Updated: Jan. 22, 9 a.m.
There’s one person who’s been here for all of it. From the wild-card win over the Lions at the Vet in 1995 to the win over the Vikings last night at the Linc.
There’s one constant over the years with the Eagles, and that’s owner Jeff Lurie, and I don’t think he’s ever been appreciated enough for the organization he’s built, and I don’t think he’s ever been given enough credit for the way he’s built it.
Since 1995, the first year that Lurie had complete control of the franchise, the Eagles have reached the playoffs 13 times, and only the Packers, Colts, Steelers and Patriots have gotten there more.
Sunday's game against the Vikings was the Eagles’ sixth conference championship game under Lurie’s ownership, and only the Patriots have been to more during that 23-year span.
We’re all aware the Eagles have never won a Super Bowl and haven’t won a championship since 1960, but Lurie has done absolutely everything in his power to build a winner since the day he got here.
He has never hesitated to spend money — tons of money — for free agents. Somewhere along the line, Lurie gained the reputation for being cheap when nothing could be farther from the truth.
From Troy Vincent and Irving Fryar in the mid-1990s to Jevon Kearse and Jon Runyan and Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha and Stacy Andrews, the Eagles have always out-spent everybody in their pursuit of talent.
Now, all those guys didn’t pan out. We know all about the Eagles’ free agent busts over the years. There have been plenty of them. But that’s not Lurie’s fault. He always trusted his personnel guys, and that’s what a good owner does. When they wanted a player, he wrote the check.
He gave fans one of the nicest stadiums in the NFL. He got the NovaCare Complex built, helping make Philly an attractive destination for free agents. He's hired four head coaches, and the first two — Ray Rhodes and Andy Reid — were named Coach of the Year within their first few seasons. Chip Kelly could have been in 2013. Doug Pederson should be this year.
He approved the Michael Vick signing after a long and careful evaluation period when no other owner wanted anything to do with him, facilitating Vick's reinvention as a playoff quarterback as well as a productive member of society.
He navigated the franchise through a stormy transition from Joe Banner's stewardship of the front office to Howie Roseman's. He went out and hired Joe Douglas, which has paid immediate dividends in terms of talent.
He's brilliantly reconnected the franchise with its past, something his predecessor, Norman Braman, refused to do. Guys who gave everything they had for this franchise years ago and decades ago are once more made to feel a part of things instead of being forgotten and ignored. The historical displays at the Linc give real meaning to the 85-year history of one of the NFL's original franchises.
And he was in the middle of one of the most important decisions in Eagles history — the decision to move up to the No. 2 spot in the 2016 draft by any means necessary, whatever the cost, to draft Carson Wentz.
The organization's realization that until it had an elite franchise quarterback in place it wasn't likely to make a Super Bowl run was critical, and Lurie led that charge.
There have been mistakes and misjudgments along the way. That's going to happen when you run a franchise for a quarter of a century.
He allowed Brian Dawkins to leave after the 2008 season. He stuck with Reid one year too long. He shouldn't have given Chip Kelly unlimited power after the 2014 season.
But the overall body of work? Overwhelmingly positive.
Since 1995, the Eagles have won 10 or more games 13 times in 23 seasons. Their overall record since Lurie took over — 206-160-2 (.563) — is sixth-best in the NFL during that span, second only to the Packers in the NFC.
And now they'll play in their second Super Bowl under Lurie, having won the NFC with Pederson coaching and Nick Foles quarterbacking.
All the criticisms we've always heard about Lurie — he's an outsider, he's only in it to get rich, he's too cheap — are so ridiculously off-base and always have been.
Without Lurie there is no Reid or Pederson, which means there is no Tom Modrak or Howie Roseman, which means there is no Donovan McNabb or Wentz, there is no Dawk or Hugh or Trott, there is no Brian Westbrook or Jason Peters.
No, the Eagles haven't won a championship since Lurie bought the team, but he's done everything he could to make it happen.
And if not this year, the Eagles sure are in a tremendous position to keep making deep playoff runs for the foreseeable future.
Lurie wants this as bad as you do. He really does.
It's time to appreciate what he's done for this franchise and recognize that without him, Jan. 21 would probably have been just another lazy January Sunday where we all sat in front of the TV and watched somebody else play football.