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Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles News

Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie

Opening Remarks: "I'll say a few things then open it up to questions. This is a little bit unusual in the sense that I think we all have a little bit of sadness and a feeling of subdued – at a time when you're very excited to start training camp. A lot of that has to do with coach Jim Johnson, I just want to say that first, I've already spoken on it and we all have, but it's not something that just goes away. I think about him and his family every day. I know the team and the organization and everybody is gearing up to both honor him this season and hopefully bring home a championship to really honor him. Regarding Jim, another thing I'd like to say is that we have an Eagles honor roll and there is no doubt whatsoever that pretty soon Jim will be on that Eagles honor roll. He's touched all of us. He's been a huge difference maker to the team and he's responsible for a lot of the wins. (He was) a great, great guy.

"Another great guy, Brian Dawkins, I just want to say as long as I own the team nobody is going to wear number 20 either. That's not possible and I hope he has a great year in Denver. I wish him the very best and I am really proud of Brian.

"(I am) very excited about this season. There is a lot to be excited about. (We were) so close last year. I was really proud of the team last year, in terms of being able to rebound like that and to go on a great run. To be within a whisker of getting to the Super Bowl, (I am) really proud of the coaches, the trainers, the players and the entire organization. (We hope) to build on that. This offseason has been aggressive and hopefully extremely fruitful. None of us, from the football standpoint, wanted to rest on the laurels of the success of last year. There were definite areas that needed to be addressed. Hopefully they have all been addressed and addressed well. I think that's really about it. I'll open it up for any questions."

On his take on team president Joe Banner's comments about having the best roster in the NFL: "I think we all feel confident. We have a very good roster. It's a collision sport and the way I've always looked at it is it's great to have an excellent roster, which we feel we have, and there are many teams in the NFL with excellent rosters as you all know. It's really a sport of attrition, depth, talent and character. At training camp you develop the chemistry and the character. Throughout the season you try to win the battle of attrition, it's very, very difficult. You have to be within a certain numerical area of games lost by starting players. There is a pretty strong correlation, we know that, to winning. I think we're all very excited about our roster, but at the same time (we) realize that it's a long season. I'd like to know all the rosters in January and evaluate it better then."

On an incident that occurred last night involving one of the players: "At this stage it's completely improper for me to comment on something that we are still gathering information on and it has to go through a legal process. There is nothing I can add to that."

On no one wearing number 20 and whether the team will retire the number: "I don't know the definition of that. We'll certainly check with the league on how that works. It's inconceivable that anybody would wear number 20 and I think the same goes for Reggie's (White) number, with what I said before about Reggie."

On whether it is hard to be at camp and not see Dawkins out on the field: "It's part of football. As an owner and as I'm sure anybody working with the players – you get very close to them. It's not like you're just observing them. You get really close and if you want to continue to play at your best, sometimes you have to understand the reality of certain players and what happens in the free agency system. You can miss a Tra Thomas. You can miss Brian Dawkins, Jon Runyan, players that you really feel close to and admire, but at the same time you are giving others a chance to become those players. It's really a part of life in sports. It's one of the hardest parts of life in sports, but it's also one of the most rewarding when you see other players evolve and become outstanding players for you. But to say you don't miss players that you've been working with for a long time, of course you do."

On whether he finds himself on edge about players who are injured: "It's very early in the season. You are going to go through both some injuries and issues of who can play in that particular week. It's really the strong teams that survive, the teams that have good enough depth and character. It does alter things when you can't have your franchise quarterback playing and you've got to go some other direction, but you see it. That's part of it. It's part of the NFL. I think one of the really beautiful things about the NFL and what makes it so popular is that every market has an equal chance at great success. There is no advantage for a big market. There is no advantage for a team that has more veterans or more young people. You are starting out 0-0, every market is equal and everybody has a chance to really ascend to an elite level."

On how comfortable he is with the image that some have of team president Joe Banner and the organization based on some of the decisions that were made this offseason: "I see nothing but positive with Joe (Banner). He is one of the best executives in sports. Sometimes what's written has no reflection of reality. He is one of the hardest working and best hearted people you could ever come across. I pay no attention to inappropriate headlines or anecdotal conversations or anything like that. We are talking about a star in the NFL and a star in sports. He does a great, great job."

On whether he has any concerns about the future of the NFL: "I can't really talk about the collective bargaining process. Except, to say that it's an opportunity for the owners and the players to create an even better system that will allow the sport to grow and allow the fans to enjoy the sport in an ever-increasing fashion. That's the goal. That's the goal of it and that has to play itself out, but otherwise I can't comment on that."

On whether he can say without commenting, if he has concerns or worries about the future of the NFL: "No I can't (comment). No, it's part of the process. Contracts eventually come up and that's the nature of collective bargaining in the sports industry."

On whether he has gotten any sense of the new leadership of the players union, DeMaurice Smith: "No I haven't. I haven't met him and I haven't."

On commissioner Roger Goodell's handling of off-the-field issues: "I think the commissioner's done an outstanding job in every aspect in the early years of his leadership in that position. It's very important that the game is played on an equal basis, with integrity and that the competition is outstanding. We owe it to the fans that that is the way it is. He's put some real muscle and leadership into honoring the integrity of football and I support that."

On whether he thinks a team could take a player like Michael Vick in after what he's gone through: "I can't answer you because it plays itself out. With any player there is risk. I think Michael deserves a second chance and maybe he'll get it."

On how much emphasis he puts on character when considering signing or drafting a player: "We put a tremendous emphasis on character. There are many times (when) we will pass a player in the draft room that is a terrific physical talent. Character is so important that I really attribute it to when you are suffering in the middle of the season - very few teams have 15-1 seasons or 16-0 seasons - you are going to have periods where you're down. Your momentum is down, whether it's the offense, it might be the defense, it might be overall. It's character players that bring you out of that lull. Last year was the greatest example of all. I think it does translate to success. It's worked for us. I know we've had the best record in the NFC this decade and I really attribute it to having a very high character group of players."

On whether he is worried about the lack of veteran leadership on the team: "I don't. I see it developing every year. I remember when Tra (Thomas) and Brian (Dawkins) were the young guys. We have a great mix of veteran leadership and young ascending leaders. You have to have both. I think all successful teams have those veteran leaders and they have those young ascending guys that are going to start to take over the team by storm (with) their energy level, their athleticism and I think we started to see that on defense last year. We recognized that the defense needed somewhat of an overhaul and (we) really paid attention to the draft and overall to try to regenerate a young, aggressive, athletic defense.

"I think this offseason, there was the feeling that we had to do very much the similar renovation, in a sense, of the offense and bring much more athleticism, especially to the offensive line. It's hard to do. I mean honestly it's not easy to retool any side of the ball quick enough to maintain that very high level of play. We were able to get it done on defense last year. The offense, I know scored a record number of points but we look at it pretty analytically and critically and felt that we could not come back with the same offensive line. We needed depth and youth at running back, tight end and in other places. It's important to be very analytic and self-critical, I think, and it's been one of the keys to our success. We just haven't rested on what happened the previous year."

On who he sees as the leaders of the team: "I don't want to name names but I think it's obvious to you guys. In the conference call we had after Jim died, I mentioned several names on defense. It's obvious. Every year it becomes obvious and if it's not in August it becomes obvious by September and October. It's the guys that are also playing well. It's not just leadership by being on the bench it's the guys that really emerge as your impact players and you see that all over the place."

On the future of head coach Andy Reid: "You all probably, more than most journalists in the country, know how I feel about Andy. (He is) outstanding in every way. I see great success for Andy with the Eagles and that will continue."

On whether there have been any talks regarding an extension of Reid's contract: "I know you guys have to ask questions like that, but in the history of dealing with coaches and with Andy in particular I've never ever spoken publically about it. Even when we have slow season starts, as we often do, and everyone wants talk about (whether Andy is still going to be the head coach). Everything will happen very privately and that's the way it's always been. I think that's why it works so well. We talk very directly and honestly and don't use the public forum."

On letting Ray Rhodes go into the final year of his contract without an extension and whether that experience is one he'd rather not repeat: "I won't even comment on that because I've seen it in so many different ways in sports, from Phil Jackson to Bill Cowher to coaches that have multiple years left. It works in every direction and a guy like Andy is going to make it work no matter what. He's that good and that well respected. What can I say? I'm not going to talk publicly about (his contract)."

On whether he feels an urgency to win in the next two years: "I can't imagine any increase in urgency every year to win. This is all we think about, plan for and dream about. This decade as an owner, a team, we've sort of accomplished every single goal possible. Now we've got to accomplish the one remaining goal. That's all we plan around, so you can't get more urgent than that. Or obsessed."

On whether the NFC is the best he has seen since purchasing the team: "It may well be. I tend to focus a lot on quarterbacks and to me the big news in the NFC is that we have a division with four quarterbacks, in my opinion, that are capable of winning a Super Bowl. We've got (Bears QB) Jay Cutler entering the NFC, a very capable young quarterback.

"We've got a quarterback in New Orleans (Drew Brees) that, like Donovan (McNabb), you look back on his career and you say, 'This is a player capable of winning and winning multiple Super Bowls.' Between Drew and Donovan and all these other guys it is daunting. I think the talent level in the NFC East is the best in football. I think the team that is probably the most underrated in football is the Dallas Cowboys, because they entered last year with, by far, the most Pro Bowl players and sometimes it takes an extra year to really elevate and reach that.

"I look back on last year and I see (Cowboys RBs) Felix (Jones) and Marion Barber having some injuries and (Tashard) Choice did a good job. You see (Giants RB) Brandon Jacobs having some injuries at the end there and we did with Brian (Westbrook), but you'll see that. You just see the potential in these teams for dominance. To me, the NFC is pretty loaded and the NFC East is the best in the NFC."

On whether he looks at the past ten years as a success or if he still feels as though he has not succeeded because they have not won a Super Bowl: "I look at it both ways. I am obviously really proud of the success; it's rare in the sport. But, until we win a Super Bowl, I don't really go there very much. Granted, you've got to have a lot of luck and good health and the bounce of the ball when you're in the final eight and the final four, that's kind of what it's all about there. On any given day in those playoffs, anybody can emerge. When the Patriots beat the Rams, nobody gave them a chance. Arizona almost won the Super Bowl last year. I can say for myself, obviously proud, the decade has been amazing but, I want the future to be filled with championships."

On whether bad luck has kept them from winning a Super Bowl:"If I knew the answer I think I would be smarter than I am. It's who's healthy and who's playing great in January and February—some key plays— and that is what it is. It's so hard to get there. The hardest part, clearly, is getting to the final four. We've been able to do that five of the last eight years, it's unheard of. But that opportunity to bring home a championship to our amazing fans is what is in front of us and that's what we've got to do."

On his opinion of Reid's reaction to the media regarding the injury report: "I don't even go there. He's always consistent. He really tries to make himself accessible and respects everybody. I don't feel it's really worth spending any time over."

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