It’s that time of year again and many around the country are taking the time during the Thanksgiving holiday to consider what they are thankful for in their lives.
For many, that thankfulness revolves around things that are a large part of one’s life. In the Philadelphia area, one of the largest things in life for many fans are their sports teams.
In that same spirit, our Sports Talk Philly experts shared what makes them thankful about the teams they cover.
Eagles – Paul Bowman: @PhillyBallPaul
The Eagles currently stand as the number one seed in the NFC with a 9-1 record. They’ve got perhaps the most complete roster that we’ve seen in Philadelphia since the 60s, perhaps longer than that. Certainly that’d be enough to be thankful for on it’s own – but it takes a back seat to something else.
What I’m thankful for is the Eagles roster construction.
Not only does the Eagles roster consist of players who give the team a win-now mentality and have them as the top seed in the NFC with a 9-1 record, but it contains an active core of younger players who are contributing and/or developing with the team. The roster has quite a few veterans that would seem unlikely for the team to bring back as they look to free up more cap space, but has also brought in young veterans like Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Kyzir White and AJ Brown who may/already figure into the team’s long-term plans. They also have a quarterback still on his rookie deal as well as players who are having fun and enjoying playing for the team – something that could potentially be used to maintain more players at a slightly discounted rate.
And despite the fact that they may be losing some high-priced veterans, the Eagles remain in good shape to acquire some more with two first round picks in the next draft (one currently in the top 10) and two second-round picks in the draft in 2024. If the Eagles have a top 10 pick, they may well wind up with multiple high-round picks following that with the way Howie Roseman likes to make moves.
Overall, the Eagles are in a position to not only win their second Super Bowl Championship, but they are in a position where they could maintain the talent level on their roster going into the future.
Flyers – Kevin Durso: @Kevin_Durso
As this Thanksgiving Day arrives, it’s a familiar feeling in Flyerland. The Flyers have lost eight straight games…stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
The Flyers hot start to the season, a 7-3-2 record in the first 12 games, was certainly unexpected and showed that Carter Hart can put a team on his shoulders. That said, everything has come back to reality for the Orange and Black, as injuries have taken their toll and the talent gap between the Flyers and the rest of the league only widens.
So what is there to be thankful for? For starters, a head coach that isn’t feeding you lines about the record or injuries or predictions or playoffs. John Tortorella is all about building an identity, and when you have a team that may lack talent or experience, you focus on effort. Tortorella is honest to a fault in this department. He’s not giving out praise for no reason, not trying to spin positive narratives out of nothing, he’s telling it like it is. And he’s continued to state from day one that there is a lot of work to do.
Part of that work will almost definitely come in the offseason ahead. And the NHL Draft could become a big moment for the Flyers in how they direct their franchise moving forward. An opportunity at a generational talent could await them, especially as the losses pile up. The possibility of Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, or Matyev Michkov is just the kind of talent the team needs, a young talent discussed across league circles that is sure to draw a crowd. Just look up the highlights of Bedard, Fantilli, or Michkov to see what I mean.
Phillies – Michael Lipinski: @MLipinskiSports
Well, this might be the easiest one of the group!
I was going to pick Phillies manager Rob Thomson but I felt like I would be slighting our Canadian readers. Thomson, a Canadian, and his country mates celebrate Thanksgiving in early October. Today is just a random Thursday in November for them, eh!
In all seriousness, I’m thankful for the 2023 National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. All of them, even Rhys Hoskins and Nick Castellanos.
It was fun to experience “Red October” for the first time in over a decade. And maybe, just maybe this Phillies run created some new fans along the way.
I’m thankful for what we missed all those October’s past, shutdown pitching (most of the time), incredible fielding, monster home runs, a wild Citizens Bank Park, legacy making performances, and more radio magic from Scott Franzke.
Back to Topper, I’m thankful that Thomson went all in on the “daycare” and allowed this ballclub to show their personalities. It made following Phillies baseball fun again. Who knew that this team was made up of a bunch of –in a good way– maniacs.
Finally, back to that “Red October” thing from above, I’m thankful that I got to experience this postseason run with my kids. They weren’t old enough to understand the Birds’ run to the Lombardi in 2017, but they understood and believed in the magic of postseason baseball. Seeing the joy and eventually the despair –welcome to Philadelphia sports fandom, kiddos!– is something I will cherish forever.
Sixers – Matt Gregan: @MattGreganNBA
The Sixers are off to a bit of a rough start this season. They are 9-8 and have been battling through a ton of injuries. However, I am thankful that, when fully healthy, they have a talented squad that is capable of making the playoffs every season.
I’m thankful for Tyrese Maxey, who is energetic and continues to amaze with his rapid development as a player. Joel Embiid continues to play at an MVP level. James Harden, before injuring his foot, looked much closer to the “Houston Harden,” someone capable of dropping 25-plus points on any given night. Tobias Harris is excelling in his role as more of a floor spacer this season. The bench seems to be much improved from prior seasons.
While things undoubtedly are not perfect, there are more reasons to be thankful about this year’s Sixers team. Hopefully this will be the year they are able to make a deep playoff run.
Union – David Malandra Jr: @DaveMReports
There are three big things that stand out that we should be thankful for the Philadelphia Union. The first thing is Head Coach Jim Curtin, he has been one of the top coaches in the MLS and has been with the team since 2014. During that time he has turned the team into one of the top teams in MLS and been able to lead their team to win the club’s first Eastern Conference Championship in 2022.
The second thing is that Philadelphia Union fans should be very thankful for is Andre Blake. Blake has been one of the top goalies in MLS and the Union were very lucky to draft Blake with the number one pick in 2014.
The final thing that Philadelphia Union fans are to be thankful for is the growth of the fan base over the years, lead by the Sons of Ben and also having Alejandro Bedoya as the captain.