Jeffrey Lurie delivered the commencement address at his alma mater Clark University on Sunday, touching on his personal experience as a student, political polarization, the technological changes in society, and the value of human emotions. He also referenced coach Doug Pederson, former Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, and the Eagles’ role in the community.
Lurie said that even with emergence of big data and artificial intelligence, the “qualities that make us uniquely human are more essential than ever.” He noted that the Eagles rely on analytics “as much as any professional sports team,” but he cited the Eagles’ 2016 decision to hire Pederson as an example of acknowledging qualities that cannot be measured.
“In the end, you have to make a judgment about human character that no algorithm can really capture,” Lurie said. “When we decided to hire Doug Pederson as our new coach, we got plenty of criticism for what seemed like a completely unconventional choice based on his career experience at that point. But what I saw in Doug was someone not just with expertise about football strategy and tactics, but a unique level of empathy for players as individuals – and real insight about how people work together as a team.”
Lurie also spoke about the importance of unconditional love and how it matters not just with the family, but in all aspects of life. He used Foles as an example. Calling it “impressive workplace leadership,” Lurie shared what Foles said in the huddle late in the fourth quart of the Super Bowl.
“Not ‘let’s go do this’ but simply, ‘I love you guys’,” Lurie said. “’I love you.’ Maybe it sounds hokey, but what could be more freeing of the best you have inside you than knowing you’re loved regardless of what happens?”
Lurie later said that one insight he’s formed from attending concerts, working in the entertainment industry, and owning the Eagles was that people still want to sit together and share an experience. He called forming a sense of community as a core value of the Eagles.
It was coincidental that it came on the same weekend that the franchise raised more than $3 million at the Eagles Autism Challenge on Saturday and that Chris Long, the reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year recipient, retired from the NFL.
"No question, our goal is to win championships, but we have committed ourselves to supporting our players and staff in being truly engaged citizens working for health, education, and social justice in our city,” Lurie said. “Many have been rightly honored for that civic engagement. For me personally, my brother’s life on the autism spectrum has driven a focus on using our platform to raise both awareness and funding for cutting-edge research, treatment and support for those with autism.”