Philadelphia Eagles

Banner's hilarious story about how he discovered Roseman


It was the late 1990s, and Joe Banner was president of an Eagles team that hadn’t won a playoff game since 1995, hadn’t been to a Super Bowl since 1980, hadn't won a championship since 1960 and hadn’t even had a winning record since 1996.

That’s when the letters from a mysterious kid named Howie Roseman started landing on Banner’s desk.

Every day.

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“I started getting letters from this complete stranger who identified himself as a recent graduate of (Fordham) Law School and the University of Florida undergrad about his desire to work in the NFL and actually broadcasting and leading with the fact that he had never played football, coached football, been the ballboy for a football team, but he was absolutely sure that given the opportunity he would be a great general manager,”  Banner recalled this week on the Rich Eisen Show podcast.

“The only thing that was conspicuous about it was that he sent these letters every single day for a couple years. Every day. I got a letter from Howie Roseman every day.”

Banner read the letters but wasn’t quite in the market for a general manager with no experience whatsoever in professional football.

But he did admire the youngster writing them for his persistence and determination.

“I don’t even know how, but I was on the phone one day with (Jets director of contracts) Mike Tannenbaum and somehow it came up that he was writing both of us every day,” Banner recalled. “And we started wondering, ‘Is he really writing 32 letters every day?’ 

“So we had a funny conversation about whether he was driven or crazy and we couldn’t tell from the letters.

“At one point, Mike called me up and he said, ‘You’re not going to believe it, but I’ve decided I’m going to meet this guy. I’ve just got to meet a guy who actually is writing a letter every single day. He wants this job so bad. I’ve just got to meet him. And I joked, ‘Well do it in a public place, you don’t know what you’re dealing with here.’”

Tannenbaum wound up interviewing Roseman at some point in 1999. Roseman at the time was either 23 or 24 and had never worked a day in the NFL.

“(Tannenbaum) called me up and said, ‘Listen, I’m not going to hire him because the opening I had that I was thinking he could fit he doesn’t fit, but if you get an opening you should definitely talk to this guy. He’s smart, he’s driven, he’s not crazy, and I’m not sure whether he can be a general manager or not, but he’s certainly good enough and smart enough there’s a chance,’” Banner said.

“And so, sure enough, I had an opening maybe six months later, somebody to help me with research and stuff around the cap, and I called him and brought him in and interviewed him and saw what Mike saw, and that’s what started his career. 
“Unlike Andy (Reid), who would have gotten a chance someday, somewhere and been great (if the Eagles didn’t hire him), I’m not sure if Howie ever would have had a job in the NFL had we not joked about it and then Mike met with him and I interviewed him and felt like, ‘Wow, resume doesn’t say it, but this guy actually could be a really good hire.’

“And here we are today.”

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Under Banner, Roseman moved up the ladder with the Eagles from salary cap staff counsel in 2001 and 2002 to director of football administration from 2003 to 2005 to vice president of football administration from 2006 to 2007 to vice president of player personnel in 2008 to 2009 to general manager in 2010 – only 11 or 12 years after he first sent out those letters to Tannenbaum, Banner and who knows who else.

Now, Roseman has carved out a reputation as one of the best GMs in the NFL, and the Eagles are one win away from making his Hall of Fame resume a realistic one.

He just received his second Executive of the Year award, and on Sunday, the roster he built will try to win the Eagles their second Super Bowl championship in six years.

The Eagles are only the second team in the Super Bowl Era to reach two Super Bowls in a six-season span under the same GM with a different head coach and quarterback.

The Raiders did it in 1976 under Al Davis with Ken Stabler and John Madden and in 1980 with Jim Plunkett and Tom Flores. 

“They’ve put together a great team and to do it with the turnover they had? I know Doug Pederson well, worked with him for a long time and I felt bad when they fired him but I understood why it happened and it may prove to be the right thing for both of them as we look over the next few years,” Banner said.

“But to think it’s only a few years ago, and the changes they’ve made? You go through that roster, and it’s almost all from scratch. There’s a group of Coxes and Grahams and Kelces that have been there since I left a decade ago – and I was actually there when they picked – but they’re actually now a very, very small percentage of this team … so they really rebuilt this from ground up in a fairly short period of time.”

Before Banner hired Roseman, the Eagles had reached the postseason 13 times and won nine playoff games in 67 years.

Obviously, more teams reach the postseason these days and there are more opportunities to win in the postseason, but since Roseman joined the organization, they’ve reached the postseason 15 times and won 16 playoff games.

Roseman is one of the most important figures in the Eagles’ 90-year history. And it’s nuts to think how much of a fluke it is that he even came here at all.

“A couple people (have asked me), ‘Could you believe that Andy is playing the Eagles in the Super Bowl? Can you imagine that?’” Banner said. “And I said, ‘Not only can I imagine it, but I’ll bet it’s not the last time they play each other in a Super Bowl. 

“Look at this team and this roster. They’re incredibly young, they’re well coached, they’re smart and they’ve got people making the personnel decisions who haven’t stopped doing smart things. 

“Not only are they in it, I don’t think it’ll be the last time they match up against each other in a Super Bowl.”

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