Eagles front office shakeup: Team insists Banner move doesn’t signal power struggle


Banner, Reid and Lurie. Does the ousting of Banner as team president signal a longer-term commitment to Reid? Image via Philly.com

It’s been a few hours since the news broke that Joe Banner would no longer be president of the Philadelphia Eagles and former COO Don Smolenski was promoted to replaced him in running the day-to-day operations of the team.

Has the news fully set in for you yet?

At this stage there are more answers than questions, few of which will likely be answered by the scheduled 2:30 press conference scheduled by the team. Does the change signal confirmation of earlier rumors of a power struggle between Banner and head coach Andy Reid, who reportedly threatened to quit if he didn’t receive more control of personnel matters?

Not according the Eagles front office. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie told the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane that his “buddy” Banner wasn’t forced out.

“No, the opposite. It was all done, I think, for what’s best for everybody involved.”

Reid also denies that Banner was forced out of his role as president.
“There’s always a report [about] a power struggle. That’s not the case at all. . . . You only have so much time to have an opportunity to be in this business. And so, [Banner has] got goals for himself and wants to do those things. Just like we do with [assistant] coaches – give them an opportunity to move on and fulfill their goals.”
Expect more statements like this during the press conference. But they don’t really mean much.
Banner’s new role with the team is titled, “Special Adviser to the President.” He will retain his office at the Novacare. But he is being described as an “employed free agent” by Lurie. He expressed interest in being a part of a new venture to buy and sell sports teams.
So, let’s see. To sum up: Banner is no longer president, but has some made-up title and will keep his office until he goes something else. Maybe we don’t want to say “fired,” but it sounds an awful lot like he was “asked to leave.”
Banner has been conspicuously absent from the Eagles major and widely complimented moves this season, including the long-term deals for DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy. Speaking on 94WIP this morning, Ray Didinger pondered whether the lack of visibility necessarily equates to a a diminished role. One wonders.
The Eagles organization is notoriously tight-lipped, so we may never know the full story of what happened. But did disagreement about Andy Reid’s future with the team play a part?
Les Bowen of the Daily News wondered on Twitter,
“Remember, it was Joe Banner, not Jeffrey Lurie, who indicated Andy Reid had to win a Super Bowl to get a new contract. New Andy deal now?”
When asked if the move could possibly be a way to create a path to the front office for Reid, Bowen replied, “Andy’s agent indicated this as logical next step last yr.”
In the swirl of questions that surround today’s surprising events, one that is rising in prominence is this: Does this move signal a longer-term commitment to Andy Reid from Jeffrey Lurie than we had imagined? Even if Reid doesn’t meet expectations as coach this year, is there a ready-made position for him in the front office?

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