Monday, July 28, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

"I want Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie to fail"

"I want Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie to fail"

OK, so the headline was a little bit of Rush Limbaugh-ism there. I don't really want Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie to fail, since their mission -- or so we've been led to believe -- is to get the Eagles' back to the Super Bowl, and to win it this time. Any Philadelphia football fan wants that with a passion.

Still, it would be nice to have an election every four years, so we could throw these bums out. When you think about it, being an Eagles fan is a lot like being an American citizen. You support the colors, whether it's the red, white and blue or the latest shade of green, and you celebrate the underlying principles, whether it's the Bill of Rights or a Sunday of hard-hitting football and tailgating in South Philly. But you don't have to blindly support your "government."

OK, it's not on the level of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney shredding the Constitution, but the Eagles' management sure is pretty heavy-handed when it comes to the concept of free speech. It's merely tacky and classless when they complain to the newspapers that other teams are getting more coverage than them (although the Phillies pretty much put that issue to bed by winning the World Series). It was chilling when they reached out to get WIP's Angelo Cataldi suspended for two days for criticizing Eagles' security policies over the air. (OK, he used the "n" word, as in "Nazis," but still...a suspension?), creating the no-doubt-desired perception that criticizing Eagles' management can be hazardous to your career.

Now we have this absolutely infuriating episode:

On game days, Leone served as the west gate chief. The gig required Leone to hustle to different areas of the stadium as needed. That was tough. His left leg is weaker than his right, and standing for too long gives him severe pain in his right knee and hip because that's where he shifts all his weight. While on duty, he sometimes needed a wheelchair to get around.

"They had me running all over the place like a nut, but I didn't care," Leone said. "I was so proud to work for them. It was my dream."

Last week, the Eagles fired Leone.

Like a lot of Philadelphians, Leone was upset when Dawkins became a Bronco. So he did what a 32-year-old does these days: He vented on Facebook. "Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver. . .Dam Eagles R Retarted!!"

The story's been out there for a couple of days, but if you missed it you should read the whole thing. Understood, the Eagles are a private company and are within their rights to fire an employee. A private company, but as the only pro football franchise in a football-crazed city, a kind of a public trust. A public trust that cares more about shallow public relations than their actual public. Reprimand this guy, sure, but fire him? The whole thing just feels like a metaphor for how Lurie and Banner view the "little people" who pack their stadium every fall.

I won't even get into some of their recent baffling on-the-field moves, losing Dawkins and their puzzling strategy for the offensive line (i.e., they don't have one). The most offensive line is the one coming from the Eagles' front office, that ultimately harmless criticism gets met with massive retaliation. By the way, I do have one quibble with Dan Leone, which is I don't like it when "retarded" is used as an insult, but I don't think that's what offended the Eagles.

So I'd love to see all of Philadelphia paraphrase Dan Leone, rise up and say in unison:

Dam Eagles R Screwed Up.

About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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