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March 30, 2022

Five highlights from Jeffrey Lurie's owners meetings press conference

Eagles NFL
011322JeffreyLurie Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie took questions from the media for the first time since January of 2021, after the team had fired Doug Pederson as its head coach. In an opening statement, Lurie revealed that the team would wear Kelly green alternate jerseys (and helmets) in 2023 as well as an alternate black helmet in 2022.

The rest of the interview session produced little in the way of surprising answers, but here were my five biggest highlights.

The team is moving from a "transition year" to building for both the present and future

“Last year was kind of a transition year," Lurie said. "I think right now we're at a point where we build for the present and build for the future. And that's what smart management does. You balance both. And you don't want to sacrifice the future. But you also want to maximize the present. So those that's always the push-pull. I think we can do both at the same time. I think we've got an excellent, excellent teaching and coaching staff. I think we'll have dynamic strategy and excellent relationship and culture for players. And it's about building the roster. And building it for now and for the future."

A visual:

033022LurieScale

That's about where the Eagles are, presently. The team made pretty big strides toward pulling themselves up from among the NFL's basement dwellers last season, but they're still not really close to Super Bowl contention. The best thing going for them at the moment is that the NFC looks very weak, at least in comparison to the AFC.

Where the Eagles are right now still is not the most comfortable place to be. If the team rides with Jalen Hurts in 2022 and he makes major strides forward, great. If he does not, then the team could be mired in something of a purgatory, in which some of their best veteran players inch further toward retirement, and the team still doesn't have an answer at quarterback .

Lurie said that he has become less involved — not more involved — in roster decisions

"If I really had to say, I’d say slightly less involved," Lurie said when asked about his reportedly heavier involvement in the team. "I really believe in who we have in the building and I’m very trusting of different departments that we have. I think our areas of expertise in terms of injury prevention and the steps we’ve taken to do that, which is a huge correlative with winning; whether it’s statistics and analytics, whether it’s psychological analysis, scouting, you name it, we’ve got great people in place. I would say if anything the last few years I’ve taken a little more of a backseat.

"I sometimes ask myself that question because I want to provide the resources, provide the support, and yet ask a lot of questions in the meantime because that’s what a good CEO does. You don’t just say, here it is, go with it. No. You want to be an active questioner of strategy and information and all that, and that’s what I do."

Lurie then took the opportunity to shoehorn in three example of players that he really, really wanted the team to draft. And, oh my gosh, as luck would have it, those three guys are all excellent players! What are the odds?!?

I'll just post the transcript in full.

"I sometimes look in the mirror and I say, have you ever felt like, geez, maybe you over-rooted for something or overextended yourself in terms of what you wanted to see happen, and yes, there’s probably been three instances as I look back on whether, well, should I have been so excited or rooted for something to happen? 

"And it’s never been based on my evaluation, it’s been based on, you get excited when you’re in a draft-preparation process and I’ll tell you what they are so you have some feel for it. Jeff Stoutland is a great coach and a great talent evaluator. He works great with coaches and with Howie. The detail he goes into on analyzing, you could make a movie about and watch Jeff, some of you have seen scenes. It’s a lesson in offensive line play in real detail. There was a young player several years ago and he just thought, you know, I remember he said to Howie, he said to me, he said to the room, ‘This player is not the best tackle Day 1 but if we just look at it of who is going to be the best tackle  in the draft in two years, three years, this guy is going to be so much better than the other two tackles that were at the top of the draft. You can probably understand I’m talking about Lane Johnson

"From that, I’m thinking, gosh, if we’re in a position where we’re choosing between two players or Lane is [there], we really need to elevate Lane to a position to where we have a chance to have him. And it wasn’t automatically going to be the case, but that was one where I felt I was maybe a little too rooting interest but it was warranted because of supporting Jeff and Jeff was a new coach with us at that time. Anyway he was right… and Stout’s been right a lot more than he’s been wrong ever since. 

“The second was a player we didn’t get and I will always regret it, but it was  based on Andy Reid and Howie’s enthusiasm, and you I’m sure all know who it is and it’s somebody that we really wished we had drafted in the second round and didn’t wait but we really didn’t think anybody would jump us and take Russell Wilson, so that was that.

“And the third was really a strategy based on Jeff Stoutland and Howie and it was really Jeff where he saw a young talent and he said this guy, you talk about all these first-round, second-round tackles and all this, let me tell you, if I can get my hands on this guy and if he loves football, and he knew nothing about football, we have a chance to have a major star, and we don’t need to take him before the sixth or seventh round but I’m telling you.’ We didn’t have a seventh-round pick and I’m like, ‘Oh boy, we really have to get back in this draft,’ and Howie manipulated it in a great, great way. He knew of another team that wanted to do what we wanted to do and got to the top of the seventh round and took Jordan Mailata

"It was a risk. You take a guy who had never played football, didn’t know what football was all about, but it was a sixth or seventh round pick with huge upside. Those are three instances that I look back on and say I kind of made my opinions known on what our strategy should be, but it was based on others’ enthusiasm. I’m only human, that’s the way it goes. There have been really no other instances of that."

Lol.

Lurie disputed the notion that he advocated for drafting J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

This was actually a continuation of the above Johnson/Wilson/Maialta quote.

"I know some of you thought I was trying to pick J.J. or whatever, no, that was not the case," Lurie said. "There was a tie between J.J. and Parris [Campbell] in that room and they said to me flippantly, who do you want? And I said hey, these are both red star players, that means A-plus character, you’ve got my blessing whatever way you want to go, and I think they went probably based on injury risk, Parris had some soft-tissue injury risk. 

"And like everybody in the NFL up until that point, kudos to Washington, they got the player that has had a great player in the next round, or was it the fourth round, was it, Terry McLaurin. Kudos to them. I’ve probably backed off. Not that I was super-involved ever, but I think I get excited, I’m a football fan, I love the possibilities of players and it’s always to support those that are excited about players in the draft. It’s never my evaluation. I don’t do the work. Come on.”

Lurie claims that the draft process is incredibly intense, as prospects are analyzed from every angle imaginable, and yet, when the Eagles were on the clock in the second round with a pretty important pick, they "flippantly" asked Lurie to make the choice? OK.

Also, it's funny to me that the other player under consideration, Parris Campbell, has also been a bust in the NFL.

Also also, it's not Terry McLaurin that the majority of the fan base would have taken instead of Arcega-Whiteside or Campbell. It was DK Metcalf.

Lurie downplayed his role in greenlighting major moves like trading for a quarterback, and would not say if he greenlit a trade for Deshaun Watson

"We have a policy that we will do our due diligence on every player," Lurie said when asked about his role in moving forward with a major roster move. "There is not a pro player or a college player that we don't do as much due diligence as necessary. That's just a standard. There should never be a player we don't fully vet, and it doesn't matter their circumstances, we will fully vet them, and that's where it goes. 

"You've got to do your due diligence. There's so much information about every player. So much of it is medical, psychological, motivational, the history of how they treat people in college and high school, in the pros. How are they a culture fit? Are they going to maximize their abilities? Do they love the game of football? There's just so much that goes into this. We are really heavy on due diligence, no matter what the circumstance of the player is."

He was then asked whether he would greenlight a major move once all the above information was presented to him.

"It becomes clear through the due diligence what you should do, he said. "Every organization I guess, is different, but the due diligence tells you exactly if that player a smart acquisition for you, in every way possible. That's what you do."

He was then asked more directly if he would have welcomed Deshaun Watson to the team had Watson wanted to play in Philly.

"I've never commented on another contract that another team made with a player," Lurie said. "Every team has to operate the way they think is best for them. I don't want to be presumptuous. I don't have all the answers, so I just can't comment."

Obviously, Lurie is not going to volunteer that he greenlit a Deshaun Watson trade, which would bring heat without even having the benefit of adding a talented player. Still, that's not a denial.

On the Will Smith / Chris Rock slap

Lurie was up for an Oscar for the documentary Summer of Soul, which did ultimately win. From Lurie's perspective, that just so happened to be the category that Chris Rock was presenting when Will Smith slapped him.

"We had an Oscar party here in Palm Beach Sunday night," Lurie said. "We took a chance because you know you're going to be like the guy in the green room who doesn't get drafted or something. That was possible. We knew the category for best feature documentary was about to come up. However, Will Smith came up instead, and he interrupted Chris Rock. We had to wait a little longer, but it was a fun Oscar watch party."


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