Eagles

Jeff Lurie's 10 greatest achievements as Eagles owner

Jeff Lurie's 10 greatest achievements as Eagles owner

It’s 26 years this spring since Jeff Lurie bought the Eagles from Norman Braman for $185 million.

During the 25 full seasons Lurie has owned the Eagles, the franchise has the sixth-best record in the NFL and has reached the playoffs more than everybody other than the Patriots, Steelers and Colts.

The Eagles have had just seven losing seasons since 1995, and only the Patriots, Packers, Steelers and Colts have had fewer.

And two years ago, Lurie finally got his first Lombardi Trophy.

Lurie has owned the Eagles 10 years longer than any previous owner. He’s owned the Eagles for nearly a third of their existence.

With the Eagles approaching their 26th season under Lurie's stewardship, here is a chronological list of the top 10 achievements of his quarter century as owner of the Eagles:

Hiring Joe Banner

March 26, 1995: “Joe is very intelligent and very dedicated guy who will provide this club with a great deal of vision. He has an extremely diverse background and with that will be able to help us in many areas.”
Banner was the key visionary behind much of the Eagles’ success. He brought an early emphasis on building on both lines, developed an early mastery of the salary cap,  was behind the hiring of Andy Reid and the drafting of Donovan McNabb and much more.

Connecting franchise to its past

March 26, 1995: “That never made any sense to me.”
Under owner Norman Braman, the Eagles lost touch with their past. The Eagles Hall of Fame was inactive, the team’s alumni were not included in team events and there were no historical displays at the Vet commemorating the franchise's great players and teams. Lurie quickly changed that and now there are numerous displays at the NovaCare Complex and the Linc honoring the team’s past, former players are honored at every home game, the franchise has an active alumni association and the Eagles have even hired former players in various capacities over the years.

Working in the community

June 6, 1996: “When I came to Philadelphia, I had two goals: To build the Eagles into a championship team and to make a positive impact on the quality of life … in the region.”
Soon after buying the team, Lurie made a commitment to making a difference in the community, and he’s held up that end of the bargain with initiatives such as the Social Justice Fund, Eagles Care Summit, the Eagles EyeMobile, the annual Playground Build and many more. The Eagles have donated over $25 million to organizations in Philadelphia and the surrounding community.

Hiring Andy Reid

Jan. 11, 1999: “His preparedness, his commanding presence, his leadership and his sense of organization, it was pretty dynamic. When you experience that, you say, ‘Wow,’ and that’s kind of what happened. When you find someone like that, you don’t let him walk out the door.”
Reid never did win a Super Bowl, but he delivered the longest sustained stretch of success in Eagles history, reaching the playoffs nine times in 11 years from 2000 through 2010 and drafting several key members of the 2017 Super Bowl team (Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce, Brandon Graham, Nick Foles).

Opening the NovaCare Complex

March 7, 2001: “Coming out of a dungeon like the Vet, I wanted to figure out what people wanted. We talked to everybody and asked them what they wanted, what they needed. We wanted to figure out what would make us the best sports organization in the business.”
After years practicing at the Vet, with its garbage-strewn fields adjacent to the Schuylkill Expressway, barbaric facilities and archaic amenities, the Eagles finally moved into a state-of-the-art facility across the street.

Opening the Linc

Aug. 23, 2003: “It’s been a long process. We’re finally going to be able to showcase a stadium that was really built with the average fan in mind. You don’t often have the opportunity to start a new era or change the course of a franchise.”
Some fans may think the Vet had its own strange charm, but it was literally the worst stadium in the NFL, and the Linc is one of the nicest. 

Firing Andy Reid

Dec. 30, 2012: “Andy Reid won the most games of any head coach in Eagles' history and he is someone I respect greatly and will remain friends with for many years to come. But, it is time for the Eagles to move in a new direction.”
Lurie once called Reid his coach-for-life, but even Lurie realized after the nightmarish 2012 season that Reid had run his course here and the franchise desperately needed a change.

Firing Chip Kelly

Dec. 30, 2015: “The end result was mediocrity.”
After two 10-6 seasons and two months after a 4-4 start in 2015, Lurie pulled the plug on the fascinating Chip Kelly experiment with the locker room stripped of talent, the team in the midst of a 2-5 stretch and players revolting.

Keeping Howie Roseman

Dec. 30, 2015: “Howie will be responsible for making sure our player personnel department is as good as it gets in the NFL and be accountable for that, and that’s pretty much the way we’ll go.”
It would have been easy for Lurie to fire Roseman when he gave Chip GM duties after the 2014 season, but he kept Roseman in the building just in case Chip didn’t work out, and reinstated him to GM duties after he fired Kelly. Two years later, the Eagles were Super Bowl champs.

Hiring Doug Pederson

Jan. 19, 2016: “We started with about 25 candidates that we completely researched, analyzed, vetted, however you want to describe it. … The best man for the job and the best leader in this process was Doug Pederson.” 
Pederson led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl championship in just his second year as head coach and has taken the Eagles to the playoffs three straight years, despite a constant rash of injuries each year.

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Fletcher Cox spills details from Eagles D-line getaway at his ranch

Fletcher Cox spills details from Eagles D-line getaway at his ranch

Eagles defensive tackle Bruce Hector grew up in Tampa, Florida, and went to college at South Florida. Bruce Hector is 6-foot-2, 296 pounds. 

Bruce Hector had never ridden a horse. Of course he hadn’t. 

That changed in May when Fletcher Cox hosted most of his defensive line teammates at his ranch in Texas. 

Hector and Derek Barnett rode horses for the first time. The guy shot skeet — “everybody sucked at first until about 20 minutes into it,” Cox said — and Malik Jackson, whom Cox affectionately referred to as a “Cali Kid” got to spend some quality time with mosquitos and flies. 

It was one of those things, it was very important to me that I did that, to let those guys know ‘hey, I’m here for you, let’s all get together and get it done,’” Cox said. “Once the guys got there, we had everything laid out, food, places to stay. And guys enjoyed it.

In addition to all the activities Cox’s ranch has to offer, the Eagles’ defensive linemen also worked out together while trying to stay safe during COVID-19. 

Aside from the horses who had to support 300-pound linemen, the real MVPs of the getaway were Stephanie and Sue, two women who work on Cox’s ranch and were in charge of making sure everything was clean for the Eagles as they got together during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Eagles’ Pro Bowl defensive lineman said Stephanie and Sue “really stayed on top of it.” 

“I asked them, ‘hey when guys wake up go in their room, make sure you’re spraying everything down, make sure you’re washing the bedspread, making sure that everything is getting sprayed every day,’” Cox said. 

And they did. 

Aside from that, the only people working out on the fields were Cox and his teammates. In an offseason where the Eagles lost all of OTAs and minicamps, Cox felt like he had to step up and get the group together. Without those workouts, the Eagles’ defensive line wouldn’t have been together until training camp this month.  

“I knew I had the place to get all the guys down to my place in Texas,” Cox said. “I reached out to all the guys. I told the guys, ‘hey if you feel safe coming down, let’s all get together as a group, as a D-line unit and try to knock some things out.’ Let’s get a couple days where we can get some work in and just kind of hang out and be around each other.”

Cox, 29, has really grown into his role as a leader on the team, similarly to Carson Wentz, who got a group of receivers together this offseason in Houston. 

On Wednesday, Cox said the defensive line will need to lead the Eagles in 2020 and he’s probably right. That makes his role even more important. He’s the leader of the group that has to lead the team. 

Give him a lot of credit for getting his teammates together during a difficult and unusual offseason. Give that horse a ton of credit too. 

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John Hightower patterns his game after 1 particular NFL star receiver

John Hightower patterns his game after 1 particular NFL star receiver

If there’s one NFL receiver Eagles 5th-round pick John Hightower patterns his game after it’s Stefon Diggs. 

Throughout the last few months, I’ve heard Hightower say that several times, both before and after he got drafted. But on a Zoom call last week, I got a chance to ask Hightower a question. 

Why Diggs? 

“Stefon Diggs’ routes are phenomenal,” Hightower said. “He makes great cuts, he catches the ball very well. He’s an intelligent player.” 

Fair enough. 

While Diggs has never been a Pro Bowler, he has become one of the best and most consistent receivers in the NFL, known for his route-running and technique. 

Like Hightower, Diggs was a 5th-round pick. Diggs came out of Maryland in the 5th round in 2015, made an immediate impact as a rookie and put together five really impressive seasons in Minnesota before getting traded to the Bills this offseason. 

Take a look at the comparison between Diggs coming out in 2015 and Hightower this season: 

Aside from their physical similarities and getting drafted in the same round, Hightower and Diggs both grew up in the same area, in the DMV.

Diggs is from Gaithersburg, Maryland, and went to Our Lady of Good Counsel and Hightower is from Landover and went to Riverdale Baptist. 

“It’s really good to see that,” Hightower said of watching a guy from his area make it the way Diggs has. “Obviously someone from the area making it to the place the Stefon Diggs made it to. Pretty much growing up everybody knew Stefon Diggs was going to be who he is today. It was great to see him from high school to college and then now in the league to still do what he’s been doing.”

Hightower hopes to continue following Diggs’ path. 

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