You Talking to Me? | Where are Eagles' owner and GM?

From: Gonzalez, John

To: Lyon, Bill; Sheridan, Phil

Subject: Invisible ownership

ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio had a story on SportsCenter the other night saying that Andy Reid talked with Jeffrey Lurie about benching Donovan McNabb well over a week ago. Paolantonio said the team charter back from Cincy was delayed because the conversation ran long.

Given that upper management seems to be involved in the major day-to-day decisions right now, don't you think Lurie and Joe Banner should make themselves available to the media? And, beyond that, why have they been so reluctant to speak over the years?

From: Sheridan, Phil

To: Lyon, Bill; Gonzalez, John

Subject: Invisible ownership

I'd be shocked if any coach, in any sport, who was contemplating a change involving the franchise's most visible and highly paid player didn't run it by his bosses first. The most interesting aspect of that, if true, is that it confirms Andy was building up to this for a while.

Which makes going back to No. 5 even more perplexing and illogical.

From: Lyon, Bill

To: Gonzalez, John; Sheridan, Phil

Subject: Invisible ownership

Sooner or later the owner is going to have to surface and speak about his coach. The circumstances will dictate when. It could be when they officially part ways, which has now become a matter of when, not if.  Or it could be anytime in the near future - the dreaded vote of confidence. Either way, only turmoil and tumult lie ahead.

They have been reluctant to speak publicly because neither Lurie nor Banner is fond of the spotlight - think the antithesis of Jerry Jones. Banner is the money man, and Reid doesn't have to answer to him.  Lurie's studied avoidance of microphones and cameras is due in part to an innate shyness and uncertainty, and to past regrettable utterances that, like pizza at midnight, have come back to haunt him - think "the gold standard" and "pedal to the metal."

From: Gonzalez, John

To: Lyon, Bill Sheridan, Phil

Subject: Invisible ownership

It's a good thing that Lurie isn't Jerry Jones. I covered J.J. for four years in Dallas. I still have nightmares. On the list of plastic surgery screw-ups, it's Michael Jackson and then Jerry Jones.

Incidentally, what did you make of McNabb's crack at the start of his press conference? Someone asked how he found out that he was starting this week's game, and he didn't miss a beat. "The janitor told me," he deadpanned. "We're close."

Funny stuff. But I also think that's as close as the quarterback would ever come to taking a shot at his head coach.

From: Sheridan, Phil

To: Lyon, Bill; Gonzalez, John

Subject: Invisible ownership

It's 50/50 whether Donovan meant that as a jab at his head coach or at the media for making so much of the way things went down Sunday. It really is true that there's a normal operating procedure for benching players, and that the Eagles followed it. It's also true that there are extraordinary situations and this was one of them. Reid should have done it, even if it had to be quick.

As for the owner, he has tended to surface in postgame locker rooms when it's really necessary - the final months of the Kotite and Rhodes tenures, for example. My best guess, based on knowing the guy for 14 years, is that Lurie doesn't want to make public judgments about this particular personnel decision. When it gets to the final few weeks and there is a sense of where his franchise is sitting, I expect he will be available. He really has to be.

From: Lyon, Bill

To: Gonzalez, John; Sheridan, Phil

Subject: Invisible ownership

Re: McNabb and the janitor: Sounds like a stab at gallows humor.  They have this in common - both have really big messes to clean up.

Reid's benching of McNabb and the way it was handled have set the wheels of anarchy in motion.  There is now an uneasy sense of finality and inevitability.  It is difficult not to think that how ever it ends, it's going to end badly, and it's going to fall apart much quicker than it's going to take to rebuild.

P.S. In our continuing series of slim sunbeams: Only 72 days until pitchers and catchers report. 

From: Gonzalez, John

To: Lyon, Bill Sheridan, Phil

Subject: Invisible ownership

One final note. Got this text message from Dave Murphy this morning. I know he works for the Daily News, and we're supposed to hate our tabloid cousins, but it amused me and I felt obligated to pass it along:

"The Eagles play the Wachovia Center tonight. Don Henley won't run the ball, either."

From: Sheridan, Phil

To: Lyon, Bill; Gonzalez, John

Subject: Invisible ownership

I hear Joe Walsh is calling the plays tonight.