2013 In Review: Top Five Individuals in Philadelphia Sports in 2013

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4. Howie Roseman-Eagles General Manager

Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Many felt, rightfully so, that the reason Andy Reid had to be ousted as the coach of the Eagles was that his active role had far-exceeded his title. Due to his prolonged, consistent success, Reid was able to usurp control of personnel decisions over the course of his tenure and, by the time the organization finally decided to part ways with the long-time coach, Reid was the de facto general manager. With all the work that goes into the day-to-day operations of running an organization in today’s NFL, it is nearly impossible for a coach to be truly effective if he is also put in control of the team’s managerial duties. In Washington, Mike Shanahan was hired only because he was given absolute power and final say when it came to nearly every decision. Shanahan, with a little help from John Elway, will probably be an arguable choice as a Hall of Fame coach. That being said, his tenure in D.C. was doomed from the get-go because he could not put all of his focus on preparing his team from week to week.

Howie Roseman was seen as little more than a numbers cruncher despite holding down the GM position with Reid as coach. Along with Joe Banner, Roseman was accountable for making sure the team had a manageable salary cap situation to allow Reid to put together the roster he so desired. Toward the latter stages of 2012 and into 2013, with Reid and Banner leaving the organization, all eyes shifted toward Roseman and how he was going to manage to extinguish the dumpster fire that the Eagles had become.

I have never met Howie Roseman, and I am sure he knows a lot more about football than I do. That being said, for a sport that is run by ‘football guys’ Roseman is almost comically the opposite. To his credit though, with the turmoil surrounding the situation in Philadelphia, the now-empowered general manager of one of the most valuable franchises in sports took a long look in the mirror before putting his plan into action.

For as accomplished as the young Roseman was to this point in his career, one could not have blamed him if he put the onus of the team’s future success squarely on his shoulders. He had substantial experience surrounded by brilliant football minds and, with the egos that drive the NFL; it would have come as no surprise if Roseman wanted to run the personnel decisions of the team by himself.

Instead, Roseman along with owner Jeffrey Lurie put in motion a top-down initiative that took a wounded racehorse and has it looking more the part of a thoroughbred every day. Roseman’s brilliance as far as managing the financials of the Eagles was invaluable for the team’s success. Instead of trying to groom Roseman to have the sort of eye and feel for NFL talent when he had so little experience in the evaluation process, the franchise took pride out of the equation and brought in Tom Gamble to assist in that process. Gamble was part of one of the most impressive front offices in the NFL that had turned the 49ers into a juggernaut in a matter of three seasons. San Francisco had drafted extremely well and pulled almost all the right strings to go from an underachieving mess to a Super Bowl participant in what felt like a blink of an eye.

Bringing in Gamble would have been a big enough coup for the Eagles, as many thought he had a future as a general manager on the horizon. But it was what Roseman, along with Lurie, were able to bring to the table that helped land the biggest fish in the NFL offseason that has helped turned Roseman into one of the more promising executives in the league.

After leaving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the alter prior to 2012 and even rebuffing the Eagles once before 2013, many felt Chip Kelly was a lifer when it came to coaching in the college ranks. When it seemed as if the Eagles were going to exhaust a laundry list of names, only to ‘settle’ for a coordinator, it was apparently the pitch of Roseman and Lurie that finally helped Kelly graduate to the NFL. Many felt that what finally broke Kelly down was the organization promising to give him control of personnel. This was far from the truth. By Kelly’s own admission, it was the stability and passion for success that was so evident in both Roseman’s words and attitude during the two sides’ extensive meetings and interviews. The hiring of Kelly was a huge step into the meteoric rebirth of the Eagles as a premiere franchise in the NFL.

In addition to strengthening the team’s front office, Roseman has been the main cog in a pair of drafts that have turned the Eagles from a makeshift roster of tweeners into a burgeoning, young power in the NFL. Despite Reid remaining as coach in 2012, owner Jeffrey Lurie declared Howie Roseman was in charge of the team’s draft prior to the season. Along with the 2013 draft, the Eagles have hit on a staggering number of picks that now make up the team’s long, and short-term future. A list that includes: Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry, Nick Foles, Brandon Boykin, Bryce Brown, Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Earl Wolff, and Alex Henery have all been added in the last two drafts. Pair that with a list of smart, impact free agent signings such as: Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Connor Barwin, and even Donnie Jones, and the debacle that was the ‘dream team’ seems like a thing of the past.

In addition to his impressive personnel track record, albeit in a relatively small sample size, Roseman’s thirst for success is starting to endear him to the fanbase. He is the only general manger in the NFL with a weekly radio show, as he appears on SportsRadio WIP Monday evening during the season to discuss the week’s performance. Roseman, much like the coach the Eagles just hired, may not be the picture one paints when it comes to the man in charge of a roster full of superhumans playing the toughest sport in the world. The consensus is still that former players, such as Ozzie Newsome of the Ravens, are still the way to go when it comes to pegging a general manager. However, as Philadelphia has seen over the course of one of the most enjoyable Eagles’ seasons in franchise history, the formula for success may be shifting in the NFL. It is time for this city to tip their cap to Howie Roseman, who along with the next entry is changing the game for managing the city’s sports teams one move at a time.