Philadelphia Eagles: Lurie Deserves Much Credit for Kelly Hire but Won't Get It

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIJanuary 17, 2013

It took a while, but Jeffrey Lurie got his man in Chip Kelly.
It took a while, but Jeffrey Lurie got his man in Chip Kelly.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

One of the iconic "Saturday Night Live" scenes (transcript here) involves Eddie Murphy playing a show business agent trying to book talent for a teen beauty contest.

Joe Piscopo plays a talent scout who brings Stevie Wonder (playing a Stevie Wonder impersonator) to Murphy as a prospective signing.

Murphy asks Wonder (in character) to do his Stevie Wonder impersonation, and it is awful. At this point, Murphy does his Stevie Wonder impersonation, and it is really good.

Then Stevie Wonder sings for real, and it is transcendent.

After the crowd's raucous applause dies down, Murphy waits a beat and says, "no, it still sucks, man."

This is probably how Jeffrey Lurie feels today, preparing to introduce Chip Kelly as the new head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Lurie got his man, but that is still not good enough for a lot of people.

From the moment Lurie fired Andy Reid, the only question on the mind of Eagles fans was who would replace him.

Then the job search dragged on for weeks, and Eagles fans had several other questions. Why can't we find a head coach? Is Howie Roseman the problem? Is Nick Foles the problem? Why won't anyone take this job?

Probably the lowest point of the search came near the beginning of the process, when Lurie, Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski—the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, his general manager and his team's president—flew to Arizona and met with Kelly for nine hours in an attempt to convince Kelly to become the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

They came home empty-handed, and the hype machine cranked up from there.

Now, after a few tense weeks and a change of heart from Kelly, Lurie and the Eagles have their man, probably the coach they wanted all along given the effort they initially put into landing him.

And it still is not enough if you listen to the local and national media.

Here's NFL columnist Ashley Fox calling the Kelly hire "a roll of the dice."

Here's Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan saying the Kelly hire is "not without risk."

And in the granddaddy of them all, here is analyst Heath Evans saying that the Kelly hire is "one of the worst hires in pro football history."


At some level, the columnists jumping on Lurie and the Eagles for hiring Kelly today probably feel like lottery winners.

Most of them probably had their columns bashing the Kelly hire written 10 days ago. Then, when the Eagles' plane came back from Arizona without Kelly on it, those same columnists figured they had worked on those pieces for nothing.

Then, yesterday, a late Christmas gift came. Kelly changes his mind, and the hatchet job column warning Eagles fans of the dangers of Chip Kelly is viable once again. Like finding a $20 bill in a pair of jeans.

Fact is that no one knows whether Chip Kelly can succeed as an NFL head coach.

There are plenty of stories of college coaches crashing and burning in the NFL (Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, the first go-round for Pete Carroll).

And there are plenty of stories of college coaches succeeding in the NFL (Jim Harbaugh, the second go-round for Pete Carroll.)

So, since no one can say one way or the other how Kelly will do with the Eagles, Lurie deserves tremendous credit and praise for convincing Kelly to leave the relative safety of the Oregon program (NCAA inquiries notwithstanding) to lead his once-proud franchise back to winning ways.

For that matter, Lurie deserves plaudits for setting aside his own pride and hiring Kelly despite Kelly's initial reticence. Lurie could have crossed Kelly off the list after the initial snub; instead, he kept the communication line open and ultimately got the coach he wanted.

Lurie probably pays very little mind to the opinions of columnists like Fox and Sheridan. He can feel free to dismiss Evans out of hand; as long as 0-16 legend Rod Marinelli is still alive, Kelly cannot possibly be considered the worst head coach hire ever.

Still, it has to be disturbing that on this, the happiest day Lurie and Kelly are likely to have as boss and employee unless/until Kelly wins Lurie a Super Bowl, there is so much negativity surrounding this hire.

Never mind the time and trouble that accompanied this head coach search. The NFL is a results business, and Lurie got the result he wanted here.

Sadly, no one seems to want to give Lurie due credit for a job well done.


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