They were only a 30-second elevator ride apart, but Buddy Ryan turned the distance into miles, purposely, as a way of gaining his players' loyalty. So owner Norman Braman was "the guy in France" even when he was right upstairs. When they brought in a lousy bunch of scab players as the NFL staged replacement games during the 1987 players strike, Ryan not only made fun of the fake players but he also mocked the general manager and his assistant by awarding them "scab rings" at a press conference.
As punishment for that, Braman hired a vice president named Bill Davis to ride herd on the coach. Ryan ignored him, literally and completely, for two seasons until Davis finally quit. On that day, Buddy triumphantly said, "I heard he was coming in, but he didn't make any difference. He thought he did, but found out that he didn't."
First floor/fourth floor. The real players ate it up, which was the point - and then Ryan was fired and the great Reggie White-led defense was dismantled in free agency. Still, the image of a divided organization was cemented in that crumbling wreck of a building.
All of which is, admittedly, a pretty long lead up to a quote yesterday from Asante Samuel. The Eagles' cornerback, convinced the team was trying to get rid of him at the recent trade deadline, told reporters after practice that club president Joe Banner and general manager Howie Roseman are playing "fantasy football" with owner Jeffrey Lurie's money, and that he did not believe Eagles coach Andy Reid was on the same page with them.
"No, actually I don't," Samuel said. "I think there's a power struggle around here. But it's all good. Like I said, me and Andy are cool. I'm here to play for Andy. He's my head coach. That's what matters."
Now, you can take that quote and do two things with it. You can turn it into the Archduke Franz Ferdinand moment of World War III, and claim that the Eagles' organizational tinderbox has been set alight, and that the whole regime is about to collapse. Or, you can recognize that tension between the locker room and the front office is a familiar story line in the NFL, and that coaches have made this work for them forever, and that Andy Reid is a coach who has done just that over his time in Philadelphia.
The truth is that this is nothing new. The only difference is that Samuel said it out loud.
Reid's title is head coach and executive vice president of football operations, and every big football decision has been his for about 10 years now, yet his former players and his current players always have believed that their coach has their back. Reid has hired them and fired them, promoted them as kids and pushed them out the door as veterans, and still retained the loyalty of a very, very high percentage of them. It has been the neatest of tricks.
And why does it work? Mostly because Banner looks so good in a black hat, and because Reid is more than happy to see him wear it.
Contract problem? Andy would give me the money but Banner won't. Too old? Andy still values me but the front office says I'm no good to them after I turn 30. Anybody who has covered this team for any period of time has heard the same refrain from someone, usually in a whisper.
There are people who played in that locker room who believe that the Owen Schmitt/Ronnie Brown business at the goal line earlier in the season was because the front office did not want LeSean McCoy to have too many touchdowns in his contract year. There are others who have insisted over the years that (insert player's name here, from Brian Dawkins on down) would still be on the team if only Banner didn't control the money.
When Samuel spoke yesterday, he was honestly voicing what most everyone in that locker room has always believed. Again, it works for Reid if the players believe that and it works for the organization if the players are united behind their coach.
Maybe you have to have been here for a while to see how transparent it all is, though. And you did get a hint of it from Samuel, a very smart man, when he acknowledged, "Maybe they're playing the good-guy, bad-guy role, I don't know."
Around here, that has only been true forever.
Send email to
or read his blog, The Idle Rich, at
For recent columns go to