Perhaps the only thing more surprising than the news that Joe Banner will no longer be the Eagles’ president was the way in which the news was broken: an exclusive story on the cover of today’s Inquirer.
In this day and age of the interwebtuals and a 24-hour news cycle, it’s nearly impossible for such significant story, in a heavily covered field, to break in print. Score one for the newspaper, I guess. But one may wonder, how does that happen? How did news of Banner’s move not leak? The answer is that, yesterday, the Eagles handed the exclusive to Jeff McLane of the Inquirer. That tactic, a familiar one for the Eagles, is their way of controlling the message – in this case, Banner wasn’t fired, it was amicable yada yada yada – and, more nefariously, keeping the city’s largest outlet on their side.
The news wasn’t exactly surprising to those in-the-know, however.
Adam Caplan Tweets that agents were aware of a shift when it was Reid, not Banner, calling on contract extensions:
And Les Bowen, McLane’s colleague at Philly Newspapers (or whatever they’re calling the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com now), who, as you know, once punched his peer in the head following a Twitter lambasting, isn't surprised either.
A few weeks ago, Bowen wrote a story entitled “Where’s Joe Banner?” This part stood out:
But I also think something IS up with Banner, and with Lurie’s angst over how his organization is perceived, by the public and by the players. This offseason, we’ve seen Reid and the folks who handle Reid make an effort to present the coach to reporters in candid, off-camera moments, where there is less throat-clearing and more real conversation. We have seen a lot of former Banner protégé Roseman, who clearly is being marketed as the face of the front office. And we have seen Banner, everyone’s favorite antagonist, not at all.
Today, Bowen said that Banner was unavailable to comment for that story. And this:
The team public relations apparatus got in touch, concerned about what I was going to write. I was given a company line about a natural evolution of general manager Howie Roseman's role that would make him more of a spokesman, blah, blah, blah. I was told that Joe's situation was essentially unchanged.
This was absolute crap, of course, and I knew it was at the time.
Bowen wrote that he was later brushed off by Banner at a charity event when the topic was brought up, positing that Banner wanted to announce the news on his terms:
When it came time to admit [his role was changing], [Banner] summoned a representative from the Inquirer to impart the news, which is Banner's longtime custom.
A representative from the Inquirer is the bare minimum way of crediting the story to McLane, who, again, receives a paycheck from the same office on North Broad. And, as you may have guessed, the conversation continued on the Twitters.
Philly.com sports producer Kapadia enjoyed Les’ take on the situation:
Fine. But that led to Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan sharing his thoughts:
And this, which has since been deleted by Sheridan but diligently screen grabbed by your friendly neighborhood blogger:
Separately, Bowen addressed his blog post:
Bowen's insinuation is that there wasn't much reporting being done by McLane. Rather, Banner went to the city's largest and (his) most trusted outlet, the Inquirer, which he knew would give him all the space needed to tell the story exactly how he and the Eagles wanted it to be told.
Not exactly Bowen v. McLane II, but always fun when colleagues quarrel. Publicly.