They say the NFL is the ultimate reality show. Well, it’s officially getting real between a pair of 44-year friends who were colleagues in Philly for a generation.
After Jeffrey Lurie bought the Eagles, he hired Joe Banner to serve as Lurie’s top adviser. Last year, Banner abruptly resigned. He was confident he’d emerge in a new situation, and he quickly did — with the Browns.
But there have been signs of unspoken acrimony between Lurie and Banner. Now, Lurie is accusing Banner of privately bashing Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman.
“I’m very supportive of Howie, and if there’s any criticism coming from afar about Howie, it’s just off-base, and so I will support Howie completely, because that’s not right,” Lurie said, via Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com.
“And, you know, if there are league sources that are really based in Cleveland, that’s not right. We see through it all.”
Banner denies that he was a source for recent over-the-top criticism of Roseman by Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, which called Roseman “drunk with power” and “woefully out of his depth” in searching for a new coach.
“It is always difficult to comment on a quote that may or may not be accurate or in context,” Banner said, via Browns spokesman Neal Gulkis. “In this case, from the comments which Jeffrey made that were communicated to me, it is necessary for me to make this clear, unambiguous statement. Any implication that I had anything to do with Jason La Canfora’s story is completely false, outrageous and borders on being libelous.”
Libelous. As in actionable. As in Banner could be considering suing Lurie, if this continues. (Or at least threatening to do so, in the hopes it will stop.)
As best we can tell, there is definitely an undercurrent of hostility between Banner, and Lurie and Roseman. We’ve heard an account from one very reliable source of Lurie and Roseman openly criticizing Banner when talking to people not affiliated with the team. Banner, we’re told, privately believes that some of the criticism directed to Roseman is unfair, but that some of it is fair.
Unfortunately, the two teams won’t play each other again until 2016.