Beginning Sunday, all of the Eagles’ preseason practices at the NovaCare Complex will be closed to the media. But the team will continue to allow about 300-400 “invited guests’’ – corporate sponsors and select season-ticket holders – full access to workouts through next Friday.
Team president Don Smolenski labeled it an “unintended consequence’’ of the Eagles moving their training camp from Lehigh University to NovaCare this summer.
“It only affects five practices, two of which are walk-throughs,’’ he said.
“This is new for all of us. Coach (Chip Kelly) is getting the team ready for the season. This is something that’s important to him (closing practice to the media), and I’m respecting that. I’m going to be supportive of it.’’
The NFL media relations policy states that, after the second preseason game, teams need only open the first 30 minutes of practice to the media, or until the start of the team portion of practice (7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work).
It’s not clear why Kelly would have a problem with reporters observing practice, but not with 400 fans. Smolenski acknowledged that the team invited the VIPs to next week’s practices before realizing that Kelly had closed them to the media. Smolenski said he has not asked Kelly to consider opening the sessions to the media as well.
“I understand your objections,’’ Smolenski said. “We’re trying to be as open as we can with the media and do right by you. I want to be respectful to you guys and I want to be respectful to coach. In this case, I’m going to be respectful and supportive to coach.’’
And the 400 corporate sponsors and select season-ticket holders who will be attending the five practices.
Never before in their history have the Eagles closed a practice to the media and kept it open to a large group of the fans.
Michael Signora, the NFL vice president of football communications, said the Eagles’ decision does not violate the league’s media relations policy.
He said that while the policy specifies that the media must be allowed access to practices that are open to the public, next week’s practices technically aren’t open to the public, only to “invited guests of the Eagles.’’
“Those guests will be permitted to attend the sessions beyond the (30-minute) window for media access,’’ Signora said. “Teams are permitted to invite whoever they would like to attend practice.
“Many teams have offered special practice access to sponsors and season-ticket holders as a way to show appreciation – for years, and in many cases, decades – of loyal support.’’
So, if you want to know what’s going on at practice Sunday, check with someone from Jefferson Hospital, Xfinity or Bud Light.