Is Howie Roseman the most powerful man in all of Philadelphia Sports?

Howie Roseman
PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 24: Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman is pictured during the National Football League game between the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles on November 24, 2019 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

Howie Roseman is coming off another draft weekend where his picks, trades, and players are universally lauded. Once thought of as a football outsider, Roseman has changed that narrative. He has transformed the league and fans’ view of the Philadelphia Eagles franchise. He has gone from the proverbial hot seat where almost everyone in the city wanted him fired, to having his “Howie SZN” holiday celebrated by most Eagles fans every April. Quite simply, he is the toast of the town.

Origin Story

FILE – In this Sept. 1, 2016, file photo, Philadelphia Eagles’ Howie Roseman holds a football as he talks before a preseason NFL football game against the New York Jets in Philadelphia. Quick fixes are not part of the plan for the Eagles this offseason. After finishing 7-9 under first-year coach Doug Pederson with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz starting every game, Roseman made it clear the goal isn’t to build a team that just makes the playoffs. (AP Photo/Michael Perez, File)

To say Howie’s humble beginnings as an intern, to his ascension of becoming the most powerful man in Philadelphia sports is unusual, would be a gross understatement. The meteoric rise rivals any outside of the amazing story of Vince Papale made famous from the movie “Invincible”.

Roseman was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1975, though he grew up in Marlboro Township in New Jersey. Howie has stated that he has known he wanted to work in the NFL since he was 9 or 10. Unlike most kids at that age who wanted to be the President, or a fireman, a ballplayer, etc., he stated that he would tell anyone who asked him that he wanted “to be a general manager of an NFL team”.

During his years at Marlboro High, Howie has stated that he begged his mother to allow him to play football, but she refused and would not sign the permission slip. Howie Roseman only weighed 125 pounds as a senior. He began to accept that it was unlikely he would see the field, so he began to focus on working in the industry, rather than playing in it. Before completing high school, he had sent letters to every franchise in the NFL. He was planting the seeds for his NFL dream. 

After high school, he earned his college degree from the University of Florida, and a JD degree from Fordham Law. He also made time to pursue his dream job to be employed in the National Football League.

His persistence to inquire about every job opening in the NFL proved successful. Roseman landed his first interview and also got a taste of how hard it would be to become a member of the NFL fraternity.

Howie Roseman met with Mike Tannenbaum, then pro personnel director for the New York Jets, and interviewed for a player personnel internship in 1999. Tannenbaum explained what he told Howie about giving him a shot.

“I’ve got five minutes. The only reason I’m even going to spend five minutes, I look at my resumé file, I have 20 letters from you, and every time I send you a rejection, you’d send a thank you for the rejection.” (Via The Inquirer)

Howie’s name was becoming well known around league circles, and before his interview with the Jets, the Eagles team President Joe Banner, and Mike Tannenbaum had discussed Howie Roseman.

Tannenbaum stated, “Could somebody be that persistent and be normal?”

Howie, if nothing else, was dedicated to reaching his goal. He did not get the job, but he learned from the experience and knew he would be more prepared for the next opportunity to arise. His tenacious desire to work in the NFL paid off a year later.

In 2000, the Eagles and Joe Banner agreed to meet him. Banner still had the same concerns about Howie’s unrelenting letters requesting employment, that he had joked to Tannenbaum about a year earlier.

Banner joked “Was this guy the most persistent guy in the history of America or was he crazy? Should we stay away from him, or should one of us interview him?”

Howie was willing to be the butt of a good-natured joke as long as he got a chance for the job. He had a good interview and managed his way into the building at the old Veterans Stadium by way of an internship. He would assist in issues regarding the salary cap, but Howie had his eyes on becoming much more.

Always interested in the personnel side of the business, he spent many long nights studying film and would construct write-ups and player evaluations that he would distribute in team meetings. Eventually, he earned the trust and respect of some lifelong football “guys” who had always viewed him as an outsider. Perception due to the fact he had never played, coached, etc. He still had his doubters, and those who would never accept him, but he was starting to earn the trust of someone much more important than any of them, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. 

By 2003 he was named the Director of Football Administrations and in 2006 was promoted to Vice President of Football Administrations. His role was increasing and so were his contributions regarding player evaluations.

Slowly but surely his film studies and player evaluations were being taken more seriously. By 2008 Howie was becoming involved in the personnel side of the business and was Joe Banner’s sounding board for contracts. 2008 is also the year Howie Roseman was named Vice President of player personnel. A role he served in for 2 years, and the one that validated him as a talent evaluator.

In 2010, then-current Eagles GM, Tom Heckert accepted an offer from the Cleveland Browns to fill the same role as GM for their franchise. Upon Hekcert’s departure, Howie Roseman had done what was unimaginable 10 years earlier. He had worked his way into becoming the General Manager of the Philadelphia Eagles (although it is widely speculated he served in an advisory role to then Head Coach Andy Reid who had the final say on the roster until he left after the 2012 season).

Howie Roseman’s first time as GM

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 14: Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman is pictured prior to the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles on October 14, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

Howie Roseman’s responsibilities grew with the title, as did the expectations of doing more than studying film. He began to oversee the Eagles’ college and pro scouting departments, the medical team, and of course, manage the salary cap.

Howie wasted little time putting his stamp on the team, as he assisted in the transition of turning one of the league’s most aging rosters in 2010 and transforming them into one of the youngest.

The Eagles went 10–6 that season and hosted a wild card game. The future seemed bright, but Andy Reid was about to exude his power of having the final say on the roster, and the team would look vastly different going forward.

The Dream team

2011 is remembered as the infamous, “Dream Team” season. It began with optimism and excited many fans during the summer but was disappointing during the season. The team finished 8–8. 

If the 2011 season is known for being the “dream”, 2012 was the nightmare. The campaign started with an unthinkable tragedy during training camp. Andy Reid’s son, Garrett, was found unresponsive in a dorm room at Lehigh University’s campus. Garrett was assisting the Eagles’ strength and conditioning coach during training camp. He was declared dead when emergency personnel arrived. Andy stayed working with the team as he dealt with his grief, but neither he nor the team, ever recovered. They finished 4–12.

A new dawn

After the disappointing 2012 season, Andy Reid was relieved of his title, and the Eagles, led by Howie Roseman replaced him by making a splash. For the first time since Jeff Lurie purchased the team, they dipped into the college ranks and hired the hottest college coach, Chip Kelly.

The fast-paced offensive philosophies that Kelly brought with him from Oregon caught much of the league by surprise, and the Eagles went 10–6 during the 2013 campaign, including a surprising return to the postseason. Kelly’s stock was on the rise.

The 2014 season didn’t go as well, as the Eagles missed the playoffs. Chip intimated it was due to his personnel and personal disagreements with Howie Roseman.

Before the 2015 season, Chip Kelly asked for, and received, what Howie had coveted for so long — total control of the roster. 

Howie Roseman’s Hiatus

PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 01: Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman chat during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles on November 1, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Howie Roseman stated that he spent his 2015 year in exile, away from almost everyone else in the building. Jason Kelce described it during his Super Bowl speech. 

“Howie Roseman, a few years ago, was relinquished of all control pretty much in this organization. He was put in the side of the building where I didn’t see him for over a year! Two years ago, when they made a decision, he came out of there a different man. He came out of there with a purpose and a drive to make this possible. And I saw a different Howie Roseman. An underdog.”

Howie began studying other professional sports teams during this time to see how the successful ones went about their business. Amongst the qualities that championship teams shared, he concluded that being a good GM is “All about the people.” and building relationships.

While Roseman was in seclusion learning everything he could, Chip was publicly floundering away his opportunity. The 2015 season was a disaster. Terrible trades, bad free agent signings, and poor personnel decisions translated to bad play on the field. Before the season ended, Chip Kelly was fired and Lurie anointed his “favorite son” back as acting GM.

Howie Roseman understood how rare it is to get a GM position back, and was ready, rejuvenated, focused, and armed with a single purpose. To win a Super Bowl.

The Redemption Tour

PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 22: Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz (11) celebrates a touchdown in the first half during the game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles on October 22, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

His first order of business was to replace the man who caused him to lose his job. He brought the lessons he learned from his time away with him.

Howie never wavered and stayed true to what he had learned the previous year. Winning is “all about the people”, so he hired a people person in Doug Pederson. 

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie thought the team lacked “emotional intelligence” 

A phrase that became famous during the head coach hiring process when Lurie stated the Eagles were looking for a leader“who can connect with his players, someone with emotional intelligence.”

Despite the ridicule from fans, the press, most notably Mike Lombardi (quoted below) the hire was ultimately proven to be the best of the 2016 coaching cycle.

“Doug Pederson! Now, everybody knows Pederson isn’t a head coach. He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I’ve ever seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL”

The Eagles vastly improved in 2016 due to both the coaching, and the arrival of who was thought to be the long-term franchise QB, Carson Wentz. 

The 2017 season began in Philadelphia at the art museum, with the city hosting the NFL draft, and ended there with a joyous Super Bowl parade. 

Howie Roseman had brought the city its first Lombardi Trophy. 

Chasing Another Ring

Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, center, stands with defensive end Brandon Graham (55) offensive tackle Lane Johnson (65), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, and center Jason Kelce (62) after the NFC Championship NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 31-7. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Eagles have had a lot of success since Howie Roseman regained the GM role, and during the times the Eagles have struggled, Lurie has defended Howie like a father would their son. Some have suggested that Lurie views the Eagles via Howie-colored lenses. But who could blame him? 

Howie’s ability to run the franchise, construct the 2017 championship team, (the only Super Bowl win in Eagles history), and his success in the NFL Draft the last few years has earned equity with owner Jeff Lurie.

The Eagles have fallen short of winning another Super Bowl, but they have been in the playoffs 3 straight years and 6 of the last 7 seasons. They also appeared in SB 57, falling just short of winning their second Lombardi. 

Throughout Howie’s 24-plus years with the team, he has always remained confident.

“I’m not worried about my job, that’s not anything that concerns me. That’s out of my hands. I’m worried (about) doing what’s the best and right thing for this team to get back.”

After another impressive draft in 2024, the Eagles are positioning themselves to make a run toward Super Bowl glory again. 

If the Eagles achieve that goal, Philadelphia may erect a statue of Howie Roseman. 

From walk-on intern to being the toast of the town as the most powerful man in Philadelphia sports. Every day must feel like “Howie SZN” to him. 

As always, Thank You for reading!

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Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire