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Jewish Hall of Fame honoring Joe Banner; Eagles should do same | Bob Brookover

Joe Banner will be inducted into the Phila. Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. The former team president deserves a similar honor from the Eagles.

Picture this on a split movie screen: Two guys are talking on the telephone trying to pull off an NFL trade. One has two Super Bowl rings, George Patton's personality and the title of head coach and general manager for the New York Jets. The other is Joe Banner.

Guess who's dominating the conversation?

"I had never met Bill Parcells and this is before we had Andy Reid," Banner said during a recent telephone interview from his home in South Florida. "We obviously had not been overly successful and we weren't real respected. You can tell when somebody is talking to you and they don't think you know what you're talking about. They think they can kind of dominate you. He was very dismissive - kind of like 'I'll tell you what we're going to do.' "

Banner, then the Eagles president, listened. He liked the terms of the deal and knew he was going to make it. He did not like Parcells' condescending tone.

"At one point, he says to me, 'I'm done talking and this is the deal if you want to make it,' " Banner said.

Parcells told Banner that he was going to dinner at 8 p.m. and if he had not heard from him by then, the trade was off the table.

"I waited until 7:59 to call him back," Banner said. "I knew I was going to make the deal as soon as we were done talking, but I wanted him to know I wasn't afraid of negotiating with him."

The Eagles landed defensive end Hugh Douglas for second- and fifth-round draft picks. It ended up being a lopsided deal in their favor and it was neither the first nor the last successful transaction negotiated by Banner during his 19 years as owner Jeffrey Lurie's most valued executive.

The topic comes up now because Banner is being inducted into the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday. The organization's 20th class of inductees will also include former Inquirer baseball writer Jayson Stark.

Given the scope of his work during his time with the Eagles, Banner is certainly deserving of the honor. He is also deserving of a spot in the Eagles Hall of Fame.

"It's always nice when somebody thinks you've done something well and this is much appreciated," Banner said. "My faith is important to me more as a strong philosophical guide to life than as someone who constantly attends temple or preaches religion. I am thrilled that my wife and kids are going to get to be a part of this."

It has been almost five years since Banner left the Eagles, and the team has made the playoffs just once since his departure. He had a brief stint as the chief executive officer with the Cleveland Browns that ended in early 2014 and since then he has done some consulting work for NFL teams and part-time work with ESPN, a gig, like so many other ESPN jobs, that has recently expired. He said he has no desire to return to the NFL in a major role because he has enjoyed his time with family and friends too much since leaving the Browns.

Banner, 64, has had some time to reflect on his nearly two decades with the Eagles, but he does not feel much differently now than he did in 2012.

"It really hasn't changed much," he said. "I feel unbelievably lucky that I got to do it. I'm really proud of the width with which we approached things. I think we did some great stuff in the community, we got a stadium built, we got a practice facility built and we built a winning football team. I'm very proud of what we did and still there's a huge hole because we couldn't push it over the finish line."

The close-but-no-Lombardi reality still pops into Banner's head from time to time.

"It's not consuming, but it's definitely there," he said. "I think we had as good a chance as many to win a lot of those years. I'm not saying we couldn't have done some things better, but we were good enough to have a shot. I think about the year we closed the Vet against Tampa Bay and that might have been our best shot to win it. I think about Donovan [McNabb] not playing in the fourth quarter of the Carolina game. I think about Troy Vincent and Correll Buckhalter being hurt in the second half of the St. Louis game when a lot of people didn't think we'd even be there.

"In general I think we were lucky with a lot of things, but we never seemed to have the luck at the right moment."

That's a pretty fair assessment and Banner's body of work as a negotiator of contracts, the stadium and the practice facility is legendary, if not always lauded. He was considered a hard-line negotiator and that was by design.

"You have to be able to take the risk of letting players go who have been great for you and that you love and admire and respect," he said. "You have to put the organization first and sometimes that overrides what you want to do emotionally. When you look at the teams that have done really well - the Patriots, Steelers and Packers - they all are aggressive with player contracts."

That, Banner said, was a lesson learned early in his tenure with the Eagles from former San Francisco 49ers president Carmen Policy.

"Jeff and I asked if we could come out early before we played [the 49ers] and pick his brain," Banner said. "One of the many things he told us was that the cap was like a poker game. You're going to win about half the hands and whether you make money or lose money will depend on if you bet the most chips on the right hands. I thought it was a terrific way to look at the cap and from that point forward I always wanted to find a way to be efficient with the chips because in the NFL the teams have the same amount of chips."

Banner and the Eagles played those chips wisely, especially from 2000 through 2010 when the team reached the playoffs eight times in 10 years and went to five NFC championship games and the franchise's second Super Bowl.

By 2011, however, Banner's power within the organization had waned. Howie Roseman, who had joined the organization as a salary-cap specialist in 2000, had risen to the title of general manager in 2010. Banner said years earlier he had urged Lurie to give Roseman a chance to become involved in the personnel side of the business. That decision helped lead to Banner's demise. His departure from the organization was cordial, but not without friction.

He still has contact with Lurie and Roseman.

"Jeff and I talk from time to time, but not super frequent," Banner said. "We had a relationship totally built on sharing common goals and things we were driven toward every day. Once you stop working together, that all evaporates, but there are no bad feelings."

Banner talks to Roseman more frequently.

"Sometimes we talk about football and sometimes about things you just talk to friends about," Banner said. "He was one of the first to congratulate me when I got this honor."

Roseman acknowledged the range of influence Banner had on the organization.

"When you think about Joe's contributions to this organization - the stadium, the practice facility, the innovations he made during the salary-cap era as far as knowing what the market was and where it was going - it just shows how far ahead of the curve he was on so many things," Roseman said. "Joe is incredibly smart and there's a difference between being book smart and street smart. He was able to do things in a practical way."

Roseman also said that Banner was instrumental in his initial hiring and his rise through the organization.

"When I was stalking people in the NFL to give me a chance, he gave me that chance to interview," Roseman said. "He gave me a chance to negotiate contracts and be part of the salary-cap strategy and then allowed me to get into the other aspects of team building. There's no doubt he was a special person in my career."

Banner's story about negotiating with Parcells came up because he was asked what it was like being the frail-looking 5-foot-5 Jewish guy who had to negotiate with the testosterone-filled "football guys" with strong opinions.

"It's a big challenge," he said. "I've actually talked about it with Howie. There's always that skepticism in the media about the non-football guys. It's an extra burden that has to be overcome in order to earn credibility."

Banner earned it and Tuesday night the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame will honor him for it.