Anne Gordon embarrassed herself and the Eagles organization Sunday afternoon by providing misinformation and stepping way outside the bounds of reason. In essence, she misused her position of power inside the press box and this should upset you as a reader and Jeffrey Lurie as an NFL team owner.
Gordon, the team's senior vice president of marketing, media and communications, made an egregious mistake that she should have learned to avoid on the first day of the job she has held since November 2012.
Never, ever take a minor squabble and turn it into a major incident.
That, however, is exactly what Gordon did during Sunday's Eagles finale at Lincoln Financial Field when she called stadium security and had Inquirer beat writer Jeff McLane removed from the press box during the second half.
This is not McLane's version of the story. It is, however, the version told to me over and over again Monday by reporters both involved in and within close proximity to the incident. They included Les Bowen and Marcus Hayes of the Daily News.
Gordon, who spoke on the record about the incident for about 15 minutes on Sunday with an Inquirer reporter, was contacted by text, email, and phone on Monday in an attempt to give her the opportunity to clarify her views on the subject. She declined to comment further, and through the Eagles said that she was standing by her comments from Sunday.
Regarding the other media members who witnessed the altercation and backed McLane's version of events, this was not a case of reporters sticking up for their own. We compete against each other for the benefit of our readers and McLane has always been among the most competitive.
Other reporters came to McLane's defense because they saw that what Gordon did was wrong. Even a security source inside the Linc told me he could not believe that Gordon was having a reporter ejected.
Ejecting a reporter from a press box is so unusual that, even though it's possible it has happened, no current sports writer for the Inquirer or Daily News can recall a single time in the last 30-plus years when it has.
As a former managing editor at the Inquirer, Gordon should respect that McLane is a diligent reporter who goes hard after news stories even if they do not always present the Eagles in a favorable light. She actually prevented him from doing so Sunday because McLane had a significant story that he was told to pursue inside the locker room after the Eagles' meaningless win over the Dallas Cowboys. He never got the chance because security took away his press credential before escorting him to the exit.
That's your loss as a reader, which is why you should care about this story. None of us would do this job if it were not for the readers and we are well aware of that. Our passion is to inform and entertain with facts that help you better understand a subject, whether it is U.S. relations with Russia or what's going on inside the Eagles' locker room.
Nothing extraordinary had happened at the Linc on Sunday before Gordon got involved.
Hayes, Bowen, and Reuben Frank of CSN Philly were all discussing what had happened during a third-quarter play that resulted in a delayed roughing-the-passer penalty against the Dallas Cowboys' Randy Gregory. It was confusing to everyone, including the Fox broadcast team of Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch.
By all accounts the discussion in the press box was loud, but it was well within reason of something worth talking about at an NFL game. Zach Groen, a member of the Eagles' media relations department, imperiously hushed the trio and the tone escalated to confrontational quickly with McLane joining in, according to multiple observers and participants.
Gordon said McLane told Groen to "shut up." McLane and others said he responded by saying "grow up."
"At that point, I asked Zach to take Jeff away from the front line so that the reporters interested in reporting on the game could continue their work and have a conversation," Gordon told an Inquirer reporter Sunday.
Incorrect, according to those with firsthand knowledge.
"Jeff asked Zach to go to the back of the press box in an effort to defuse the situation," Hayes said.
Gordon insinuated that McLane escalated the situation by telling Groen he "could expect a call from his union representation." McLane and Groen parted ways and a substantial amount of time passed.
"Unclear what [the union comment] meant, but at that point I asked for security to eject Jeff from our press box ," Gordon said.
If Gordon was unclear what it meant, why did she jump to the conclusion that McLane needed to be ejected? Why didn't she ask him to clarify what he meant? If she had, the response would have been reasonable.
McLane, who returned to work for the Eagles' exit interviews Monday at the NovaCare Complex, planned to contact the Pro Football Writers Association, an organization that can help deal with disputes between writers and teams. It was exactly what McLane should have said and done.
Groen politely declined comment about the incident Monday. It was not his place to respond anyway. That responsibility was with Gordon. If she had seen this dispute correctly, she would have gone home Sunday night and realized she overreacted and turned nothing into something.
She denied someone the right to do his job without justification.
Gordon should have apologized Monday to the Eagles, to McLane, to the Inquirer, and to the fans.
Instead, she declined numerous invitations to comment on Monday.