Joe Banner: Acrimony with Eagles' Jeffrey Lurie is in the past

Joe Banner said he had a "totally cordial" talk with the Eagles owner at the NFL owners meetings.
Joe Banner said he had a "totally cordial" talk with the Eagles owner at the NFL owners meetings. (AP)
Posted: March 21, 2013

PHOENIX - There has not been a Round 2 of Lurie vs. Banner at the NFL owners meetings.

Lifelong friends and business partners for 18 years, Jeffrey Lurie and Joe Banner exchanged verbal blows in January after the Eagles hired Chip Kelly as coach.

During the coaching search, a report on CBSsports.com claimed that a "drunk with power" Howie Roseman had scared away potential candidates, including Kelly, and that other general managers were reluctant to make deals with the Eagles GM.

The Eagles believed that Banner was the source behind the report. After Kelly was hired, Lurie told CSNPhilly.com, "If there are league sources that are really based in Cleveland, that's not right. We see through it all."

Banner responded with a statement issued by the Browns: "Any implication that I had anything to do with Jason LaCanfora's story [on CBSsports.com] is completely false, outrageous, and borders on being libelous," he said.

The back-and-forth suggested that the bitterness might carry over into the meetings. But Banner said Sunday that he had already met with Lurie and had a "totally cordial" conversation.

"I was surprised that happened [in January]. He said what he said. I responded," Banner said Tuesday. "I think it's part of the past now. It was a moment in time in a long, close relationship."

Lurie and Banner were friends growing up in the Boston area. When Lurie bought the Eagles in 1994, he brought Banner aboard to run the day-to-day operations. Banner eventually became team president and the Eagles had an extended period of success.

But Banner stepped down last summer as his role seemingly became marginalized by the ascension of Roseman and Banner's eventual successor, Don Smolenski. Banner wasted little time in finding another job and was hired by new owner Jimmy Haslam to run the Browns in October.

That set up a showdown for Kelly as the Eagles and Browns sought new coaches in the offseason. Both teams interviewed the Oregon coach. A report said the Browns had dropped out of the Kelly chase. Kelly has said that the Eagles were his clear choice.

"Obviously, we did interview Chip," Banner said, "and beyond that I haven't commented about what happened, and I'm not going to."

There will be obvious comparisons between the two teams. Banner said that he would be too preoccupied with the Browns to fixate on the Eagles. But it's hard to imagine two men as competitive as Banner and Lurie not wanting to top each other.

"We worked together for 18-plus years," Banner said. "We shared a lot of visions and memories together, shared our lives. So now I'm a distance away. Frankly, I don't want him to know what I'm doing football-wise and he doesn't want me to know what he's doing football-wise. Of course, it's very difficult. That doesn't mean there still isn't a deep connection."


Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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