After the dust had fully settled on a disappointing season that seemed to entail minimal changes to the coaching staff and front office, the Eagles have finally dropped a bomb.
According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Joe Banner is no longer the president of the team.
Banner, a childhood friend of owner Jeffrey Lurie, has worked for the franchise since Lurie purchased it in 1994. Banner will now serve as a strategic adviser, but he is able to seek other work.
“Joe’s a free agent now,” Lurie said Wednesday, per McLane.
“I’m an employed free agent,” Banner said. He explained that he hopes to “get involved with the world of buying and selling a sports team with the possibility of becoming part of a group that buys a team.”
Banner said the move is the culmination of a succession plan that began last spring. Chief operating officer Don Smolenski will be promoted into the position of team president.
Lurie acknowledges that the question of whether Banner lost a power struggle will be raised. “No, the opposite,” Lurie said. “It was all done, I think, for what’s best for everybody involved.”
The notion that the move has been brewing for a year could help explain the team’s frenetic push to acquire free agents after the 2011 lockout ended. Banner quite possibly wanted to go out on top.
As he told PFT Live in the wake of the moves that had spawned (inadvertently, thanks to Vince Young) application of the “Dream Team” label, success in 2011 would be determined by whether or not the team won the Super Bowl.
A rumor of Banner’s departure circulated on the league grapevine in the days after the 2011 regular season ended. A team source shot it down so swiftly and aggressively that we didn’t even mention it. If it’s true that the succession plan had been in the works for more than a year, the denial had the same weight as, for example, the contention that former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott would be fired, before he was, and the proclamation that Kevin Kolb was the starting quarterback, before he wasn’t.