The game of football, especially in Philadelphia, has always been about the game. How the game is played, how the game is coached, and how the game is won or lost. The game comes first.
Almost every owner the city has seen represent the Eagles put football first and business second. They have striven to accomplish the ultimate goal, a championship. And while it has only occurred three times in their 76-year history, the Eagles usually put out a competitive team.
In the past, the Eagles usually never hesitated to make a move they had to make if they had the money. Football was the top priority.
Then, on May 6, 1994, Jeffrey Lurie purchased the Philadelphia Eagles from Norman Braman. The landscape of Eagles history was changed forever, in a good way, for the most part.
Jeffrey Lurie was born on Sept. 8, 1951. He began his work-life as a Hollywood producer, but decided to go in a different direction later in life and went into football, obviously. The only knock against this was that Lurie was not really an obvious football fan.
Lurie attended college at Clark University, where he earned a B.A. He also earned a Master's degree in psychology from Boston University, and a Ph.D in social policy from Brandeis University.
So when Jeffrey Lurie bought the Philadelphia Eagles for $195 million, he looked to be well educated in the business side of things.
He later proved that he indeed was a business genius.
In 1995, in just his second season as the owner, Lurie was named NFL "Owner of the Year" by The Sporting News. Then, in 2000, he was given the same honor by Pro Football Insider.
Why? How about the fact that the Eagles are now worth an estimated $1.054 billion, in comparison to the $195 million he bought the team for. How about the $512 million, 68,500-seat stadium he built for the team. How about the 70,000 season-ticket waiting list the team has built?
Most importantly, how about the success the Eagles have had since 1994, with very few key free-agent signings, keeping salaries low, yet putting a competitive team on the field.
But wait; would you really think of "success" if your trophy case was still waiting for that Super Bowl trophy? I wouldn't.
Yet that is the problem. Jeffrey Lurie calls it success. Nobody else does.
He was never a big sports fan. He has no clue how Philadelphia thinks. He does not care, either. He is making his money. Hip, hip, hooray for him.
New stadium? Great. Higher demand for tickets? Great. Worth over a billion dollars? Great.
Unwilling to go out and spend an extra $10 million, among your billion, on a few players to land you a Super Bowl? Terrible.
It took Philadelphia almost 15 years to read between the lines, but now we see it clearly. The departure of Brian Dawkins opened our eyes to this inevitable truth.
Four straight NFC Championship game appearances was enough for Jeffrey Lurie. One Super Bowl appearance was enough for Lurie.
In 2004, the Eagles brought in Terrell Owens. In 2008, they brought in Asante Samuel. That is it. That is all Lurie ever brought in to help "solidify" the team. Nothing else. That was all.
Brian Dawkins is the prime example.
Letting B-Dawk go was a good business decision. He is 35-years old, an aging player who has noticeably lost a step in his last few seasons, and a player who was not even the best safety on the team a year ago.
Again, it was a good business decision. Most of Lurie's business decisions have been good. Unfortunately, a business decision is the only kind he ever makes.
Bringing back Brian Dawkins was a necessity. Bringing him back would have been a great football decision. If you have $35-$40 million to spend, why not bring back one of the best all-time Eagles players?
But it did not happen. Surprised? Not really. But we now realize this. Football does not matter to the Philadelphia Eagles executives in charge.
It never did, and it never will.
This offseason, with all of the money out there to spend, why not go after the best wide receiver on the market? Nah, not interested. How about going after one of the best lineman in free agency? Nah, not interested there either.
No, we will just settle for the draft. You know, guys who have not even proven themselves in the league but have much lower salaries. Sounds good, eh?
It has worked to an extent, but it has not put the Eagles where they want to be, or at least where we wanted them to be.
A free-agent acquisition was what the team needed to get over the hump, year-in and year-out. We saw that with Terrell Owens, so why not try again, this time with a little less of a drama queen.
But no, it never happened. Why? We will never know for sure. Yet, when the best wide receiver on the market is not drawing interest from your team, who has $40 million to spend, there is not much to question. It is pretty safe to assume why.
It is all business for Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles. That is all there is to this game called football.
If you are a season-ticket holder, they can take away your seats for being a few days late on a payment, because they want their money as soon as possible.
The Flyers would not do that. The Phillies would not do that.
Then again, those teams are led by owners and general managers who love the game, understand the game, and respect the game and their fans.
The only thing Jeffrey Lurie loves, understands, and respects are Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, Grant, and Franklin.
Oh, and do not forget Jefferson. He especially likes the rare one's.