership summit, they’re gonna learn how to stand out amongst their peers and work alongside different peers in their community may be that they have not come across paths yet,” Erika said.

The leadership summit being held at the Community College of Philadelphia gave the students the perfect opportunity to explore potential college life.

“These opportunities to literally touchdown on a college campus and start taking classes to help elevate [the students] academic resumes. So, we use the youth leadership summit we’re going to pair it alongside the other programs that we’re going to be starting.” Erika said.

One of the programs the McLeods will be kicking off in the fall is Rodney’s mentorship program called, “Next Man Up.” This program will help eliminate the systemic gaps that have existed in the Black community, specifically with African men.

“Having a male role model in front of them that looks just like them to be able to address various subjects from financial literacy to human behavior to life choices to entrepreneurship and philanthropy. We’re building this well-rounded gentleman,” Rodney said.

The students participating in the “Next Man Up” program will also reap the benefits for their well-being. Since June is Men’s Health Awareness Month, Rodney also shared advice about reaching out for physical or mental help.

“I think it’s huge that we recognize us as men and everybody to tap in and be more health-conscious when it comes to your overall wellbeing, mentally and physically,” Rodney said. “As men, we’re very dominant creatures and alphas. Often, it’s hard for us to come out and express how we truly feel. I’m working on that to be more expressive myself,”

Some of the tools that Rodney uses for overall well-being include taking time to unwind and not being afraid to reach out for help.

“Finding time for self and being able to sit and unwind in silence and just reflect with so much going on, I think that’s just important,” he said.

Adding onto the fact that he is also an athlete, Rodney shared that people should be more considerate of differentiating “the athlete” from “the person.” One of the tips he likes to share with other athletes is to explore other passions and interests besides playing football.

“Often we are identified based on what we do by our jersey number or classified as these warriors and understanding that at the end of the day we are humans. We bleed the same way that everybody else does,” Rodney said. “We have our own concerns, problems and issues just like the next and so I think it’s important for people to respect that as well.”

With the second annual Sneaker Ball around the corner, the McLeods expressed their appreciation for how much they were able to raise last year, but also how they’d love to have more like-minded people supporting the Change Our Future mission.

“I think for us we are very humbled by what we were able to receive last year from so many gracious people of the Philadelphia community and it speaks to the hearts and minds of so many out here who are passionate about the same things that Erika and I are standing up for and addressing,” Rodney said.

“We’re a family at Change Our Future, we want to encourage more people to get involved to find their passions through maybe one of the programs that we’re offering,” Erika said.

To get involved, visit the Change Our Future website. From there, the McLeods talked about how people can donate financially, but also how people can get involved in the many programs they will be starting up in the fall and into 2023.

The Change Our Future duo will host their second annual Sneaker Ball on July 7, 2022, from 7-10 p.m. at the Vie in Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased on the foundation website.

Farm Report: Pitcher Griff McGarry Promoted, Named Player of the Month

By Michael Lipinski, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Saturday was a big day for Phillies prospect Griff McGarry.  The 23-year old pitcher was named Phillies Minor Leauge Pitcher of the Month and was promoted to Double-A Reading.  Not too shabby for a hot and humid Saturday afternoon.  

The Phillies selected McGarry in the 5th round of the 2021 MLB First Year Player Draft out of the University of Virginia. The 23-year old has a fastball that touches 98-99 MPH with a plus slider and above average curveball. The knock on McGarry has been his consistency. 

McGarry’s consistency has shown improvement over the past month against High-A hitters. In June, McGarry notched a 3-1 record with a 2.86 ERA, 48Ks, 14 BBs, and a 1.18 WHIP. He held opposing hitters to a .186 batting average.

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Tucker, House Jr. Signings Check All Necessary Boxes for Sixers

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly 76ers Editor

The Philadelphia 76ers came into free agency with some clear areas of weakness on the roster. They were in desperate need of toughness, defense and more 3-point shooting.

The team did a good job on Thursday night, the opening night of free agency, of addressing those weaknesses by signing P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr. Both of those players provide an immediate infusion of toughness and defensive versatility to the roster.

Tucker, at 6-foot-5, has the versatility to defend forwards while also being able to play as a small-ball center on occasion. He might be small on paper, but he certainly does not play like it. He has a stout frame (245 pounds) while also having the ability to put himself in positions to succeed defensively. He is crafty and plays with a ton of toughness and energy, all things the Sixers have lacked in recent memory. The veteran forward also is not afraid of getting in your face and being an enforcer when necessary, as seen in the clip below from a postseason matchup when he was a member of the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2020-21 season.

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