Former Eagles president Joe Banner says Cleveland Browns rejected Chip Kelly
It was mere weeks ago that the Browns were coming at Chip Kelly, hard.
Cleveland was primed to give Kelly "an offer he can't refuse," according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Kelly seemed to have no problem refusing the Browns; in his press conference following his hiring by the Eagles, he made no mention of Cleveland being a part of his decision.
"We removed ourselves from the process," Browns CEO Joe Banner said later, according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King. "...the fact he committed to Tampa Bay last year, backed out, then seemed all year to be leaning toward going to the NFL, then being so uncertain with us, we just felt it was too big a gamble. If there was no ambivalence, we may have offered him the job.''
It was a checkered process that brought Kelly to Philadelphia. The Browns raced to meet with the former head coach of the Oregon Ducks with their unbeatable presentation, followed closely by the Eagles' brain trust of owner Jeffrey Lurie, GM Howie Roseman, and president Dan Smolenski who were on a plane to speak with Kelly before he made any rash decisions.
After Kelly decided to stay with Oregon, both teams appeared to move on, though retrospectively we can assume lines of communication stayed open between Kelly and Philadelphia.
It was Roseman, however, who appeared as the focal point when talks stalled. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported that sources told him via league coaches that no one wanted the Eagles' job; that Roseman was "drunk with power," lacked "nuance and foresight," and appeared "woefully out of his depth."
Lurie refuted the notion, and speculated that La Canfora's report came courtesy of league "source" Joe Banner, his former childhood friend and fellow Eagles executive turned rival, saying, “..if there are league sources that are really based in Cleveland, that’s not right. We see through it all.”
"Any implication that I had anything to do with Jason La Canfora’s story is completely false, outrageous and borders on being libelous," Banner responded on Friday.
Banner's involvement in La Canfora's story aside, there is plenty of room for speculation regarding the voluntary or involuntary nature of the Browns' disassociation from Chip Kelly.