January 17, 2013, 4:31 pm
There were a lot of reports about the Eagles’ coaching search. Some weren’t very flattering.
During the extended process, one NFL writer for a national web site suggested that the job wasn’t Another story had the Cleveland Browns and Kelly being “very close to a deal” after the two parties met in early January.
On Thursday, the Eagles held a press conference to introduce Kelly as the team’s first new head coach in 14 years. After the formal affair, Jeffrey Lurie conducted another interview with the media and denied that the Eagles had any competition for Kelly – or any other coaches.
When asked whether Kelly was close to signing with the Browns, the owner smiled and laughed a little before answering.
“We knew that it was just going to be the Eagles or Oregon,” Lurie said. “There was no other factor.
“We never took no as a full no. We knew he was torn. And we knew there was no competition for Chip. It was just, did he want to stay or did he want to come to us?”
While declining to name anyone specifically, Lurie said that several “iconic figures in the game” called Kelly and other candidates to endorse the Eagles. As a result, Lurie said the coaching search put the team in a position that he described as “the opposite of scarcity” in terms of people they might potentially hire.
The Eagles interviewed 11 candidates (listed in no particular order): Chip Kelly, Brian Kelly, Bill O’Brien, Brian Billick, Ken Whisenhunt, Lovie Smith, Jay Gruden, Mike Nolan, Keith Armstrong, Mike McCoy and Gus Bradley.
According to Lurie, the Eagles “weren’t racing to fill a vacancy before the other teams did” because they were the top choice for Chip Kelly – as well as everyone else who ended up on their list.
“We were not in competition with anybody for any of our candidates,” Lurie said. “We could take our time. I’ve got to say to you, 14 days is lightening fast to have to make a decision of this magnitude. Yeah, it could have been even quicker if the initial interview with Chip had continued and he wanted to leave Oregon. This was a process that was unanimous. After we spent the nine hours with him, we thought it would be a great fit.”
E-mail John Gonzalez at firstname.lastname@example.org