by Charles Bell Sr.
I have been a Philadelphia Eagles fan since 1999. Growing up as a black kid in southwest Arkansas, I didn’t see many black quarterbacks when I watched football on TV. I remember the first time I saw Donovan McNabb play. I was amazed and I have been an Eagles fan ever since. I have gone back and looked at some of Randall Cunningham’s highlights, but I was too young to remember his run with the Eagles.
Any Eagles fan will tell you; we have had our share of ups, downs and shocks over the years. In my opinion, the biggest shock was the Eagles selecting Jalen Hurts out of the University of Alabama in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. This did not have as much to do with Hurts, but rather the needs of the team. At that time, Philadelphia had one of the worst secondaries in the league. Guys like Jeremy Chinn were on the board. The Eagles also suffered injuries on the offensive line and general manager Howie Roseman is notorious for beefing up both lines. Oh yeah, they also just signed their franchise quarterback Carson Wentz to a 4-year/$132 million contract. This pick sent shockwaves throughout the entire Eagles fanbase. Eagle fans were already pissed at the selection of receiver Jalen Reagor over Justin Jefferson in the first round. I remember tons of Eagle fans losing it. Twitter, which is now known as X(LOL), was a crazy place. It’s something I will never forget. Fans wanted Roseman fired on the spot. But then Wentz had a horrible 2020 season and was replaced by Hurts in a game against the Green Bay Packers. Wentz was traded the following offseason and Hurts was named starting QB.
Fast forward three years and Hurts is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. I have no problem admitting, I was dead wrong about him. I wish other people would admit that, but we will get to that later. As I mentioned previously, I had nothing against Hurts, but the Eagles had other needs. At the time I was a big Wentz fan. I thought his struggles were more about the banged-up offensive line and the mediocre receiving core than his abilities. The pick was just odd to me. We can now definitely say it was a great pick. Hurts is everything you want in a franchise quarterback.
Other people, however, do not view things that way. Even after the last season he had and the fact that he has improved every year, he has critics and skeptics. They say: it’s only been one year, the Eagles had an easy schedule, etc etc. But I have not heard these things when it comes to other quarterbacks in similar positions around the league. When Joe Burrow led the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl in his second year, no one said it was just one good year. The consensus was he built on his rookie year and was ascending into superstardom. Another thing I hear is he only had 22 touchdown passes. Let’s put that into perspective. I can think of four fourth quarters Hurts mostly sat on the bench or played conservatively because the Eagles were winning big. He also missed two games due to injury. I can easily make the case he could have thrown 30-plus TD passes if those things didn’t happen. Let’s compare this with another young Quarterback, Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers. Herbert played in all 17 games last year and “only” threw for 25 TD passes. Have you heard people calling him a running back or question his throwing? Jacksonville Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence only threw for 12 TD passes his rookie year and followed that up with 25 in his second. Fans and media seem to all say Lawrence is ascending (which I agree with) instead of saying only one good year.
We all know of the racial components when it comes to black quarterbacks. Hurts alluded to this recently in an interview. When it comes to the critics of Hurst, I think it’s more ego-driven. Scouts and executives can’t fathom they were so wrong about a player. I’ve personally never seen a player improve this quickly. Hurts went from being called a gadget player to signing a $250 million dollar deal within 18 months. I am not a scout or player developer. I am simply a fan of the Eagles who pays attention to every move. I gladly admit I was wrong about Hurts. It’s time others did it too. Trust me I know, it Hurts.
by Julian Spivey
A 57-member voting panel selected the 2024 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday, August 2 and seven-time NASCAR champion driver Jimmie Johnson and seven-time champion crew chief Chad Knaus - the duo winning those seven championships together – were each elected on their first year on the Modern Era ballot. After being chosen on the Pioneer Ballot, Donnie Allison will join Johnson and Knaus in the 2024 class. Janet Guthrie, the first female driver to start in the Daytona 500, received the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR and will be celebrated alongside Johnson, Knaus and Allison at the Hall of Fame Induction ceremony next January in Charlotte.
Johnson received 93% of the vote, Knauss received 81% and Allison 53%.
Much of the controversy online around the NASCAR community, including drivers, media and fans alike, was the fact that Johnson wasn’t a unanimous choice by the voting panel with four members leaving him off their ballot. The Athletic reporter Jeff Gluck was among the media personnel saying the four members of the voting panel who didn’t vote for Johnson should be removed from the panel. Luckily for those four individuals, the balloting is anonymous, unless the individuals announce who they voted for themselves.
The fact that Johnson, arguably the greatest driver in the history of NASCAR with his record-tying seven titles and 83 career Cup Series wins placing him sixth all-time, wasn’t a unanimous choice is idiotic for sure but I don’t think quarreling about the percentage of vote he got was the most controversial NASCAR Hall of Fame choice of the day – though seemingly few are talking about the one that truly is.
There is simply no reasonable metric or reasoning I can think of as to how or why Donnie Allison is a NASCAR Hall of Famer.
Nothing about his 21-year, 242-race Cup Series career comes close to explaining why he’s now a NASCAR Hall of Famer.
He won 10 races in his career. That’s 61st all-time in Cup Series history. Of those 10 wins only the 1970 World 600 is really the only one considered a “grand jewel” of the sport. Three wins in the 1970 season were his career high for a single season.
Do you know who else won 10 career NASCAR Cup Series races?
No one is out there clamoring that Bowyer is a Hall of Famer. Hell, Clint Bowyer is more worthy of the NASCAR Hall of Fame candidate than Allison because he also had lower-level NASCAR success with an Xfinity Series championship and eight wins in that series, as well as three wins in the Craftsman Truck Series.
Allison’s highest career finish in the season-long point standings was 17th. It was the only time he finished in the top 20. Now, Allison never ran a full-time NASCAR Cup Series schedule. He never ran more than 65% of any season, but should that matter when it comes to the Hall of Fame?
I’d argue it shouldn’t help his Hall of Fame case, especially when other drivers who never ran full seasons are in the NASCAR Hall of Fame with much more impressive resumes. Hell, Junior Johnson never ran a full-time NASCAR schedule and won 50 races, good enough for the 13th all-time in the sport’s 75-year history.
Another head-scratcher to me is how Allison topped the Pioneer Ballot when it featured legitimate candidates like A.J. Foyt, Sam Ard, Ralph Moody and Banjo Matthews.
Every single one of those other Pioneer Ballot candidates is more deserving of Hall of Fame induction than Allison.
Ard was one of the first greats of what’s now the NASCAR Xfinity Series winning two championships and 22 wins over three years in that series before his career was cut short due to injury.
Foyt, perhaps the greatest open-wheel driver in motorsports history, wasn’t too shabby when he moonlighted in NASCAR. His seven career Cup wins might be fewer than Allison, but Foyt won the sport’s biggest race in the Daytona 500 in 1972. Those three fewer wins than Allison also came in more than 100 fewer career races.
Matthews and Moody were legendary owners and mechanical geniuses. Moody was a two-time NASCAR Cup Series championship-winning car owner. Matthews won three championships as a car owner and won more than 250 Cup Series races, including five of Allison’s 10 career wins.
I would really love for the 53% of voting members who checked Allison’s name on the Pioneer Ballot to explain why they chose him over any of the other four members because right now all I have are theories.
Theory #1: The Allison name
Donnie’s older brother, Bobby, is one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history. Bobby Allison’s 84 career Cup Series wins are tied for fourth most all-time. Allison was also a champion (1983) and won bukoos of “grand jewel” races like the Daytona 500 four times, the Southern 500 at Darlington three times and the World 600 at Charlotte three times.
Donnie’s association with his brother and the gang of drivers known as the “Alabama Gang” for their shared home area around Birmingham, Ala. has no doubt helped further his name and legacy.
The plain truth to me is that if Donnie Allison had any other surname he would not have been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame now or ever. Why do I believe this? Just look at some of the drivers he’s jumped over into the Hall of Fame. Dick Hutcherson won 14 races in just over 100 career races for a much higher winning percentage than Allison and hasn’t even sniffed the Hall of Fame. Jim Paschal won 15 more races than Allison. He can’t even get his name on the Pioneer Ballot. Jack Smith, Speedy Thompson, Fonty Flock and Marvin Panch all have better resumes than Allison. Crickets.
Theory #2: The Good Old Boys Club
This one kind of goes along with Allison’s name but a bit differently. I think Allison still being alive at almost 84 years old and being such an effervescent personality has helped his case. Maybe more so than still being around and his personality though is the fact that many of the drivers he raced against and owners he competed against – some who are no doubt on the 57-member voting panel – helped his cause. That just doesn’t seem fair to more worthy candidates.
Theory #3: His Association With Maybe the Most Famous Moment in NASCAR History
It’s very likely Donnie Allison was a player in one of the most famous moments in the 75-year history of NASCAR, along with his brother Bobby and fellow Hall of Fame driver Cale Yarborough, at the end of the 1979 Daytona 500, the first-ever NASCAR race aired live from start-to-finish on television and had the luxury of doing so while most of the Eastern Seaboard was snowed in from a massive blizzard.
Allison and Yarborough were racing for the lead and win in the sport’s biggest race when the two contacted each other and wrecked into the infield. A fight between Yarborough and both Bobby and Donnie Allison would break out in the infield near the wrecked racecars in front of millions watching from home. It’s likely more people could tell you about that fight today than the fact that Richard Petty won the race after driving by the wreckage.
Maybe some of the writers feel like Donnie Allison was owed a Daytona 500 win because of that moment and that win would be enough to get him in. To that I’d say – Sterling Marlin won two Daytona 500s and has the exact same number of Cup Series wins as Allison and we’ll see if he ever makes it down the road on the Pioneer Ballot.
One honor Marlin has that Allison doesn’t is this year he was named one of the 75 greatest drivers in NASCAR history. However, Foyt and Ard are also among the 75 greatest drivers honorees and we see what good that did them.
There are more than a dozen drivers on the 75 greatest drivers list eligible for the NASCAR Hall of Fame that haven’t been inducted yet, many of them eligible for the Pioneer Ballot, yet Allison will be enshrined come January.
Why does all of this bother me so much?
Because I want to believe in the sanctity of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Are Hall of Fames perfect? No. We’ve seen head-scratching inductions in every other sports hall of fame. I remember feeling this same way a few years ago when Harold Baines was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Donnie Allison isn’t even at the level in NASCAR that Baines was in Major League Baseball in my opinion.
My wife said to me tonight as I was telling her of the 2024 NASCAR Hall of Fame class: “Do you believe everybody in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is worthy?”
My answer: “No. But music is something that’s subjective. Sports are something that is mostly objective. You have statistics and things like championships and awards/honors to go by.”
Allison doesn’t have the statistics, championships or awards/honors to qualify in my opinion for such an esteemed title as “Hall of Famer.”
It makes the process of getting into the NASCAR Hall of Fame feel dirty or at least confusing. Most importantly, Donnie Allison's induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame dilutes the entire hall of fame. Now that might put it on the same level as all of the other halls of fame, but up until Wednesday the NASCAR Hall of Fame hadn’t undergone such a dilution.
by Julian Spivey
The Major League Baseball trade deadline is today (August 1) at 5 p.m. (CST) and some big names have already been dealt like three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer from the disappointing New York Mets to the American League West Division leading Texas Rangers.
But the biggest name, not just thought to have been a potential deal at the trade deadline, but in the sport right now in general – Shohei Ohtani, baseball’s unicorn who is both an All-Star pitcher and hitter for the Los Angeles Angels, is not going to be dealt. The Angels made that known a week or more ago.
The Angels, currently five games out of the A.L. West Division lead and four games out of the final A.L. Wild Card spot, have opted to hold onto the player who will be the most coveted free agent in the history of baseball once the season ends in order to attempt a playoff or even championship run.
Ohtani, who is currently leading Major League Baseball with 39 home runs as a hitter and has the lowest batting average against him in the majors as a pitcher, is projected to make between $500-600 million in free agency this offseason.
The Angels currently have a 4.9% chance to win the A.L. West, a 19.4% chance to make the playoffs as one of the three A.L. Wild Cards and a 1.2% chance at winning the World Series, according to FanGraphs. This means the Angels are 80.6% likely to miss the postseason altogether.
The Angels front office has opted to risk losing Ohtani – and he’s more than likely not going to re-sign with the franchise, which hasn’t shown the ability to even come close to winning in his six seasons with the team despite having arguably the two best hitters in the entire league (Ohtani and Mike Trout) – for a minuscule chance at postseason glory.
Some fans might appreciate the Angels ballclub for not packing it in by the end of July and going for broke, but others might be disappointed in a franchise that has managed to put together losing season after losing season while having two of the most talented players to ever set foot on a baseball diamond.
Sure, the Angels have made some acquisitions prior to the trade deadline in hopes of bettering themselves for a run toward the postseason – but it’s unlikely Lucas Giolito, from the Chicago White Sox, and Randal Grichuk and C.J. Cron, from the Colorado Rockies, are going to move the needle in such a manner that the team gets to where it hopes to go.
Ohtani is currently having one of the greatest, if not the greatest, single seasons of any player in the history of baseball and some fans might want to see him stick around in an Angels jersey until the end of the season to have a shot at the American League single-season home run record of 62 set last season by New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge. Ohtani is currently on pace to hit 60 homers.
But the sheer truth of the Angels refusing to even take offers on Ohtani before the trade deadline is that it’s just setting the franchise up for many more seasons of failure. Ohtani is likely walking this offseason to a team that can both break the bank for him and compete annually for a title. Trout is getting older by the minute and has shown himself to be more and more injury prone as he ages. The team is essentially going nowhere.
Now, it’s true that teams don’t really want to give up the farm for a two-month (potentially three if they go all the way to the World Series) rental and the package the Angels would have gotten in a deal for Ohtani would’ve been less than he was worth, but by-God King Midas’ touch would be less than this one-of-a-kind ballplayer is worth.
The Mets got the 44th-ranked prospect in the game in Luisangel Acuna, a middle infielder with a great pedigree (his brother is Atlanta Braves likely National League M.V.P. Ronald Acuna Jr.), from the Texas Rangers for a 39-year old pitcher in Scherzer, who’s having his worst season arguably of his career, but at least in the last dozen years.
The Tampa Bay Rays just gave up the 37th-ranked prospect in the game first baseman Kyle Manzardo yesterday for pitcher Aaron Civale from the Cleveland Guardians. Civale is having a good season with a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts, but it might also be an anomaly as his career ERA through his first few seasons is closer to 4 than 2.
So, there were potential gains for the Angels to make for the right to have Ohtani in the box and on the mound for the last few months of the season. Now the Angels just get to watch their unicorn leave for a better franchise in the offseason for nothing in return. That’s no way for a franchise, with the longest active playoff drought in the sport, to engender faith from its fanbase for the future.