By the end of the proceedings in the last game, and one presumes the owner subjected himself to the entire 60 minutes, the calliope music could no longer drown out the boos coming from the nearly empty stands. The players still flailed about on the field; fumbling, committing penalties, and failing to either cover or tackle as the dreadful Carolina Panthers were able to run out the clock on the final minutes of the Eagles' seventh straight loss.
In the lower bowl of stands directly across from the executive suite, a sign was slowly unrolled. "Jeff," it began, and, honestly, aside from "My Ticket Renewal Will Be in the Mail Tomorrow," the rest of the sign could have said almost anything. It kept unrolling and finished with, "This is on You."
Stadium security personnel did not hustle down the steps to have the sign removed. After beating up the fans emotionally, maybe it would have been even worse consumer relations to beat them up physically, so the sentiment remained on display. Or perhaps the Eagles fired their vice president/sign removal the previous week, and we just haven't found out about it yet.
In either case, the situation has indeed become a sideshow, and whether that is Lurie's personal style or not no longer matters. It might clash with his cuff links to step into the garish fray right now, but this business of allowing the head coach to turn on a spit for the final month is unconscionable.
Lurie constructed this possibility with his ham-handed news conference in August, painting Reid into the numerical corner from which there is now no escape. If the Eagles were to magically turn around their season beginning with Sunday night's game against the Cowboys, they would still need to sweep the remaining schedule just to finish with another unacceptable 8-8 record.
The only decent thing to do is to speed up the timetable on the three options Lurie has in front of him. These are the same three options he had before the season even began: Fire the coach, extend the coach's contract, or have the coach work the final season of his existing contract.
No amount of fool's gold is going to change what has already transpired, so the owner should stop the clock, do his oh-so-careful analysis, and then come out of hiding. If he really cares about Reid, then Lurie should either support him or let him go. Whatever you think of the coach, allowing him to take all the arrows for this mess of an organization, after 14 years of steadfast service, isn't right.
Unless, of course, Lurie plans to keep Reid and is still deciding how to sell that. In August, he was never actually asked about firing the coach. He was only asked if another unacceptable season could possibly earn Reid a contract extension. Reid is under contract for 2013. Could Lurie cite all the injuries and bring back the coach on not-so-double-secret probation?
"Again, I am not going to make blanket statements. I really wanted to try to explain to you that 8-8 was unacceptable," Lurie said in August. "Yeah, I guess if two-thirds of the team is not playing, there are always exceptions. That was a really unacceptable outcome. I just want to reiterate that."
We get it. We get it. You're mad as hell and you aren't going to take it anymore, except that you usually do. And what have we now? The quarterback is out. Four out of five starting offensive linemen are out. More recently, the star running back and the best wide receiver are out. It's not two-thirds of the team, but it's not nothing, either. A case could be made.
Maybe that's why this sideshow is continuing, and why an essentially decent man is being allowed to swing so long in the wind of the situation. It could be that Jeff Lurie isn't trying to figure out how to tell Andy Reid that he's fired. He's trying to figure out how to tell you that he isn't.
See Jeffrey Lurie's January news conference where he explains why Andy Reid would return for this season at philly.com/luriereid
Contact Bob Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @bobfordsports.