This week, a scathing expose by The Athletic pulled back the curtain on the increasing dysfunction between the Eagles’ coaching staff and the front office. 2020 was a bad season and things off the field appear even worse.
One of the writers of that piece was Bo Wulf, who worked for the team in the past. His credentials and objectivity are strong, along with his insight into the NovaCare Complex after working for the Eagles.
I’ve mentioned before I worked for the Eagles, albeit only in 2013. Bo and I crossed paths during my tenure, mostly on the softball field. Bo could hit for power; I liked the free beer.
I tell that to preface this story from my time with the team. Normally, I would not do something like this as it’s not news or easily independently verifiable. However, it is a story that might be salient to the ongrowing rancor with the front office and the team’s trajectory. I offer no other preface than, like a chain eatery margarita, take with as much salt as you desire.
I joined the team in March 2013 in a sales role. This was the season the Eagles dismissed longtime head coach Andy Reid and brought in Chip Kelly. I was pretty much interning in premium sales so while I didn’t have an important position I kept my eyes and ears open and tried to learn as much as possible.
Where’s The Passion?
Besides sales calls, the position included some after-hours events with existing ticket holders. One night, I believe it was a Tuesday in June, we had a group of around 100 club seat holders meeting the new coach, along with GM Howie Roseman and team president Don Smolenski, the head of the team’s business operations.
After walking around the concourses at Lincoln Financial Field, the group gathered for a Q & A with some refreshments. About halfway through the session, a woman from the Harrisburg area got up, showing signs of inebriation, and accused Howie Roseman of having no visible passion, unlike the new coach.
There was a collective silence for what felt like eons. Her question of “where’s your passion?” to a general manager who worked his way up from an internship over a decade with the team hung in the air like a fart in an elevator.
Smolenski beat Kelly to defending the GM from the question. The event continued but that callout left a weird taste in everyone’s mouth. We discussed the instance a bit during the season and it’s stuck in my mind since then (my colleague from that group commented on it recently on a Facebook post so I know I’m not the only one).
In the three years Kelly coached the Eagles, there was often something that felt off with the operations. Kelly jettisoned many of the team’s skill players for his preferences, few of which worked. One wonders what would have happened if Dion Jordan was available at #4 in 2013, asking for a decision between the DL star from Oregon and the eventual pick, Lane Johnson.
As things have gotten more baffling and self-destructive with the team, I often go back to this exchange in 2013 and have wondered if that was the “origin story” for this current persona. While others might have forgotten the slight, it may have differently affected the novice GM who had control of a franchise, only to lose it within months, get it back, and eventually push out the only coach to bring the Lombardi Trophy to the franchise.
This offseason may be the most important in team history as the team seeks to create a new identity, moving on from the core responsible for winning the Super Bowl.
At the helm is the GM who had his passion questioned by a fan eight years ago. How much that slight fuels the team’s trajectory, and that GM’s decision-making, will determine if he is the right man for the new era. If he is as irreplaceable as this week’s article suggests, it may not matter.