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Photos courtesy of the Philadelphia Eagles 

The story of Howie Roseman in the chair of power within the Eagles organization is a remarkable one. Actually, it is a series of chapters involving a man who improbably worked his way up the NFL ladder, was unceremoniously and very publicly stripped of his power, only to rise again and construct the roster of a Super Bowl champion. 

From NFL Boy Wonder (in 2010 he was the youngest general manager in the league at 34) to Boy Blunder (had his power taken away in a well-documented battle with former head coach Chip Kelly in 2014) to King of the World, Howie Roseman has experienced everything in his football career. 

“It’s been a lot of work,”  Roseman says, laughing, “and it’s been very gratifying. To be in the National Football League since 2000 is humbling. I’m very appreciative.” 

On a February afternoon earlier this year, Roseman stood in the media room at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, where he was preparing for his first press conference since the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII. Before stepping to the podium, Roseman accepted the congratulations from those in the league with whom he’s worked in Philadelphia: Sean McDermott, head coach of the Buffalo Bills; Matt Nagy, head coach of the Chicago Bears; Andy Reid, a mentor and former head coach of the Eagles now in Kansas City; and Jason Licht, the general manager in Tampa Bay. Media members surrounded Roseman to hear his story of the post-Super Bowl experience. 

Roseman was walking and smiling and shaking hands and laughing and living it up. He deserved it. He was never credited as a “football guy” by the NFL’s establishment or by the rough-and-ready Philadelphia media, which tried to chew him up and spit him out. But Roseman has some gristle to him. He didn’t play the game of football, but he’s come to know it, to be an expert in it, by working hard, by keeping his eyes and mind open, and by reinventing himself throughout the course of a remarkable career. 

“For Howie to be where he is, hey, that’s a pretty great story,” says Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.  

“He’s kind of done it all in the football operations world in this league. He’s had people doubt him. But he’s also stuck by his convictions, and he’s been able to do it his way. He’s great to work with. He’s always working to make the roster better, and he’s open to being creative with his moves.” 

The Howie Roseman who raised the Lombardi Trophy to the throngs of fans roaring their approval and shouting, “Howie Rose-MAN, Howie Rose-MAN” as the Eagles paraded up Broad Street all the way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art four days after winning the Super Bowl is the same man who, as recently as July 2016, was ranked by Vinnie Iyer of Sporting News as the “worst GM in the NFL.” Until the last two seasons, in fact, Roseman hadn’t gotten much positive press at all, largely because the Eagles weren’t winning in the post-season, and Roseman was the one constant, even with the changes at head coach, from Reid to Kelly to Pederson.  

The coaches and the players came and went, and Roseman stayed. He took the heat. That’s just the business. 

But then the fortunes changed in a big way when Roseman, reinstated to the role of roster decision-maker after Kelly’s tenure ended suddenly, cleaned up all the salary cap and roster litter left behind. He traded away free-agent cornerback Byron Maxwell and running back DeMarco Murray and linebacker Kiko Alonso, and then engineered a series of trades to get the Eagles all the way to the No. 2 position in the 2016 NFL draft. 

“I think that was the key spot to turn this franchise in the direction we wanted,” Roseman says. “We knew there were two quarterbacks at the top of the draft who we liked very much. The way we looked at it, we couldn’t lose no matter which quarterback was there at No. 2. We were going to get one we felt would become a franchise quarterback.” 

The Los Angeles Rams used the No. 1 draft pick that April to take Jared Goff. The Eagles, at No. 2, selected Carson Wentz from North Dakota State. As the Eagles made the official phone call to Wentz, notifying him ahead of the television announcement of the pick, Roseman put the telephone to his ear in the NovaCare Complex’s draft room, and with the entire scouting department, coach­ing staff and key executives around him, asked Wentz a very simple question that changed the fortunes of the franchise. 

“Are you ready to be a Philadelphia Eagle?” Roseman asked, smiling broadly. 

From there, well, everything changed. Wentz is one of the NFL’s up-and-coming superstars and likely would have been the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2017 had he not suffered a season-ending knee injury.   

Roseman has been his usual wheeling-and-dealing self, making trades, signing players, filling in the roster around Wentz. Roseman’s 2017 season was virtually perfect – he added players like cornerback Patrick Robinson, running back LeGarrette Blount, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and defensive end Chris Long in free agency, and also brought back a quarterback named Nick Foles to serve as the No. 2 to Wentz. Not that it mattered, of course… 

“That right there,” Pederson says, “shows just how much we value every single position on the roster. You need quarterbacks on your roster who you know can win games, and we felt we had a chance to upgrade that position. And then you have Howie, who knows how to get deals done and work the salary cap. He’s a tremendous resource, knows how the game is played and how the business is managed. Bringing in Nick Foles obviously paid off for us.” 

Foles’ MVP performance in the Super Bowl LII put an exclamation point on Roseman’s resurrection. He was named the league’s executive of the year by the Pro Football Writers of America and by his peers in the annual Sporting News award presented to Roseman in March. Triumph. Roseman entered the league as an intern after relentlessly sending out his resume to all 32 teams. The Eagles bit. Since then, Roseman worked his way up the chain of command, reached the very top and then was knocked down. 

And he didn’t quit. 

“You never give up on your dreams and your goals,” Roseman says. “It wasn’t easy for me, but it was probably the best thing that happened to me. I had a chance to look around the world of sports and see how other successful franchises did it, how they ran their business. I learned a lot about that, and about myself. I learned about the people around me and how valuable they are. I’ve got great people around me, and I value them.” 

“Everything that has happened has been extremely rewarding. Winning the Super Bowl, I thought I was going to really let loose for a few days and enjoy the win. But I came back in the office the day after we landed from Minneapolis, and I was like, ‘Let’s go. Let’s do this again.’ That’s kind of where I’ve been since then. I want to do it again.” 

After all of the handshakes and the slaps on the backs and the man hugs, it’s back to work for Roseman. That means it’s time for 16-hour days and watching film until his eyes bleed and adding more players in free agency and nimbly navigating the salary cap so the Eagles have some wiggle room this year to bring in players and not sacrifice maneuverability in the near future. 

“Howie does a great job and has done a great job,” Eagles Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie says. “He is aggressive and very strategic. From where we were to where we are now, it’s a sizable difference. Howie is a very big part of all of this, and we’re going to stay aggressive and keep building.”  


Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro has covered every Eagles game since 1987 and is seen and heard throughout the year on television, radio and Eagles coverage everywhere. You can hear his Eagles Live Podcast on iTunes.  

August 2018
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