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Off Topic Riff: A Rant FromThe Heart

It is a work day for the players, part of the weekly routine in the NFL, and I have some time to reflect on a gorgeous fall afternoon. I came to work like I do every day, excited to arrive at the office, thankful for the chance to be an Eagle and reminding myself that the reason I came here way back when, and why I have turned down chances to leave, is because the Eagles mean so much to me.

This is an exciting time for the Eagles – extraordinary in many ways -- with so many changes to learn more about, with a new generation of team on and off the field. It never gets old. One day is completely different than the one before.

So for now I'm going to talk about something other than what the team has done so far on the field. I am going to talk about the Eagles and their relationship with the great fans, thousands of whom I expect to see in Jacksonville as again they show their support for the Eagles on a road, something that is incredibly moving for everyone associated with this team.

I want to, here and now, take note of something that is a direct shot to the solar plexus of those who criticize the Eagles for not cherishing the fans. Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth.

A story in The Philadelphia Inquirer caught my eye the other day and I want to share it with you. According to the Team Marketing Report, average ticket prices for NFL games increased 4.5 percent this year to $76.47, up from a 3.9 percent hike last season. The Eagles, however, kept their prices flat and their average ticket price is just $69, 20th-highest in the league despite being the third-largest market in the NFL.

This is significant as I see it. For a team that recently built a new stadium, that has 40,000 people on a waiting list, and is the 4th largest DMA in the country, to be near the bottom third in ticket prices was extremely pleasing to me. While the ticket prices aren't always going to remain in that 20th slot – the Eagles have historically raised prices every other year – the fact is this: There is a conscious effort to keep prices reasonable and affordable for the entire family. In fact, when Jeffrey Lurie purchased the team from Norman Braman, the Eagles had the third-highest ticket prices in the league.

Interestingly, eight of the top 10 teams (New England, New York Jets, New York Giants, Dallas, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Washington and Denver) in ticket prices have new stadiums, and typically teams with new stadiums significantly increase ticket prices to help pay the debt needed to finance the project.

As most people know, I bleed green. I am a fan first, always will be. I sat in on planning meetings for the 1960 celebration, I have been involved with stadium design meetings, and much of the weekly meetings that we hold every Tuesday involve ways to make the fan experience better at Lincoln Financial Field. I know firsthand just how important it is to the organization that we appreciate and celebrate our fans.

It means a great deal to me that we, as an organization, create a culture that values our fan base. Ticket prices are just one way of showing appreciation, but it is a meaningful and significant way in my opinion.

On the heels of a wonderful weekend of celebration lauding the 1960 NFL champions – an effort wildly applauded by those former players, the media and the fans – and now the ticket price news, I was motivated to share this.

You know how I am: This space affords me the opportunity to pop off at any time of the day. Behind the scenes, the work continues. Coaches get the game plan ready for Sunday in Jacksonville. The travel team is making sure all of the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed for the weekend. The folks over at the stadium are preparing for the next game, when Washington comes to town.

And many, many pieces of the organization are working on ways to better reach the fans, to make their day-to-day love of the team that much more enjoyable.

The latter part is just as exciting as what happens on game day. And on Sunday when the Eagles play the Jaguars, I'll have a chance to enjoy both as the great fans of this team make another road trip one to remember.

Thanks for making it so special for all of us. And thanks for hearing my rant, as you have for so many years before and, I hope, so many years to come.

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