SBD/June 7, 2012/Franchises

Joe Banner Out As Eagles President, Will Serve As Strategic Advisor

Banner has been in the Eagles front office since '94, will now be a strategic advisor
In a "seismic shift in the Eagles organization, Joe Banner is no longer the team's president," according to Jeff McLane of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. The team has scheduled a 2:30pm ET news conference today to detail its front office moves. Banner, who has been a member of the Eagles' front office "since his childhood friend, Jeffrey Lurie, purchased the team" in '94, will become a strategic adviser to the owner. Lurie, however, "will allow Banner to pursue other opportunities outside the organization as he fulfills his new role." Meanwhile, Eagles COO Don Smolenski "will replace Banner as president and run the day-to-day operations." GM Howie Roseman "will assume all of Banner's responsibilities in managing the team's salary cap and contract negotiations." Banner said yesterday he hoped to "get involved with the world of buying and selling a sports team with the possibility of becoming part of a group that buys a team." McLane notes, "There is the 'inevitable question' of whether Banner was pushed out in a power struggle with [Eagles coach Andy] Reid and Roseman over the direction of the football team." Lurie said, "No, the opposite. It was all done, I think, for what's best for everybody involved." McLane writes, "Whatever the characterization, Banner's drastically reduced role signals a change for the franchise in both how it is run and in its image." Banner has "often been a lightning rod for fan discontent." Lurie said that potentially losing Smolenski and Roseman, "whom he labeled 'star, young executives,' played into the decision to promote both." He said that Smolenski "signed a multiyear contract as president" and that Roseman "already had a multiyear deal." Lurie, who has "known Banner for close to 50 years and referred to him Wednesday as 'my buddy,' gave him a ringing endorsement" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/7).

PREPARATION IS KEY: Banner is "credited by many with both an early mastery of the NFL salary cap and with being the chief architect of the Eagles' philosophy of re-signing their own younger players well in advance of their contracts' expiring, thus locking up talented players before they hit the open market in the prime of their careers" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/7). ESPN.com's Adam Schefter notes Smolenski is "receiving his most decorated promotion yet, but it is one for which the Eagles had been preparing and expecting." Banner and Lurie began discussions about "seeking other opportunities during last year's lockout, but the timing then was not what it is now." Since then, the Eagles have "had even more time to put together an executive succession plan with which they are comfortable." Lurie is "convinced the Eagles are well positioned to continue their run as one of the league's most successful franchises on and off the field." Banner also "praised the man replacing him." He said, "Don is one of the unknown jewels in the NFL, and so deserving of this chance to help steer this great franchise going forward" (ESPN.com, 6/7).

NO STRUGGLE: ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio said, “It’s pretty clear ... that Howie Roseman and Andy Reid have taken a more forceful role in shaping this team, in capology, in negotiations with players, acquisitions of players and it’s clear that Joe Banner wanted to take a different role. He told me that about 15 months ago he went to Jeffrey Lurie and he said, ‘Listen, I would like a new challenge in my life. Let’s make that happen.’ He’s interested in staying in the NFL, perhaps going out to L.A. ... where he could build a new stadium like he did in Philadelphia” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 6/7).
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