A chance for Jeffrey Lurie to back up his words

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie (center), ex-coach Andy Reid, and former president Joe Banner (right) all want a Super Bowl title.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie (center), ex-coach Andy Reid, and former president Joe Banner (right) all want a Super Bowl title. (ERIC MENCHER / Staff)
Posted: January 04, 2013

Here's a proposition for Jeffrey Lurie, something that should add a little incentive as he sets out to hire a new head coach for the Eagles.

The way things have turned out, Lurie is competing for a coach with longtime friend and colleague Joe Banner, who now runs the Cleveland Browns. That competition goes a long way toward explaining the veiled insults and revisionist history Lurie wove into his news conference Monday.

Meanwhile, Andy Reid's search for a new job has led to interviews with Kansas City and Arizona, two places where the owners are not exactly perceived as gold-standard material.

So here's the proposition: If either Banner or Reid gets to the Super Bowl before the Eagles, Lurie has to sell the team in shame.

That ought to liven things up a little.

It shouldn't be a difficult pledge for Lurie to make, assuming he really believes that this is the best coaching situation in the NFL and that Howie Roseman is the best possible general manager. Heck, there's practically no risk at all.

Banner is in Cleveland, trying to revive one of the sorriest franchises in all of sports.

Reid could be in Kansas City or Arizona, trying to win with an owner - in either case - with a zero track record of success.

If Banner fails, he eventually will be the ex-CEO of the Browns, just as he was squeezed out of the Eagles' front office last year. If Reid fails, he will be tossed on the big pile of ex-coaches of the Chiefs or Cardinals.

But Lurie doesn't have to worry about that. He has owned the Eagles for 18 years now. The team has been to one Super Bowl and lost it. So much for the "multiple championships" he promised the city when he bought the team from Norman Braman in 1994.

By pledging to sell the team if he is bested by either Banner or Reid, Lurie actually would put something on the line for the first time. Who knows? He might find it refreshing.

In the real world, Lurie and Roseman flew to Atlanta Wednesday to interview Falcons assistants Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong. Neither of them has any realistic chance of being the Eagles' next head coach.

Nolan coaches defense and has fizzled in a previous head coaching opportunity. Armstrong appears to be this year's hot candidate to satisfy the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates. That could lead the Temple alumnus to real opportunities later, but it would be shocking if Lurie hired him now.

Meanwhile, Banner reportedly is in Arizona, where he has scheduled the first interview with Oregon coach Chip Kelly. The Browns can offer Kelly complete control over personnel, something Lurie has chosen to withhold in favor of Roseman.

That probably explains Lurie's odd remarks about recent Eagles drafts. He absolved Roseman of blame for picks Roseman bragged about making at the time - Danny Watkins, Jaiquawn Jarrett, to name a couple - while creating the impression it was all Banner's fault.

Is that the kind of environment Kelly or any hot candidate would want to step into? We'll find out soon enough.

It does seem like a misstep for the Eagles decision-makers to be in Atlanta instead of starting with the likes of Kelly, Bill O'Brien, Lovie Smith, and Jon Gruden. Whatever Lurie may believe, there are openings in Chicago, Arizona, and San Diego that could be every bit as attractive as Philadelphia. Buffalo and Kansas City are tougher sells but could move quickly to snap up a candidate.

Other than the guys in Atlanta, Lurie's reported list of potential interview subjects looks sound enough: Kelly, if he gets to him; O'Brien; and Syracuse's Doug Marrone are worth talking to. Denver's Mike McCoy is the best of the coordinators free to talk during the playoff bye week.

Presumably, Green Bay's Ben McAdoo and Seattle's Darrell Bevell are on the to-do list, too. There are plenty of good coaches to go around. Lurie should be able to hire one with excellent credentials.

But will he do better than Reid in his new town? Will he do better than Banner, who was at his side when the Eagles hired Reid? It's a fascinating scenario.

It would be a lot more interesting if Lurie really had something at stake.

Contact Phil Sheridan at psheridan@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @Sheridanscribe.

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