The Eagles announced Thursday that they have signed President Joe Banner to a contract extension. The team also announced that Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Don Smolenski, has been promoted to the club's Chief Operating Officer position. Smolenski has progressively grown into this new role, serving as the key administrator for all non-football operations over his past 11 years with the Eagles.
"Joe's superb foresight both on and off the football field has been a key driving force for the team's achievements," said Eagles Chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Lurie. "And Don's contributions over the last decade have been remarkable; his promotion to Chief Operating Officer is in recognition of his hard work, talent and dedication."
Banner's extension stems from his work both on and off the field. His success in football operations has produced many tangible results. Since 1995, Lurie and Banner's first full year with the Eagles, Philadelphia has been in the playoffs 10 times (67%). Only Indianapolis (12) has made more playoff appearances than the Eagles over the same 15-year period and only two franchises have won more playoff games and appeared in more conference title games in that time span: New England (17 wins and 6 championship game appearances) and Pittsburgh (14 and 6). In addition, the Eagles have the sixth-best overall record (148-111-2) in the NFL since 1995.
As one of the league's creative football minds, Banner is lauded not only for his salary cap expertise, but for his negotiation skills and compatibility with head coach Andy Reid and the player personnel department in managing the roster on a long-term basis.
Banner, who was named to his current post of team president on August 1, 2001, has been involved in the creation and execution of every department in the organization. He has spearheaded the efforts developing many of the Eagles' community outreach and fan appreciation initiatives including the Tackling Breast Cancer campaign, the fan-friendly Eagles Training Camp at Lehigh University and the most fan-friendly of all endeavors, a new stadium for the fans and team.
While football is a huge focus in his life, Banner also devotes much of his time and energy to community service and is active with non-profit groups. In fact, he has earned many prestigious awards, including the Lifetime of Idealism Award from City Year Greater Philadelphia, the Distinguished Community Leadership Award from Operation Understanding and the Citizen of the Year Award from the American Red Cross. Banner was also honored for his commitment to volunteerism by former President, George H. W. Bush at a national convention on volunteering and service in Philadelphia in 2007.
Smolenski has played a significant role in the success of the Philadelphia Eagles franchise. As COO, Smolenski is responsible for all of the day-to-day operations of the organization, setting challenging goals for the front office, managing short and long-term planning and budget development as well as measuring the quality and cost effectiveness of all business decisions.
"In every success story there are always a few true heroes that are not as visible as others. The fans may not know the name, but much of the good that we do starts with Don," said Eagles President Joe Banner.
In his original role as CFO, Smolenski was responsible for overseeing all aspects of facility operations at Lincoln Financial Field and the NovaCare complex, the organization's financial operations, legal, human resources, information services, insurance and team travel all report in to Smolenski. He also serves on the board of Eagles Youth Partnership (EYP) as Treasurer.
With the macro view of the entire organization in mind, Smolenski joined Banner in the successful team effort of opening Lincoln Financial Field in 2003. He continues to lead the organization's efforts to maintain a first-class venue with a priority on quality customer services. Known for his effective, easy-going style, Smolenski was an amazing force behind the massive snow removal operation at Lincoln Financial Field in December, 2009 before the San Francisco game.
Smolenski is also very involved in leading the team's environmental initiatives, the GO GREEN program, where the Eagles have emerged as a leader in environmental stewardship. The team has actively integrated environmental responsibility into all of its day-to-day operations through the implementation of recycling programs, usage of 100% renewable energy sources, and numerous efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.
"I want to thank Jeffrey and Christina Lurie and Joe Banner for giving me this opportunity," said Smolenski. "I am honored to be a part of this great franchise and its commitment to bring an NFL Championship to this City."
-- Posted by Bob Kent, 3:20 p.m., April 1