For the record, the Crossing Broad staff would like to reiterate that we feel as though Jeff McLane does good work at the Philadelphia Inquirer. His name does appear frequently on this website, as part of the occasional sports media kerfluffle or non-controversy, but the quality of his reporting is top notch.
Today Jeff is in the news because he published a fascinating deep dive on Howie Roseman, which contains some never-before-heard stories about the Birds’ general manager, attributed to anonymous sources.
Staying power – Howie Roseman’s tenure as Eagles general manager has included a Super Bowl title, three fired coaches, and his fair share of critics. Through it all, he’s kept Jeffrey Lurie’s unwavering trust.
A long title, and a long story to boot. It’s almost 6,500 words, and somewhere Charlie O’Connor is thinking, ‘yeah? well that’s nothing, tomorrow I’m gonna give you 8,900 on Travis Sanheim!‘*
But anyway, there are good passages in this story, and you should go read it yourself and give Jeff the unique pageview, but I’ll share of two of them here.
The first one involves right tackle Lane Johnson:
“…Johnson was with teammates in the NovaCare cafeteria when Roseman walked up and said, according to sources, “I’ve never seen you get beat by a rookie before.” The pair were known to bust each other’s chops, but Johnson, who was also dealing with personal issues at the time, didn’t take kindly to the jab. He left the facility.
A month later, the Eagles were in London to face the Jaguars. Johnson had suffered a high ankle sprain three games earlier but continued to forge on. But as the players geared up that Sunday in the Wembley Stadium locker room, Johnson voiced concerns about playing.
Roseman caught wind and berated him, sources present said. Nearby teammates and coaches couldn’t understand why he would provoke him, considering Johnson’s current state. The tackle finished suiting up and as he walked by Roseman, the GM said, according to sources, “Good, you have your mouthpiece in, now you can’t say anything stupid.”
The last comment, which a source close to Roseman said was intended to be playful, set Johnson off. “I can’t play for this [expletive],” he said, according to a source. He took off his equipment and went to the showers and missed pregame warmups. Left tackle Jason Peters went to Pederson’s office for help defusing the situation.
Defensive end Chris Long, right guard Brandon Brooks, and others talked Johnson into playing. He lasted seven plays. Johnson further aggravated his ankle injury and sprained a knee ligament.
Now listen, you can’t cross this line. Can’t say this kind of stuff to an athlete who doesn’t feel like they are 100% healthy and is voicing concerns about playing. This stuff has to be off-limits, and if you don’t trust your players or believe what they’re saying, then it’s a big problem. There really should not be any questioning of Lane Johnson’s toughness or needling a guy about medical issues.
Story #2 involves coaches and their standing within the organization:
“Roseman became a sounding board for some players, but there were instances when players felt their opinions were only sought to mount a case against certain coaches.
Roseman held meetings during training camp or in-season when specific coaches were discussed. Once, a player went back and told his position coach, sources said. Assistants felt as if they were being undermined and destined to be sacked.
In 2019, after the 5-7 Eagles were beaten by the Dolphins, a coach stumbled upon a list of potential assistants that was left on a printer. The copy made its away around the staff. It turned out that the list was something the scouting department had compiled for years.
But the reaction spoke to the general paranoia surrounding some on the coaching staff. There was an increasing fear since the Super Bowl that any criticisms said to the wrong person or in the wrong environment could find their way to Roseman.”
And that’s no way to live! You gotta be open and communicative and honest with people, and put them in the best position possible in order to succeed. If the environment is no good, then folks aren’t gonna be operating in the proper mindset or head space.
So yeah, very good read. Old school “shoe leather” journalism, as we used to call it.
The McLane/Howie dynamic is fascinating to me, because nobody goes harder than Jeff. It’s even resulted in some awkward public interactions, like that one time Roseman and Doug Pederson decided to make fun of McLane’s clothing at a press conference. That was rather petty and unprofessional, if we’re being honest, but raised some eyebrows and told us how Roseman feels about this particular media rival.
Here’s another link to Jeff’s story:
The Untouchable Howie Roseman: Inside the #Eagles GM’s staying power and influence with owner Jeffrey Lurie.
His record would be accepted by most fan bases, but he also oversaw a 3-year regression since the Super Bowl.
Why has he survived?
My deep dive: https://t.co/VJckxGpp0x
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) March 12, 2021
*Charlie does good work, I just wanted to sneak in a story length joke