Jeffrey Lurie bought the Philadelphia Eagles for $195 million on May 6, 1994.
In 29 years of Eagles stewardship, the team has participated in three Super Bowls (this being their second in six years) and made seven NFC Championship Game appearances. He hired three different coaches in Andy Reid, Doug Pederson and Nick Sirianni to lead his franchise to the Super Bowl. Sirianni is hoping to join Pederson as the other Eagles coach to help Lurie get a championship in this year’s Super Bowl, which would be Lurie’s second.
Yes, Lurie can now finally say the Eagles are the gold standard of football after once boasting that statement under Reid’s coaching despite numerous NFC Championship Game losses.
The Eagles' owner also got it right by hiring Howie Roseman to build this Super Bowl team and the previous Super Bowl championship team.
Looking at the Eagles' success, it’s fair to make a case that both men should be in the NFL Hall of Fame one day, sooner rather than later in Lurie’s case given that he is 71.
Success in professional team sports always starts at the top, which is the owner. He has to hire the right people to operate his franchise for it to be successful. Lurie has got it right in hiring head coaches and Roseman.
This is not easy to do. When hiring a new head coach and a general manager, it’s always a crapshoot. No one knows until that person does the job. It takes a strong conviction and being smart to figure out if the right person is in the right job.
Jets' owner Woody Johnson can only be envious of his colleague. He has hired so many general managers and head coaches as the Jets owner with nothing to show for it in the 23 years of owning the team. He is hoping that Jets head coach Robert Saleh and Jets general manager Joe Douglas can finally bear fruit to get his woebegone franchise up and running.
Lurie hired Reid to oversee the Eagles in 1999 as head coach. He eventually gave his head coach personnel power to go with his coaching. Reid had the foresight to draft Donovan McNabb as the No. 2 overall pick in 1999 over Ricky Williams, and it turned out to be a success, resulting in five NFC title games and one Super Bowl. Yeah, Reid was 1-4 in the NFC title games and 0-1 in the Super Bowl. No matter. It was a success in the sense that Reid brought structure to the organization that set the stage for the franchise’s success. Credibility and respect were back.
The Eagles not only became a perennial playoff team, but they were a Super Bowl contender.
When the franchise went through a malaise, Lurie fired Reid with the understanding it was time for both parties to move on. Reid needed a fresh start, and the Eagles needed a new voice. Lurie tried Chip Kelly to be that guy, and it did not work out.
Lurie quickly changed course and fired Kelly. He decided to hire Doug Pederson to clean up Kelly’s mess as head coach, and the Eagles managed to go to the Super Bowl and beat the vaunted New England Patriots a few years ago to win their first Super Bowl championship in franchise history.
When Lurie thought it was time to move on from Doug Pederson two years after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, he hired Sirianni to be the replacement. He saw something in the 41-year-old coach that made him think Sirianni can lead the Eagles to excellence. It wasn’t just his offensive mind. It was his presence and intellect that had Lurie thinking he was the guy.
Sirianni has the Eagles on the precipice of a championship this season. This comes after he had the Eagles rebound from a 3-6 start to make the playoffs last season.
Even with Kelly and Ray Rhodes having short tenures under Lurie, they did make playoff appearances.
Lurie’s greatest all-time move was hiring Roseman to be the general manager of his team. Under his general manager’s leadership, the Eagles won a Super Bowl and they could easily win another one. He built one and he rebuilt another. He has organized a roster that can be great for a decade. Right now, the Eagles are a powerhouse that will be perennially good for a long time.
Roseman and his staff know how to find talent and develop it whether it’s the draft, free agency or in the waiver wire. Their draft picks have been excellent in the sense that they contribute to the team’s success.
Here’s where Roseman’s success comes from: He knows how to secure all this talent and fit them under the salary cap, and his business acumen also stands out.
It’s impressive Roseman was able to build another Super Bowl team with a new head coach, coordinators, quarterbacks, skill-position players, linebackers and secondary.
Roseman has a chance to become the best general manager not only in Eagles’ history, but in Philadelphia sports history just by being able to retool this roster so quickly.
At this point, the Eagles' vice president has a chance to enter the Hall of Fame for building great rosters that enable the team to win multiple championships when all is said and done.
Lurie definitely should be a Hall of Famer. His work with the Eagles speaks volumes on and off the field. He once inherited a lousy stadium with lousy training facilities in Veterans Stadium. He funded a new stadium and new facility on his own dime that started the Eagles’ gold standard. He made the Eagles the gold standard in the NFL by hiring the right people that made it happen. The franchise is now worth $.4.4 billion.
And yes, Lurie’s relationship with Roseman was so important in a sense when Kelly gained full control of the roster, Roseman could have left for another organization altogether. Roseman stayed out of loyalty to Lurie, and once Kelly flamed out and was fired, Roseman came back, and the Eagles never looked back.
We often talk about players writing their own legacies. You can say the same for owners and general managers. They are the heartbeat of the organization, and in the case of Lurie and Roseman, they certainly are for the Eagles.
Right now, it’s a matter of when not if both should be in the Hall of Fame.
You can read Leslie's Jersey Sporting News columns on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
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