An excerpt from the March 24, 2016, Daily News, after Jeffrey Lurie spoke to reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Boca Raton, Fla.:
A year ago, these meetings were in Arizona, and Lurie explained to a large crowd of reporters gathered in a courtyard that he was "very happy to provide" (Chip) Kelly the resources Kelly said he needed. Tuesday, the group was much smaller, mostly the reporters covering the meetings from Philadelphia-area outlets, gathered in a cavernous hallway outside the conference rooms. This time, Lurie talked a lot about how pleased he was with (Howie) Roseman's moves since Lurie fired Kelly and restored Roseman to control, a little less than three months ago.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - So here we are, back in Arizona, scheduled to meet late Tuesday afternoon with Jeffrey Lurie, the first session with the Eagles' chairman since last year's NFL meetings.
There was a time, if you dig far enough back into the archives, when Lurie frequently spoke, in formal and informal settings, attempting to set the narrative for his franchise. But the chairman has been an infrequent and - to borrow a phrase from English class - unreliable narrator the past few years.
Monday, NFL reporters milling about outside the meeting that would dispatch the Raiders to Las Vegas before lunchtime frequently pointed to the spot where Lurie stood two years back, expounding for 40 minutes under a blazing sun on then-coach Chip Kelly's vision and the importance of being able to "maximize Chip." It wasn't that long ago.
Lurie's message that day was that he and Kelly were doing everything they could to take the team, 10-6 two years in a row, "from good to great."
"Chip had a vision of exactly how he thought we could get from good to great," Lurie said then. "I thought it was a really sound vision, that he's a very bright guy, he's all about football, he's all about wanting to win big and it made so much sense.
"Let's let it play out. I think with any coach, you need patience, you need vision, you need to let them gamble and fail, and gamble and succeed, because the last thing you want to do is make a coach risk-averse."
From there, Eagles reporters got one more quick 2015 session with Lurie - a few days before the season opener - in which Lurie extolled Kelly's leadership style and painted a sunny picture of a front-office structure in which Howie Roseman had been abruptly removed from football decisions, before Lurie fired Kelly and put Roseman back in charge in late December.
Most of us were surprised by that move, because even if we didn't believe Kelly would be successful coaching and running personnel, we sure thought Lurie believed it. What about that patience and vision, letting coaches gamble and fail? Turns out, Lurie didn't say he wouldn't quickly fire a coach who gambled and failed, he just said it was important to give the coach that chance.
At last year's meetings, Lurie indicated he'd sent Roseman out to spend his year in exile learning the habits of successful organizations, implying that a return to power was always envisioned, and Lurie praised Roseman's first few months back on the job. Lurie opined that leadership is "so often about one consistent, nonflashy decision after another." This was a few weeks before Roseman made a very flashy decision, trading up from eighth to second in the 2016 draft to nab quarterback Carson Wentz.
Lurie is a very nice man, indisputably the best and longest-tenured owner in the history of a franchise that has seldom enjoyed strong, solvent ownership. He built a practice facility and a stadium, two things the Eagles had never had. But if you are looking for someone to give you a clear, truthful vision of where the Eagles are and where they are headed, you are unlikely to hear it Tuesday from Lurie.
Since Boca Raton last March, Lurie has been quoted in statements issued by the team, and last Friday afternoon, we learned he had penned an essay for Time magazine about the need for our society to move past political polarization, but he hasn't answered any questions. Tuesday, he will be asked about Wentz, about Roseman, about his thoughts on how the 7-9 first season of head coach Doug Pederson unfolded, about reports that Lurie is much more "hands-on" than he was a decade or so ago, about why an owner who talks about accountability isn't available for questions more frequently.
The Time essay might have hinted at a desire for a bigger national profile for a man who has been a member of the NFL owners club, in a fervent, major market, for 23 years now. But the more influential NFL owners talk more than once a year, and they don't tend to leave you scratching your head, wondering what they really meant.
Whatever Lurie says Tuesday will make headlines, because he is the Eagles' chairman and because he speaks so rarely. But will it ultimately help us understand anything?