WHEN I first heard that the Eagles had lent Lincoln Financial Field to the Phillies for today's championship celebration, my first reaction probably was the same as yours.
How much are they charging them?
"No charge," Eagles president Joe Banner said. "Honest. For us, it was an easy request. We were happy to do it."
The popular perception, of course, is that the Eagles never have been happy about doing anything for the Phils; that they're bad, bad neighbors who don't shovel their sidewalks, don't leash their dog and have thumbed their noses at the local nine since their days together at Veterans Stadium.
But Banner, whose team took out a full-page ad in today's Daily News congratulating the Phils on their World Series triumph, insists that's just not true.
"Listen, we're down here working next to each other," he said. "In some respects we compete. In a lot of respects, we're two separate entities. I've been here 15 years. It's unrealistic to think that there isn't going to be a moment or two where you're going to be frustrated with each other. But I think we have a good relationship.
"We cooperate on a lot of stuff. [Phils president] Dave Montgomery and I have good personal relationship. When something's come up where they need something from us, I believe we've been very cooperative. And when we've needed something, they've been cooperative."
At the Phils' request earlier this year, the Eagles got the NFL to construct their schedule so it would avoid conflicts with the Phils during the last weekend of the regular-season and the playoffs.
They were on the road in weeks 4 (Sept. 28) and 6 (Oct. 12) against the Bears and the 49ers when the Phils were finishing the regular-season at home against the Nationals and playing the Dodgers in the NLCS. The Eagles played the Redskins at home in Week 5 (Oct. 5), but had arranged with the league to flip-flop that game and their other meeting with the 'Skins in Washington on Dec. 21 if the Phils had been at home (they were in Milwaukee for the second game of the NLDS).
The one and only same-day conflict was last Sunday when the Eagles played the Falcons at the Linc in the afternoon and the Phils played Tampa Bay in Game 4 of the World Series at Citizens Bank Park at night.
"They said they were OK with that as long as it was at 1 o'clock because their game wouldn't be until 8:30," Banner said.
If the Eagles had had to play the Redskins in D.C. in Week 5, it would have been no small inconvenience. It would have meant playing three straight games on the road. Starting with their Week 2 game at Dallas, they would have played five of seven games away from the Linc.
"There has been some things said and written that aren't overly flattering about us and that isn't really fair," Banner said. "Despite people trying to portray the opposite, we've put their scores up on the board constantly. Contrary to the lease, we allowed them to reserve a bunch of [parking] spaces on Sunday so that if any of their fans arrived early, there'd be spots.
"We put a message up on the board wishing them good luck. We urged people to get out of the lots immediately after the game so that people going to their game would have enough places to park. There's a long list of things [we've done] that are counter to people's perception of us."
Around the league
* Donovan McNabb hasn't thrown many interceptions (just three in 245 attempts), but he also hasn't thrown many touchdown passes lately either. He's thrown just two in the last 15 quarters and is 21st in the league in touchdown percentage. He's averaging just one TD pass per 30.6 attempts, the poorest TD-to-attempts ratio of his career. In '06, before he tore his ACL, he averaged one every 17.5 attempts. In '04, he averaged one every 15.1.
* The fact that Seahawks assistant coach Jim Mora Jr. refuses to say he's not interested in the University of Washington head-coaching job would seem to indicate that he is. In February, the Seahawks announced that Mora, a former University of Washington linebacker, would be replacing head coach Mike Holmgren when he retires after the season. But many think Mora, who took the Falcons to the NFC Championship Game in 2004, is better suited for the college game. His admission in a radio interview 3 years ago that he'd love to be the head coach at his alma mater contributed to his firing in Atlanta. Asked yesterday if he's interested in the Washington job, which became vacant this week after the school fired Tyrone Willingham, Mora told reporters: "I'm interested in preparing for the Philadelphia Eagles, that's what I'm interested in. You can ask me and that's my answer."
* Chiefs running back Larry Johnson met with commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday to discuss his off-the-field issues that include two court dates for two separate assault charges against women. Goodell is expected to suspend Johnson. On the off-chance he doesn't, Chiefs coach Herm Edwards, who is fed up with Johnson's attitude and behavior, probably won't activate him for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay anyway, even though the Chiefs already will be without their No. 2 back, Jamaal Charles, who has a sprained ankle. Asked if he would consider activating Johnson if something were to happen to one of the other two running backs on his roster, Kolby Smith and rookie Dantrell Savage, Edwards said, "We still have [Jackie] Battle." Battle is a practice-squad player.
* Cardinals running back Edgerrin James is on the verge of losing his starting job to rookie Tim Hightower. James has been griping about sharing carries with Hightower. In Sunday's 27-23 loss to Carolina, James rushed for just 17 yards on seven carries. Hightower finished with just 3 yards on six carries. "I think we've shown that we're going to play the players who give us the best chance to win," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We did that with the quarterback. We've done that at linebacker. We've done it with the offensive line." *
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