Extra Cheese: A tough ending, but there's always next year

20090124_inq_excheese24-a
There's always next season. After the Birds dropped the ball in Arizona, the Spruance family (Tom, Linda, and Preston, 8) trudged to their car from Chickie's & Pete's.

Monday dawned, and we were all still standing. The city didn't sink into the earth. Life goes on.

Yes, it was another crushing, heartbreaking, how-could-they-let-this-

happen defeat the Eagles suffered Sunday, yet who can find fault with the way they played in the last few weeks leading up to Sunday's denouement?

There are 28 NFL cities that would love to have been where Philadelphia was last weekend. A final four finish is not bad.

Only one team that beat the Eagles in the regular season - Baltimore - was still alive Sunday.

All of the team's division rivals - Dallas, New York, Washington - were sitting home this past weekend.

Powerhouses Indianapolis, New England, Carolina, Tennessee - not one of them was any more active than poor Detroit this past weekend.

And small solace though it may be, the Super Bowl combatants, Pittsburgh and Arizona, are teams the Eagles beat during the regular season.

So, nice run. Get 'em next season.

Unfortunately, we won't have the comfort of filling the empty post-NFL weeks with Arena League football.

With the financial turmoil going on everywhere, the league opted to cancel the 2009 season and try again next year.

On the bright side, it means our champion Soul will get to hang onto that title for another year.

The other football

The MLS is coming. All we need is a name for the new Philadelphia franchise, which will begin play next year in the 20,000-seat soccer stadium being built on Chester's waterfront.

Voting for a team nickname began Monday and runs through Feb. 6. Several voting options are offered.

One is Philadelphia SC (which sounds as if we have been relocated to somewhere between North Carolina and Georgia).

Other choices are Philadelphia AC, Philadelphia City (even though they will play a few miles outside the city), and Philadelphia Union.

There is a fifth option, in which voters can write in their own suggestions.

There has been some support for Philadelphia Athletic (in the tradition of the English club Charlton Athletic and Spain's Atletico Madrid), which has kind of a Connie Mack connection. (Oh, the joy of writing "A's" headlines again . . . not that I'm old enough to have remembered ever doing so.)

A less conventional suggestion comes from a posting on the Eagles fan site 700level.com, according to Guardian.co.uk: "Zombie Sharks."

And then there's "Zolo" - a name adopted by Sons of Ben, the hyperactive local soccer supporters club. They had a meeting with team co-owner Nick Sakiewicz in 2008, a couple of days before the announcement of the team, and they were wearing handwritten name tags that said "2010." Sakiewicz thought the tags said "Zolo."

To vote for a name for the new MLS team, fire up the old laptop and go to www.philly.com/mlsnametheteam.

Digging through the mailbag

I enjoyed the Chad Johnson story.

Whenever a player does a name change, it reminds me of a forward from the old (ABA) Utah Stars in the '70s: Gerald "Go-Go" Govan.

Govan was a 6-foot-10 power forward from Jersey City, out of St. Mary of the Plains College (Dodge City, Kan.). Just before the '72-73 season, he wanted to change his name to Lew Alcindor, because "the name isn't being used anymore." (The original Lew Alcindor had changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.)

Legally, it was a viable request, but the league office said no. Govan played about eight years in the premerger ABA, and twice was named to the all-defensive team.

Dan DiNardo

Narberth

djdinardo@comcast.net

Gerald Govan actually played in all nine seasons of the American Basketball Association before the merger with the NBA, one of only six players to do so. He was with the New Orleans Buccaneers for three seasons (1967-70), the Memphis Pros for two seasons (1970-72), the Utah Stars for three seasons (1972-75), and the Virginia Squires (1975-76) in his final season.

As for Govan's name change, Sports Illustrated ran an article in 1971 reporting the idea to change his name came from Memphis teammates as a publicity stunt to draw more attention to the struggling franchise.

After the season, the Pros were bought by Charles O. Finley (of Oakland A's fame), and the team nickname was changed to Tams.

Quick hits and headlines

Danica Patrick Caught Speeding

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Danica Patrick paid a $196 fine to settle a speeding ticket after the star race-car driver was caught going 54 m.p.h. in a 35-m.p.h. zone last month.

Ironic how someone who drives 200 m.p.h. for a living can get pulled over for driving at a speed that would get her run off the road on Roosevelt Boulevard.

Daly suspended by PGA Tour

John Daly certainly got noticed in 2008. He launched one tee shot off the top of a beer can during a pro-am. In another tournament, he returned from a rain delay with then-Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden as his caddie. And then there was the photo of him modeling an orange jail ensemble with his eyes half-closed.

Daly said that such unwelcome publicity is why the PGA Tour suspended him for six months.

No, there must be some other reason.

Monsters defeat Phantoms, 3-0

They should have checked under the bed before they took to the ice.

Goats blamed for starting a house fire in Iowa

They sound like scapegoats to me . . . (OK, this has nothing to do with sports, but I couldn't resist.)

Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 14

That's just three weeks from today . . . woohoo!


This article contains information from Inquirer wire services.

Contact staff writer Al Campbell

at 215-854-5414

or acampbell@phillynews.com.