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Just like that, it’s over. The Donovan McNabb era ended on Easter Sunday. The 11-year veteran will begin the next phrase of his star-crossed career as a member of the Washington Redskins.
I think he should stay. Yes, I said it. I’m probably in the minority amongst the Eagles fanbase because the decision to be on Team Kolb or Team McNabb goes deeper than numbers. To paraphrase Chris Rock, I did not want the Eagles to get rid of McNabb but I understand.
Yes national pundits. Philadelphia Eagles fans are keenly aware that Donovan McNabb leads the Eagles in nearly every important career statistical category. However, his success was not the easiest to embrace, which is why there was a divide on him staying. This was in large part due to the chip that McNabb seemingly carried on his shoulder from the time he entered the league to present day.
That sizable chip on his shoulder was placed there during the 1999 NFL Draft. During that event, a group of loud and unfortunately illogical Eagles fans decided it was a good idea to boo McNabb when he was announced as the overall number two draft pick by the Birds.
The “Dirty 30” comprised of a bunch of rabid Eagles fans, who allegedly were the face and voice of Eagles fans. Enlisted by a local sports talk radio who thought the Birds needed to select University of Texas running back Ricky Williams, the group traveled to New York City to voice their displeasure if the Longhorn did not become an Eagle. Nevermind the fact that in the 1998 season, Bobby Hoying, Koy Detmer, Rodney Peete all started at some point at quarterback for the Birds.
Instead, by booing McNabb, those 30 individuals indirectly shaped a part of his demeanor while he was an Eagle. He never seemed to let it go.
McNabb did not let it impact him on the field though. He led the Eagles to the playoffs in his second season and the team advanced to its first NFC title game in 11 years during the 2001 season. However, as would be the case throughout the former Syracuse quarterback’s career, his team came up short in the biggest moments.
Known to some as “Super 5”, he helped lead the Birds to five NFC title games during the 2000s. Yet, McNabb only managed to punch the team’s ticket to the Super Bowl once, following the 2004 season.
Each passing season without a Super Bowl brought more frustration to the Philadelphia sports fanbase. Longing for its first NFL title since 1960, McNabb and the Eagles failed to deliver. Further compounding matters for Eagles fans, they watched McNabb’s counterparts, some far less talented, enjoy tremendous success.
Some guy out of Michigan named Tom Brady won three Super Bowls (beating McNabb for the third). The number one pick in the ’98 Draft, Peyton Manning appeared in two Super Bowls, winning one. Meanwhile, you could head west in Pennsylvania and find a two-time Super Bowl winner in Ben Roethlisberger. Trent Dilfer, Eli Manning, Brad Johnson, and Drew Brees also scratched out Super Bowl victories during the decade. McNabb could never get in on that gravy train.
Even in his greatest hour, controversy surrounded him. When the Eagles reached Super Bowl XXXIX, people widely remember two things from that game on Philly’s behalf.
- The Eagles taking nearly four minutes to drive late in the fourth quarter for a score when trailing by 10 points.
- McNabb “getting sick” during the aforementioned drive.
That was 5 though. A loss was just never a loss. Someone got thrown under the bus or some sort of controversy seemed to arise. Or as we found out in 2008, a tie was just not a tie to him. In fact, he wasn’t sure of the rules involving overtime as he so painfully pointed out following in postgame press conference in Cincinnati after the team’s sobering 13-13 tie.
His lack of football common sense did not stop there. Following the NFC title game loss to the Cardinals during the ’08 postseason, he took a swipe at his defense’s inability to maintain a 25-24 lead in the fourth quarter:
“We were up, 25-24,” McNabb said. Then, in case people missed it the first time, he repeated it for good measure. “We were up, 25-24. [The Cardinals] drove down 72 yards by running the ball – probably, what, eight times? And it reminded me so much of [the NFC championship game in] St. Louis where, coming back in that second half, they ran the ball nine times with Marshall Faulk to keep our offense off the field. Because they were terrified of us going back out and scoring more points.”
Did his comments have merit? Absolutely. They were atrocious in that game. That is not for him to say publicly though. Leave it to the media types and bloggers to jump to that conclusion. For a 10-year veteran to make that comment is perhaps a poor showing of leadership.
Again though, that was McNabb being McNabb. He seemed to lack that filter button that perhaps would help make him more of a team guy.
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He is such an amazing figure because there were numerous situations where the city could have embraced him.
How about the time he played on a broken leg versus Arizona in 2002? Maybe the Rush Limbaugh fiasco in 2003 or the Terrell Owens debacle in 2005? What about recovering from back to back season ending injuries in ’05 and ’06? Every time though, he managed to alienate the fans further.
As time passed, the Eagles surrounded him with better but younger players on offense like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin but the proverbial window of opportunity closed shut.
The Dallas Cowboys, of all teams, managed to slam the door on the McNabb era thanks to two straight embarrassing losses to end the 2009 season including a defeat in the NFC Wild Card playoffs.
Fans (and perhaps the organization) grew tired of his somewhat snide remarks but mostly importantly, they felt he had enough opportunities to win a Super Bowl and ultimately, he failed to do so.
Does McNabb deserve all of the blame? Absolutely not. The big, bad Eagles defense collapsed in every big spot in the playoffs along with McNabb. The questionable game management on the field and some personnel decisions the franchise made off the field throughout the decade caught up with them in 2009.
The best explanation from Eagles fans on the McNabb situation came from the folks over at On The DL.
It is like being married to a beautiful woman but the relationship suddenly sours and no one can understand why. People on the outside can’t imagine why a man would want to get rid of a lovely, attractive woman they have been married to for 11 years. She is beautiful and seemingly a great person.
Yet, the outsiders don’t have to live with the woman seven days a week. They don’t see her faults in the same light. They don’t understand what goes on behind closed doors.
Thus, those watching from afar may not quite grasp the situation. Nonetheless, a divorce is needed no matter how odd it appears to those observing from a distance.
Certainly, change can be a good thing but I’m still partial to the wife. Even though she may annoy me on a daily basis and say crazy things, she gives me the best chance to lead a normal life on a day in and day out basis.
Kevin Kolb may turn out to be a good quarterback but he has got a long way to go before he measures up to McNabb.