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Friday, March 13, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles Billionare: Jeffrey Laurie

Congratulations to Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Laurie for being a new member on the Forbes magazine billionaires list. Perhaps he should celebrate by taking Joe Banner out to dinner and releasing him of any and all duties he has in regards to the operation of the football team. Banner, the over-controlling yet ever loyal employee to Laurie, has completely changed the football financial system and how it relates to the salary cap, and now Banner’s version of the system is essentially what is used around the league. Laurie should understand this and identify and reward his right-hand man with something wonderful…like a nice severance package. Banner is a man who has made himself obsolete in the business. Banner is a shrewd guy, but now he’s not the only one who can do the job.

Laurie should also realize just how he became a Billionaire. Yes, it was through the ownership of the Philadelphia Eagles, but it was through the toiling and hard work of Eagles fans, buying the tickets, concessions, and merchandise. And now with the apparent disregard for the fan, and in some cases his affect on the quality of product the organization is putting on the field, give him a warm pink slip laden send off. I know there will be those who will say that the team has gone to five NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl. I will retort with the fact that the money values that they put on certain positions have hindered them from winning it all. For instance, they will spend money on the offensive and defensive lines. They will not spend money on linebacker, although they have been lucky with the young guys they have. They will spend money on the cornerback, but not come close to signing any of the bigger named wideouts when they become available. For years it has been argued that the Eagles would have won at least one if they had better guys than Pinkston & Thrash, and a guy like T.O. for more than one season. Dante Stallworth was a pickup in a trade, but they didn’t consider him worth signing after the season was over. To sum up the position on the receivers, they will spend many dollars on covering the best receivers in the league, but do not want the best receivers on their team. That is a Joe Banner decision, and if Jeffrey Laurie wants to win the Lombardi trophy, those decisions need to be made be someone else. It will be a fan friendly move that will not necessarily endear Laurie to the Philly fan, that will be difficult to do since he is one of those high brow types, but it will inch him in the positive direction.

Outside the Banner issue, Laurie also needs to step up a bit and settle with the city of Philadelphia regarding a petty battle of a mere eight million dollars. Laurie claims he lost that much due to a canceled preseason game a few years back, and the city claims that the Eagles still owe that amount for agreeing to build luxury boxes in Vet’s Stadium. That deal was with the previous regime, but Laurie took that debt on when he bought the team. Incidentally, it has been argued that eight million dollars would enable the city to keep multiple libraries, slated for closure due to budgetary constraints, in operation.

Laurie was a rich guy before he bought the team, now he is richer. He doesn’t need money and he has his share of fame. What he needs is love. Love from the city he relies on. Love from the people who helped put him on the billionaire list. The amount of good grace and a sterling public persona he would receive would undoubtedly outweigh the actions it would take to receive such accolades. Whether he cares, I do not know. What I do know is despite his new billionaire moniker, it won’t take him as far in the eyes of public appeal if he doesn’t do what it takes to properly thank the city and fans of the Eagles for what they helped him accomplish in the city of Philadelphia.

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