Christina Weiss Lurie, minority owner of the Philadelphia Eagles football team, insisted she would let her son with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie play football despite the growing body of evidence that concussions on the field cause permanent brain damage. Her one stipulation is that "the appropriate medical personnel were on the sidelines of the field during the game."
Lurie, on the sidelines of Philadelphia Magazine's Thinkfest, argued football is not dangerous at the NFL level although the league recently agreed to pay a record $870 million settlement to former NFL players. "By the time the players get to the NFL, they have suffered 10 or so concussions," said Lurie. "We need to worry about the 10 year olds that get hurt during a game. Their brains are not fully formed."
She also pointed out that other sports are equally as dangerous. "Many of my friends' daughters ride. They fall off the horse and get right back up on the horse without being checked medically first."
Lurie reflected onstage on her improbable journey from growing up in England to one of the few female owners in the NFL. Her remarks seemed to indicate she harbors no animosity against her former husband after their divorce. Unfortunately, the interviewer, Philly.com's Diana Lind, was out of her depth and unconscious of the recent controversies swirling around the NFL.
"Having grown up in London, I loved soccer. I knew nothing about the NFL." recalled Lurie. "Being a female executive in the NFL has been an amazing journey. It's been invigorating. It's been eye opening... I was lucky to have Jeffrey Lurie as my partner when we first started. He had the same goals as I did, which was to make sure that we had a workplace environment where it did not matter whether you were a man or woman ....We actually have many female execs at the Eagles. I am really proud of that."
Lurie seemed oblivious of her inherent responsibilities as one of the few women with a seat at the NFL owners' table. She acknowledged, in a brief interview after the prepared program, she had written and talked to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the aftermath of the domestic violence incident involving former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice yet demurred on taking a leadership role in addressing domestic violence in the league.
"The women that the NFL has consulted with and named to the committee are experts on domestic violence like prosecutors," said Lurie. "I am busy with the Eagles."
Lurie, who is a two time Oscar winner, has two new documentaries coming out shortly. "Dishonesty," will air on CNBC in March, and "We are the Giant," which is set in the Middle East, is expected in theaters in December. She has recently broadened her film slate to include horror and action films. Her next project will be a biopic of a strong woman, the champagne widow Veuve Clicquot. It will star A lister Rachel Weisz.
I didn't grow up thinking about the glass ceiling," said Lurie when discussing her success in male dominated Hollywood. "Maybe it was willful ignorance, but never thought about it. In film, you want to choose the best story possible. It doesn't matter whether you are a female or male producer. It's the story that counts and how you make the film."
Her advice to women: "The female aspect never came to me. I just ignored it and went on doing what I felt I was good at. I think that is an important thing for women. Find your passion. Don't think of the limitations. Follow your dreams. The limitations will go by the wayside."