Say It Ain’t So Joe

Posted: June 7th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 44 Comments »

Joe Banner is out as Eagles President.

Wow.  That’s some big news.  Jeff McLane broke the story this morning.  The immediate speculation will jump to whether he lost some power struggle.  The Eagles say he is shifting to a new role as “Strategic Advisor”.  Banner is said to be looking to buy part of a sports franchise.  He then would help do what he did with the Eagles, but would be part owner instead of just an employee.

Replacing Banner will be a gentleman named Don Smolenski, from within the organization.  He’ll run day-to-day operations.  Howie will run the negotiations, as he did this spring.

I don’t know anything of a power struggle.  I know people have wanted this theme of Andy vs Joe for years.  I’ve heard of occasional disagreements, but over really small issues and players.  If Joe is out because of something he did, I think it is more likely due to the fact he hurt the team’s image with his comments in the media and rubbed some people wrong in negotiations.  Joe must have one wicked poker face.  He admitted in the past that the Eagles lost out on some players (no names were mentioned so it doesn’t mean key guys necessarily) when Joe told the agent he had made his final offer.  Joe then waited for the phone to ring and the guy to try one more time, but the agent took Joe’s words as literal and moved on to other teams.

There is some possible irony to this situation in that it sounds like Lurie wanted change.  Let’s get some new blood in the organization.  Let’s get Howie and Don Smolenski, young guys, in place and let them run the show.  It feels like this is similar to the Eagles philosophy of letting veterans go in order to focus on young players.  Maybe Lurie saw the organization as getting a big stagnant in some ways and wanted the youthful change.

One reason to not buy into a power struggle angle is that Howie is a Joe Banner guy.  I don’t know if Smolenski was hired by Banner or has a tight relationship with him, but he certainly was trained and developed by Banner.  There is no purging of the guard, so to speak.

The last time there was a power struggle, Tom Modrak was let go.  His guy, Marc Ross, kept his job, but Tom Heckert was brought in from outside to be Andy Reid’s right hand man.  Heckert’s loyalty totally went to Andy.  Heckert then filled the personnel department with his guys and let Modrak’s go.  Banner’s disciples will run the team operations and the personnel side of things for the foreseeable future.

Does this now mean that Andy is safe for a couple of years?  After all, it was Banner who publicly talked about Big Red needing to get back to the Super Bowl.  I think Andy’s situation comes back to winning.  I don’t think it is Super Bowl or bust, but 9-7 and losing in the Wildcard round just isn’t going to get it done with the kind of talent that is in place.  The Eagles need to get back to being a 12 or 13-win team.  They need to be in contention for the top spot in the NFC rather than excited to host a Wildcard game.

Life with the Eagles is never boring, huh?

* * * * *

Les Bowen thinks image is a huge issue.

* * * * *

I’ll write more on Banner later on.  Joe is a complicated subject.  It will take some time to do his legacy justice.

* * * * *

Here is the PE.com take on the situation.


  • Yuri

    I find this weird on a number of levels. One is, Banner is out to buy a sports team? I mean, he’s not an entrepreneur who owned a company, he’s been a salaried employee–I can’t imaging him being filthy rich. Anyone knows what his salary was?

    And you don’t really announce this kind of intent to be a big buyer without already being part of some sort of bidding group. I mean, usually you are leaving your job with another one lined up.

    So either Banner is richer than I think he is, or he was in fact kicked out. However, I absolutely do not buy Les Bowen’s perspective (“oh he made the image so bad”). The Eagles do not do almost anything to make the Philly media whine less–because it’s just not possible. I do not feel sad for losing Joe but I do not think that “he was a tough negotiating thug” was a bad thing either.

    I do agree that there seemed to be too many cooks in the kitchen. In 2012 we can safely say that Roseman has clearly proven his mettle as executive. Now we just have to wait and see how things play out.

    • http://twitter.com/daniel_suraci Daniel

      I doubt a share in the Allen Wranglers is that expensive.

      • TommyLawlor

        Don’t be silly. Banner would only have bought in there if he could then turn around and fire TO. They already did that.

        So who else is on his enemies list?

    • TommyLawlor

      Banner was a successful businessman before coming to the Eagles. He then worked for Lurie for 18 years. He could have built up some good money in that time.

      Joe isn’t looking to be a lead owner. He doesn’t have $50M sitting around. Teams will take on part owners at less than that. Bill Maher just bought into the Mets. I think it was speculated at $10M for him to get in. Banner could easily have that kind of money in the bank.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anders-Jensen/748307140 Anders Jensen

        I think it more like he did together with Lurie, remember they bought the Eagles for pennies and they are now worth over 1 billion

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.verhoog Matthew Verhoog

    Sounds like like this Roseman’s been running the show since the spring. Something which has already been speculated on.

    • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.verhoog Matthew Verhoog

      I do wonder, if it’s just about Joe wanting ownership of a team. Why not buy into the eagles franchise?
      Perhaps with his asset level he is looking for a “B” level franchise, like a soccer team/NHL/CFL etc.

      • TommyLawlor

        I think Joe wants to help build a team. Eagles are built.

        • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.verhoog Matthew Verhoog

          Good, point, maybe there’s a little bit of, “well i’m 59 and i’ve got one last chance to do something new, if I don’t start now, when i’m done/fired here i’ll be too old to build something else from the ground up”.

        • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.verhoog Matthew Verhoog

          Reading more, I see how Lurie mentions the building of the Linc, plus the novacare, I wonder if Banner wants to do some more building projects. Sort of like the Ancient pharaohs, What’s one giant pyramid when you can have Two giant pyramids, on both coasts.

      • TommyLawlor

        I think Joe wants to help build a team. Eagles are built.

  • T_S_O_P

    Smolenski by all accounts is someone highly regarded by Banner. Here is what his profile has to say (written before latest promotion) http://legacy.philadelphiaeagles.com/eagles_files/html/Smolenski_1.html

    I think this come from Joe needing other challenges and may have come earlier except that he wanted to see 2011, something he had planned for since ’08, i.e. the assembly of the (shhhh) dream team (shhh).

    • TommyLawlor

      From reading more, it does sound like Joe wanted out to a certain extent (if not a lot). Part of that is having other guys take away some of his duties. Joe said that he’d been reduced to managing people in recent years and we know that isn’t his specialty. Joe is a hands on kind of guy. He wants to do, not delegate.

  • rage114

    Too much smoke for there not to be some size of fire.

    I believe that Banner and Reid did have a very good working relationship but I don’t think they were always on the same page and I believe there were times when there was a struggle. Maybe not with power per se but with direction or philosophy certainly.

    Lurie was PO’d at the end of the season but maybe he wasn’t prepared to lay all the blame on Reid so that is why he didn’t demand immedate changes like some wanted.

    It is interesting that the reports of him losing some FA keeps popping up. Was one of those players Brian Dawkins? It didn’t sound like Lurie was too happy with that loss.

    I don’t think he stepped down specifically because of Dawkins (not even close) but I do wonder how much of that was Banner was playing hard ball while Reid was saying “don’t risk it” or “This player is important. You need to keep him.”

    Too different philosphies. Maybe one philosphy just won out over the other.

    • TommyLawlor

      Struggle is a bad word. There really wasn’t one.

      Did they disagree? Sure. Again, if you knew the names of the players it would be very disappointing. It would be like 2 guys arguing over the brand of paper towels picked out for the Titanic.

      Joe and Andy were in agreement on building the Eagles to be a young team. Neither guy wanted to keep aging vets around. Both wanted to be fiscally responsible.

      I do think losing Dawk was a bad moment. He was a guy that Andy was willing to make an exception for. Joe negotiated with him like he did everyone. And that’s where Joe is at fault. You don’t treat Brian Dawkins the same way you do Damon Moore, Michael Lewis, Quintin Mikell, etc. There are times when you go from Super Negotiating Man to just being Joe Banner and work something out with the team’s star. That said, you don’t write him a blank check. There are limits. Joe just didn’t handle the situation well. Dawk still might have left for more money, but Joe shouldn’t have negotiated the way he did.

  • Matthew Butch

    “I think it is more likely due to the fact he hurt the team’s image with his comments in the media and rubbed some people wrong in negotiations.”

    I agree- the more he was out of the spotlight, the better.

  • Arby1

    I’m all in with Banner being all out.

    • pjxii

      +1

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AHVR5EZERRCZSD77DMKWAEEPLA Steve H

    Well we’ve seen this offseason what happens when Howie handles the negotiations, shit gets done. Joe was really good at some things but keeping our guys happy wasn’t one of them, so I view this as a step in the right direction.

    • http://twitter.com/alex_karklins Alex Karklins

      It’s true that more deals are getting done, but I hope that it isn’t at the expense of long-term salary cap health. Banner really seemed to be the master at that aspect of managing personnel. The structuring of the Jason Peters and Asante Samuel contracts was a masterstroke that allowed for the Eagles’ big free agent push last offseason. I hope some of that forward-looking thinking continues under Roseman and Smolenski.

      • http://www.facebook.com/adotyang Aaron Yang

        well howie is supposed to be known for the salary cap as well. in fact…he was brought in from law school for that purpose specifically. roseman was also a guy that came up the ranks through banner…banner is the one that hired him so im pretty sure that howie has learned to master the cap as banner did. this years cap should be testament to that..we still have the biggest cap space even after re-signing all those key players. although a lot of that space probably has to do with the previous contracts that banner laid out…i still think howie can carry along the legacy of the eagles being masters of the cap.

      • Yuri

        I am not sure that Domo’s “take on the situation” is too insightful–it’s super one-sided (I am not saying it’s not true, it could very well be). The larger point is that we all do know that Roseman took a much larger role this offseason and that there seemed less for Banner to do. What we do not know if it was by Banner’s own design or not.

        What I find funny is # of appearances / quotes by Drew Rosenhaus in recent times. He is nowadays the go-to guy for reactions on Eagles news!

  • http://twitter.com/benjabad Ben Hert

    Completely off-topic, but I’m watching a replay of the 2003 NFCC game and I forgot how awful our receivers were. It amazes me how things have changed, and I will never take the receiving corps we have now for granted.

    • ACViking

      Just as, on the one hand, Wilbert Mongomery’s TD against the ‘Boys in the 1980 NFC title game is vividly etched in my mind . . .

      The Ricky Manning manhandling Thrash is right there. Maybe not as vivid though — but the hole in my basement wall remains unrepaired as a reminder of just how depressingly bad those WRs were.

      PS – you have either great courage or a streak of self-hatred to re-watch that game. Kudoa!

    • P_P_K

      It’s a beautiful, sunny day where I live. My wife is healthy and my son is at his last day of school before summer vacation. Life is looking good…

      THEN you had to bring up the 2003 NFCC game? What kind of monster are you!

      • ACViking

        Top Comment of 2012!

  • ACViking

    T-LAW:

    A few points and a conclusion.

    Joe Banner strikes me as someone who approaches business objectives — his own or his employer’s — with a long-term vision backed by a balls-to-the-wall attitude. He sets a value on a transaction and that’s it. (e.g., Brian Dawkins)

    Joe Banner also strikes me as someone very plugged in at the highest levels of NFL league management. Hell, Banner plays hardball just the way Roger Goodell played hardball when it came to the new CBA, the NFLPA, and player-punishment.

    I also believe that Banner with his many highest-level contacts and success at “hard balling” must have some potential owner — who’s used to making lots of money by treating low-wage employees like, well, low-wage employees — absolutely drooling.

    If you had a couple billion dollars, you have to love how Banner more or less treated these highly skilled, high-value entertainers in negotiations the same way he’d treat a stock-person at Wal-Mart. Take it or leave it.

    CONCLUSION: Joe Banner doesn’t make a move this big — and Laurie doesn’t call him a “free agent” — unless something very promising is brewing for Banner.

    Laurie’s a loyal guy. Banner built a 20-story foundation for Laurie’s $185 million team, turning it into a $1 billion-plus team. People who deliver those kinds of financial returns get your loyalty in business.

    Laurie, I think, would have let Banner keep his former title until something came along, even if his power was substantially diluted.

    Bottom line. Banner has a vision of his future. He’s plugged in. Goodell wants a team in LA. And Banner has a track record that makes him highly attractive to a potential purchasing group — for a price, Ugarte, for a price.

    That price is a piece the ownership pie with Banner running the show. Banner could call himself — in the much the way Al Davis loved to do — the “Managing General Partner” of the [ fill in the blank ].

    I don’t think it’ll be very long before Banner’s running another show.

    Just a theory.

    • teltschikfakeout88

      AC, I like your thinking on the LA thing. Also Banner, was the #2 man for a long time here in philly. If you think he was just pulling in the $250K inclusive of bonus and other equity interests in the team, I think we would be mistaken. Banner make/made quite a bit of money, think executive level money as his skill set does not grow on trees. It would not surprise me if his comp was over 1.0M plus.

    • http://www.facebook.com/adotyang Aaron Yang

      i found it very annoying that you kept mispelling lurie’s name. sorry but i hate to say it…

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anders-Jensen/748307140 Anders Jensen

      Agree on all parts and have been my way of thinking since I saw the news. I could see the Rams or Jags move to LA with Banner having a similar role with that team as he had in the beginning with the Eagles.

    • austinfan

      Banner is 59, I”m sure he’s financially secure, and he’s worn out his welcome in Philly.
      He’s got his people in place to take care of his buddy, and probably has contacts with every major player in NFL front offices.

      I think this is less about being “pushed out” than mutual agreement that it’s time to move on and do something different. He’s not a paper pusher, and he’s not suited to the CEO role where he’s the face of the organization, he’s best making deals behind the scenes.

    • Yuri

      This is a flow chart.

      Branch A/B: Banner decided to leave / Lurie made the move. We discussed several possibilities of how this could have played out. Obviously we may or may not believe post-factum statements by either Lurie or Banner. For argument’s sake let’s assume A.

      If A, we came to Branch 1/2: He has a plan or an offer / He left without one

      I think it is not a given than Banner made such a move with a clear plan ahead. Don’t underestimate a possibility that he is tired/bored of the current job and has enough money so that he does not have to work again. As Tommy said “the Eagles are built” and Joe can simply take a trip around the world or work on his golf game.

      I do agree with your point that there’s a market for his talents, which makes it more likely that he does not have to have anything “brewing” immediately–however it also makes it easier for Lurie to let his friend go!

  • mheil

    I wonder if Joe wanted part ownership here, but Lurie said no.

  • Baloophi

    Tommy for president!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac

    Personally, I think a lot of people could see “the writing on the wall” during the truncated off season of 2011. Howie took over Heckert’s job, but came into the job from “team Banner.” Then he slips from being the top scout into negotiating contracts. I am by no means suggesting this was any kind of power grab by Roseman (whom I like), quite the contrary…

    I am suggesting that this was 100% premeditated. I think that Banner’s chief role in his years as president was to protect Lurie’s bottom line. As football fans, we tend to get confused with all this fancy jargon of “it’s about winning championships.” That is a bunch of crap and the sooner we all realize it the better. Championships serve one purpose: they drive sales. A large part of the reason for NFL success on the whole is the competitive nature where each team can win “any given Sunday.” Teams can go from worst to first in single offseason. That is some high drama in the sports world.

    Back to focusing specifically on Banner, there is little doubt in my mind that he is the one who orchestrated this move. There are a variety of reasons that could be the truth: he wants to get back into a role where he can get his hands dirty dealing with players, he wants to manage dollars not people, he wants a bigger slice of the pie, he wants to build something from scratch again…

    For my part, I think Banner is an entrepreneur. He works best in the world of numbers rather than the world of men. But, he is a builder more than a sustainer. He has had success building here, and for lack of a better term has become bored with the Eagles. Banner is an empire builder, not the guy who comes a long and maintains status quo. He blows things up and starts over, or starts from scratch with nothing.

    With the way that Banner (with his enigmatic cup that says “Joe” on it) dealt with players, and treated Lurie’s money like his own… I find it hard to imagine that he hasn’t stored up a significant pile of coffee beans. As an accountant, I have seen many people who are able to build real wealth by making wise choices on spending money and managing a meager income. If you take those nickle and diming principles and apply them on a grander scale… well you turn 200 mil into 1 billion dollars.

    As befits a tough old bird, Banner has chosen his time to go. Also befitting, is the fact that no one other than Banner himself, and whomever he actually trusts will ever know the full story.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GWMNZ32U6YPGGA7N4JNWH4OSJE Mac
  • goeagles55

    In Bob Ford’s article, he quotes Smolenski as saying this on his promotion: “For all the pride and excited feeling [for yourself], you’re also feeling for your friend. That’s a tough thing to work through.” That doesn’t sound like it’s exactly the story the Eagles are pushing.

    Also, in various quotes it kind of sounds like Banner will eventually try to find another Lurie to partner with except he will take part ownership this time.

  • Cliff

    I think Banner was so moved by the Venus transit that he’s investing in his own space tourism start-up to start the first ever space sports league with Vince McMahon.

  • Cliff

    What? No “Ochocinco” comments yet?

  • goeagles55

    Jeff Mclane wrote, “two sources close to the team said that Reid had indeed won an internal power struggle with Banner.”

    Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/20120607_Banner__Eagles_cite_amicable_split__but_signs_point_to_Reid_victory.html#ixzz1xA6y4hPf

  • chris cornett

    So who plays “Bad Cop” now? Both Andy and Howie are more “Good Cop” kind of guys.

    • D3FB

      Evan Mathis obviously.

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