The Eagles, in what is now almost a tradition, fired someone on the news vacuum that is New Year’s Eve. As you know, it was VP of Player Personnel Tom Gamble, one of Chip’s guys, “a heck of a football guy.” By all accounts, Gamble was the fall guy in the weird, for-some-reason-this-is-a-thing power struggle between Chip Kelly and nerdy paralegal Howie Roseman.
Some reporting on the matter:
Gamble was collateral damage in the power struggle between Kelly and Roseman that the general manager apparently has won for the time being. Their relationship had been strained since almost the start of Kelly’s tenure as head coach but had become acrimonious over the last year, according to several sources within the Eagles and around the NFL.
It’s unclear whether Roseman would have been driven to the point of leaving, but the 39-year-old GM had conversations about the New York Jets’ vacancy, according to two NFL sources.
My understanding is that Tom Gamble was escorted from the building Tuesday evening. Still have not been able to talk to Tom…
But Lurie is fiercely loyal to Roseman, who’s risen through the organization from intern to GM and has been here since 2000. Lurie even kept Roseman over his boyhood friend, team president Joe Banner, when Roseman and Banner were locked in a power struggle a few years ago.
“Jeffrey sees Howie as a messiah,” a one-time Eagles front-office exec said Wednesday. “Howie can do no wrong in his eyes.”
On Monday, Kelly called Gamble “an outstanding football man” and said he did a “great job.” During that same press conference, Kelly said Roseman was good at handling the salary cap.
According to people inside the organization those quotes “infuriated” Roseman. The general manager — who has never been a scout, played the game or coached — has worked to overcome the image of being solely a salary-cap guy.
This sort of thing goes on and on, with new, different, and more infuriating nuggets appearing in every story. Chip and Howie don’t get along, and now Howie, undoubtedly with Lurie’s blessing, has fired Chip’s guy in a move akin to a high school cheerleader giving her best friend’s boyfriend a handy behind a movie theater because she heard her friend call her “a jealous bitch.” Real mature.
The Eagles have a coach that has the potential to change the way NFL football is played over the next two decades. He’s not perfect – his decision to release DeSean Jaccson hurt the Eagles this year and probably cost them a playoff spot – but he has a vision, is 20-12 in his first two seasons after taking over a 4-12 team, and was sought ought by the Eagles, who certainly knew that he would demand much control. Now Lurie is going to chase him out of town because the windmill man can’t go over his obsession with salary cap guru and mediocre talent evaluator Roseman, isn’t he?
What’s intersting is that most progressive sports guys, like Chip, value numbers guys who can manage pragmatically and not with all the old-timey emotion of someone who’s spent a life in the game. That skill is certainly desirable, but in football, a team sport largely based on size, strength and speed at most positions, a sixth sense is still a valuable thing, even with the sleep and heart rate monitors. And for all of his unconventionality, Chip obviously still values those subjective qualities, which Gamble reportedly had. For some reason, Roseman saw differently… or is just really insecure.
The real problem, however, sounds like it’s just the simple matter of two guys not getting along. One is highly regarded coach well on his way to changing the sport… the other is a law school grad who sucked up to a billionaire. Wonder who will win? [UPDATE: Chip.]
Happy New Year.