On a week when the most flamboyant owner in sports history passed away, Jeffrey Lurie remained barricaded in his gold cocoon. Where is the owner of the Eagles, and why is he hiding from us?
Even in his final days, a physically compromised George Steinbrenner was more accessible than Jeffrey Lurie, who seems to believe he can reap the huge rewards of NFL ownership without shouldering public responsibilities. The Michael Vick crisis is screaming for some response from the Eagles — specifically from Lurie, but the owner has remained conspicuous only by his absence.
The Eagles owner has always wanted it both ways in our city, a Boston transplant who came here talking about sharing beers at the corner tavern with his blue-collar fan base. Before he made it to the corner stool, however, he became sidetracked by prix-fixe menus and extensive wine lists.
So far, Eagles fans have swallowed hard and tolerated Lurie because he fielded very good teams — though hardly the “gold standard” clubs he boasted about in his public fantasies. Now, something has happened that transcends the won-loss record. That he hasn’t spoken publicly about Vick for close to a year is disrespectful to the very fans who have made him a billionaire.
Lurie, a self-described animal lover, showed more emotion at the Vick news conference last year than at any other point in his tenure here, acknowledging his own serious misgivings about giving a second chance to a convicted dog killer. Ultimately, he said, Vick would be judged not by his performance on the field but on his impact in the community.
Well, Vick had a major impact on the community of Virginia Beach, Va., when an altercation at his birthday party led to a shooting. Whether Vick violated the terms of his probation is still being determined. No further investigation is needed, however, to conclude that Vick far exceeded the “zero-tolerance” terms set forth by the NFL and the Eagles.
So, where is Jeff Lurie? How can someone so adamant about Vick’s behavior become invisible when the quarterback’s conduct becomes a national issue? What exactly does Lurie think he owes Philadelphia for 16 years of loyal support?
I’ll tell you what he owes us. He owes us an explanation for this Vick nightmare. He also owes us an apology for his inaccessibility in a passionate sports town. Philadelphia deserves better than an owner who hides in times of crisis.
– Angelo Cataldi is host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays from 5:30-10 a.m.
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