Eagles fans should be thankful to have Jeffrey Lurie as an owner

·5 min read

Eagles fans should be thankful to have Jeffrey Lurie as an owner originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

To really appreciate what Jeff Lurie has meant to the Eagles and the city of Philadelphia over the last quarter century, you have to look at where the franchise was before he bought the team from Norman Braman in 1994.

Braman was an owner who hated free agency and allowed star after star to leave without an offer in the early 1990s. An owner who spent more time in France and Florida than in Philly, who had no interest in spending money to upgrade the team’s decrepit facilities, who felt no kinship with the magnificent players and teams from the Eagles’ glorious past.

When Lurie bought the Eagles from Braman in 1994, the team had won one playoff game since 1980 and just eight in franchise history, hadn’t won a championship in 34 years and – get this – had produced just 10 winning seasons in the last 33 years.

They played in the worst stadium in the NFL. They practiced at the most antiquated facilities in the NFL. Their weight room would have been an embarrassment for a local high school. If you walked around the Vet, you couldn’t find anything commemorating the 1948, 1949 or 1960 NFL Championship teams. The Eagles Hall of Fame had become dormant and was represented only by a few rusty old plaques on a wall on the 200 level.

The franchise was a wreck. It was irrelevant. Brief periods of success were followed by long periods of ineptitude. There was little hope.

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Lurie bought the Eagles in April of 1994, and while it hasn’t always been smooth sailing in the nearly 27 years since, he has overseen an unprecedented period of sustained success and transformed the Eagles into a model franchise in the NFL that practices at a world-class facility, plays in one of the NFL's nicest stadiums, reaches the playoffs twice for every season it doesn't and even finally has a Lombardi Trophy in the lobby.

Under rookie head coach Nick Sirianni, the Eagles this year are 9-7, their 17th winning season in the 27 full years Lurie has owned the franchise. That’s 17 winning seasons, two .500 seasons and eight losing seasons. Only the Patriots, Packers, Steelers and Colts have had more winning seasons than the Eagles since 1995, and all were led by at least one Hall of Fame quarterback.

Here’s some more food for thought regarding Lurie’s stewardship of the franchise:

✓ Since 1995, the first full year Lurie owned the team, the Eagles have reached the playoffs 16 times. Only the Patriots [21 times], Packers [20] and Colts [18] have done so more often. So the Packers are the only NFC team to reach the playoffs more than the Eagles since Lurie took over.

✓ Lurie has hired five head coaches, and all five reached the playoffs by their second season. Three were named Coach of the Year at least once, a fourth won a Super Bowl and a fifth turned a 2-5 start into a 9-7 finish in his first year. All but one had a career winning record. The most important hires Lurie ever made were Andy Reid, who guided the Eagles through an unparalleled period of success, and Joe Banner, whose pioneering work with contracts revolutionized the way teams operate in a salary-cap era.

✓ Since 1967, when the NFL’s playoff bracket expanded, the Eagles have won 19 playoff games. Fifteen of the 19 have been since Lurie bought the team. Only the Patriots (33), Packers (21), Steelers (19) and Ravens (16) have won more playoff games since Lurie bought the Eagles. Again, only the Packers have won more postseason games than the Eagles since Lurie became owner.

✓ Naysayers scoff at Lurie’s track record because the Eagles have only won one Super Bowl under his watch, but all an owner can do is create a winning culture through his hires, support his general manager by allowing him to sign big-money free agents and provide world-class facilities that allow those in his organization to succeed. And since 1995, the Eagles have reached six NFC Championship Games. Only the Patriots (14), Packers (9) and Steelers (8) have reached more. It’s hardly Lurie’s fault the Eagles lost four of those six NFC Championship Games.

✓ Lurie has reconnected the franchise with its past through the revived Eagles Hall of Fame, frequent alumni events and the impressive historical displays throughout the Headhouse Plaza entrance to the Linc.

✓ Since Lurie bought the team, its value has increased from $182 million in 1995 to $3.8 billion today, an average annual increase of nearly 13 percent. Despite his wealth, Lurie and the Eagles remain committed to supporting countless charitable causes in the Philadelphia community, notably the Eagles’ own Autism Foundation and the team’s recently unveiled End Philly Gun Violence initiative.

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Lurie has made mistakes.

He kept Reid around a year too long. He never should have given Chip Kelly GM powers. The events leading up to Doug Pederson’s dismissal were handled poorly.

But when you look around the league and see what a disaster some franchises are, piling up losing season after losing season, changing coaches and GMs every few years without a plan, aimlessly going a decade without a playoff appearance, it becomes really easy to appreciate Lurie and what he’s built here.

Everything Lurie does he does because he truly believes it will help the team win. Everything. And the Eagles have won more than just about every franchise in the NFL since he bought the team. There’s nothing else you can ask of an owner.