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Uram: Running Sports Franchises with an Ego Rarely Works

Within the next few days, Jay Ajayi will get his first carry as a Philadelphia Eagle. He’ll be doing so from an excellent young quarterback with a very good offensive line in front of him. The 24-year-old’s potential will show and he’ll play more like 2016 Ajayi who nearly rushed for 1,300 yards, than 2017 Ajayi who got dumped by Adam Gase and the Miami Dolphins.

There’s a reason some writers in South Florida, such as The Miami Herald’s Greg Cote, heavily criticized the exchange, which sent a fourth-round pick to Miami. It’s because getting rid of pure talent for at least next to nothing, regardless of how much a reported headache the player was is possibly the most foolish thing to do in sports, and usually only works out if your last name is Belichick.

Head coaches, general managers, front office guys who carry massive egos without winning championships, and make rash decisions with the belief any player can be plugged in, are some of the most foolish people in sports.

One can strongly speculate Gase clearly wasn’t happy with Ajayi after losing 40-0 to the Ravens, saying how it’s on the running back to not always try for “home runs,” without mentioning that person by name.  After the trade, Gase provided little clarity on why the move was made, other than there are “younger players there we felt we’re going to move forward with,” and it was “just time for us to move on.”

Let the downfall of the Dolphins begin, that’s if you could ever consider them significantly on the up-swing.

Gase saying too-da-loo to Ajayi is another example of Andy Reid and the Eagles getting rid of Terrell Owens so he can go to the Cowboys and the Birds never reaching another Super Bowl appearance since 2004-05. It’s another example of Chip Kelly cutting DeSean Jackson so he can end up with the Redskins and ruin the Eagles playoff chances. It’s another example of Kelly trading top rusher LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso, leading to Kelly himself getting booted out of town. It’s another example of the David Griffin-less Cavs granting Kyrie Irving’s trade request and sending him to an Eastern Conference rival and starting the season 3-5.

The only guy who’s good at replacing talent for nothing is five time Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick, who sometimes takes the controversial free agent off the unemployment line and finds a way to make it work.

Nonetheless, Miami’s loss is the 7-1 Eagles gain. Ajayi sounded humbled and excited in his introductory press conference, making one believe he’ll behave with his new squad. And if for some reason he doesn’t, you can bet your life savings either Malcolm Jenkins, Carson Wentz, Fletcher Cox or any other of the leaders on Doug Pederson’s roster will put Ajayi right in his place.

There is nothing to worry about. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride into January, and maybe even beyond.

Before I forget…

Jahlil Okafor doesn’t want to be a 76er anymore. Can you blame him? The 2015 third overall pick can’t even sniff the court anymore, beat out for bench minutes by veteran Amir Johnson. This is despite the fact he slimmed up and took his fitness very seriously in the off-season. All the 21-year-old (wow, he doesn’t feel that young) wants to do is play basketball and he’s handled this situation with the utmost professionalism. It’s really impressive. Front the outside, it’s obvious Okafor is a great kid. But, because Sixers President Bryan Colangelo won’t buy out the big man’s contract so the 76ers can get nothing in return, Okafor is stuck. This usually isn’t the case, but Colangelo is making the right move. Truth is, whatever limitations Okafor brings, his offensive talent isn’t debatable. The kid can score and if Colangelo just let’s him go, a team like the Celtics can pick him up. It’s the same concept behind getting rid of talent for nothing. Okafor isn’t a game changer, but he’s something. You don’t give up something for nothing.

• Ben Simmons is the real deal. He’s a double-double machine that will sometimes pump out a triple double. Not sure if I can ever concede the 76ers losing  for multiple seasons to land such a unique talent was worth it, but it’s hard to argue against that. Of course, a “Process Pusher” or “Hinkie-ite” might see that sentence and want to call me out for ripping several years of excessive losing. But instead of spewing off “I Told You So’s,” let’s just enjoy Sixers basketball for the next decade plus. Simmons and Joel Embiid are special. Assuming the 76ers avoid an over abundance of ridiculous drama off the court (mainly from the front office), watch out. Here come the Sixers.

Despite a desire to see Joe Girardi manage the Phillies, I’m actually very intrigued by Gabe Kapler. By no means do I believe in a heavy sampling of analytics, but based an early indications, the 42-year-old is fascinating. Whether it’s his views on sun bathing, coconut oil or extreme nutrition, Kapler won’t be dull. I even searched YouTube for his work on Fox Sports 1 and came across engaging commentary.

• In the meantime, speaking of engaging, that is exactly what Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol isn’t. I’m not telling you anything new. What I am doing is my weekly reiteration that Hakstol’s Flyers are so mediocre and it doesn’t help that Hakstol himself rarely shows any emotion. After being shutout 3-0 at the struggling Blackhawks, the third year head coach was positive about their scoring chances against goaltender Corey Crawford. I watched three games Wednesday night – the Sixers, World Series and Flyers. The latter was the one I paid attention to the least. Sometimes their exciting. Other times they lay a dud. Once again, Yawn.


Dave Uram is a weekly contributor to Philly Influencer. You can follow him on Twitter (@MrUram) and email him at [email protected].

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