SBD/January 21, 2013/Franchises

Is There A Dispute Between Lurie And Banner Over Negative Roseman Comments?

Banner (r) was Eagles President under Lurie; the two have known each other for 44 years
Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie is “not happy, and the object of his scorn is his boyhood best friend,” Joe Banner, according to Reuben Frank of CSNPHILLY.com. Lurie said that Banner, his “top adviser for nearly two decades and now CEO of the Browns, appears to be the source of anonymous comments sharply critical of Eagles general manager Howie Roseman that appeared recently" on CBSSports.com. Lurie said, “I’m very supportive of Howie, and if there’s any criticism coming from afar about Howie, it’s just off-base, and so I will support Howie completely, because that’s not right. And, you know, if there are league sources that are really based in Cleveland, that’s not right. We see through it all.” CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora in a Jan. 14 story quoted a source as saying Roseman was “drunk with power” and “woefully out of his depth.” The source said that Roseman was “a detriment to the Eagles’ search for a head coach.” Banner released a statement that said, “It is always difficult to comment on a quote that may or may not be accurate or in context. In this case, from the comments which Jeffrey made that were communicated to me, it is necessary for me to make this clear, unambiguous statement. Any implication that I had anything to do with Jason La Canfora’s story is completely false, outrageous and borders on being libelous.” He added, “I had absolutely no conversation with Jason La Canfora. Having demonstrated my character over the last 44 years to Jeffrey and the last 14 to Howie, it is beyond disappointing that they would suggest such a thing. As tempting as it is to go further, other than defending myself, I will continue to take the high road on all such matters as I have since the day I left the Eagles.” Frank noted the Eagles and Browns “both targeted coveted Oregon head coach Chip Kelly for their head coaching openings, pitting Lurie and Roseman against Banner in a very public, high-stakes battle among former friends for one of the most successful college coaches of the past decade” (CSNPHILLY.com, 1/18).

THE BREAK-UP: PRO FOOTBALL TALK’s Mike Florio wrote, “As best we can tell, there is definitely an undercurrent of hostility between Banner, and Lurie and Roseman.” A source said that Lurie and Roseman were “openly criticizing Banner when talking to people not affiliated with the team” (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 1/18). In Boston, Greg Bedard noted the two “met through a mutual friend in the 1960s, and seemed to part amicably when Banner went to Cleveland” (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/20). In Philadelphia, Les Bowen wrote, “This one has been simmering for a while,” and credit Frank for “getting Jeffrey Lurie to yank the lid off the pot” (PHILLY.com, 1/18).

INTERESTING WELCOME: ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported the Cleveland media “had some questions” about the Browns hiring Michael Lombardi as VP/Player Personnel, as Lombardi has been out of the league since ’07 and he was with the Browns when Bill Belichick was coach and the team “didn’t have a lot of success.” Mortensen said, "All Mike Lombardi asked today was a fair chance to start over again. One thing (Browns Owner) Jimmy Haslam liked about him, as CEO Joe Banner recommended him, was he loved his intelligence, his passion, his knowledge, energy. (Haslam was) surprised a little bit I think by the strong endorsements he got from the coaching and scouting community around the NFL” ("NFL 32," ESPN2, 1/18). In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote, “Not sure I've ever seen a Browns hire at his opening press conference get grilled over issues dating to the late 1980s and early 1990s. Or one who came prepared to make a plea for a fresh start as part of his opening remarks.” But Lombardi “looked like Banner's choice all along,” and his hiring was “more a foregone conclusion than the product of a no stone unturned open talent search” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/20). In Akron, Marla Ridenour notes CBS’ Jim Nantz “staunchly defended his close friend Lombardi,” and CBS' Phil Simms also called to "voice his support for Lombardi.” Nantz said, “All of this trashing of him has gone overboard. It’s gone beyond overboard in fair and accurate” (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 1/21).
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