God help me, I want to believe Joe Banner.
After the Eagles traded for left tackle Jason Peters last week, a lot of people figured that would take the Birds out of the Anquan Boldin sweepstakes. ESPN's John Clayton repeatedly said the Eagles almost certainly gave up on Boldin as a result. I don't know Clayton, but he sure looks smart. If he weren't covering the NFL, I'd totally let him do my taxes.
But over the weekend, Banner was asked whether the Peters trade - which cost the Eagles the 28th pick, along with a fourth-rounder and a second-day pick in next year's draft - would prevent the Birds from going after Boldin. Banner didn't mention the Arizona wide receiver by name, but his response was awfully interesting.
What he told Bob Brookover made my heart skip. It skipped again when ESPN picked up Brookie's story. And I nearly went into cardiac arrest when ESPN.com spun Banner's words into a headline that read "Strong chance Boldin flies to Philly."
"We're always looking for players that we think can make us better," Banner told Brookie. "I think we've proven many times that we'd be willing to do what it takes, whether it be a trade or do something with somebody's contract in order to get them here."
Always looking? Make us better? Willing to do what it takes?
That kind of language will make an Eagles fan go weak in the knees and abandon all his chaste vows to dislike and distrust Banner. The question, of course, is whether Banner is simply being a football tease or if the Birds might actually swap their remaining first-rounder for Boldin.
"There are teams that start the year with only one first-round draft pick, and they've traded them," Banner said. "If we made another trade with a first-round draft pick, we'd just be in the same position as them. I think we'll do whatever we evaluate to be the best move with any of the available players. . . . Some of the evaluation is about the quality of what we have at certain positions."
If the Eagles don't make a move for Boldin, I won't blame or criticize them. Getting Peters wasn't sexy, but it was solid. The offensive line looks sound now, and the Birds should be commended for that. I'm happy. But I'd rather be ecstatic.
Packaging the remaining first-round pick for Boldin would get everyone around here all hot and bothered. Sure, getting rid of the team's final first-rounder is a scary proposition. But, ostensibly, the Eagles would be receiving a known quantity in exchange - the kind of weapon Donovan McNabb and the rest of us desperately crave.
Banner hinted that the Birds feel the same way, that they aren't out of this. It could be a confidence scheme designed to trick us into obedience by telling us what we want to hear. I hope not.
Against my better judgment, I want to believe him. That probably makes me a sucker.
Bless the Sixers and their earnest little hearts. They do try, don't they?
In advance of Friday's Game 3 against the Orlando Magic, the Sixers are doing everything possible to attract fans. Yesterday, they gave away free gasoline. Today, they're giving away a supermarket shopping spree. At the game Friday, they're handing out free white Sixers shirts. There's also a rally this week. Oh, and the team is asking Philly to temporarily refer to the Schuylkill Expressway as the I-76ers. (I'm passing on the last one.)
The Sixers have never shied away from the ridiculous if it will help lure fans into the building. Which reminds me: Good seats are still available.
According to Lara Price, the Sixers senior vice president of business operations, the Sixers had sold more than 10,000 seats as of yesterday. The Wachovia Center holds 21,000 for hoops. Price says the team is optimistic that the ongoing PR campaign - coupled with Sunday night's dramatic road win - will convince the fans to turn out.
"We anticipate a great crowd . . . for Friday and continue to see strong sales with lots of interest," Price said.
Tickets can be had for as low as $15.
The New York Post reported that Jerry Jones went to the Yankees' home opener last week and got booed. New Yorkers aren't so bad after all. . . . It appears ESPN has replaced tongue-tied former football analyst Emmitt Smith with Matt Millen. You've heard of a win-win? This is a lose-lose. . . . When Sheldon Brown went public yesterday and said he wants to be traded, he made a real mess of things. Then the Eagles went and issued a statement that told Brown and his agent to shut up and get real, and now things are beyond ugly. The Phillies are supposed to give out commemorative key chains at tonight's game. The Birds should think about a promotional giveaway, too. I'm thinking brown paper bags - because a lot of Eagles fans are hyperventilating right now.
Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or email@example.com.