As the countdown continues to this year's training camp at Lehigh, the Daily News and Eagletarian have gone back to look at some of our favorite or most interesting events and storylines of training camps and the preseason during the Andy Reid Era. Each weekday for the next two weeks, we will count them down, leading to No. 1.
NO. 6: PEDAL TO THE METAL
LURIE: BIRDS ARE BUILT TO WIN NOW
Published: Aug 4, 2008
By Les Bowen, Daily News Sports Writer
BETHLEHEM -- Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie clearly crafted his message yesterday as a rebuttal to the criticism most often leveled against the Lurie regime on talk radio and on Internet message boards.
In his annual "state of the team" address at training camp, Lurie took aim at the notion that the Eagles focus too much on what might happen down the road, having traded out of the first round of the draft each of the past two seasons, having stuck to a long-term cap philosophy - that they don't care enough about winning right now.
"This isn't about rebuilding, retooling or anything - this is [about] going for it," Lurie said. "That's our approach. It's pedal-to-the-metal. That's what every move is based on, or what every attempted move is based on, with an eye toward the present and an eye toward the future. But we're going for it. "
Lurie said the Birds' emphasis on long-term deals for players coming out of their rookie contracts - an emphasis that has led to current contract problems with Brian Westbrook and Lito Sheppard - is not misplaced.
"It gives the player stability," he said. "It gives the team stability. It's a collision sport - you don't know how long the careers are . . . It's a difficult sport to work in for players, I appreciate that. A lot of players hit unrestricted free agency, they may have had a mediocre season the year before, they might have had an injury, but it's tough out there. The security of being a multimillionaire, I think, is appealing still, to both the team and the players. Then you'll have to adjust if there are significant changes, ups or downs. "
Lurie said he does not see a team on the decline. He envisions a 2008 Eagles team that is "very fast" on defense and "much more athletic" offensively, with the additions of running back Lorenzo Booker and rookie wideout DeSean Jackson. He said he doesn't have "any problem" agreeing that Westbrook has outperformed his contract, calling Westbrook "one of my favorites," but he demurred when asked about Sheppard. He said he will leave dealing with the Shawn Andrews situation to Andy Reid.
"You hope it can [work out]," he said of the talks toward a new Westbrook deal, which are believed to be ongoing. "You just need two reasonable sides, and usually, these things do have a way of working themselves out. We've never not worked something out with Brian, and hopefully, this will play itself out well. "
Lurie said he is "very pumped" about his team's chances, and said his expectations are "very high. "
Lurie called Donovan McNabb "the best quarterback, when healthy, in the NFC. "
"I think you forget sometimes how successful he's been and we've been," said Lurie, who asserted that McNabb, at 31, is "right in his prime. "
Lurie said he wouldn't address whether Sheppard, who has missed 14 games over the last three seasons, is underpaid, but he said he hopes Sheppard will "show us, and the league, that he's back to the old Lito, feels healthy, [that] he's got great playmaking ability and certainly a lower YPA [yards per pass attempt against him], and just really perform the way that we know Lito can. I think that's what he's going to do. "