Let there be no doubt - Don Smolenski is ready to take over as president of the Philadelphia Eagles. And while Smolenski himself might not have known that he was in line to take over presiding over the franchise, the wheels had been in motion for quite some time.
"We said, without telling Don, we obviously have the next president in place who will be, without a doubt in anyone in our organization's mind, one of the best presidents in the sports industry," said Eagles Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie. "I couldn't be more optimistic about Don Smolenski's opportunities and his succession as president. We have an outstanding young star who we are very confident in."
For Smolenski, who has been with the Eagles since 1998 and was named COO just over two years ago, finding out that he would be promoted to president was certainly a memorable moment.
"I found out a week ago," said Smolenski. "It's the whole spectrum of emotions. There was excitement, elation. I think Andy (Reid) said it, with respect to being bitter and sweet. Not focusing on the bitter, but focusing on the sweet. I don't like the word bitter because I don't like the connotation. The relationship that Joe and I have is unique. The amount of time that we've spent together, we know each other right down to our core values. For all the pride and excitement that you're feeling, you're also feeling for your friend. That's a tough thing to work through and it took a bit to sink in and absorb and digest, but it did. I guess since Joe and I have an office side by side and our relationship has been so open, we support one another, and that's a big part of what has carried me through these last seven days for sure."
As for the course he's setting as steward of the organization, Smolenski has his own vision. But like Banner before him, he made the ultimate goal quite clear.
"The primary focus is to win a championship," he said. "That's the drive, the passion, the motivation for everyone in the entire organization. Coupled with that, one of the principles is being leaders. We talked about being leaders on and off the field, we look for leaders in both respects. We are a fabric of the community and this city is our home.
"We know that there's a special relationship with our fans and it's going to nurture and develop and continue to enhance and expand. They provide the life force, the energy that drives each and every one of us. We see that in a lot of ways. We look forward to continuing that. Our efforts in the community, whether it's environmental programs, our programs through Eagles Youth Partnership, that's also a big part of our vision and continuing that as we go forward."
For the final word, turn to Reid, the head coach who is known for judging talent as well as anyone in the NFL.
"I'm fired up for Don Smolenski for having a dream come true," Reid said. "What a great opportunity to happen to a great person that cares about the city of Philadelphia and cares about the Philadelphia Eagles.
"With Don, the sky is the limit for him and I can't wait to work with him."
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