Professional sports is a business, and the owners call the shots. The sooner the Inky columnists understand that the better off we will all be. Until then, Bob Ford, Mike Sielski and Marcus Hayes will continue to be the poster children for the most anti-business major American daily newspaper since the salad days of Hearst and Pulitzer
By Theodore N. Beitchman
It never ceases to amaze me how disconnected sports journalists are from the real world.
In the real world, someone who owns or runs a business is responsive to the bottom line, for sure, and also sensitive to the needs of the marketplace.
In other words, the consumers of his product.
That’s why Wawa is so successful. It trots out a specialty like turkey hoagies, and if they drive sales they stay on the menu. If not, they go.
But in the Philly sports world, local journos believe team owners can’t get involved with the day-to-day operation of their billion-dollar businesses.
Because, you know, sports teams are actually owned by the fans.
They’re a public treasure.
Sort of like the Rocky statue by the Art Museum or PGW.
And the teams need to be protected from the avaricious owners at all cost.
The poor saps who say they own them are actually just renting.
That’s the only conclusion I can draw from the idiotic column written by the Inky’s Bob Ford criticizing Eagles owner Jeff Lurie for “getting involved” and cashiering failed offensive coordinator Mike Groh and witless wide receivers coach Carson Walch.
Ford actually wrote this:
“Every barnyard needs a scapegoat or two, and it became clear as the Eagles’ season sputtered along that offensive coordinator Mike Groh and receivers coach Carson Walch were voted Most Likely to Wear Horns by everyone in the Philadelphia area, except those who actually played for the team or coached it.
“…Off with their heads, horns and all … head coach Doug Pederson was going out of his way every chance possible at the end of the season to defend and praise them.
“With all my staff guys, I’m in that process of evaluating and would love to have them all back, obviously,” Pederson said Wednesday during a season-ending news conference.
Just as obviously, not everyone in the organization agreed with him, and The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane reported, per an NFL source, that owner Jeffrey Lurie wanted Groh and Walch gone, and gone they were on Thursday.
“We’ll get to that in a moment – because Lurie’s newfound expertise as a football coach is worth examining.”
Yes, Lurie’s “newfound expertise” is what caught my eye.
Everyone laughs at the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones, who has owned the franchise since 1989 and has grown their value to about $4.5 billion while being undoubtedly the worst general manager in the NFL.
But who’s going to tell him that?
Jason Garrett, whose 10-year run as head coach just ended about five years past his sell-by date?
Lurie is a relatively hands-off owner who acts impetuously at times — read the schoolboy love of Chip Kelly which led to his hiring seven years ago. But Lurie also knew he had to go, and broomed the disastrous Kelly with two games left in the 2015 season.
He had had enough.
So it was with the Eagles dreadful offense in 2019.
Injuries played a hand in its mediocrity, but every team has injuries. It’s up to the coaches to coach up the subs and scrubs.
Groh and Walch couldn’t do that.
And even Stevie Wonder could see that.
Even I could see that.
Everyone could see that except Doug Pederson.
When the real world intersects with the sports world, journalists get confused.
That’s why the normally level-headed Ford criticized Lurie for actually making a decision in the business he owns.
Just like Marcus Hayes criticized him because, God forbid, Pederson may feel threatened and leave his exalted coaching throne:
If you’re Pederson, you’ve got to be thinking: How much more of this am I willing to take? How much more before I walk away?
People who know Pederson best know this: He’s fearless. He’s proud. He’s thin-skinned, and he’s supremely confident after winning Super Bowl LII with Nick Foles (Nick Foles!) and the Philly Special, and he wouldn’t think twice about leaving a good thing in Philadelphia.
Just like Mike Sielski, who embarrassed himself a couple of months ago when he suggested the Sixers cancel an exhibition that night against a team from China to protest rights abuses of Hong Kong protesters.
Forget the $1 billion deal the NBA has in China.
Professional sports is a big business.
And the sooner the Inky columnists understand that the better off we will all be.
Until then, Ford, Sielski and Hayes will continue to be the poster children for the most anti-business major American daily newspaper since the salad days of Hearst and Pulitzer.