The Philadelphia Eagles announced today that Joe Banner would no longer serve as president of the team. The decision, while not shocking, is peculiar because of the fact that training camp is just over six weeks away. Why was this move made now? What led Jeffrey Lurie to dismiss his long time friend? These are all valid questions that I don’t think we will ever know the true answers to.
Banner has stated that he would just like to take on a new challenge, and that this was just his time to leave. Of course, the media has taken this a different way by creating multiple conspiracy theories such as a power struggle in the front office, Banner not connecting with the fans etc. If I had to guess, I would say that it was a little bit of everything.
Before getting into the reasons of dismissal, I want to say that Joe Banner did in fact do many good things for this franchise. Perhaps the most important thing he did was spearhead the funding for Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles and the city of Philadelphia could not come to an agreement to build a stadium that would replace the old, crumbling Veterans Stadium. That changed when Joe Banner
came to the fore-front of the operation. Also, Banner was one of the main architects behind the Eagles teams that went to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl. He did this while keeping the Eagles under the salary cap every year. So, it is apparent that his contributions to the franchise cannot be overlooked.
There are many things, however, that made Banner seem like a bad guy while he was here. One of the main things Eagles fans will remember Banner for is letting Brian Dawkins go without putting up much of a fight. Yes, Dawkins was on the down swing of his career, but he was, and still remains, one of the most beloved Eagles players of all times. In addition, Banner was not good at connecting with the fans. He always came off as this cold, know it all, business man that didn’t care what the fans thought. To be honest, that’s what he was; a business man. He had no football background and probably should not have addressed the fans through the media as much as he did. A perfect example came today. Banner explained how he and Jeffrey Lurie came to the Eagles. He said that he and Lurie tried to buy the New England Patriots, but to no avail. So they settled for Philadelphia. Well, that may be the truth, but you’re not supposed to say that. The fans want you to be here, not settle here as a plan B. It was the little things like this that disconnected him from the fanbase over the years.
When reflecting, many players stated that they looked at Banner as the bad guy. Not a bad man, but a tough, stubborn president that would not always be willing to spend the little extra money. (i.e. Brian Dawkins)
Don Smolenski will take over as president of the Philadelphia Eagles. Andy Reid stated that he was excited to work with Smolenski and quashed rumors that he and Banner did not get along or that there was a power struggle. Joe Banner will remain as a strategic assistant to Jeffrey Lurie, but stated that he is interested in possibly purchasing or working for another franchise.