Eagles’ Banner Steps Aside as NFL Team President in Shakeup

Joe Banner, who has been with the Philadelphia Eagles since Jeffrey Lurie bought the team in 1994, is stepping aside as president and will take on a new role as an adviser to the owner.

Eagles Chief Operating Officer Don Smolenski has been promoted to president as part of a succession plan that Lurie said was first discussed more than a year ago because Banner is “looking for a greater challenge.”

Banner, 59, said football remains his passion and he hopes to find another opportunity in the National Football League. He said he’s recently spent about 75 percent of his time managing those who report to him rather than breaking new ground.

“I hope to find a situation similar to what we found when we got here,” Banner said today at a news conference. “We referred to it as a turnaround situation. Over the years, my role has gone from an active, aggressive front-line participant to a more passive role.”

Since Lurie, 60, and Banner took control of the franchise, the Eagles have been to the playoffs in 11 of their 17 full seasons, second in the league to the Indianapolis Colts over that time. Banner helped developed salary cap management strategies that have been copied throughout the league and with Lurie hired Andy Reid as coach in 1999.

Lurie said he’d seek out Banner if he was someone “looking to buy an NFL franchise or was an owner that didn’t think my franchise was maximizing.”

“Whatever Joe chooses here he’s going to be very successful,” Lurie added.

While the Eagles went to five conference championship games during Banner’s tenure, they haven’t won a Super Bowl title and last season missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record even though they entered the regular season among the championship favorites of oddsmakers. Banner said today that not delivering a championship to Philadelphia is one of his biggest disappointments.

He also said the franchise’s front office remains in good hands.

Smolenski joined the Eagles in 1998 as vice president and chief financial officer. He took over as the club’s COO in 2010 and said he’s “excited to build on the work” he’s done with Banner over the years.

The Eagles are tied with the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans for the fourth-best odds of winning the Super Bowl after the 2012 season, at 14-1 behind the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers.