It looks like I'm down to two Philadelphia teams now. Granted, I'm not much of a fan of the NBA but I still root for the Sixers. But the NBA is in a lockout that seems to have no end in sight. That leaves the Phillies, who tied their franchise record with 101 wins, with one more game to try and break it before they begin postseason play on Saturday.
But wait -- what about the Flyers and the Eagles?
I've discussed my Eagles conundrum regarding DeSean Jackson enough times. If it weren't already obvious that neither the team nor the NFL plan to do anything about Jackson's anti-gay slur, it became a given when reports surfaced that the NFL and its players agreed that only eight players were subject to suspensions for actions that occurred during the lockout. So right now, for all I care Jackson can take his non-apology and go to hell, sans contract extension. And the Eagles, for all their arrogance in just about everything they do, can do the same. I have yet to wear an Eagles t-shirt or jersey this season -- that used to be standard practice on game days. I will still watch the games. I will not at this point root against them, but right now I can't root for them either. So their falling to 1-2 and last place in the NFC East after an absurdly lame defensive and coaching performance Sunday against the New York Giants didn't really bother me much.
The Flyers situation I'm faced with is a bit worse in two respects.
Monday night's exhibition game against the New York Rangers was rough. Early on there were fights and scrums and one hit by a Flyer minor leaguer that would seem to be a prime candidate to lead to a suspension. In the middle of all this, new Flyer Wayne Simmonds got into it with Rangers agitator (and very pro-gay) Sean Avery, and called Avery a "fucking faggot." A short while ago the NHL released a statement saying there would be no action taken against Simmonds. In part it says, "Since there are conflicting accounts of what transpired on the ice, we have been unable to substantiate with the necessary degree of certainty what was said and by whom." Simmonds also denies saying it.
Wayne Simmonds came to the Flyers in the Mike Richards trade with Los Angeles, and doesn't have much NHL experience. I can't say anything about what type of player he is, but I can say without a doubt that he's lying.
It happened at least twice, although that doesn't seem to be widely reported. One was on this video that's been widely circulated online, taken from the Flyers' broadcast, but you can't hear the on-ice sound. You see him mouthing the words pretty clearly. Not clearly enough for the league, mind you, but clearly.
But the part of the broadcast everyone should be focusing on is the moment that leads directly into the above-linked video. After hearing about this on Monday night I checked my DVR's program guide and found a rebroadcast of the game was scheduled, so I recorded it. Flyers announcers Bill Clement and Jim Jackson are talking about the rule changes regarding boarding penalties. We see Avery taken out of the penalty box by a linesman and sent back to the Rangers' bench because he wasn't actually given a penalty, and Simmonds is being held back by another linesman while Jackson says that "Avery and Simmonds are jawing." That's the point where, when I turn up the volume on my TV, I can hear Simmonds say "fucking faggot." Then Jackson throws it to on-ice announcer Steve Coates, asking him to "clean it up." Coates begins by saying he is trying to give "the PG version," and then that leads into the replay that the other video has, where Simmonds is saying it while on the Flyers' bench and a teammate has a hold of him.
Here's my video of that portion, in which you will not be able to hear Simmonds because the camcorder on my cell phone isn't very good. (Maybe I'll try again with some other device.) But pay close attention to Simmonds starting at about the 7- or 8-second mark...
If league officials reviewed this broadcast, or better yet, the raw footage without the announcers' voices, they'd have no doubt what Simmonds said. I'll speculate that they'd have trouble getting it, because the Flyers are owned by Comcast-Spectacor, it was on the Comcast Network and chairman Ed Snider is a right-winger and big supporter of Sarah Palin, as we all remember from October 2008.
For the league to disregard this is outrageous. For Simmonds to deny it is even more outrageous, especially since it was just days ago that some creep in London, Ontario threw a banana on the ice as Simmonds was taking his turn in the shootout. Simmonds is black. Clearly the banana toss was an act born of racism. In his weak mind, one form of bigotry is wrong, but another is quite okay. But it worried him enough that he at first said after the game that "I can't recall every single word I said" and only later completely denied saying it. But hey, he can lie about it and, it would seem, get away with it.
If I knew a way to get the recording from my DVR online, I would. In the meantime, my policy regarding the Flyers is the same as with the Eagles: I will watch, but I won't be all that unhappy if they lose.
I should also point out that I'm not under any delusion that individual Phillies players are perfect, and that none of them have ever uttered an anti-gay epithet. But if they get caught I will deal with it at that time. As with the Simmonds and Jackson cases, how I feel about it will depend on how they respond. I hope that the Phillies' response will be much better. Based on their history of hosting Gay Community Night and their recent It Gets Better video, I suspect it might.
Oh, and just to clarify: if I sit in front of the TV during one of those games and call Wayne Simmonds the N-word, is that okay now because no one would be able to prove I said it?