The Philadelphia Eagles have announced an executive succession plan that puts in place a next generation of front office leadership.
Long-time President Joe Banner transitions to a new role as Strategic Advisor to the Owner, Jeffrey Lurie. Chief Operating Officer Don Smolenski is promoted to President.
Lurie will formally announce the transition at a press conference beginning at 2:30 PM today which can be watched live on PhiladelphiaEagles.com.
Lurie and Banner, close personal friends for 44 years and Eagles colleagues for nearly 20 years, explained that they met more than a year ago to discuss the state of the organization as well as Banner's personal desire to pursue a greater challenge within the sports world. They both agreed that in Smolenski and General Manager Howie Roseman, the Eagles had two young executives ready to assume greater professional responsibilities.
"There is no better executive in sports than Joe Banner," said Lurie. "We are making this announcement today because he is looking for a greater challenge, and in Don Smolenski I have a highly regarded, very worthy successor as President of this team." Lurie further noted, "Joe and I have achieved a great deal since I acquired the team. From building Lincoln Financial Field and the NovaCare Complex, to driving the work of the Eagles Youth Partnership and, of course, our successes on the field, Joe has been an integral part of everything we have done."
Banner and Lurie have collaborated over nearly 20 years to bring the franchise to where it currently stands. The Eagles' efforts in the community have received recognition both locally and internationally, and they have developed cap management strategies that have been utilized around the National Football League.
"It has been my privilege to work with Jeffrey Lurie over all these years," said Banner. "Together we have built a talented front office team that is now ready to assume leadership of this extraordinary franchise. I plan to pursue a major new opportunity within the sports field - one that will enable me to apply all that I have learned as the Eagles president. I could never thank Jeff enough for the opportunity and support he has afforded me."
Smolenski joined the Eagles in 1998 as the club's Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and was later promoted to Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer. In 2010, he was named the club's Chief Operating Officer.
Before joining the Eagles, Smolenski served as Chief Financial Officer for the International Hockey League, where he oversaw all league financial issues and played an integral role in the expansion of the league. Through the development of expansion models and the analysis of league performance models, Smolenski saw the league grow from 12 to 19 teams.
Smolenski began his career as a public accountant with Arthur Andersen. He holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Amherst and a Master's degree in accounting from the University of Hartford.
"Joe has been a great friend, teacher and mentor," said Smolenski. "His support and confidence have been instrumental to my growth and development in the organization. As the Eagles new president, I'm excited to build on the work we've done together over the years."
Smolenski added: "I'm honored to accept the leadership of more than 200 terrific Eagles employees, who share our passion for building the strongest organization we can for Eagles fans in Philadelphia and around the country."
"Don is one of the unknown jewels in the NFL," said Banner, "and so deserving of this chance to help steer this great franchise going forward."
Said Lurie, "We are all happy to see Don ascend to his new role leading the Eagles organization. Throughout his 14-year Eagles career, Don has been a model of hard work, good will, and sound judgment. I am confident that, with Don at the helm, the relationship between the Eagles, our fans and business partners is in very good hands."
Banner's impact on the Eagles has extended well beyond the front office. Head coach Andy Reid said, "As I have stated before, the success of the team is most often credited to the players and coaches, but without the support and hard work of the front office, led by Joe Banner, we would not have achieved all that we accomplished."