Eagles president explains why team is having just one open practice

The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the NFL’s most popular teams. Which is why it rankled some and puzzled others last month when the team announced that just one of its practices would be open to the public.

The Eagles have stayed mum on their reasons for this until now. Eagles president Don Smolenski went on local talk radio station 94WIP on Tuesday morning to explain why the team is being so unfriendly and unwelcoming to its dedicated fans.

Those certainly are reasons, though that doesn’t mean they’re good ones. It’s not really clear how holding just one open practice is best for the team when other teams (even contending teams) hold more. And the neighbors the Eagles have at Lincoln Financial Field are mostly parking lots and the other Philadelphia sports venues, only one of which is currently hosting games of any kind.

Smolenski offered additional clarification on the attendance drop at open practices last year.

The key word there is “both.” The Eagles held just two open practices in 2018, in the summertime when many people are on vacation and traveling. From 2015-2018 they held two open practices a year. When you’re only offering two open practices, looking at attendance seems pretty silly. The Denver Broncos are holding 19 (!) open practices this year. If they’re concerned about attendance, it’s only because they want to give as many fans as possible the chance to see their team.

The final reason Smolenski gave was field quality, which is actually a legitimate concern. Lincoln Financial Field will host the Eagles’ preseason games as well as an upcoming Rolling Stones concert. Field condition is an issue, but it seems like a pretty weak one considering what most football stadiums go through as multi-use venues.

Eagles fans are rabid, but like most fan bases, they want their team to win a Super Bowl. If Smolenski came out and said that the team finds open practices distracting or detrimental to its development, there would still be grumbling, but at least it would be a concrete reason. The Eagles waited over a month to offer any reasons why they’re holding just one open practice, and almost none of them hold any water. If fans are still miffed after hearing Smolenski defend the team’s decision, they have a right to be.

The Eagles finally offered reasons why they're holding just one open practice this year, but the reasons aren't all that convincing. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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