Joe Banner has left the Philadelphia Eagles on his own terms.
Banner has stepped down as team president and will take on an advisory role while he pursues other opportunities in the NFL.
Banner will be succeeded as president by chief operating officer Don Smolenski. Both Banner and owner Jeffery Lurie said it was a mutual decision, disputing any suggestion that Banner was pushed out in a power struggle with general manager Howie Roseman and coach Andy Reid.
Roseman will assume more responsibilities while Reid’s remain the same, Lurie said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. Reid called Banner the ”best president” in the NFL.
”It has been my privilege to work with Jeffrey Lurie over all these years,” Banner said. ”Together we have built a talented front office team that is now ready to assume leadership of this extraordinary franchise. I plan to pursue a major new opportunity within the sports field – one that will enable me to apply all that I have learned as the Eagles president. I could never thank Jeff enough for the opportunity and support he has afforded me.”
Banner has occupied a leadership role with the team since it was purchased in 1994 by Lurie, his longtime friend. He’ll stay on as an adviser to Lurie.
”There is no better executive in sports than Joe Banner,” Lurie said. ”We are making this announcement today because he is looking for a greater challenge, and in Don Smolenski I have a highly regarded, very worthy successor as president of this team. Joe and I have achieved a great deal since I acquired the team. From building Lincoln Financial Field and the NovaCare Complex, to driving the work of the Eagles Youth Partnership and, of course, our successes on the field, Joe has been an integral part of everything we have done.”
Smolenski joined the Eagles in 1998 as vice president and chief financial officer before being chosen chief operating officer in 2010. He was previously the CFO of the International Hockey League.
Smolenski said he will have no role in player personnel, leaving that to Roseman and Reid.
”Joe has been a great friend, teacher and mentor,” Smolenski said. ”His support and confidence have been instrumental to my growth and development in the organization. As the Eagles new president, I’m excited to build on the work we’ve done together over the years.”
Banner was considered an expert in mastering the salary cap. But he often was the target of strong criticism by fans for some of his public comments. The Eagles reached the NFC championship game five times and the Super Bowl once during Banner’s tenure, but the franchise hasn’t won a title since 1960.
Banner said he’s already received calls from people interested in working with him. He hopes to stay in the NFL and work for a ”turnaround” team. He said there’s a ”reasonable chance” he’ll remain with the Eagles through this season.