This Boston boy has changed his allegiances.
Jeffrey Lurie, who purchased the Eagles more than 20 years ago, grew up rooting for the Patriots, but as his squad gets set to square off against New England in this year’s Super Bowl, the billionaire is willing to forgo his former fandom. After all, he’s got a serious investment in Philly’s gridiron success.
Here’s everything you need to know about Lurie:
1. He Bought the Eagles in May 1994
Lurie, who got his business start with Cinema Corporation, a major film company founded by his grandfather, Philip Smith, ultimately left the movie business with one goal – to buy his own sports franchise.
His name was tied to a handful of different teams – including the Los Angeles Rams and a potential expansion team in Baltimore – but it wasn’t until the early ’90s that he finally settled on Philadelphia. Lurie bought the Eagles from then-owner Norman Braman on May 6, 1994 for $185 million. According to Forbes, the team is now worth $2.5 billion.
Lurie currently serves on a handful of NFL committees – including theFinance Committee, Broadcast Committee, International Committee and the Super Bowl Advisory Committee – and while he isn’t as boisterous as some of the owners, his influence is certainly felt.
“He doesn’t seek to grab the microphone at every opportunity but when he does stand up, what he says is very thoughtful, very thought-provoking. It’s very respectful and the other owners listen to what he has to say,” Eagles team president Don Smolenski told The Washington Post.
2. Lurie Grew Up in Boston & Was a Huge Boston Sports Fan
Get ready for a good douse of irony.
Lurie not only grew up in Boston, he got his masters from Boston University and spent time as an adjunct assistant professor of social policy at the school before joining the family business. But wait, there’s more. When Lurie decided he wanted to move into the world of professional sports, there was just one team that, at the time, made sense – the New England Patriots.
That’s right. Lurie tried to buy the Patriots in 1993, but was forced to drop out of the bidding at $150 million when his family wouldn’t support the venture.
Robert Kraft went on to purchase the team in January 1994 for an estimated $175. Kraft joked about his long-time friendship with Lurie prior to the Eagles and Patriots Super Bowl in 2005. He told The Washington Post:
We’re good friends, and we talked about it being pretty cool if the two of us could be in this game together, both being Patriot fans and growing up within five miles of one another. And it’s finally happened. . . . I love him on every [NFL owners’] committee I’m on because he and I think the same way and we vote the same way. We forged a good friendship and he’s a terrific guy, and I thank him for having the second-best team in the NFL.
Lurie was a longtime New England sports fan before heading to Philly. In fact, he was in the stands on September 9, 1960, the very first Patriots game, and his family had season tickets for decades. He’s all green when it comes to football now, but Lurie still has a bit of Boston roots. He was at Game 7 of the ’04 ALCS at Yankee Stadium and took then-Eagles QB Donovan McNabb with him to Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park.
3. His Ex-Wife Christina Weiss Received Ownership Interest in the Eagles
Lurie and his first wife, Christina, first met during a production meeting for the film I Love You to Death and the two were married in 1992. The pair, who had two children together, worked together when Lurie purchased the Eagles. In fact, Christina’s hand was in just about everything to do with the organization.
She helped work on logos and color schemes, the cheerleaders outfits, charity initiatives, the “Go Green” campaign – just to name a few. Still, Christina was mostly absent from the headlines and the stories.
“I’m not going to go delving into my past,” she said. “Not that there’s anything to hide, but just for my privacy.”
Christina had ties to Philly even before she met Lurie. Her father, Stanley Weiss, was born in South Philadelphia before moving to Mexico after World War II, where he founded American Minerals, Inc.
The Luries were married for 20 years before quietly settling their divorce, but Christina didn’t walk away from the team or the franchise she helped grow. According to Page Six the two sent a memo to team personnel promising they would “continue to work together as partners” even after the divorce.
NFL.com’s Albert Breer reported in 2012 that initial reports were overstated and while Christina still owned part of the team, Lurie maintained voting stock and management authority.
4. Lurie Married Tina Lai in 2013
Lurie tied the knot for the second time in May 2013 when he and Tina Lai were married in a private ceremony surrounded by family and friends.
Of course, Lurie is a well-known face around the sports world, but his wife is just as popular in Philadelphia. Her brother, Benny Lai, owns a handful of Philly hotspots, including Vietnam in Chinatown and West Philadelphia’s Vietnam Cafe, Fu Wah Deli and the underrated Grill Fish. Lai was frequently spotted behind the counter at the Fu Wah Deli.
5. He’s Been Outspoken Regarding Politics in America
Lurie hasn’t been shy about voicing his opinion regarding the activism across the NFL this season. In fact, he was quick to push back against Donald Trump after the president called for owners to “fire” players who knelt during the National Anthem.
Lurie also disputed claims that the NFL had ‘blacklisted’ former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and added that he fully supported his player’s protests, including Malcolm Jenkins, who drew headlines for lifting his fist during the Anthem earlier this season.
Lurie told NJ.com:
I applaud anybody that can find respectful ways of trying to find their platform in some way. We all need to discuss social injustice. We’ve all seen it. It’s multiple issues. It’s not simple racial issues. There’s a lot of economic issues. Players have grit and determination, there’s no boundary on how that grit and determination gets expressed. Sports is an opportunity to bring people together. I applaud when players can bring communities together. We see it all the time. I think it’s great.
It was hardly the first time Lurie had spoken out about politics. He authored an essay in Time Magazine in March 2017, discussing the political polarization in Washington and called on authorities to tackle the serious issues.
He also donated to Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign.