Happy Independence Day
Over my sports lifetime (mid-80s on) there have been too many players to count for whom I celebrated their independence from our beloved city. Either they were high draft picks that didn’t meet their potential or they came in a blockbuster trade and fell flat on their face. So, in honor of Independence Day and DGB’s recent cut, remember with me the following players that couldn’t have left Philly any sooner.
Eagles: Danny Watkins - The MVF - most valuable fireman. I have the utmost respect for Danny’s dedication to his volunteer firefighter service, but his time in the NFL didn’t light anyone on fire. (Man that was hacky) Watkins was the Eagles first-round pick in 2011, and quite a stretch in everyone’s eyes except for maybe Big Red, Coach Reid. Watkins was a late bloomer, but Andy saw quickness, intelligence, and strength and fell in love with the Baylor offensive lineman. He always had a soft spot for linemen. Danny was given his independence from the Eagles only two years later. On a side note, Danny eventually won Rookie of the Year honors…from the Frisco Fire Department in Texas in 2015.
Flyers: Pat Falloon (honorable mention to Chris Gratton) - I still remember the Pat Falloon hype because he was the first pick of the brand-new San Jose Sharks franchise, and he was also #2 behind Eric Lindros in 1991. He lasted four years in San Jose and was traded to the Flyers after not living up to the Sharks’ expectations. Maybe the Flyers thought “a change of scenery” would be a catalyst for Falloon. The Flyers traded a first- and fourth-round pick along with a player for Pat. That first-round pick was later turned into Danny Briere. Falloon played 144 frustrating regular season games (83 points) and 26 even more frustrating playoff games (9 points) for the Flyers. Falloon got his walking papers in 1998 for another head scratching prospect in Alexandre Daigle.
Sixers: Shawn Bradley - The Sixers selected The Stormin’ Mormon #2 overall in the ’93 draft, passing on Penny Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn among other players. “You can’t coach height,” right? You couldn’t overlook, literally, Bradley’s height. At 7’6”, the Sixers thought they drafted the center of the future, and a franchise player they could build around. Bradley was good at blocking shots, but that was about it. His height gave him little advantage considering he was built like Jack Skellington (for those without kids, see The Nightmare Before Christmas). Independence Day for Shawn Bradley came early in the 1995 season when he was traded to the Nets for Derrick Coleman. Ugh.
Phillies: JD Drew - I know, this selection is a little weird. I considered others like, Tyler Green, Gavin Floyd, and Danny Tartabull, but this article is really about my pleasure with finally letting someone go. It was only one season, but the circus and all the posturing that took place was enough to drive a fan crazy. The Phils made Drew the #1 pick after many warnings from the rat, Scott Boras, that his client would not play for the Phillies. The Phillies took a chance, they even offered Drew a reasonable contract for an unproven player at that time, but Drew wanted $10 million. Boras had JD play a season for an independent league and save his amateur status so he could get drafted the following season #1 again by the Cardinals. He never lived up to the hype wherever he landed, but he certainly heard the boos from the Philly faithful whenever he was in town. Good bye, good riddance.