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Banner backlash boils over

This one has been simmering for a while. Credit Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com for getting Jeffrey Lurie to yank the lid off the pot.

Banner backlash boils over

This one has been simmering for a while. Credit Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com for getting Jeffrey Lurie to yank the lid off the pot.

Frank asked Eagles chairman Lurie about the perception that his childhood buddy, former Eagles president Joe Banner, has been the source of a lot of the negative press Eagles general manager Howie Roseman is getting. Roseman, once Banner's protege, usurped Banner last year, with Joe landing in Cleveland, where he has the organizational control he sought.

Lurie didn't outright accuse Banner of being the main "league source" arrayed against Roseman, but he definitely issued a warning.

"I'm very supportive of Howie, and if there's any criticism coming from afar about Howie, it's just off-base, and so I will support Howie completely, because that's not right," Lurie told Frank.

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"And you know, if there are league sources that are really based in Cleveland, that's not right. We see through it all."

The final straw might have been a venomous Jan. 14 piece appearing on CBSSports.com, from reporter Jason LaCanfora, in which the Eagles' coaching search was described as "meandering and bizarre," and Roseman was said to be "drunk with power" and "woefully out of his depth."

Before that, in another media forum, there was the midseason "league-sourced" revelation that the Eagles had extended Roseman's contract back when Banner left -- leaked at a time when the Birds' personnel flaws were bringing scrutiny on Roseman -- and a "league sourced" report that somehow Roseman was responsible for the disastrous hiring of now-fired defensive line coach Jim Washburn. We don't know whether Banner had a role in either of those stories, but the Eagles' brass certainly believed he did.

Banner's response Friday, released through Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis, was as follows:

"It's always difficult to comment on a quote that may or may not be accurate or in context," Banner said. "In this case, from the comments Jeffrey made that were communicated to me, it is necessary for me to make this clear, unambiguous statement. Any implication that I had anything to do with Jason LaCanfora's story is completely false, outrageous and borders on being libelous.

"I had absolutely no conversation with Jason LaCanfora. Having demonstrated my character over the last 44 years to Jeffrey and the last 14 to Howie, it is beyond disappointing that they would suggest such a thing. As tempting as it is to go further, other than defending myself, I will continue to take the high road on all such matters as I have done since the day I left the Eagles."

Later Friday, Banner was asked about the situation at a news conference announcing Mike Lombardi as the Browns' new personnel guy. Banner declined comment.

While Lurie went a little overboard Thursday -- almost to "gold standard" level -- in describing how much the Eagles and Roseman are respected by what he called "iconic figures" in the league, he was right about criticism of the Eagles' search. Their journey to a new coach was neither longer nor less focused than anyone else's. Five of the eight NFL openings didn't get filled until this week, and the Birds ended up with the guy everybody in the league insisted was their top candidate going into the process. Every interview they undertook made sense.

There are some people in the media, even right here in Philadelphia, who might owe Roseman an apology.

Which is not to say the GM has proven he is great at his job, or is one of the best young minds in the league, or worthy of any of the superlatives Lurie likes to bestow. But it's a fact that the media biz today seems to be more and more about "look at me and my report!" rather than sifting through agendas, trying to figure out what's true and passing that on to readers/viewers.

 

***

On a more pleasant note, maybe you heard Chip Kelly talk Thursday about the time Nick Foles, playing for Arizona, completed a pass lefthanded while Kelly's Oregon Ducks were trying to sack him. Here's the video.

Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
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