End of Joe Banner era brings cheers, jeers

Posted: June 08, 2012

The shock waves in the sports community suggest that the Eagles cutting Joe Banner loose is a matter of cosmic proportions.

"There is a God," was one Philly.com comment.

"WE ARE DOOMED!!!" a fan posted on the Eagles message board.

"No one in Philly could have envisioned Andy Reid outlasting Joe Banner w/Eagles but it's happened. End of world next," tweeted Tim Panacchio of Comcast SportsNet.

The news was broken overnight by The Inquirer's Jeff McLane that Banner was out as team president after 18 years.

"Joe's a free agent now," Lurie told McLane, saying it was Banner's idea, fueled by a wish to seek part-ownership of another sports franchise.

Ailing WIP morning host Angelo Cataldi thought he was having delusions when he got the news.

Despite being in a Voorhees hospital awaiting intestinal surgery, the WIP morning host called in to share his thoughts with listeners.

"This story is so huge. This is mind boggling," Cataldi said.

"Look, I had a dose of Xanax last night and I was so freaked out," Cataldi said. " ... I believe I am hallucinating right now."

The decision was shocking, because Banner, a "brilliant businessman," helped turn the Eagles into a billion-dollar enterprise, Cataldi said.

"That's the coldest business move I've ever heard in my life," he said.

And yet he agreed with it.

"Joe Banner alienated just about everybody that dealt with the Philadelphia Eagles," Cataldi said. " ... I thought it was the right thing five years ago, because of the style of the guy."

"He was a horrible face for a franchise and has been for a long time. I'm happy about this move," said fill-in host Big DaddyGraham said.

They wondered if Banner may have fought with Lurie about bringing back head coach Andy Reid after a disappointing 8-8 season. Reid returned, so Banner got the boot?

"Banner fought Big Reid. Banner lost," agrees a post on the Eagles message board.

Cataldi also questioned whether general manager Howie Roseman was ready to assume Banner's salary-cap and contract responsibilities, since Roseman hasn't exactly done a stellar job of drafting players.

"What has he done other than put on a happy face publicly?" Cataldi asked. " ... Roseman is a complete unknown."

Chief operating officer Don Smolenski will become the new team president, McLane reported.

Fan opinion, though, runs the gamut.

"This is a bad move. I think this is a sign that Andy will get more power in the future. I think Andy should be a ‘free agent,' not Joe," a commenter posted at the Comcast SportsNet website.

"I could never understand why Banner had a job with the Birds. Whoever made that move, great job!" wrote a fan on Philly.com.

"I just hope we don't end up in salary cap hell now. Say what you want about Banner but the Eagles never had money issues under his watch," says a post at PhiladelphiaEagles.com.

"Ding dong the witch is dead! The sun is shining. I woke up to this news and had to pinch myself just to make sure it was real," was a comment at profootballtalk.com.

Former Eagles linebacker Gary Cobb saw irony in the decision, arguing on his website that "Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie took Banner's advice about not continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result."

So, tired of seeing the Phillies being loved while the Eagles were hated, and perhaps disturbed about the unsettling contract dispute with star receiver DeSean Jackson last season, Lurie took action.

"This meant removing President Joe Banner as one of the faces of the organization. It also meant demanding that head coach Andy Reid become more media-friendly and available," Cobb writes, calling Banner "a public relations disaster."

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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