The Philadelphia Eagles announced today that their long time president, Joe Banner, will step down from that position and move to a strategic advisory role. Banner has run the Eagles organization ever since team owner Jeff Lurie bought it in 1994.
"There is no better executive in sports than Joe Banner," said Lurie. "We are making this announcement today because he is looking for a greater challenge, and in Don Smolenski I have a highly regarded, very worthy successor as President of this team." Lurie further noted, "Joe and I have achieved a great deal since I acquired the team. From building Lincoln Financial Field and the NovaCare Complex, to driving the work of the Eagles Youth Partnership and, of course, our successes on the field, Joe has been an integral part of everything we have done."
Joe Banner also released a statement saying that he plans to pursue a "major opportunity," which some have speculated could involve being part of a group that buys a team.
"It has been my privilege to work with Jeffrey Lurie over all these years," said Banner. "Together we have built a talented front office team that is now ready to assume leadership of this extraordinary franchise. I plan to pursue a major new opportunity within the sports field -- one that will enable me to apply all that I have learned as the Eagles president. I could never thank Jeff enough for the opportunity and support he has afforded me."
Current Eagles COO Don Smolenski will be promoted to President to fill the position left by Banner.
"Joe has been a great friend, teacher and mentor," said Smolenski. "His support and confidence have been instrumental to my growth and development in the organization. As the Eagles new president, I'm excited to build on the work we've done together over the years."
"I'm honored to accept the leadership of more than 200 terrific Eagles employees, who share our passion for building the strongest organization we can for Eagles fans in Philadelphia and around the country."
While its certainly still early to tell, it seems that Smolenski's role will be different than Banner's. Joe was intimately involved in contract negotiations and personnel moves, whereas Smolenski would seem to be focused more on the operations of the organization. That means that Andy Reid and Howie Roseman will retain full control over any and all football related moves.