Since Joe Banner was inserted as the president of operations for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2001, they’ve been one of the most successful franchises in the league. They’ve been to five NFC Championship games and even one Super Bowl, winning numerous division titles in between.
Two things Banner hadn’t accomplished? Winning the Super Bowl and earning the respect of his players.
Banner and Andy Reid have had a constant power struggle for years, no matter what either has said over the last few hours. The difference between them? Reid is a “players’ coach” and Banner has been called “unlikable” by half a dozen former Eagles, including Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook.
Banner’s “tough guy” negotiating style has left many Eagles—especially ones were drafted and developed under Andy Reid—feeling bitter about their time as an Eagle. He’s ostracized guys like Duce Staley in 2003, Brian Westbrook in 2005 and DeSean Jackson last season.
These issues have often spilled over into the season. Westbrook had one of his worst seasons in ’05, as the team went a horrific 6-10. Last season, Jackson didn’t seem like the DeSean of 2010, and the Eagles slipped out the gate on their way to a disappointing 6-10 finish. Banner’s methods may be shrewd, but they haven’t paid dividends on the field.
Westbrook, on with 97.5 the Fanatic hosts Tim McManus and Eytan Shander, even went so far as to say that Banner was fully a business entity and that he was unapproachable and not necessarily a guy the players liked.
Why did Banner always need to lay down the iron fist? Even with the salary cap, the Eagles were never afraid to throw money at big-name free agents.
In fact, until this past offseason, the Eagles rarely re-signed more players than they brought in; that isn’t good for a locker room, especially one that has been as close to winning as Philadelphia has. The frustration is so large it could bubble over, which it has at points.
After all of that, we still have the “Gold Standard” comment and the ridiculously defensive statements Banner always makes about his team. Comparing the Eagles to the Steelers just isn’t fair in any context, but to say that this team has been as successful is, unfortunately, not true.
Sure, the Eagles have similar numbers of playoff and later-round appearances, but the difference is pretty clear: The Steelers have two rings in the last decade; the Eagles don’t.
Firing Banner, which the Eagles smartly did, could go a long way to changing that.