Validation is in Lurie’s Reach
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Jeffrey Lurie is not exactly the lunch-pail type that Philadelphia typically identifies with.
In fact, the Eagles owner is a stuffed shirt from Boston who was born with the silver spoon of General Cinema movie theater money as his safety net and has a doctorate in social policy from Brandeis.
This isn't the type of guy you are going to start chatting with on a bar stool in the Northeast or the one you have next to you at a tailgate booing every sign of purple as it passes. And someone like that sure as hell wouldn't be trying to figure out how to navigate a greased pole on Broad Street after the Eagles won the NFC Championship Game.
Lurie found another way into the hearts of the ultimate underdog city, however, by using his vast fortune (currently estimated at $1.8 billion) to buy Philadelphia's favorite sports team in 1994.
Even that came after Lurie had already tried and failed to purchase his hometown Patriots and at least opened talks to get the then and now again Los Angeles Rams as well as an expansion team in Baltimore that eventually came to fruition as the Ravens.
In the early 1990s Lurie just wanted into the NFL and Philadelphia and Norman Braman were the conduit to do that.
In the ensuing era which now borders on a quarter century, Lurie has turned the Eagles from a laughing stock to one of the best organizations in the league, perhaps not the "Gold Standard" as he's oft-ridiculed for once uttering but far better than most.
Sunday's drubbing of the Vikings was the sixth championship game in the Lurie era and resulted in the second Super Bowl appearance, ironically again against the team Lurie grew up loving, the mighty Patriots.
Las Vegas has already tabbed the Eagles as a 5 1/2-point underdog in the big game, giving Philadelphia a chance to run the table with their us-against-the-world mentality.
"Are we underdogs again?" Lurie asked at his post-game press conference. "Great. Great. Somehow I'm not surprised. I think it's great. I always try to root for underdogs, so I think if we can — it comes with an understanding that this is a very proud group of players and coaches and you tell them no one thinks you're going to win, you're not good enough."
Even Lurie admitted he was surprised Doug Pederson has been able to overcome such devasting injuries to players like Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles and Chris Maragos.
"It surprised me because of all the injuries," he admitted. "... If you told me before September, 'No you're not going to have Jason Peters, you're not going to have Darren Sproles, you're not going to have Jordan Hicks, you're eventually not going to have Carson Wentz, you're going to lose your best special teams player in (Chris) Maragos — oh, by the way, your field goal kicker, you're not going to have him either' — it's a lot of body blows at that point. If you had said that, I would have told you, 'No, I don't think we'll make the playoffs.' Right?
"So the resiliency amongst this group is phenomenal."
And if that group gets one more and hands the fans its first Lombardi Trophy and the organization's first NFL championship since 1960, Lurie will finally be all Philadelphia through and through.
"We go into every game expecting to win," he said. "This team, we haven't lost many games and we have a very, very focused group of players and coaches. They are focused on each practice, each play at practice, each film session, and that's how you have to be. That's how you have to be to have a maximum performance and I expect they will do all — this is a team that works hard."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen