Friday, April 09, 2010

Stephen A. Smith: Eagles' Decision-Makers Must Be Held Accountable

Stephen A. Smith: Eagles' Decision-Makers Must Be Held Accountable

By Stephen A. Smith

Inquirer Sports Columnist
April 8, 2010

The Eagles' ledger over the last 11 seasons shows eight playoff appearances, a lot of teasing, and not a single Super Bowl trophy. Considering that it's the Eagles, we should be used to this by now, especially since they've spent the last few years propping up Donovan McNabb while at the same time suggesting he was too rigid to bring a championship to this town.

But now that McNabb is gone, he can't be blamed anymore. The focus now must shift elsewhere. And if it's not aimed at owner Jeffrey Lurie - the only man in sports I can think of who heads an operations that has been characterized as the gold standard without ever having captured gold - then who else can it possibly be?

We can call the Eagles a classy, reputable organization on another day.

On this day, let's call them something far less flattering. They are the Tiger Woods of the National Football League: an organization that is too weak to accept accountability, too willing to pass the proverbial buck, and far too interested in getting a pass for its suspect ways in the court of public opinion.

It should end now. It must, because it's the only way his city will celebrate a Super Bowl title.

As sickening as it was to watch McNabb get shipped out of town, it was worse seeing him disrespected by being traded to another team in the NFC East. That says McNabb is nothing to be concerned about. Even more nauseating was what Lurie had to say once the trade was announced:

"Donovan McNabb was more than a franchise quarterback for this team," Lurie chimed. "He truly embodied all of the attributes of a great quarterback and of a great person. He's been an excellent representative of this organization and the entire NFL, both on and off the field."

But wait, it gets better:

"I look forward to honoring him as one of the greatest Eagles of all-time and hopefully see him enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton one day."

Really. So why is McNabb gone? Why is coach Andy Reid still here? Why is Joe Banner still around? Didn't they come up just as short as McNabb?

Was it McNabb who spent the last decade proving that a running game was far from this team's top priority? Was it McNabb who decided he needed only one or two seasons with a marquee receiver? Did McNabb actually handpick Freddie Mitchell, Todd Pinkston, Greg Lewis, Reggie Brown, James Thrash and the rest of the underachievers, or did he just provide the cover to an organization that he loved - and that claimed to love him back?

These are legitimate questions that need to be addressed, Mr. Lurie, if we're talking about a championship, mainly because the Eagles have been Philly's version of Groundhog Day for entirely too long.

It's been 50 years since the Eagles won a title.

No matter what the Phillies accomplished two seasons ago, or what the Sixers did in 1983, everyone knows it would be nothing compared to the Eagles bringing a championship parade to this city.

How can that happen if the real decision makers are not held accountable, Mr. Lurie?

At some point, Banner needs to be required to do more than just stay competitive and manage the cap. There has to be more required of Reid, a good coach and a good man, than a .613 winning percentage and a playoff game or two in January.

Accountability ultimately resides with the man who signs the checks, the man who, according to Forbes magazine, turned a $195 million investment in 1994 into more than a billion - no matter how often others try to embrace that responsibility for him.

"It's tough on all of us," Reid explained. "I was very close with Donovan, and I will remain close. That part won't change," he added before saying, "The compensation was right, so we felt good about it."

In other words, it's business. The Eagles believe in Kevin Kolb, not McNabb anymore.

So if Kolb fails, who gets the finger of blame then, Mr. Lurie?

Just asking.

Contact columnist Stephen A. Smith at 215-854-5846 or

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