The Ben Simmons mess keeps getting messier, and now it has made its way across the Delaware from the Sixers’ training facility in Camden, oozed its way up Broad Street, and spilled into the Eagles’ training headquarters in South Philadelphia.
There’s nothing inside the Eagles’ walls that is particularly messy unless you count a 2-4 record for a rookie head coach trying to find a way to turn that around. Or a roster that is still plugging holes with general manager Howie Roseman trying to find the right glue.
Simmons’ immaturity has become a talking point for other athletes, and on Thursday, Jason Kelce was asked about the situation.
The veteran center who has spent all 11 of his NL seasons in Philadelphia is a good one to ask, and, as always, Kelce always delivers.
“Everybody’s going to get crushed (by fans and media) at some point,” he said. “Everybody’s going to go through a downturn or be struggling, right? At all times, this city is going to keep you accountable to do your job and performing. If you stick to it, if you fight through it and get better, they’ll respect the hell out of you.
“Especially if you fight, even if you’re struggling. If you’re fighting and really trying, they’re still going to respect you. That’s what I think most guys miss. I really don’t think this is a hard place to play at all, to be honest with you. I think a hard place to play is … I think it would be miserable to play in a place like Jacksonville where nobody cares.”
Simmons is trying to pout his way out of town and has become so insubordinate that he has infuriated a fan base that never turned on him even as he refused to shoot, passed on open shots, and bricked one free throw after another.
“What's going on with - I don't want to crush any other player - what's going on with the 76ers and Ben Simmons and stuff like that, all that is because of a lack of accountability, a lack of owning up to mistakes, and a lack of correcting things,” said Kelce. “If all that got corrected, you're fixing free throws, if you're getting better as a player, none of this is happening.
“Everybody can bitch and complain about how tough this city is to play in. Just play better, man. This city will love you.”
VIDEO: Kelce talking about Simmons
Kelce said the truth hurts.
It’s not just a cliché.
“The reality is the stuff that hurts players or hurts guys the most is when it is true,” he said. “Somebody's up there saying a bunch of stuff you don't believe yourself you don't get upset about it. You just say this guy doesn't know what he's talking about, so you just brush it off.
“Usually, the stuff that tears apart organizations, tears apart players mentally is because it is true and you can't wrestle with the fact that it's true or how to correct it so you lash out and blame other people.”
This city loved Simmons once; not anymore.
This city loves Kelce and Zach Ertz, who spoke about playing in Philadelphia on the day he was traded to Arizona.
Rarely, if ever, do athletes who have been traded or released have farewell press conferences. Malcolm Jenkins never had one. Nor did Jason Peters.
Ertz summed up what it means to play in Philadelphia perfectly.
“The standards (here) are so high for a reason,” said Ertz. “The fans care so much. It’s tough for some people. I loved it. That was the bottom line. I loved playing here. I didn’t care if I got booed.
“I didn’t care if I got bad things (about me) on a Monday after a terrible game on Sunday because I knew I was going to be in here Monday early catching JUGS machines if I had a couple of drops or working on blocking if I missed a block. That’s all I cared about, was trying to get better and be the best player I could.”
Guys like Kelce and Ertz get it.
Simmons hasn’t a clue.
Maybe he had nobody like Kelce or Ertz to teach him.
It goes, he said beyond accountability, but accountability is where it starts, accountability to yourself, your teammates, to an organization, and to the fans.
“I've had my share of getting crushed in this city too,” he said. “The reality is it's made be better…(Even) if you are accountable, you have to understand (mistakes are) all correctable and it's fixable,” he said. “You have to realize this is a blip in time and over the course of my career, I write the narrative. I'm the one who decides what this is. ...I think that's how you control everything.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.