The big knock on Jeff Lurie when he bought the Eagles was that he was an outsider.
He wasn’t Philly enough.
He didn’t talk Philly or walk Philly. He didn’t get us. He was a Boston guy trying to make a buck.
The criticisms were understandable, to an extent. Lurie grew up in Boston and lived in Los Angeles, and there may be no two cities that Philly is more competitive with than Boston and L.A.
To make matters worse, Lurie had just tried to buy the Patriots, the team he grew up cheering for.
So it was no surprise that Eagles fans looked askance at this Hollywood filmmaker whose family came from the upper-crust New England elite.
A quarter of a century later, Lurie oversees a franchise that's become one of the most professional in professional sports — both on the field and off.
It was 25 years ago today that Lurie bought the Eagles.
On April 6, 1994, Lurie's office sent out a fax announcing that a limited partnership that he led had reached an agreement to buy the Eagles from Miami auto magnate Norman Braman for $195 million.
He took complete control of the franchise later that spring and has now owned the Eagles for 30 percent of their 86-year history.
Some Lurie facts:
• Lurie has owned the Eagles virtually twice as long as anybody else. James P. Clark and the group of investors known as the Happy Hundred owned the franchise from 1949 through 1962.
• During the 24 full seasons he’s owned the team, the Eagles have reached the playoffs 14 times, fifth most of any NFL team during that span — behind only the Patriots (19 times), Colts (17), Packers (17) and Steelers (15).
• During the same span, the Eagles have the fourth-most playoff wins with 15, behind only the Patriots (33), Packers and Steelers (19) and tied with the Colts.
• The Eagles have the fifth-best record in the NFL since 1995 at 215-167-2 (.563), second best among NFC teams behind Green Bay (.628).
• The Eagles have had only seven losing seasons since Lurie took over — 1997, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2012, 2015 and 2016.
• Obviously the postseason has expanded, but 28 of the 45 postseason games the Eagles have played and 15 of the 23 postseason wins have come during his ownership.
• All four head coaches Lurie has hired — Ray Rhodes, Andy Reid, Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson — have been named coach of the year either by the AP or the Maxwell Club.
When Lurie bought the Eagles, the team practiced on a grass field a few feet from the Schuylkill Expressway and played its home games at crumbling Veterans Stadium, which also housed its woefully inadequate offices and locker rooms.
The NovaCare Complex, a spectacular training and office complex, opened in 2001, and the Linc, a state-of-the-art stadium, replaced the Vet in 2003.
Just like that, the Eagles went from the worst stadium and training facility in the NFL to the best.
Under Lurie's watch, the Eagles have also become trailblazers in community involvement and charity work, something Eagles co-owner Christina Weiss Lurie — his ex-wife — has been deeply involved in as well.
And unlike Braman, who was out of touch with and disinterested in Eagles history, Lurie has gone to great lengths to reconnect the Eagles franchise of today with its past.
Lurie resurrected the Eagles Hall of Fame, installed prominent displays in the Headhouse Plaza and in the NovaCare Complex commemorating players, coaches, teams and moments from throughout Eagles history, and began honoring former players and coaches at halftime of virtually every home game.
As Lurie has outlasted several other owners, he has become a stronger voice within the league on NFL operations. At the recent owners meetings in Arizona, he was a vocal supporter and one of the prime movers of the new rule that allows teams to challenge pass interference penalties.
Most importantly, Lurie has given the Eagles franchise stability. Leonard Tose nearly moved the franchise to Arizona. Braman allowed stars like Reggie White, Keith Jackson and Clyde Simmons to leave as free agents.
Lurie has truly always had the best interests of the Eagles at heart.
Only six NFL franchises have had the same owner longer than the Eagles:
• 1923 — Packers (publically owned)
• 1962 — Cards (Bidwell family)
• 1983 — Bears (McCaskey family)
• 1984 — Broncos (Bowlen family)
• 1989 — Cowboys (Jerry Jones)
• 1991 — Bengals (Mike Brown)
It took 23 years, but in 2017 Lurie finally realized his dream and got to raise the Lombardi Trophy after the Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
Lurie has devoted the latter half of his life to the Eagles. You can make the case that no single person has meant as much to the franchise.
He’s put down roots here and committed himself to what’s best for the franchise, when it comes to hiring in the front office, signing top free agents, building state-of-the-art facilities.
He’s overseen the franchise during unprecedented growth. The franchise he bought for $195 million is now worth an estimated $2.8 billion.
The Eagles are among the NFL’s most successful franchises any way you measure it.
The biggest criticism of Lurie when he arrived here 25 years ago today was that he was an outsider. Turns out he’s just as Philly as the rest of us.
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