Live blogging this evening from a rocking chair in front of the Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand Fla., where a charity golf tournament kicked off two days of activity for ex-Eagle Tra Thomas and his youth foundation. Several points to get to as we start the weekend, but first, something from back in Philly. Understand free agent fullback Leonard Weaver went on ESPN 950 to talk about how much he'd like to be an Eagle.
Two points there -- 1. This is the kiss of death. The Birds never sign anybody who goes on the radio campaigning. I think they consider that a deal-breaker. "Hey, the Steelers just released Troy Polamalu! Let's sign him, quick. What's that? He's on the radio saying he wants to play here? Oh, well. Forget it. Can't sign him then." 2. It's always considered news when one of these guys goes on local radio to say he'd like to play in your city, even if you are No. 14 in a list of 23 cities' talk shows he plans to go on to say the same thing. Let me know when a player goes on the radio and says, "Hey, your city really stinks and I wouldn't play there if my only other choice was the CFL."
Weaver's agent, Harold Lewis, texted this message Friday evening, when asked if any announcement was close, and if it looked like the Eagles: "Still working on it. Hope it would be in Philly, but I don't write the checks there."
But back to the golf tournament. It was a disappointment that though Donovan McNabb was featured in the promotional materials, DMac texted Tra earlier in the week to say he couldn't make it, Thomas said. No reason given. Other former teammates (Greg Lewis, Correll Buckhalter) agreed to come but found workout schedules with their new teams wouldn't allow it. But Brian Westbrook, Jamaal Jackson, Kevin Kolb, L.J. Smith, Juqua Parker, and Todd Herremans, along with some last-minute Jacksonville Jaguars, Thomas's new teammates, found their way to DeLand.
Westbrook didn't have long to talk -- we're supposed to get together later this weekend -- but he said his 'scoped left knee was feeling great. Westbrook said that by getting the cleanout done, he hopes to avoid the constant swelling that limited him last season. Obviously, he was doing well enough to golf. He said this was his first knee surgery since his ACL repair in 1999.
L.J. confirmed that he is down to either Detroit or Atlanta, the two places he has visited in free agency. Common sense would indicate Atlanta has the inside track (great young quarterback, improving team, not located in Detroit), though Smith wouldn't quite say so. He did say he'll have a new team soon, and he didn't seem to discourage speculation that it would be the Falcons. He said he was looking forward to a fresh start..
Thomas, meanwhile, has been pretty guarded in his comments about leaving the Eagles after 11 seasons -- Tra pretty much knew when free agency arrived and the Birds hadn't upgraded their bare-bones offer, he was leaving. Friday, his father, ex-Florida A&M offensive tackle William "Crane" Thomas, said his son was more disappointed than he's letting on.
"I think it was real tough, because he really wanted to stay there," the elder Thomas said. "I think he kind of wanted to retire a Philadelphia Eagle. I wanted him to stay, too -- I think Philly's got another shot at going back (to the Super Bowl). That (NFC Championship loss) was a heartbreaker."
Thomas said that when the season ended, his son "was thinking he was going to be with the Eagles.I think he was a little disappointed that they didn't sign him (soon) after the season."
Later, after finishing his round, Tra acknowledged "of course I wanted to stay there. But they had to want me there."
He reiterated that the Birds made only a token effort to keep him.
"I don't think they tried to. If they tried to, they didn't let it be known."
Tra thinks the Eagles definitely could do a better job of dealing with longtime stalwarts, as was shown in the messy exit of Brian Dawkins.
"It definitely would change the atmosphere of the team" if management and Eagles coach Andy Reid would speak from the heart more, he said.
For more on that, see Saturday's Daily News.