Westbrook, Trotter react to Banner's departure

Brian Westbrook said at times, he looked at Joe Banner as the enemy. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Moving the Chains

The current group of Eagles has not had a lot to say about the departure of team president Joe Banner.

The reality is that most of them are happy with their contracts, and many of them have probably dealt more with general manager Howie Roseman.

But during the Eagles' most successful years, plenty of key players sat across the table from Banner, looking to maximize their earnings as professional football players. Yesterday, I wrote about Brian Dawkins, who was critical of Banner and explained why he thinks the Eagles are better off without him.

Former players Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Westbrook, both of whom had contract disputes with the Eagles and Banner, also recently chimed in with their reactions.

Trotter, speaking to Tony Bruno and Harry Mayes of 97.5 The Fanatic, seemed to understand that for the most part, Banner was just doing his job.

"When you look at what he’s done from a business standpoint, he was one of the best at what he did," Trotter said. "His job was to get the best players at the cheapest price. The Eagles made an art of that. It ruined a lot of relationships, it ruined some trust when it came to the players, but that’s what Mr. Lurie paid him to do."

The tales of Banner playing the bad cop to Andy Reid's good cop continually come up with the ex-players. None of them have a bad thing to say about Reid, but their opinions of Banner are completely different.

"It was hard for players to trust the front office, and a lot of times, Andy got caught in the middle of it because Andy was wearing two hats," Trotter said. "I know it’s tough for Andy sometimes trying to separate being the head coach and the guy that upstairs is working directly with Joe, when it came to getting these guys signed."

It will be very interesting to see what the reaction is the next time the Eagles have trouble getting a high-profile player signed. But this offseason, to their credit, Reid, Howie Roseman and company have done a good job keeping players like DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy happy.

"Even when you let guys go at the end of their careers, there’s a way of doing that," Trotter said. "The way Brian Dawkins left, there’s no way that he should have been ran out the door the way he was. Or if you’re going to let him go, just say 'hey, we’re going to move in a different direction.' Don’t tell the public that we offered him a good contract, but he didn’t want that."

Westbrook, meanwhile, also used Dawkins as an example.

"The one thing about Joe Banner is that he’s going to do what’s in the best interest of the team," he said, during an interview with Tim McManus and Eytan Shander on 97.5. "And for him, it was a straight business. It was by the numbers, and the problem that you have in that as a player is you build relationships, so it’s not necessarily only by the numbers. There’s a value having Brian Dawkins on that team, even though he’s not the guy that he was at 25, and by the numbers at 33, he should be declining in his play. It’s a value of having those types of guys on your team instead of letting him to go to Denver and allowing him to go to two Pro Bowls after that."

Westbrook also seemed to understand Banner's role within the organization, but agrees with Trotter that he could have done a better job in his relationships with players.

"His weakness, as we’ve seen, he just wasn’t a personable guy," Westbrook said. "He wasn’t a guy that was going to be able to talk to different players on the football team, and I think he would admit that. But at the same time, that wasn’t his every day responsibility."

Westbrook gave an interesting response when asked what the one thing was he wishes Banner would have done differently during his time with the Eagles. He said he wishes the team that made the Super Bowl after the 2004 season could have had stayed together for at least one more year.

"Terrell Owens, he was happy, him and Donovan were in harmony, things were going good," Westbrook said. "It was my understanding that Terrell just wanted the remainder of his contract guaranteed. If you can somehow keep that team in tact, that offensive staff in tact for another season... you would definitely be the favorites to win the Super Bowl. That offense [would have been] the No. 1 offense in the league for a long time, and we would have been so productive."

In the end, Westbrook said, the conflict between Banner and some of the team's high-profile players was difficult to avoid because both sides were just looking to make the most money.

"As a former player, I looked at Joe as the quote-unquote enemy, just because I sat across the table from Joe," he said. "I think if I was on Jeffrey Lurie’s side, I want a guy like Joe Banner hustling and trying to make sure that he saves every dime, every penny that he can for me as a football team. However, as a player, I’m sitting on the other side, and I want every dime. I’m fighting for every dime that I can have in my pocket."


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