Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie had to feel some sense of vindication as he answered questions from reporters following the Eagles’ 31-7 win over the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.
A couple years earlier, many people were laughing when he hired Nick Sirianni.
That move wasn’t popular at the time. Lurie fired the only coach to ever bring a Super Bowl victory to Philadelphia and replaced him with an unknown guy who bombed his introductory press conference.
But making the right moves has never been about making the popular ones for Lurie.
“I know it’s sort of not the conformist thing to do,” Lurie said on Sunday night from the winning locker room. “Like I said, nobody wanted Andy (Reid), nobody wanted Doug (Pederson), nobody knew about Nick (Sirianni), I guess. I don’t know. Didn’t make sense to me. Didn’t make sense to Howie (Roseman).
“I think we feel like just do the right thing and you’re going to have a chance to be great. If you don’t do the right thing, you have no chance. That’s kind of what it is. Just have confidence in what you think is the right way and what gives you the best chance of high success, big success.”
Lurie, 71, prides himself on being an NFL non-conformist. He makes decisions that are sometimes unpopular in the moment but he makes them with conviction.
So on Sunday after he talked about those unpopular decisions, he was asked where he learned that. And the billionaire gave a nod to his Boston roots.
“Well, I’ve always thought that the sports franchises that make decisions based on what they think is right, it’s never going to be the popular one in that case,” Lurie said. “I go back to Red Auerbach, because to me, he made a lot of decisions that were not the popular decisions in the headlines the next day in the Boston Globe but it was best for that franchise to continue their dynasty.
“Whether it was having Bill Russell be the player coach, the first African American coach ever. Choosing point guard Bob Cousy. Red did things that were unpopular. The (Kevin) McHale trade, getting McHale to go with Larry, waiting on Larry. There were just so many pointers when I look back on the way he ran that team.”
The late Auerbach became the Celtics’ head coach in 1950, the year before Lurie was Born in Boston. So he watched the Celtics’ dynasty take hold during his formative years and watched as Auerbach did what was necessary to keep the Celtics at the top, even as he transitioned to the general manager role.
Lurie has made several unpopular decisions in his time as the Eagles’ owner. In fact, the three best head coaching hires — Reid, Pederson and Sirianni — were all pretty unpopular at the time. And his decision to keep Roseman around and in power certainly wasn’t loved by Eagles fans but it led to one Super Bowl ring and has the Eagles on the doorstep of another.
“But the key of all that is don’t ever do the conformist thing or what’s popular,” Lurie said. “If you want to be 8-8, do that. But if you want to have a chance to really compete in a really big way, do what you really think is right. And if you’re wrong sometimes, so be it. Let it go. And move on and make up for it.”
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