Luries call it quits after 20-year partnership

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and his wife, Christina, watch the team practice Monday, Jan. 31, 2005, in Jacksonville, Fla., in preparation for the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy)
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and his wife, Christina, watch the team practice Monday, Jan. 31, 2005, in Jacksonville, Fla., in preparation for the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy)
Posted: July 06, 2012

THE LURIES were a team within a team.

Co-owners of the Philadelphia Eagles, partners in various civic and community endeavors, Oscar-winning filmmakers. In the 20 years of their marriage, Christina and Jeffrey Lurie seemed the ideal teammates. For the Eagles, he ran the business of trying to make a winning team; she had a voice in the team logo, the cheerleaders' costumes, the designs of the stadium and practice facility, but primarily the charitable work of the Eagles Youth Partnership.

And that original kelly green of the uniforms! Yuck! That had to go.

They even co-authored a story in the Inquirer in 2011, ironically titled "The rewards of a team effort."

In announcing to colleagues Wednesday that they will divorce, the Luries insisted that the team effort will continue.

"Please know that we remain close friends and we will continue to work together as partners," they said in their joint statement.

"Please be assured that this decision will have no impact whatsoever on the ownership, the business and the operations of the Philadelphia Eagles football team We are certain that our family's future and our collective future as colleagues will be a bright one,"

Jeffrey Lurie, now 60, a Hollywood film producer, and Christina Weiss, now 52, met in the late 1980s when she was an associate producer on one of his films, "I Love You To Death," based on a true murder story out of Allentown.

"He was very grounded, not a typical Hollywood person," she was quoted as saying in an Inquirer profile in 2010.

They were married in Gstaad, Switzerland, in 1992. They live in Wynnewood on the 13-acre estate formerly owned by publisher Walter Annenberg. They have a son and a daughter whose privacy they have vigorously maintained.

It wasn't long after their marriage that Lurie told his bride that he wanted to own a professional sports team. After a number of attempts to buy other teams, they bought the Eagles in 1994 from Norman Braman for $185 million.

A keystone of the couples' philanthropy is the Eagles Youth Partnership, which she founded in 1995. It serves more than 50,000 low-income children and focuses on literacy, vision and after-school programs. It reaches the kids at their schools via the Eagles Eye Mobile and Eagles Book Mobile. She has also led the team's involvement in breast-cancer research and environmental awareness.

The Luries were proud of the fact that they won the 2011 Sport Team of the Year award from Beyond Sport, a global organization that promotes, develops and funds the use of sport to create social change.

Jeffrey was born in Boston; Christina in Mexico City, where her father, a South Philadelphian named Stanley Weiss, founded American Minerals Inc. She was born Lori Christina, but dropped the Lori after her marriage because she thought that Lori Lurie was entirely too tacky.

She speaks Spanish, French and English fluently.

The Luries won the Oscar in 2011 for a documentary film they produced called "Inside Job," a look at the origins and fallout of the financial crisis of 2007.

In 2008, they shared the Ongoing Commitment Award from the Environmental Media Association for the Philadelphia Eagles Go Green efforts, another of the team's community activities. It includes recycling, using renewable-energy resources, neutralizing carbon output, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and planting trees. The Eagles use wind power at both of their facilities.

In 2008, they planted 1,500 trees and shrubs in a 6.5-acre section of Neshaminy State Park, in Bensalem.

The couple insist that all these activities will continue beyond their breakup.

"They are parting as close friends and will continue to work together as partners with the Eagles organization and in the meaningful work of the Eagles Youth Partnership and the Lurie Family Foundation," said Lurie family friend Anne Gordon.

They gave no reason for the split — and, while making no further statements to the media, asked all to "respect our privacy and that of our family during this time" — but it was known that Christina felt that she had to fight to retain her own identify in the face of her husband's driving ambition to create a great sports team.

"Go after your dream," she advised other women in similar circumstances. "Just because your husband is playing on a sports team or is otherwise involved in the sports world doesn't mean that you have to give yourself up to that world. That worked for me but is not always possible. And, yes, you have to make concessions, that's obvious. But go after your interests and your goals and pursue those interests just as much as your partner's."

In announcing their impending split, the couple insisted, "Our commitment to the team, to the work all of you do here, to the community which not only supports the Eagles on the field but off, to the meaningful work of Eagles Youth Partnership, has not wavered since Day 1.

“We share the same goals for the Eagles that we have always had. We want a world-championship team, of course, and we want to carry on the dedicated community service that is so much a part of this company's heart and soul."

In the article that they co-wrote in the Inquirer in 2011, the couple described being inspired by the "pride and the passion Philadelphia brings to every Eagles game. We've tried to respond to that loyalty with winning teams on the field. And we've also tried to take that common cause of cheering for our team and grow it into something every bit as special — cheering for each other." n

Contact John F. Morrison at 215-854-5573 or morrisj@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @johnfmorrison.

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