Sports

Joe Banner: The anti Eagle fan

Last week long time Eagles president Joe Banner stepped down from his post which was a shock to everyone around the Delaware Valley. This change is nothing short of monumental for the organization. Banner was president for 18 years and was a key component in turning the Eagles into the powerhouse NFL franchise they are today. Many around the region including myself thought Banner would be a lifer within this organization and would surely outlast head coach Andy Reid.

Banner has told the media the move was very amicable as he’ll remain on staff as a strategic advisor to owner Jeffrey Lurie while he plans to pursue a major new opportunity within the sports field. Banner was a member of the Eagles front office since May 6, 1994 when Lurie purchased the team. Since that time Banner was overseeing day-to-day operations of the team and was named team president on August 1, 2001. Lurie advised last week “There is no better executive in sports than Joe Banner”. That statement alone is where I have an issue.

Joe Banner to me represents someone that is a great business man. He was a major player in the reason the Eagles went from a franchise purchased for $185 million in 1994 to being valued at well over a billion dollars in today’s world. But the bottom line is Banner was about the numbers and the business side of the franchise not the passion that is so well demonstrated by the coaches, players and fans of this team. Joe Banner did a fantastic job of bringing us fans a state of the art football only stadium in Philadelphia which many thought would never happen. He helped bring the Novacare complex to the franchise and created a brand for this team that was never as strong as it is in today’s day and age.

At the end of the day though I firmly believe Banner never had the fans in mind when it came to his day to day achievements. Banner was running a business and it didn’t matter if it was a football team or something else he would have taken the same approach because at the end of the day he cared about profit and brand awareness. This city lives and dies with the Eagles more than any other team in town. Year in and year out for many seasons we heard Banner say how disappointed he was the Eagles weren’t able to capture a Lombardi trophy. He never took that extra step though to put us over the top like the other elite franchises in the NFL.

The Eagles sell out every game and have a waiting list of 70K fans for season tickets. That to me is Banners ultimate accomplishment. Win or lose those seats continued to be filled each and every week and Banner looked at that as the accomplishment not the winning or losing. Those seats will continue to be full each and every week long after Banner has officially left the organization. To Joe Banner the Eagles as a Superbowl winner was the furthest thing from his mind. Sure it would have been great for that to happen but at the end of the day as long as the Linc was packed and people were talking about the team it was a win for the president.

Banner never cared about the fans and never will wherever he ends up next. Banner is a true businessman and that means the guy has no feelings. He looks at things a different way than the fans of this great franchise. We want this team to win so badly. Nothing short of a Superbowl title is acceptable in this town and Banner held us back for many years with his selfish ways with the team salary cap and hard-nosed negotiating when it came to player contracts. Guys like Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Dawkins, Terrell Owens, David Akres, among others all felt his wrath over the years. In Joe’s eyes players that stepped on the field were just a number to him. To us they were heroes and idols that were a representation of our city. They put it all on the line every week in hopes of winning a Superbowl but at the end of the day if they didn’t fit into Joe’s salary cap no matter how great they were they could be dispensed at the drop of a hat.

For those of you out there that enjoy watching a good business man in action Joe Banner is your guy. I’m sure you’ll cheer him on wherever he ends up after he officially leaves the Eagles. For those of us that want to see the Philadelphia Eagles win a Superbowl Joe Banner stepping down as president is a great day. The Philadelphia Eagles are a business to a certain extent but in the eyes of fans around the Delaware Valley they’re a football team first and foremost and when you cheer for a football team you don’t care about numbers and profits you care about winning a Superbowl. Hopefully now with Banner out of the picture that can finally happen in the near future.