I'm very surprised that Jeffrey and Christina Lurie are divorcing, but that's how it nearly always is, really -- other than Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, when was the last time you heard of a couple splitting up and thought "hey, I figured that was coming"?
Marriages don't usually play out in public. Most couples are good at seeming happy to strangers, acquaintances, even close friends. I have no idea what happened with the Luries, and I figure that's their business. I won't be delving into it.
But I will be delving into what this means for the Eagles, which is everybody's business. In the statements that were released Wednesday evening -- letting everyone know late on a national holiday absolutely was an attempt to control fallout, of course -- the couple kept stressing how the operation of the franchise would be unaffected. That's at odds, frankly, with the organization's longstanding stance about how integral Christina Lurie has been to the nonfootball aspects of the team. A 2010 Inquirer profile detailed how Christina spurned a "wives' afternoon" at the NFL owners' meetings to sit in on the business session, and quoted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on her prominence in such ventures as the "Go Green" enviornmental initiative.
But of course, according to those statements, the Luries will remain partners in the running of the Eagles, just not in marriage. Maybe so. Sounds kinda tricky to me. This is something reporters will be watching closely. Funny how this intensely private couple, who would never even talk about their home or their kids to reporters, or divulge the children's names, have done the one thing that will now turn a bright spotlight on their relationship.
Those fervent "everything is fine here" statements notwithstanding, we can't possibly know what this means to the Eagles yet. But I'm struck by the coincidence of a second huge, behind-the-scenes change, less than a month after the announced departure of team president Joe Banner. Of course, whatever happened between the Luries has nothing to do with what happened with Banner, or with Jeffrey Lurie's growing discomfort over how the Eagles organization is perceived by fans.
But let's dive right in here and address something sensitive. (This is the sort of paragraph that ensures I will never be an organizational confidante. And I'm OK with that.) Christina Lurie, with that hard-to-place French/Spanish/whatever accent, with the Vera Wang ideas and the high-minded philanthropic focus, was and is about as unPhilly as you could possibly get. Jeffrey is unPhilly too -- wealthy guy from the Boston suburbs -- but he at least is approachable, will at least nod in agreement in a discussion of, say, the ubiquity of Pete Retzlaff in mid-60s packs of football bubblegum cards. Christina has always seemed to me to be, if not a visitor from another planet, certainly a visitor from another culture, observing ours through gritted teeth. I've covered the team 10 years now, and never had a one-on-one conversation with her, never done more than exchanged mild pleasantries in a group setting.
So, does this divorce announcement make the Eagles less hoity-toity, in any way? The main question I got on Twitter Wednesday night was whether the Eagles would now go back to their traditional kelly green, the color Christina famously disliked. She always portrayed it as both of them dislking it and preferring the midnight green she chose. Maybe now we'll know.
But Eagles fans will be lucky if something like uniform color turns out to be the biggest change resulting from this divorce. The kind of setup the Luries detailed in their message to team employees Wednesday night seems difficult to maintain, even with the best of intentions.