With possibly the first shocking piece of news to come out of Eagles camp this entire off season, the team has announced that Joe Banner is no longer their team president. Banner will be moved to the position of “strategic advisor” until he finds a job elsewhere. He has expressed an interest in buying into a group that will explore eventual ownership of an NFL team. Apparently, the Eagles had set a plan in place last spring that would pull Joe Banner from his role as president and replace him with former franchise COO, Don Smolenski, who assumed the role of president today. This master plan came to fruition last night when the team made the final announcement.
Banner has worked for the Eagles since Jeffrey Lurie took the reigns in 1994 and has experienced all the franchise’s ups and downs. I’m sure he would have preferred leaving the team under better circumstances, but that’s just how things worked out. There is some question about how much say Joe Banner actually had in his departure, and moreover, how much say he actually had in team operations. Andy Reid and Jeffrey Lurie are both very “hands-on” leaders who may have pushed Banner out of a lot of team decisions. Lurie went on record saying, “It was all done, I think, for what’s best for everybody involved.” If Banner is able to latch on to a future ownership group, Lurie may be right.
Now this will have about as much effect on the on-field product as switching from Reebok jerseys to Nike, but it is worth noting. Banner has been a staple in the Eagles’ front office for almost 20 years and his service to our beloved Birds should be recognized. However, he did kind of ride Lurie’s coattails all the way to the top and I’m not sure he’s been the right guy for the job. I doubt you will hear any Eagles fans sobbing today about the loss of Joe Banner. This move marks the end of an era, and hopefully it marks the beginning of a championship tradition.