Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Banner and Lurie: Friends Forever

When last we left Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie, things were not good between the two childhood friends.

Banner and Lurie: Friends Forever

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Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. (Michael S. Wirtz/Staff Photographer).
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. (Michael S. Wirtz/Staff Photographer).

When last we left Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie, things were not good between the two childhood friends.

Lurie was publicly accusing the Eagles’ former president of besmirching the good name of his general manager Howie Roseman, and Banner, now the CEO of the Browns, was suggesting Lurie might want to hire himself a good libel lawyer.

But that was then and this is now, and now, Little Joe and Jazzy Jeff appear to have buried the hatchet.

``It’s good,’’ Banner told the Daily News Monday when asked about the current state of his relationship with his former boss. ``I spent some time talking with him the other day. I was with him after he played golf. We were commiserating about how he played.

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``(Our relationship) is different (now). We were together for 18-19 years. Now we talk occasionally, text occasionally. So it’s different, but it’s friendly. We’ve been friends for 44 years. We will always be friends.’’

In January, when Lurie was searching for a new head coach for his football team after firing Andy Reid, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that several candidates, including the man Lurie eventually hired, Chip Kelly, were reluctant to take the Eagles job because they didn’t want to work with Roseman. La Canfora quoted an unnamed source as saying Roseman was ``drunk with power.’’

Subsequent media reports suggested Banner was La Canfora’s source.

After hiring Kelly, Lurie was asked about the reports and said, ``If there are league sources that are really based in Cleveland, that’s not right. We see through it all.’’

To which Banner responded at the time: ``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 that it was ``beyond disappointing’’ that Lurie would suggest such a thing.

``He said something that I didn’t agree with and I responded,’’ Banner said Monday. ``But we’ve been too close for too long to let a moment like that change the long history that we have.

``I’ll always be incredibly appreciative of him. I never would’ve been in the NFL if it weren’t for Jeff. Dream come true. Eighteen-plus years in Philadelphia. Six months now in Cleveland.

``I don’t think there are many sports fans that grow up and wouldn’t give anything for what I had. And I would’ve had any of it without him. Including what I have now.’’

Banner said Lurie’s hearty recommendation to the Browns’s new owner, Jimmy Haslam, was instrumental in his decision to hire him as the team’s CEO.

``If Jeff hadn’t given the recommendation he did to Jimmy Haslam, I wouldn’t be running the Cleveland Browns,’’ Banner said. ``Jimmy said he probably wouldn’t have felt comfortable partnering if Jeff hadn’t said the things to him that he said.

``I understand what people are speculating, (about the relationship between Banner and Lurie). But the reality is we’ve been way too close for too long. I’ll never not be appreciative of the opportunity Jeff gave me.’’

Daily News NFL Columnist
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