The Old Heads Chronicles: Volume One

By Michael-Louis Ingram
Updated: September 18, 2008

Morbius was too close to the problem…The Krell had completed their project; big machine, no instrumentalities — true creation. “Come on, Doc, let’s have it;”…But the Krell forgot one thing; “Yes, What?” Monsters, John…Monsters from the Id!

– From the film “Forbidden Planet,” first shown in 1956 and loosely based on William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”

PHILADELPHIA — The following is based on true events…

In the aftermath of one of the best played Monday Night Football games in quite awhile, it was good to see both Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens play well for their respective teams.

Both played pivotal roles in the 41-37 shootout, won by the Dallas Cowboys over the Philadelphia Eagles in an early season Battle of Beasts in the NFC East.

Within the team format, both played intense without pretense, and showed a nationwide audience why they were the best in their class.

McNabb, one of the “Class of 1999″ proved to be the last man standing in a Draft where he was the second player chosen and the first one booed — by Eagles’ fans who trekked to New York City, hoping for tailback Ricky Williams to be the selection that fateful April weekend.

For all the hype the five quarterbacks taken within the first dozen picks and the six Black quarterbacks (McNabb, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper, Shaun King, Aaron Brooks, Michael Bishop) which were selected in the entire Draft, McNabb and the recently retired Culpepper have proven by their play to be in the elite class, with McNabb being the only one to start and general his team to a Super Bowl appearance.

For the mercurial Owens, drafted in 1996, the long-striding speedster from Tennessee-Chattanooga was part of a class of pass catchers which, when all is said and done could arguably become one of the greatest ever.

Among stars like overall first selection Keyshawn Johnson, Marvin Harrison, Eric Moulds, Terry Glenn, Amani Toomer, the underrated Joe Horn (who became a Canadian Football League star before coming south to the NFL), and 26 others who would meet with some grade of professional success, Owens, through hard work and the training regimen acquired from teammate Jerry Rice while with the San Francisco 49ers, became the platinum standard for receivers of his era.

With the two touchdown receptions snagged by Owens in the Cowboys’ victory, his total of 131 career TD catches rank second only to the nonpareil Rice; and Owens compiled his number in 128 fewer games — eight full seasons — than the man he passed, Cris Carter.

As Monday night announcer Tony Kornhesier kept stumbling over his words while attempting to left-handedly praise Owens (paraphrasing “I guess we didn’t realize [how many TDs] with his passing Carter; it’s amazing we forget just how good he really is.”)

Like my man Tonto always wanted to say to the Lone Ranger, “What do you mean ‘we’, paleface?”

“We’ve” always known; it’s your pimp-daddies at the ESPIN factory that pretend not to know because Owens isn’t Billy Joe Jockstrap. They crank the bullshit out because their status quo dictates resentment for this young man must always remain greater than their admiration and recognition of his football acumen and talent.

Steve Young’s ebullience over McNabb’s performance, coupled with Ron Jaworski’s assessment through the course of the game brought up the question of whether he or McNabb was the greatest Eagles’ quarterback of all time after a McNabb TD pass tied Jaworski with 175 total TDs as an Eagle.

While the response was never clearly addressed, the correct answer is “C” none of the above. As great as McNabb has been, unless Randall Cunningham is in the argument, it’s not a question worth asking, let alone speculating.

Unfortunately, the greatest tragedy is that the combined talents of McNabb and Owens as teammates brought maximum results — and maximum drama — in minimum time.

It is at the height of this drama where our story begins…

“I know to some this may sound controversial, but this I know to be true; there are two types of niggas — Real Niggas, and Bitch Ass Niggas — and the bitch ass niggas are the ones spoilin’ it for the real niggas!”

Katt Williams, “The Pimp Chronicles, Pt. I”

At the Philadelphia Tribune, there was an always an unsettled air of frustration whenever the talk centered on the Eagles during my time there.

Two of the staff reporters griped about how the Tribune wouldn’t send them to the Super Bowl the year the Eagles met the Patriots.

In spite of the fact every paper from each Bowl team’s city has a guaranteed spot in the Bowl, management would not send them.

It seemed garnering interviews became more difficult as a result of the Tribune’s inaction during their Eagles’ Super Bowl run.

The perceived conclusion from the conversation was that anyone representing the paper in sports wouldn’t be taken seriously; which could also apply to every other pertinent segment of the editorial department.

So as the rhetoric from the Daytime Drama was escalating, the conversation turned to approaches that would be different from what the competition (Inquirer & Daily News) had been doing.

Remembering my connections in Seattle, I tracked down Koren Robinson’s agent, who revealed he was drying out at a substance rehab center down South.

In spite of incessant, annoying talk-radio buzz and overblown rehashing of As the Eagles Turn by ESPIN on an hourly basis, no one had yet touched on the angle I was interested in.

My immediate supervisor agreed with my premise and encouraged me to do it for my first column for the upcoming Friday.

With each day there was more drama, but still the same drama. As Thursday came, my immediate could only say after I filed it, “Your story’s getting stronger; you need to call the Eagles and confirm or deny what you’re putting out.”

All the due diligence was done, and this column ran the next day:

Here’s To You, Mr. Robinson

By M.L. Ingram, Staff Writer

Envision this picture — Eagle receivers in flight. Now, I’m not talking about

100-yard turf operas of turmoil, because when it’s time to clock in and go to work, the Eagles have been doing just that (and very well, I might add) for the last four seasons.

But, if match-ups are the fruit of football love, try this for a skybox smoothie — Terrell Owens on one side, speedy Greg Lewis on the other; L. J. Smith at tight end, Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter, snatching Donavan McNabb tosses out the backfield, and lined up in the slot, wearing number 18, Koren Robinson!!!

All right, before I get the rubber room treatment, hear me out. Better yet, hear Koren out. “Are you kidding me? I would love to be an Eagle,” says Mr. Robinson, calling from South Carolina, where he is currently finishing an extensive substance rehab. “I’m feeling great; come the end of August, I will be ready to go out and continue my football career.”

Robinson came into the league after his junior year out of North Carolina State, and after an average rookie season with the Seattle Seahawks, spanked the sophomore jinx with 1,240 yards on 78 receptions, second all-time in yards receiving for a season to Hall-Of-Fame wide out Steve Largent.

Indeed, it was an achievement worth toasting, which young Robinson did—to excess, and Robinson acknowledges being fortunate enough to catch himself before he fell somewhere he couldn’t come back from.

“I had to come to grips with the fact that the drinking was taking something out of me, and I wanted to do this right. (Ex-Eagle/Viking) Cris Carter spoke with me and that was very uplifting. He even mentioned coming to see me when scheduling allows.”

Just as Carter made the most of his second chance, so too, can Robinson. At 6-feet-2 and 210 pounds, Robinson would be an inviting seam target, with the speed to give defensive backs agita on the stop and go routes.

Add to the mix the fact Robinson is only 25, already has four years under his belt in an offense he is familiar with (thank you, Mike Holmgren) and is driven to make good on his promises (to his career and himself) and you can see a blueprint for success, regardless of who decides to take a flier on him.

Robinson also bears no grudges towards his old team. “Seattle made a business decision, and I understand that. My focus now lies strictly on having my contributions to a team speak for me; and letting anyone who takes a chance on Koren Robinson know they will be making a good decision.”

Those Eagle colors would look just fine to Robinson. “Between having McNabb throwing to me and learning from T.O. and the other receivers would make for a great situation. I’ve been running and lifting weights down here, and I’m looking into picking up on boxing to increase my hand-eye coordination.”

A shot at a Super Bowl ring wouldn’t hurt either. “As hungry as I am to start playing again, the ring’s the thing — and contributing to any team, but especially a team looking to get back to the Super Bowl could be the beginning of something special.”

What is most intriguing about this possibility is that it can all be made real. With Todd Pinkston out for at least the regular season, coach Andy Reid may stand pat with what he has and offer the opportunity to a Reggie Brown or Billy McMullen, but 1,200-plus yard receivers don’t grow on trees, even in the pass-happy, wild West Coast world of NFL offenses.

With mind and body right, Robinson’s potential could further sharpen the talons of an already potent offense. As we go through August, the rust comes off and, hopefully for Mr. Robinson, the pads will come on somewhere in the NFL universe.

But why number 18? Easy enough — my first NFL poster was that of Eagle receiver Ben Hawkins, complete with flying chinstrap, and once the chinstrap popped loose, no one caught the Hawk from behind.

I don’t think anyone will catch Koren Robinson from behind, either. “Like I said, I’m ready. Man, I’m hungry!” Here’s to a healthy, hoping and hungry Mr. Robinson — and a second chance.

NOTE: The above article ran in the Friday edition of the paper. Two days later, Gary Myers, an NFL “insider” writes in his New York Daily News column, about the Donovan – T.O. debacle and the available receivers.

With no clear inference as to where his info came from, he includes Koren Robinson as a possible option for the Eagles. The Eagles would not confirm or deny interest.

What I can confirm is that we hit the street first with our scoop — beating every national and local paper, blog and website by at least 48 hours…this from a paper that went to press only three times a week.

The following Monday, I was told by my immediate supervisor that the Tribune’s head man, Robert Bogle, had declared that “Ingram can’t write any more columns!”

When I asked why, the reason was never made clear. I don’t know if it was because of some spiteful little mind; or because the man hadn’t been picked to play stickball or any team sport when he was a kid or there was some sort of far fetched stigmata that could be divulged only while watching Jerry Springer reruns.

Whatever monsters visited the collective Id of the paper’s conscience, it was clear this was one of the most lamebrain, indescribable and unbelievably stupid incidents I had even seen or been involved with in over 23 years in this business.

But this didn’t happen to only the sports department. A few weeks later, a potential nationwide scoop in another story written by a staff reporter was killed by the executive editor.

Any other editor, any gender, any color at any other paper would have said after a get like the Robinson piece, “great stuff, kid – now do it again;” but the malevolence of mediocrity had enveloped this editorial staff to such a degree that its only response to any scoop by anyone on staff to management…was to find a shovel to bury it in.

A virus had set in; an airborne illness which debilitated its hosts with symptoms of chronic inferiority, insanity (where some believed being president of the local chapter of the Paper Bag Club took priority over journalism) and severe crass cronyism; where acquiescence trumps competence, affiliations trump credibility, and arrogance trumps excellence.

As those monsters were released from their Id cave, the carnage was evident where it mattered most — within the pages of a battered broadsheet left to shill rather than inform; to sell ads and renewing its sense of self importance every nanosecond it fed.

Somewhere, the drive to aspire; nay, prove Black people were as good, if not better, had been purged from this place; sucked into a vacuum and expunged into another dimension…

“We had the best organization a Black man’s ever had. Niggers ruined it.”

–Denzel Washington’s solemn lament to Angela Bassett in “Malcolm X.”

Author’s note: Koren Robinson would eventually sign with the Minnesota Vikings in 2005, where he would make the Pro Bowl as a return specialist. After a slight lapse, Robinson was re – signed by his original club and is now a Seattle Seahawk.