A major change in the Philadelphia Eagles organization has left Joe Banner out of a job, well, the job of team president, the Eagles confirm.
Joe Banner, 59, is no longer the team's president, but will become strategic adviser to owner and childhood friend Jeff Lurie.
Don Smolenski, chief operating officer, will be the new Eagles president and general manager Howie Roseman will take over for Banner in managing the team's salary as well as contract negotiations, according to the Eagles.
Both Lurie and Banner confirm that Banner will be allowed to look elsewhere for employment.
"I'm an employed free agent," Banner said.
When asked if Banner was pushed out of his position as president of the Eagles, Lurie said no.
Banner has been with the organization since Lurie bought the team in 1994. He and Lurie have been friends for 44 years, according to the Eagles.
"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."
The Eagles held a press conference Thursday at 2:30 to formally announce the changes.
"It's more about just waking up in the morning and what are you doing for the next eight, 10, 12 hours," said Banner during the conference. "Are you excited about it? Is it challenging? Are you making a real difference? Are you taking something and turning it around? Are you taking something that maybe was heading in the wrong direction and getting it in the right direction?"
"Today is a bitter sweet day in a sense because I have to relinquish the responsibilities of an outstanding president and allow him to fly," said Lurie.
NBC10's Vai Sikahema spoke with Banner about the rumors regarding a power struggle between him and Eagles head coach Andy Reid.
"There's no power struggle," said Banner. "Never was even though it's been rumored for about 12 years. There never will be. Andy and I are very close and will be forever, as well as with Jeff and Don and Howie I have great relationships, evidenced by the fact that we've worked together for so long. I think evidenced by the fact that I'm going to continue to be here. I think if there was some kind of blow up or power struggle I don't think they would be encouraging, inviting or welcoming my staying here."
“We’ve had a great working relationship over this time,” said Reid. “We’ve obviously shared many thoughts and ideas with one another and obviously had a lot of success doing it.”
Fan reaction to Banner’s departure was mixed.
“I always thought he was there because he was friends with Lurie, not because he was a football guy,” said Bob Trucksess of West Chester, Pa.
“I’m not going to miss him,” said Brian Brink of West Chester. “I probably wouldn’t miss Andy either.”
“I think Joe has done a nice job with the team,” said Dave Ash of Northampton Township. “I think they’ve come a long way. I think they’re trying to do an orderly change of control. Joe is getting near his 60’s and probably wants to do something else with his life. So it’s a good opportunity for him.”
“A change is extremely important in the Eagles organization because obviously it hasn’t worked the last several years,” said one fan.
“It probably should have happened sooner,” said another fan. “The same thing with Andy Reid leaving. It probably should have happened sooner but it is what it is.”
Banner received kinder words from Eagles players.
“He was a nice guy to my family and myself,” said Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant. “We say thank you for everything he’s done for us and we hope he does well in his next endeavor.”
“All the wins throughout the years and all the playoff wins,” said Eagles tight end Brent Celek. “This is one of the most successful organizations around. They did a great job so you have to give him credit.”