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