Personal Foul for Piling On in Philly…

Nick Cole, age 27, C/G, 6-0, 350, 5th year, New Mexico State

Jamaal Jackson, age 30, C, 6-4, 330, 8th year, Delaware State

Jeff McLane, age 32, Staff Writer,  5-11, 175, 10th year, Penn State

I like Jeff McLane a lot and I respect his work for the Philadelphia Inquirer…but I would not expect him to voluntarily hand me his job or go out of his way to train me if he were disabled or away on medical leave.

That’s why I’m calling a “Personal Foul” on McLane for stirring it up and piling on a situation at Eagles training camp that in personal hindsight would have best been left unspoken.

Here’s the report filed by McLane on August 3 that fanned the flames of controversy at the Eagles’ jobsite:

With Jamaal Jackson on the shelf with a knee injury, the inexperienced Nick Cole has taken over at center and struggled with the snap and other parts of the job.

After practice on Monday, Cole, 26, was asked if the 30-year-old Jackson helps with some pointers.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Cole said.

Does Jackson help you out in any way?


Is it because he’s trying to keep the secrets of the trade to himself?

“We don’t really talk about it,” said Cole, who added that he wants to make coach Andy Reid’s choice of a starter “a harder decision” when Jackson returns.

Jackson, through a team spokesman, was asked if he helps instruct his backup.

Me and the other centers talk all the time in meetings and on the field during practice and have a great relationship,” Jackson responded.

There is no date for when Jackson can start practicing, but Reid has said that the center, who is rehabbing with the training staff, is unlikely to return by the season opener.

So that leaves the job for Cole – for now.

On Monday, Cole’s shotgun snaps went low, high and one time led to a fumble. In the afternoon, he and quarterback Kevin Kolb worked overtime on the exchange.

“There’s so many things being thrown at Nick right now,” Kolb said. “He’s got a lot of stuff going through his mind and sometimes more than we normally have.”

Okay, I admit, my initial reaction to the report was disappointment in the apparent refusal of a veteran like Jackson to reach out to help a struggling teammate, albeit a younger guy who’s trying to take over Jackson’s job for the forseeable future.

Just the day before I had been driving on I-83 and I picked up a sportstalk feed from York, PA…. The host of the show was doing a Ravens report and gushing , “Isn’t it great how Shannon Sharpe took Todd Heap under his wing when Heap was a rookie, and showed him the ropes..and now Heap is doing the same for the rookie TE’s in camp…That’s the way it is in the NFL…older guys help out the young guys…”

Okay, I’ve heard that cliche my whole life as a fan…then comes the McLane article to bust up that myth. Should I accept McLane’s portrait of  implied pettiness and selfishness in the Eagles’ camp? Or did he just catch Jamaal Jackson and Nick Cole on a cranky day?

I turned to the good guys at Dave Spadaro’s”On The Inside” fan forum for counsel on the issue. The esteemed Gate Keeper, Brizer9, who usually helps me to “perk up” my logic and reasoning in such matters, wisely assessed the variables in McLane’s report.

EAGLES EYE:  I have to write an article on Nick Cole tomorrow, and it is a piece that sickens me…because Nick has implied Jamaal Jackson refuses to help him with inside tips on how to beter play the position at Center…but at least he’s being honest. Jamaal is being honest, too?… as in, why should HE help a guy take his job away from him? Finally, honesty amongst all this PR fluff in the NFL!?…
BRIZER9 :  Just reviewed with horror or paradoxical view (not sure about yur candor) of Jamaal J. reluctance to share with Nick C. tricks of the trade,..memories of Favre vs. Rodgers dance in my head. Sorry,.if true,.That don’t sound like a “team” to me. Moreover,..most job descriptions that I read, usually include “passing the torch” at some level. JJ,..if he wants to be great,..shouldn’t fear Cole taking his job….that just aint right….perk up!… reason to be a muckraker at this point,..guvna’!…just to sell papers,..yea,….now i’m kidding,..sort of.
EAGLES EYE: Your words of caution are well accepted, GK …I am torn over this, may decide to can it and take one for the team…McLane source is credible, however…let me dig up a link to the original report for you..if you decide by midnite tonight this thing is newsworthy, then I will run with it…if you think it’s damaging to the cause, I will kill the blurb.
BRIZER9 :  Again,.even if it’s true,.JJ should have nutin’ to fear but fear…weak…….prospice…….freedom of the press, write what you want,..the wight ray,…carry on.
EAGLES EYE: If any truth or positive spin could be made of it, it does show JJ is deadly determined to get back to where he once belonged…Well, Bri, maybe the real angle to justify any kind of blurb about it is to describe how uncomfortable McLane’s report makes me feel, since I usually drink the green Kool-Aid…plus, maybe JJ is just cranky this summer due to frustration/injury rehab/CBA situation/etc. Who knows? This river may not run that deep. It may not be “Man Bites Dog” material after all is revealed. And JJ’s definitely in the “No Comment” section of the lockerroom at this time…
(at this point frequent commenter Kenny joined to help in my dilemma…)
KENEMEKA:  I saw that report from McLane When he originally put it up. I was disappointed in JJ for sure, but inside, I felt he believed he will be back this season. It also goes to show how unserious Cole is. After last season, he knew if he remained an Eagle, he would be top of the C chart. He could have spoken to a whole bunch of other people around the league(may have actually) he has his coaches to talk to and more importantly should have been observing, watch films etc. Nothing wrong with writing your story, several reporters at the same event write on the same stories but from different angles………
EAGLES EYE: Thanks, Kenny, that’s a really good perspective on the total picture you gave. I don’t like to stir the pot for no good reason—and the reality of life is not all co-workers really like or respect one another—which is why McLane’s story in the end may be much ado about…well, not much.
BRIZER9 : ..i beg to differ,..kenny’s insight suked,.why?…he really doesn’t know the whole story re. Nick and what he did or did not do,..seemed to me ..a rush to judgement,…unserious?…good ‘unword’!…but perhaps,..bogus!?!…..that doesn’t suit the GK, all!…carry on….
(Jay the Bassist from Virginia added additional insight here…)
JAY : In making an (admittedly uninformed) opinion about the bickering at C, the thing that stuck out was that cole seemed to be airing something, whereas JJ was being professional. that’s all I can base any presumptions on, but it’s been my general life experience that the one who speaks more negatively is the source of conflict. of course, the only thing that actually matters is whether or not the cat can ball (at Center)… from what we’ve been hearing, the answer is “not so much.”

Thank you, Gate Keeper Brizer and Gentlemen…Final verdict after sleeping on the topic: PERSONAL FOUL called for UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS —PILING ON AFTER THE WHISTLE — called on JEFF McLANE!!!

My reasoning:

Here’s a classic case of a spare comment that should have been declared Off The Record by both Nick Cole and Jeff McLane…Cole is struggling, probably very frustrated (and as of this writing suffering from a nagging knee injury that is not considered serious), it was a hot muggy day, and he was grouchy. McLane had to know how bad that one-word comment to his question — “Nah.” — would look in type.  I feel McLane took advantage of a situation that is probably routine stuff in every training camp in the NFL and every workplace in the nation.

As for me?–Time not only to “perk up” but to “grow up”… Professional athletes get frustrated, pissed off, and resentful at times just like the rest of us. We don’t necessarily like or get along with all our associates in the real world, why should we expect that of pro athletes? And chances are, even if we cross a co-worker or family member, we end up making up with them in short order…as do most pro athletes within their fraternity.

Jeff McLane knows these facts of life, too. But he failed to resist an easy snowbird set-up for a hot cheap-shot angle on a story. Muck-raking, indeed. Selling papers…Piling On.

Maybe I’m wrong, but McLane should have kept this interview with Nick Cole in his notebook for future evaluation and revisitation by Cole.

I still like the guy! And the news is not all bad…not too long ago Jeff McLane wed the lovely Karen Pinkos in a traditional Catholic ceremony here in Philly. Best wishes to the bride and groom…




Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.