Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie spoke to reporters on Sunday about systemic racism in the United States and the team’s plans for sustainable action. He also talked at length about COVID-19 and the pandemic, as well as his thoughts on the social media post by DeSean Jackson this offseason.
Here’s what Lurie had to say:
On systemic racism
He opened by saying that he wanted to speak from the heart about the two pandemics affecting this country:
“I think that one thing I said in March in the statement that we made is that there is just so much pain, and there’s so much pain both in our country and around the world, and obviously we’re going through two terrible, terrible pandemics, one that’s existed for the history of our entire country, the pandemic of systemic racism, violence to minorities, oppression, all that kind of activities that have been part of our history, and obviously the once-in-the-last-100-years health pandemic that’s been devastating, as well.
I think that the important thing with systemic racism and all the behaviors that stem from it are that we all live and experience the pain and at the same time take ownership in that’s who we are. I really believe that. It’s not that it’s the other; it’s all of us. It’s our country that we love, and it’s our friends, it’s our family, it’s people we work with. It’s everybody.”
He went on to speak about the importance of feeling the pain felt by others, and how people move on from things too quickly and names just become a statistic. Lurie noted an exercise he does, which is to envision the things that happened to people like George Floyd and Ahmaud Aubrery, happened to someone he knows. He does this to better understand the ramifications of losing someone like that.
Now, systemic racism, it’s our legacy. When you write back on the 400 years of the United States, there’s a lot of wonderful, wonderful things that have taken place in our country, and we can all be proud of it. We can all love our country, but to love our country is to own our country, and that’s where I really believe strongly that we have to own the good and own the bad, and we won’t be able to change the bad until we realize we’re responsible for it. I think that has to come from the heart. It’s not about, oh, that happened, and there’s another one, and that’s a statistic. That has to come from opening our hearts.
On the team’s social justice initiatives
Lurie talked about the importance of voting, and understanding the ramifications from the local ballots to the highest levels. He noted that they’ve opened up Lincoln Financial Field as a potential polling place if needed, the organization will be closed on Election Day, and they are encouraging staff to volunteer in the pre-polling and helping to get people registered.
On his role specifically, Lurie said that conversations need to take place — which they’ve had for years as an organization — but action is most important.
“We’ve always had a very close-knit atmosphere between our players and ownership and executives, and I think it’s served us well and it continues to, because I trust our players. I trust the direction and their feelings of hurt and where they think we should go. I’m more of a listener and I’m somebody that wants to fully support with the resources of our organization and our league whatever actions that are deemed the most sustainable.”
He told the social justice committee over the weekend that he was here for them, and he’s going to let them take the lead, and they have his and the team’s support. Lurie said he’s really pleased with how they are looking at these difficult issues and they want to come up with something sustainable.
Given what’s happened in other leagues, Lurie was asked if he was worried about his players coming to him about sitting out a game, but the team owner is supportive of whatever is needed to make a change.
“I’m not concerned because I’m supportive of everything that’s involved in terms of trying to create attention and social change, and I’ve always been that way. If we have to sacrifice, we have to sacrifice. But my most important opportunity to discuss that would be what can we do that’s really effective, and it’s not simply a statement but something that’s going to have action involved with it.”
Lurie also said that he respects the NBA players and talked about the history of athletes taking a stand and shining a light on issues, and he appreciates how that has evolved from individuals to teams working with players in a collective effort.
“By the way, these are not simply minority issues. Us who are not in the minority have to lead the way, as well. And when I talk about ownership, that’s what I’m talking about. We have to help everybody lead the way, as well.
I’m not worried because I know our players will do what’s best.”
On COVID and the team’s response
Lurie also spoke at length about COVID-19 and how it got so out of control. He said he wanted to stay “as apolitical as possible,” but went on to point to the almost 200,000 deaths in the United States and the daily rate of over 1,000 deaths in the month of August.
“That’s the reality I think we face. I’d rather just say it straight out from my heart. It’s heartbreaking. These are needless deaths. Needless. We should be similar to most countries on this planet, and yet we are an embarrassment and a tragic embarrassment. That’s where we stand.”
Later on, the team owner noted he is, however, optimistic that they’ll be able to play their games this season. The protocols have been working well, but while he’s optimistic, he’s also realistic that the virus will dictate how the season pans out. They know that this season will be different, and they have to embrace the unpredictability of it all — and the team’s that embrace this and have contingency plans will have an advantage.
“I think one other thing is that I think when coaches – it’s counterintuitive a bit here – but when coaches are willing to employ rookies and second-year players early on, even though they haven’t had OTAs and preseason games, it’s going to allow you to have more flexibility in October, November, December and the playoffs.”
He also noted that they’ve been working daily and weekly with the city and state to find ways to be able to bring fans back in for games, but he doesn’t anticipate that happening in September. Lurie said they have to embrace whatever this season brings, and just try and win each football game.
On DeSean Jackson
Lurie also didn’t mince words when it came to the social media post by Jackson earlier this offseason, calling them “disgusting and appalling.”
“I’ve known DeSean for a long time. Obviously, we all have. He has, I think, really understood the ramifications of that appalling post. So far, everything that we’ve asked him to do to both educate himself and to learn and take action, he’s done completely. So, I would hope that would continue.
I also think that in life, you have to understand fully where a person is coming from. I listened. I listened. It doesn’t take away the hurt. It doesn’t take away the words. But I think that with DeSean, he’s doing the right things, and that has to continue. That’s a daily event, and that’s where that’s at.”
During his opening statement, Lurie wanted to comment on a few unrelated topics.
“One of them is somebody we’re all really, really close to and respect won the Super Bowl, and Andy Reid, I know I love the man, and I couldn’t be happier for him. If it wasn’t going to be the Eagles, I’m really, really happy it was Andy, and he’ll probably have a chance to win many more.”
He wanted to point out Harold Carmichael entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and also wanted to acknowledge several people close to him and the team who have passed away this offseason.
Lurie also gave a nod to the new CBA, and said he was proud of all the work that went into it, and the growth of the partnership between the teams and players that has happened over the years.