Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is quietly influential with peers
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Jeffrey Lurie danced like nobody was watching after the Philadelphia Eagles won both of their playoff games.
Video cameras in the locker room recorded his awkward moves for millions of viewers, but the team’s longtime owner will be happy to lead a giant dance party if the Eagles beat the New England Patriots on Sunday to capture the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.
“This is the most passionate fan base in the NFL, if not in sports,” Lurie said. “They care so much, they’re our partners, and we just want to win so badly for them.”
The 66-year-old Lurie grew up a passionate Boston sports fan. He even tried to buy the Patriots in 1993 but was outbid by Robert Kraft. So the former movie producer paid $195 million for the Eagles in 1994. Lurie vowed to win multiple championships for a city that hasn’t celebrated an NFL title since 1960.
He’s still waiting for No. 1. Nothing else matters this week.
“We’re here to win a football game,” Lurie said. “That’s the bottom line. That’s why we’re here. I’m laser-focused on this football game and winning the Super Bowl. That is the only objective.”
While Kraft is known as a power broker in the NFL, Lurie is more of a behind-the-scenes guy who also has plenty of influence. He serves on numerous league committees, including the Finance Committee, Broadcast Committee, International Committee and the Super Bowl Advisory Committee.
“Jeffrey is a soft voice,” team president Don Smolenski said. “He doesn’t seek to grab the microphone at every opportunity but when he does stand up, what he says is very thoughtful, very thought-provoking. It’s very respectful and the other owners listen to what he has to say.
“He’s very quietly influential because he doesn’t seek the spotlight and he doesn’t try to be out front but when he speaks, the fellow owners listen and I often see it after the fact when they approach him at a break and talk to him afterward.”
Smolenski and executive vice president Howie Roseman praised the way Lurie gets involved in personnel decisions without meddling.
“He allows us to do what he hired us to do but he also finds a way to push us to do our best, be our best,” Smolenski said.
“He likes to ask a lot of questions. He wants to understand the thought process. He wants to understand the reasoning behind (decisions). He’s always supportive but he’s looking to make sure we evaluated situations from all angles. He has fondness for chess.
“In the game of chess, you have to look at four, five, six moves down the road. So his line of questioning is often around that. We’re very fortunate to work with an owner like that.”
Roseman points to an example that’s played a big role in helping Philadelphia reach this point. When the team wanted to spend $12 million to sign backup quarterback Nick Foles, Lurie gave his blessing.
Foles was spectacular in the NFC championship game against Minnesota and is 4-0 in the four games he’s started that have mattered since Carson Wentz tore his ACL.
The Eagles released backup Chase Daniel last spring despite owing him $5 million and gave Foles a contract that included $7 million in guarantees.
The cap hit for Daniel and Sam Bradford, who was traded to Minnesota in September 2016, totaled $12.5 million this season. For Wentz and Foles, the combined hit was $7.66 million.
“Jeffrey is incredibly smart,” Roseman said. “He asks the questions. That doesn’t mean he’s going to overrule it, but he’s going to ask about the line of thinking and it challenges you to be better and all of us need that guidance and leadership.”