Well, here’s one which reaches for, and grabs, new levels of absurdity. Jason La Canfora reporting on Grinch Kelly’s refusal to attend Jeffrey Lurie’s annual holiday party at its original date and time:
For instance, Lurie has always taken considerable pride in the team’s holiday party, going to great expense to throw the large gathering, with it becoming something of a prized tradition with him. According to numerous sources with knowledge of the situation, Kelly basically refused to attend it this year on its normal Monday night, and ultimately Lurie had to move it to a Friday afternoon onsite to facilitate Kelly’s schedule. Kelly argued Monday night would disrupt the coach’s planning for the week — a fair enough claim — but Lurie apologized to the organization for the haphazard way the party was conducted this year and told others it would not happen in that fashion ever again.
In and of itself, it’s not a big deal, but given the timing, with the team falling out of the playoffs around Christmas and with the atmosphere in the organization growing more toxic, it exemplified the growing divide between the way Kelly operated and what Lurie wanted his organization to be. “That’s just part of a long list of reasons why Jeffrey made this move,” said one source close to the situation, “but the whole thing with the Christmas party just epitomizes the split from what Jeffrey wants the Eagles to be, and what he felt like they were becoming.”
What the hell? When did Jeffrey Lurie become Buddy The Elf? Chip was in the throes of an unexpected playoff race and Lurie niggled over having to move his holiday party from a lavish billionaire evening gala to a more traditional mid-day Friday work function, presumably complete with a room-temp Sam Adams Winter Mix Pack sitting in the corner, a dried-up vegetable tray, some mysterious cookies from Debbie in payroll, and, if Chip had anything to do with it (and it sounds like he did!), red and green apple-kale smoothies. Next we’re going to find out he threw Howie Roseman’s buf-chix dip in the trash because it was too unhealthy and that crossed a line with figurative one-way tire spikes over which Chip could most certainly not back up!
Howie: “YOU RUINED MY PERFECT BABY JESUS CHRISTMAS, YOU BIG GRINCH! MR. JEFF WILL MAKE YOU PAY FOR THIS!”
Chip: “I mean… but come on… it’s not… you’re not… you’re Jewish!”
La Canfora has an interesting reporting history when it comes to the Eagles’ front office. Two years ago, he broke that nasty report about coaching candidates hating Roseman (remarkably prescient), leading some to believe that Joe Banner was his source (pre-Twitter Joe Banner denied it). And less than a month ago, on December 6, La Canfora cited team and league sources who told him that Kelly would almost certainly return next season. So while this report added a few more strokes to the collective painting potraying Chip as a stubborn jackass with no people skills whatsoever, excuse me if I don’t put too much stock in the Christmas party story. I mean, look at just how wrong La Canfora was before:
Despite months of rumors and speculation, Chip Kelly is likely to be back with the Eagles next season, according to team and league sources, and ownership has no plans to move on from him. If Kelly were to depart — and college does have a certain allure to him, though it would have to be the perfect situation — it would come as a surprise at this point. The coach reiterated his dedication to his players last week and owner Jeffrey Lurie is still a strong proponent of Kelly.
Lurie, though aware of some of the discord in his locker room, is not mulling a change at this point, even after two blowout losses the last two weeks, according to sources close to the owner, and that is unlikely to change down the stretch. Lurie is very loyal and believes in Kelly long-term, even if players have their concerns, and he did not hand Kelly total control to the roster a few months ago to consider launching a new search for a coach and GM now. That process holds no attraction for him, and while he is displeased by the disappointing results the last three weeks and Kelly’s inability to identify a quarterback of the future, he remains optimistic that a quick change could be on the horizon, particularly in a division as suspect as the NFC East.
That couldn’t have been less accurate if he tried. It sounds like someone in the front office likes to give La Canfora the talking points of the week. Or, Chip was coming back… until he ruined Lurie’s fun, old-fashioned team Christmas.