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An Open Letter To Philly Sports Fans: 'I'm Not Mad, I'm Disappointed'

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Sam Hinkie's 13-page resignation got me thinking: I should write my own insightful letter. So, here goes.

Dear Philadelphia sports fans,

"I'm not mad, I'm disappointed."

The first time I heard the world's most impactful parent-to-child phrase, I was in second grade. My mom was reacting to a substitute health teacher finding my hand-written profanity-filled poem.

I knew she loved me, and would no matter what, but my mistake was evident. She needed to get that point across. And so do I.

Born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia, I grew up without a choice: Phillies, Flyers, Eagles, and Sixers (in no particular order). It was cemented into my life before I could even walk. Instantly, I fell in love and became part of this passionate, emotional, and intelligent fan base -- one of the country's elite, frankly.

But today, the day after Sam Hinkie resigned and 14 weeks after Chip Kelly was fired, I'm disappointed in that same collective group.

See, in the summer of 2013 -- when Hinkie was hired to be the general manager of the 76ers and Kelly was a few months into his head coaching tenure with the Eagles -- success seemed imminent. Finally, Philly sports has obtained two leaders running their respective franchises ready to use innovative strategies, new technologies, and outside-the-box thinking. Two astoundingly successful people: Hinkie, now 38, a Summa Cum Laude top-60 USA Today ranked undergraduate from Oklahoma, an MBA grad from Stanford, and an adviser for the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans. Kelly, now 52, a 46-7 college football coach who revolutionized a program by destroying teams with his cutting-edge option-laden offense. Just put on your TV during Saturday's this fall -- his imprint is obvious.

I thought: This city could be on the verge of two championship franchises in five years. 

Less than three years later, both are gone. And I'm partially blaming you.

Sports fans have never had more power than they do now. From blogs, to reddit, to YouTube, to sports radio, to the almighty Twitterverse, your voice carries more weight than ever before.

Tom Landry, a two-time Super Bowl winning head coach, is regarded as one of the innovative coaches in NFL history -- largely responsible for the 4-3 defensive formation. Landry was 25-53 in his first six seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and did not win his first Super Bowl until his 12th year.

Pat Riley, considered one of the NBA's top executives, became head coach and team president of the Heat in 1995. It took him until 2006 to bring South Beach a title.

The respective legacies of Landry and Riley would be drastically different if they worked in the crazed social-media era. They never would have made it.

In 1991, the Cleveland Browns hired a defensive coordinator named Bill Belichick. Belichick went 6-10, 7-9, and 7-9 in his first three year's. The Browns gave him a fourth, a season he would have never seen in 2016. Belichick went 11-5, but was fired after a fifth-year regression. 20 years later, he's the game's all-time greatest head coach.

Kelly went 26-21 in his three seasons as Eagles head coach, not including a two-point last second playoff loss in his first pro coaching campaign. The majority of those games were started by Nick Foles -- who was later benched for Case Keenum (undrafted) in St. Louis and Mark Sanchez, who needs no introduction. However, after a third-year regression coupled with a roster overhaul in his first-year with personnel control and a necessary change in quarterback, fans turned on Kelly to the point where the vast majority wanted him fired. Just like that, the NFL's next great coach was off to San Francisco.

Hinkie took over for a management group that traded future NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, future 19 point-10 rebound per game seven-footer Nik Vučević, and a first-round pick for Andrew "Voldemort" Bynum -- or he-who-shall-not-be-named.

Thanks (or no thanks?) to Hinkie, the 76ers have:

  • Young talent: Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Robert Covington, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric
  • Assets: Four potential 2016 first-round picks, including the best mathematical shot at the No. 1 overall selection (likely, Ben Simmons)
  • Money: About $50 million under the cap, enough room for two max contracts

But, an irrelevant 37-127 record has caused push-back from the NBA -- who reportedly forced 76-year-old Jerry Colangelo upon the team -- and Philly's divided fan base, left yelling either "WIN GAMES NOW" or "TRUST THE PROCESS."

In 2016, our country's patience is dwindling. From Uber, to Starbucks, to Netflix, to Amazon, to Venmo, to Grubhub and beyond. Have a problem with a company? Just tag them in a complaint tweet. Instant gratification is what sells and sports are no different, even if it comes at the costly expense of future champions.

The Stephen Curry-led Warriors went through four straight seasons of 36 or less wins, including three with Stephen Curry before seeing the postseason. Six years went by before they won a championship. The Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder endured four-straight seasons of 35 or less wins, including two with Kevin Durant, before reaching the playoffs (a first-round loss).

While the media is equally responsible and certainly plays a large role in all of this, I urge you: do not swallow everything you hear. Make up your own minds. Develop your own opinions. Learn before you tweet, write, and yell. Rationalize and contextualize things. Fans have a greater responsibility than ever before because ownership, for maybe the first time ever, is listening.

So, please, be careful when you call for the heads of Dave Hakstol and Matt Klentak in a year or two.


Andrew Porter (you can instantly respond to, and essentially disregard, this article and tell me how dumb I am on Twitter here.)

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