Eagles eject Inquirer beat writer McLane from press box during game

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Inquirer reporter Jeff McLane (right) being ejected from the press box at Lincoln Financial Field by Anne Gordon, the Eagles' senior vice president of marketing, media, and communications, and a security guard. Daily News beat writer Les Bowen posted on Twitter that Gordon "made it clear to everyone that she would be happy to eject us all, and that fallout did not concern her."

The Eagles on Sunday ejected Inquirer beat writer Jeff McLane from Lincoln Financial Field after he and a member of the Eagles' media relations department got into an argument over how loudly reporters in the press box were discussing a penalty.

McLane, who has covered the team for eight seasons, was escorted from the stadium during the second half of the Eagles' final regular-season game, against the Dallas Cowboys.

Anne Gordon, the team's senior vice president of marketing, media, and communications and a former Inquirer managing editor, said McLane violated the press box's "well-understood code of conduct" while arguing with the Eagles employee.

The ejection brought a sharp rebuke from Inquirer senior vice president and executive editor Stan Wischnowski.

"We find the actions taken by the Eagles media relations staff to be extremely disappointing and unprofessional," Wischnowski said. "Jeff has spent eight years covering the Eagles exhaustively in a fair, accurate and thorough manner."

McLane said that during the game, Zach Groen, an Eagles public relations coordinator who sits in the press box, told journalists sitting in McLane's row that they were speaking too loudly while debating a penalty in the third quarter.

McLane said he and the other reporters snapped back at Groen. Gordon said McLane told Groen to "shut up," though McLane said he did not use those words.

McLane said that after the initial verbal sparring, he decided to talk about the issue with Groen outside the press box.

McLane said the discussion was "a slight argument, but nothing out of the ordinary." He said the discussion included his mentioning a football writers' union that advocates for access by journalists. After a few minutes, McLane said, both men calmly returned to the press box.

About 15 minutes later, McLane said, an Eagles security employee returned with Gordon and told McLane he was being kicked out. Daily News columnist Marcus Hayes posted a picture of the encounter on Twitter.

Gordon cited McLane's behavior and his bringing up the union during the conversation with Groen as factors in his dismissal. She did not elaborate.

"I asked for security to eject Jeff from our press box, a press box that has a standard code of behavior that every reporter understands and actually participates in endorsing and policing ... so that people can watch the game and can follow and do their jobs carefully," she said.

Hayes said McLane was seeking to minimize disruptions in the press box, not exacerbate them.

Wischnowski said the move was unnecessary.

"To prevent him from doing his job for something this petty is outrageous," he said. "It could have been easily resolved in several ways without ejecting him from the press box."

McLane said that when other occupants of the press box objected to his ejection, Gordon threatened to throw them out, as well.

Daily News beat writer Les Bowen posted on Twitter that Gordon "made it clear to everyone that she would be happy to eject us all, and that fallout did not concern her."

McLane has occasionally criticized the Eagles in his coverage. Last week, he wrote an article questioning whether executive vice president Howie Roseman had made wise investments in players. In another article, he wrote that "the jury is certainly still in deliberation" about the prospects for head coach Doug Pederson, though he did say Pederson deserved to return next season.

Asked whether he believed his coverage played a role in his ejection, McLane said: "I think you'd probably have to ask them."

Gordon said that she had known McLane for many years and that "I would not have treated him differently than I would have treated someone else." She said the ejection would not affect McLane's access to team facilities.

cpalmer@phillynews.com

215-854-2817

@cs_palmer

Columnist Bob Ford contributed to this article.

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