Welcome everyone to the third annual KULPY Awards, where we here at The 700 Level celebrate our own existence by handing out trite, meaningless honors to the sufficiently decorated professional athletes, coaches and executives in Philadelphia sports. As always, a big thank you to CSNPhilly.com for hosting, and for keeping last year's cease and desist letters to themselves. On that note, apologies in advance to CSN for any new complaints that arise from today's ceremonies, as it's my understanding our yearly legal fees have increased by a hundredfold since The Evster joined the staff.
To begin with, let's pat ourselves on the back. This has been a year of tremendous growth, both for this once-humble blog and for this never-modest individual. Firstly, a huge congratulations to The 700 Level for its recent run as a successful television show — I'm sure my royalty check is in the mail. As for myself, for the past year I've been traveling around reporting on all sorts of amazing Philly sporting events, always asking athletes and coaches the same important question: how would you like to be the first person to accept a KULPY trophy live and in person? Sadly, the answers are always the same, either "A what-y?" or "How did you get in here?" Oh well, there's always 2017.
The KULPYs have not yet achieved notoriety enough for an awards banquet, segment on Sports Central or even a half hour of public access programming, but once you do something twice, it's pretty much a tradition, like the World Series or celebrating Christmas. So for the third and hopefully-not-final time, we're dusting off the remaining KULPY Awards that were in storage, and while they're looking a little worse for wear this year, I'm sure the winners won't mind, much less notice that they won.
Now let's get this party started and kick things off with a big one. It's time to announce our choice for Philadelphia Athlete of the Year!
(Nominees: Shayne Ghostisbehere, Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor, Fletcher Cox, Ryan Arcidiacono)
Arcidiacono did his part to bring a National Championship to the city... oh, I'm sorry, Villanova is in Radnor. Carry on then. Ghostisbehere almost — almost — made people care about hockey, which is a bigger feat anyway. Oh, he set some NHL and franchise records for rookie defensemen too, no big deal. Cox was an All-Pro for the Eagles and the most dominant player on one of the worst defenses in the NFL, sadly rendering his achievements hollow. Meanwhile, Simmons with just four summer league games under his belt in the NBA is already Philadelphia's most marketable athlete. That and Andre Iguodala winning this award last year, as a member of the Golden State Warriors mind you, should tell you all you need to know about the state of star athletes in this town.
And the KULPY goes to... baw gahd, that's Jahlil Okafor's music!
Complete coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles and their NFL rivals from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Okafor averaged 17 and seven last season for the Sixers and was making a strong case for NBA Rookie of the Year until injury ended his campaign early. Sure, he played no defense and his hands too often were where offensive possessions went to die, but just look at those flashy numbers! And where Okafor truly edged the competition for this honor was his (alleged) fists-to-Celtics-fans'-faces ratio. Aside from becoming a two-sport athlete, he (allegedly) punched somebody from Boston, which is every Philly fan's dream. Go out and buy an Okafor jersey or three. So what if he'll be traded before opening night? Dude is a Sixers LEGEND.
Fatality! All those bodies hitting the ground are just a tad symbolic of our next award, as we move on to The Andrew Bynum Award for Biggest Disappointment or Underachiever.
(Nominees: Ryan Howard, Domonic Brown, Jake Voracek, DeMarco Murray, the Sixers roster)
How quickly we all forgot about Dom Brown, who was last seen batting .228 with five home runs for the Phillies — that is unless you've happened to catch him at a minor league ballpark near you. Howard is making that look downright productive with his .154 average this season, although there would have to be expectations first in order for somebody to disappoint or underachieve. Voracek did little to persuade people the previous season in which he finished fourth in the NHL in points wasn't a fluke, conveniently crashing back to earth after signing an eight-year, $66 million contract.
But if the formula is expectations meets money wasted, the KULPY surely belongs to DeMarco Murray
It wasn't enough for Murray to come up predictably and far short of his league-leading rushing total for the loathsome Cowboys in 2014. It wasn't enough that he looked slow, hesitant to hit the hole and became shy whenever contact drew near either, as if he were some kind of double agent. No, he had to go and create drama while averaging a paltry 3.6 yards per carry, which ranked 42nd out of 47 qualifying runners. Murray supposedly complained to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie about his role on the plane ride home from a win, then demanded to be traded despite the fact that the head coach was fired, his own value was in the toilet and to do so would burden the organization financially. By all means though, please take your quarterback slides to Tennessee. The Eagles were thrilled to move up 10 spots in the fourth round of the draft if it meant dumping your huge contract and bad attitude.
Guess it's obvious Murray won't be up for our next honor: The Sam Hinkie Memorial Award for Most Sympathetic Figure in Philly sports.
(Nominees: Ryan Howard, Sam Bradford, Brett Brown, Steve Mason, Tim Tebow)
Nobody needs to feel sorry for Howard, who's had an outstanding career all things considered and made piles and piles of cash, too. Plus, if the Phillies went to the first baseman and said, "Here's the rest of your money, you can go home now," would he really be that upset? Things are looking up for Brett Brown too, but not before the Sixers took decades off his life expectancy. Plus, will the head coach still be here when things finally turn around for the franchise? Let's be honest though, nobody really feels bad for Sam Bradford.
So I guess the KULPY has to go to Tim Tebow
Who cares if my 10-year-old nephew uses a more technically sound throwing motion than Tebow? The guy is a WINNER, and the fact that he's been passed over time and time again for quarterbacks who can actually complete passes is clear evidence of some kind of secular plot against him. Never mind Tebow hasn't won an NFL game since he was completely ineffective in a blowout loss in the 2011 playoffs and four teams have quietly dumped him in succession. He can play, it's the league that's holding him back. The fact that he didn't make the Eagles roster after leading yet another vintage Tebow Time fourth-quarter comeback in preseason over a bunch of guys who are selling used cars now is more proof of the anti-Tebow agenda hard at work. Rest assured, when he catches on with another team this summer, Tebow will finally get his opportunity, and I'm sure the Browns or whoever it is will go directly to the Super Bowl. Until then, how can you not feel sorry for a guy being held down by such a massive conspiracy?
It's time for The Chip Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award for Worst Personnel Decision. Somehow cutting Tebow is not on the list. See that? Overlooked yet again! This is a bunch of bu......
(Nominees: Trading LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso, Signing Byron Maxwell, Signing DeMarco Murray, Signing Miles Austin, Cutting Evan Mathis)
Come on, this is a no-brainer. Trading the best running back in franchise history for a slow-of-foot-and-wit linebacker was a terrible move! Then again, so was releasing a Pro Bowl offensive lineman for skipping voluntary work, assuming of course the goal was to win football games. In retrospect, tying up large sums of money in overpriced free agents that don't fit the schemes that were coached was probably a poorly thought-out plan as well. Hell, the mere act of dialing Miles Austin's number was clearly a mistake — what was Kelly thinking? Okay, this isn't as easy as I thought, and we haven't even covered Maclin, Bradford, Agholor, and so on.
And the winner is... Howie Roseman, obviously
The KULPY for Worst Personnel Decision really belongs to its namesake, but since the Chipper has moved on to San Francisco, Roseman was all too happy to accept on his behalf. It's fitting, because the person who benefited most from Kelly's series of ill-advised deals is Roseman after all, as he resumed his place at the top of the Eagles' front office just one year after the head coach usurped his power. So go ahead, Howie, remove the plaque on that trophy and write in whatever you want — Best Afterthought, No. 1 Equipment Manager, whatever. This KULPY is for you!
And now Roseman gets the opportunity for a rare KULPYs double dip! It's time for our most coveted honor: The Competency Award for Philadelphia Sports Executive of the Year.
(Nominees: Sam Hinkie, Ruben Amaro Jr., Howie Roseman, Ron Hextall, Bryan Colangelo)
A two-time KULPY winner for Exec, Hextall is the clear front-runner here. His bold hiring of Dave Hakstol as head coach got the Flyers back to the playoffs, while his ability to dump contracts of the likes of Vinny Lecavalier and literal Hall of Famer Chris Pronger continues to blow minds. There's strong competition however, as Amaro too often does not get enough credit for his part in restocking the Phillies' farm system with prospects such as Jerad Eickhoff, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, etc. The fact that he took the team on a seven-year path from World Series champions to worst team in baseball has no bearing on 2016! And Roseman, well... anybody has to be better than Chip Kelly, right?
But ladies and gentlemen, the KULPY goes to Bryan Colangelo
You have to hand it to Colangelo. It's not just what he's accomplished in a few short months as Sixers GM — wisely using the No. 1 overall pick on generational talent Ben Simmons. It's what he didn't do as well — passing up on an injured Jeff Teague for Nerlens Noel swap and managing to not get fleeced in a draft-day trade with the division rival Boston Celtics. He's even 50-50 on his own ability to convince Dario Saric to play for the Sixers this season! And look at what Colaneglo has to work with going forward: a healthy Joel Embiid, future first-round picks from the Kings and Lakers, plus plenty of cap space. I don't know about you, but I don't even see another choice in this field. It's Colangelo in a landslide.
I feel like we're forgetting about somebody, but unfortunately that's all the time we have. Maybe if it comes to me later, I'll shoot them an invite to the after-party. Chances are nobody will bother or even care to remember though, because like the Sixers, we're all moving on. Thanks for reading, and we look forward to an even bigger, more memorable KULPYs in 2017.