Christina Weiss Lurie is on a well and long deserved high, just a couple of hours after the victorious Eagles team finished their triumphant parade through the streets of hometown, Philadelphia. “There’s no words, but for the players it was pure bliss, pure joy,” she told HollywoodLife.com in an exclusive interview. “Some of the players were saying, ‘This is even better than the game,’ and I’m like ‘No, no, no, no nothing is better than the game, because we won, and we wouldn’t be in the parade without the game.'” For Lurie,52,, who bought the Eagles with her ex-husband Jeffrey Lurie, in 1994, the Super Bowl win is a ‘euphoric,’ ‘cloud nine’ moment after a 24-year journey. And yet, it’s not at all, her own achievement that is at the top of her mind. It’s the fans. “What’s insane is Philadelphia. You know, our fans and the city have been waiting for this for over 50 years, and there were over 2 million people out for the city in crazy green. It was great! We are so thankful for these avid, avid Eagles lovers,” she enthuses.
So what was it like for Christina, also a mom of two, as she watched the intense match between her beloved Eagles and the Tom Brady-led Patriots? “I think your mind almost shuts down, because you’re in this incredible combat… We had seen in the past how the Patriots play to the last second of of any game, and that’s what was so terrifying,” she describes. ” I kept watching the minutes and seconds go down, and I’m thinking, ‘There’s too much time on the clock. How are we going to stop him? Or get the ball back if he scores?'” It was only when Eagles player Brandon Graham forced the ball out of Tom Brady‘s hand in the final minutes of the game that Christina began to relax…a little. “Brady fumbled and we got the ball, and then we could breathe. I had some friends with me, and they were just insanely jumping up and down, and felt like we’d won the game, and I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no,’ there’s still too much time on the clock. Let’s just hope,” she recalls. And honestly, with a quarterback like Tom Brady, who’s pulled more than one miracle out of his hat, who could blame her for not having been ready to celebrate until after the final second of the Super Bowl game had finally passed.
Now, for a very important question, woman to woman, during that intense game, could she even tear herself away to take a bathroom break? “There were a couple of strategic moment where I was like, ‘Okay, nothing’s going to happen, I’m running,” she laughed. The Super Bowl win was the ultimate realization of a huge dream that Christina had for 24 years as an Eagles minority owner. But she also had other dreams and a whole other career as a highly successful independent film maker.She co-founded Vox3 films in 2004 and already has two Oscars under her belt for documentary films! Here, she answers 5 Key Questions about her role as a minority owner, her belief in opportunities for women in the NFL, her philanthropic commitments, and more.
1. You’ve been very involved as a minority owner of the Eagles. What has been your focus?
Christina Weiss Lurie: I didn’t grow up in the States, I was born in Mexico City and then grew up in London. I had no sense of what an NFL team was at first, or the sense of how sports has an amazing ability to bring people from all different walks of life together. But when we bought the team, and moved to Philadelphia, we saw that this platform could give us an incredible positive influence to make a difference in the community. That’s where I could get my hands dirty. I kept thinking, “What are the things that are important?” Whether it’s the environment, so we created Go Green. In 2003, we wanted to raise awareness about breast cancer, so we started the Eagles Tackling Breast Cancer campaign. There’s so many different opportunities and ways to make a difference. With our travel foundation, we focused on vision care, for children, largely because our first draft pick, Jermaine Mayberry, the first year we owned the team, was legally blind in his one eye. He suffered from something called an underdeveloped optic nerve. And one in five children has vision problems, and 80% of the learning that you do in school is visual. So if you can’t see, you can’t read, and if you can’t read you can’t learn. So that was the impetus for that. And then Jeffrey, what touches him the most is autism. So in the last couple of years we’ve brought autism under the umbrella of our foundation, starting the Eagles Autism Challenge.
2. There are very few women like yourself in the upper echelons of NFL management, but are there opportunities for women to have good careers in the NFL?
Christina: Yes. The head of our marketing and media is a woman, although she’s about to step down, she’s been with us for five years. It’s a difficult world, not for female execs, but for female coaches, yes. The whole locker room world, it’s a hard one to crack, but we’re trying especially on the scouting side, or on the training side, or in data-analytics, or legal. The head of our whole legal department is a great woman. We’re aware of that, and my ex-husband is very conscious of trying to give as many opportunities as possible to women. But, yes, obviously this is not a field that’s normally looked upon as incredibly female-centric. But at the league level I think they’re also conscious of that and, again, the head of Pepsi marketing came over to the league and she’s fantastic. So there are some very high level female executives. The whole organization is cognizant of trying to recruit women.
3. What were your feelings about the NFL protests this year?
Christina: I do feel that what happened because of the President, it’s become an opportunity. It’s brought players and the ownership to the table. A number of our players and Jeffrey, have met with the community members in order to discuss important issues facing our country, to share their thoughts, and come up with ways of changing the conversation, or understanding both sides, and coming up with solutions. It should not be about patriotism, because that’s not the issue there. And I think our President turned it into something that, “you’re either a patriot or you’re not,” and that’s not what this is about. Our players have looked at this as an opportunity to give back, too. One of our players (Chris Long) gave up his entire salary this year for scholarships in his home-state ( Virginia). In his mind everything starts with education. If we can’t offer education to every child in this country, you’re going to have issues. So for him, again, it’s not about patriotism. It’s about what are the issues that divide this country? What are the inequities? And how can we give back, and be helpful, and thoughtful, and come up with solutions.
4. You’ve been involved in so many important initiatives — protecting the environment, rebuilding schools in Haiti, your Oscar-award winning film Inside Job was about the corruption in the financial services industry, your other Oscar winning film was about a homeless teen. How can young women keep fighting now for causes they believe in?
Christina: I feel that there are so many things we as individuals, or at the state level, can do to follow our values and work towards what’s important. But I’m definitely looking forward to the mid-term elections this year, and hoping that we can get some balance back. I’m not trying to pick sides, I just feel that we’re in such a divisive environment at the moment. Extreme everything, instead of finding solutions that can work. But the world is not stopping for us. Others are taking the big next steps in terms of the environment, because it’s going to affect everyone. Hopefully this is a blip in time and we can then get back on the bandwagon. These are difficult times.
5. What advice can you give to young women on how to achieve their own dreams, and how to combine having a career and a family, like you do?
Christina: I was really lucky to follow my passions. There’s so many things to be curious about, and to be inspired by, or inspire. And so I never thought, “Oh, I can’t do this.” Maybe it was willful ignorance. But I also had a very supportive husband at the time, who didn’t feel that there any limitations that needed to be imposed on me, so I think that was very helpful. I think you can have both a career and children. When my children were younger I took them with me into the community to open their eyes. We’ve been incredibly lucky, we’ve lived this incredibly, I don’t know if I would call it gilded life, but in some ways, yes. But I wanted them to really understand the gift that my parents had given me, which was; be curious and go after your dreams, but work hard and make it happen. When they were in high school, I said to both of them, “I think you need to pick something you really care about and give back to the community, whatever that is.” And so one was very good at math, and so he decided he would, every Saturday, go tutor kids in a public school. And the other one, she’s more curious on a global stage, and decided she was going to raise books for an orphanage in India. She ended up raising like 40,000 books, which was way more books than this one orphanage needed. So we went many times to India with all these … It became a project, but it was a project that inspired her for her high school years.
Christina’s final piece of advice — don’t be afraid to fail. You’re going to learn from your mistakes. You’re going to learn from difficulties. Harking back to the Eagles players this year — so many of them were underdogs. Underdogs because of injuries or “because you’re not tall enough, or you’re not fast enough,” or you’re “not being able to catch the ball,” or “you can’t do this,” but together, they did.
Yes, they did, and so has Christina in so many ways. Congrats on the Eagles, the Super Bowl, the films, and on so much more!