Howie Roseman: Jonathan Gannon tampering situation was handled at league, ownership level
As it turns out, the unprecedented negotiated outcome of a blatant tampering violation that the league adroitly brushed under the pre-draft rug was resolved by the highest levels of the organizations involved.
Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman said Tuesday on 94WIP that the the Cardinals’ impermissible phone contact with former Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was “was handled at the ownership level and at the league level,” via Audacy.com.
The fact that it escalated to the direct involvement of Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie underscores how big of a deal it was. It’s unclear who at the league contributed to the end result -- basically a draft-pick exchange that harmed the Cardinals and boosted the Eagles.
Roseman also disputed a report from Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Eagles are “furious” with Gannon, who took the call that violated the rules. That’s no surprise, since Howie usually takes up residence on the high road. (Case in point, he repeatedly refused to complain about the poor quality of the surface at Super Bowl LVII, even though it clearly undermined his team’s pass rush.)
It seems like there’s a lot more to this story. Did the Cardinals simply make that one phone call, or was there something more to distract Gannon from his Super Bowl preparations? Did Gannon simply take that one phone call, or did he do something more to distract himself from his Super Bowl preparations?
Gannon admitted on Tuesday that Cardinals G.M. Monti Ossenfort asked shortly after the NFC Championship (at a time when contact was forbidden) whether Gannon “would you be interested in interviewing if the timing gets pushed back to after Super Bowl.” Gannon said yes.
If that’s true, and there’s a chance Gannon is deliberately downplaying the conversation (he bragged at the team’s recent uniform unveiling that he routinely tells the media something other than the whole truth), the mere fact that he knew with certainty that he’d be interviewed after the Super Bowl created a distraction. He’d be, at a minimum, thinking about the interview to come as he got ready for the game. He possibly spent time preparing for the interview, including making calls to potential staff members who would join him in Arizona.
The distraction becomes even more significant if Ossenfort told Gannon he’d be getting the job. How could Gannon not spend time that should have been devoted to preparing the Philly defense for the Super Bowl thinking about and/or acting on his planning for the next phase of his career -- the one that represents the culmination of his coaching dreams?
Then there’s the question of how this all came to light. I just don’t buy the notion that Ossenfort had a crisis of conscience over a fairly innocuous phone call (if Gannon’s version is true) and self-reported the blatant tampering violation.
Something happened. Someone complained. Something brown and smelly hit the fan. Someone then cleaned it all up.
What if the Eagles, miffed by the fact that they blew a double-digit lead in Super Bowl LVII, embarked on a deep dive into the causes of the collapse, in order to prevent it from happening again? What if, during that effort, they tripped over the question of whether Gannon was indeed thinking about and/or working on his preparations for the Arizona job?
Yes, this is speculation. Absent details from either team that likely won’t ever be offered, speculation rooted in common sense is all we’ve got.
In this case, it was known that Gannon was on the Arizona radar screen. If the Eagles opted to explore how and why the defense failed to be ready for -- for example -- adjusting to Kansas City motions and shifts (a CLEAR issue with the Eagles defense that was exposed twice in the second half), it didn’t take a genius to wonder whether Gannon was secretly spending time that should have been devoted to watching Kansas City film (specifically, the Week One game at Arizona, when the Chiefs used the same play that was used in a key spot in the Super Bowl) to preparing to become the Arizona head coach?
Again, the violation was blatant. In lieu of the league imposing discipline, the Eagles and Cardinals were permitted to resolve it among themselves. Many throughout the league remain confused, especially since neither the Saints nor the Buccaneers received anything for the blatant tampering by the Dolphins with Sean Payton and Tom Brady in early 2022.
Why was compensation not appropriate there but proper here? It seems as if the Eagles were able to persuade both the league and the Cardinals that the tampering actually harmed their strategic interests. Presumably, in the Super Bowl.
Bottom line? It feels like there’s A LOT more to this, and it feels like we’re never going to get the full story on what happened and how it came to light.