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The Great Eagles Irony

Broncos Dawkins

The numbers are serious: 97 wins, 10 playoff victories, 61% winning percentage, 7 trips to the post-season, 5 division titles, 5 NFC Championship Game appearances, 1 trip to the Super Bowl. These are the attributes of your Philadelphia Eagles under the current 10-year regime of Jeffrey Lurie, Joe Banner and Andy Reid.

Conversely, prior to the “Big 3” rescuing the organization from a history of sub-mediocrity, the team mustered a whopping 5 playoff wins, 2 division titles and 1 super bowl appearance since 1967 (year of the first Super Bowl). Remember Ray Rhodes and Rich Kotite? How about Marion Campbell? Do the names McCormack and Kuharich give you visions of Lombardi?

So why is it that the Eagles organization under the current regime is constantly criticized and picked apart by many of its fans? Listen to the two major sports stations in Philadelphia and one could easily mistake the city for Cleveland or Cincinnati.

What the Eagles have is an image problem.

Consider this. I was traveling this week for a work related matter. I travel quite often and it is not like I am traveling half way across the country, so ultimately I do not mind it. But there is one thing that really sets me off. I think in 3 of my last 7 trips in which I rented a car, the car rental agent gave me a friggin’ Chevy PT Cruiser. Yes, the “clown car” as I like to call it.

Whose brilliant idea was it to ever bring these vehicles to market? No male, no matter how masculine he thinks he is, can ever pull off the PT Cruiser. It’s basically a punch line on wheels. For the 3 or 4 people who have actually made a conscious decision to purchase one of these vehicles, I do not mean to offend you in any way, but I wish you luck in your job interview with Barnum and Bailey. Do you juggle?

To top matters off, the color du jour: lipstick red! Yes, I was officially the fire engine clown in the circus. When I picked up the vehicle they did not even offer me a GPS; instead they offered a wig and a clown nose. I found myself explaining to everyone that this was not really MY car- it was a rental. No one believed me. The valet at the hotel had a few laughs at my expense. The gas station attendant looked at me with a crooked look, muttering something to the effect, “what a Bozo!” And the 3 drunks smoking outside of a bar heckled me for a full minute as I waited at a traffic light.

You may have thought they were watching reruns of Dave Chappelle they were laughing and pointing so hard. “Darkness!!” So what’s my point? I consider myself a “man’s man”, and I think my wife finds me pretty masculine (okay insert joke here). However, if you are a male driving a PT Cruiser, you should probably ask for your balls back when you return the car to the rental company.

No matter how well the Eagles think they do things, and no matter what positive image they are trying to portray, the fact is the front office is driving around in a PT Cruiser of sorts. Consider 3 very recent examples.

The Brian Dawkins saga: Look I’m okay with the move in a business sense. The Eagles usually know when to pull the plug on a player (i.e. Trotter, Duce, Bobby T, Troy Vincent). Any, yes, Brian Dawkins is on the downside of his career and is nowhere the players he once was. But if you think about it, this really was not about Dawkins. It was really about the Eagles fans. The part that the Eagles do not get is that Brian Dawkins was a “Philadelphian”. He was the lifeline that linked the fans to the organization. When he was introduced and he crawled out of the tunnel on hands and knees, every Eagles fan in the Linc felt the adrenaline, got the chills and wanted to run through a brick wall. His passion and commitment epitomized Philadelphia.

How many “20” jerseys did you see running around? Some people actually wore them to work!! The way the Eagles butchered the situation was a kick in the nuts to every hardworking, die-hard fan who has supported this team over the last 10 years. To send “Dawk” a fax with a final offer contract sheet, and treat him as if he was Dhani Jones completely sends the wrong message. The Eagle lifer deserved to be handled with special circumstances. It was insulting. It was cold. It was disappointing.

Financial state of the franchise: Jeff Lurie is doing something right. In an economy that has kicked the asses of financial experts everywhere, Lurie has managed to prosper. Billionaires have reverted to millionaires, but he has defied the odds. As of this week, his official net worth is over 1 billion dollars. A truly great accomplishment.

So why are Birds raising ticket prices at this time? Why are they haggling over a few measly million on contracts with all the salary cap space? Why have they not taken (and paid) a first round draft choice for the past 2 years? Where is that big time over-the-top free agent signings reminiscent of 2004? Obviously there are logical answers to all of these questions- fodder for another day. But that will not stop the fans from asking and wondering.

Public Perception: To be honest I am a Jeff Lurie fan. I am a very big Andy Reid fan as well. I think the self-applied “Gold Standard” label uttered by Lurie in 2004 was fairly accurate depending on interpretation. No matter how you slice it the Eagles are one of the top 3 organizations in football for the past 10 yrs.

And I believe that other than the Patriots and maybe the Steelers, no other organization has been run better. The majority of the NFL, I believe, hopes to emulate the success the Eagles have enjoyed. So you can interpret Lurie’s comments literally, or you can cut him slack and give credit where credit is due. The Eagles have been, at least, the NFC’s Gold Standard.

Andy Reid is non-emotional and even keel. I have heard so many of his players list this as his best characteristic as a coach. On the contrary, I have heard many more fans identify this as a flaw. Well, okay, this combined with his play-calling, run/pass ratio, clock management, stubbornness, yadda, yadda, yadda. Reid is not beloved and probably never will be in this city because he lacks the raw emotion and visible fire that made Buddy Ryan and Dick Vermeil so popular.

Fans are visibly passionate and emotional. They connect with players like Dawkins and Sheldon Brown because they are the same way. They connected with the aforementioned coaches because of the tears and the anger and fire that those coaches put forth each week. Emotion is the common bond between the Philly fan and the Philly athlete/coach. Without it, there is a disconnect, independent of success.

One guy in the front office that I just can not warm up to is President Joe Banner. Look the guy is a hell of capologist and knows the financial ins and outs of the leagues. He has found more loopholes in the salary cap than Enron in the energy markets. Perhaps he would be better suited in Obama’s Cabinet these days. But the guy just rubs people the wrong way. He sneers. He smirks. He annoys. He’s a NERD.

And it appears he has way too much to say regarding player personnel. I am not saying he actually has input, but that is the message that is being portrayed. I have many questions. Why does he appear to be the face of the franchise when it comes to player issues? He is the one who is interviewed immediately following the playoff loss the Cardinals, stating that, “changes will be made.” Why was he talking about potential upgrades to the skill positions in an interview prior to the 2008 season?

And why is he on the airwaves discussing the Eagles position on a “declining” Brian Dawkins? Where is the Head Coach? Where is the GM or Director Player Personnel? I know, I know he’s the President. And that’s fine. They just need a better spokesman. NO- not Dave Spodaro!

So as the Eagles drive down the street in their new fire-engine red PT Cruiser, Joe Banner is the perfect clown in the driver’s seat. It is obvious it is time for a new PR strategy. They need a new face. Less Joe Banner equals more. They need a Lexus or a Cadillac. A few years ago the Phillies hired Scott Palmer (former ABC-6 News Sports Correspondent) to ameliorate the team’s image with the fans.

The move has paid dividends. One way the Eagles can start the transformation is by getting the very popular PR guy Derek Boyko out there. He is very good. Either that or win a Super Bowl!!



  1. Hondo

    March 13, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    The offer to Dawkins also included a provision that he would pay back money for missed games. I guess billionaires get that way by nickel and diming their best employees. Yes, they have brought this franchise to a level it has never seen. That does not excuse them from treating their employees and clients like assholes. Any corporation that does that will inevitably fail. Lucky for JLu and Banner that they run the Eagles, whose clients are stupid enough to keep coming back. Hurt them in the wallet and maybe things will change. Unfortunately, Philadelphia bleeds green and the stands will always be full, allowing their assinine business tactics to continue. Great article.

  2. Hondo

    March 13, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    And downside of career or not, Weapon X will be missed.

  3. Barbs

    March 14, 2009 at 8:29 am

    great post

  4. Johnny Vines

    March 14, 2009 at 9:09 am

    good read…i agree the Dawk situation was a cluster-f***. I also find it interesting that Reid hasn’t voiced his opinion about it much, if at all. Makes me wonder if this decision was made by Banner & Lurie and Andy was overruled and had to deal with it. That could explain his silence.

    Tra also discussed Reid’s relationship with the players being to “business like” and not connecting with his players more…like Tomlin

    I also agree that we need to spend some of our money…maybe they’ll lock up some young talent during the season..but most I think are already locked up.

    They really need to make a splash this offseason to get rid of the bad taste left over from Dawk….a Boldin trade would sure help. Trade for Jason Peters? Drafting a some weapons in 1st rd with one of those picks…(Moreno, Pettigrew, Maclin, Harvin, Heyward-Bey, McCoy).

    Let us in on THEIR PLAN. Are we rebuilding? Or are we going for it this year.

  5. Big Head

    March 14, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Why give up multiple valuable draft picks when you can get Torry Holt for nothing but cash? Sign him TODAY and use the picks for a OT, RB, TE, DE, S, etc…

  6. All Philadelphia Sports

    March 15, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Great article. Thanks for the good reading. I agree with everything you had to say.

  7. Hoagie

    March 16, 2009 at 10:53 am

    I agree with Big Head… Torry Holt would be a perfect fit to help Jackson develope as weel as being a very servicible receiver in this offence. He can still run and I know that Donny can still throw a nice deep ball. Picking up Holt will make Curtis and Jackson better in this offense. Make the deal.

    Don’t let Banner talk anymore. The number make him tick. But even with the 40+ million they have to spend, continue to spend it wisely and maybe just maybe we can make another run with Dmac & 36 West.

    If not how about McNabb for Jay Cutler Straight up?

  8. phillykid96

    March 16, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    we know they’ve had success relative to the rest of the league – we are past that. it’s time to win a superbowl. people people are sick of the arrogance of the organization, and them acting like they are the patriots…and we’re smarter than everyone attitude. they should have at least 1 if not 2 superbowls by now. they’ve let guys go at good times in the past, but dawkins needed to be handled differently 1) he can still play 2)for all he’s meant to this team and city to be treated as any old player is a joke. to not have a personal phone call made to him by reid or banner OR Lurie was a disgrace. They should’ve done everything within reason to make sure he retired an Eagle.

  9. Magellan

    March 16, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Well written article…I 100% agree that the Eagles need a stud PR guy…for all of the success that they’ve had, it is absolutely embarrasing that they are portayed in such a negative manner…I believe that Banner has done a very good job, but he should not be in the position to be any sort of liason between the team and the fan base…just doesn’t have the tact, sensitivity or people skills.

  10. North o' The Broder

    March 17, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I don’t think I have ever read a more even-keeled, well rounded argument that perfectly framed the Eagles problem.

    Now, if maybe some of the point being made would be implemented by the Aigles, I may just jump off of the beloved S.S. St-Louis. Maybe…….

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