Rereading the story I wrote off Joe Banner's 30-minute chat with reporters yesterday at NovaCare, I'm struck by how much material I had to brush over or leave out entirely. When you talk as fast as Joe does, 30 minutes is a lonnnng time; dude said enough to fill a book.
Key point up front, though -- there seems to be some disscussion today about how to characterize what the prez said about the future of Eagles coach Andy Reid. I think Rich Hofmann got it exactly right, keeping in mind that Rich did not write the Daily News' front-page headline, which used the term "lukewarm." I wouldn't say Banner was "lukewarm" about Reid. He was supportive, as Rich detailed; he gave us chapter and verse on why management thinks Reid, the winningest coach in franchise history, is an effective leader of the team.
But Banner also strongly indicated there is going to have to be a Super Bowl title, for Reid to get another extension to his contract, which expires after the 2013 season. Hard to read his words any other way.
"Andy's leadership skills, and his ability, year after year, to rally the players to play hard, play together, play selflessly, which is such a difficult challenge of leadership in any professional sport -- we put a lot of value on those skills, " Banner said. "At the same time, we're here to win a championship, and that needs to be part of the equation, too."
I've always thought the people who say Eagles management doesn't care about winning the Super Bowl, as long as the team is competitive and tickets get sold, were completely wrong. These guys want to win a Super Bowl very, very badly, if for no other reason than to throw it in the faces of their critics. Do they exhibit extreme organizational hubris? Absolutely. Do they have a complusion to continually explain to everybody how smart they are? Oh, yeah. Willing to go indefinitely without winning a Super Bowl? No. Absolutely not.
I would say Banner and team chairman Jeffrey Lurie have a healthy respect for how hard it is to find an effective leader, to fit all the right pieces together. They've gotten really close with Reid, who has authored the longest period of sustained success in the 78-year history of the franchise. They won't start over until they absolutely have to. But if, in, say, two, three years, they don't have a Lombardi Trophy, that is exactly what they will do. Count on it.
Other outtakes from Joe B:
*The Juan Castillo thing "was in the front of (Reid's) mind all along." If Reid hadn't decided to go in that direction during Super Bowl week, the Eagles would have talked to at least one of the Super Bowl assistants we'd all been writing about, which more or less cleared up the mystery of why organizational sources kept saying the Eagles would interview someone from the Packers or the Steelers for their defensive coordinator post, then they hired a d-coordinator before doing that. I'm not still clear on what the rush was -- why not see what, say, Darren Perry or Ray Horton had to say about the Eagles' personnel and setup before making a final decision? At that point, Juan's chances to leave had dried up. He wasn't going anywhere.
Banner compared Castillo to Tim Tebow, as the sort of person who finds ways to succeed, regardless. He said he has learned the hard way not to bet against such people. Interesting comparison, in that Tebow, even now, would not be every coach or GM's first choice of a young QB to bet the future of their franchise on. I think the same can be said of Juan as DC.
*The Eagles are trying to get a ruling from the NFL on whether injured players can rehab at the public NovaCare facility attached to their practice and training areas during the lockout. After March 4, assuming a lockout, players will have to start paying their own medical premiums, and can have no contact with, say, Eagles head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder.
"We can work with them now to find places (to rehab)," Banner said. "Through the (team) doctors, we can recommend programs."
Banner said the doctors can work through third parties to monitor rehab.
*Banner said having committed a lot of money to Asante Samuel wouldn't preclude the Eagles from pursuing free agent corner Nnamdi Asomugha. Of course, he couldn't say that they definitely will target Asomugha.