Donovan McNabb was not welcomed to Philadelphia by the fans on his very first day. His selection by the Eagles was heartily booed by the green- and silver-clad fans that had assembled at the 1999 NFL draft.
They were hoping their hometown team would select running back Ricky Williams out of the University of Texas. It was a tough situation to walk into, but McNabb had no choice. The only thing he could do was try to win those same fans over with his play.
McNabb brought a unique style of play to the quarterback position. He blended a very good deep ball with an effective screen passing game, along with incredible athletic ability for a man of his size. Donovan used his feet to make him a multi-faceted star quarterback. The problem that McNabb always had during his career was accuracy. He often threw short passes out of the backfield at the feet of receivers, and Philly fans grew very frustrated at the sight of 16-yard passes on an 18-yard route.
Behind No. 5, the Eagles became a perennial playoff team. The team was a regular participant in the playoffs during the McNabb era. He never put up the gaudy numbers of some of the best passers in the game, but he always won more games than he lost.
He managed games well and did not turn the ball over. He had one of the best touchdown to interception ratios in the history of the game. He led the Eagles to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl, but he was never grouped in with the best passers in the game. Why was that?
In my opinion, the reasons are that of leadership, accountability and rising up when it means the most. McNabb never struck me as a leader of this team. He always took a backseat to others like Hugh Douglas, Troy Vincent and Jeremiah Trotter. He was the quarterback, but it always seemed like he was following others.
He always seemed to have a built-in excuse when things went poorly. We didn't have any quality receivers or our running game couldn't convert 3rd- or 4th-and-1 situations. Coach Andy Reid always sheltered McNabb and protected him. It was never McNabb's fault.
When the stage was at its biggest and brightest, McNabb always shrunk. The ultimate example was on Feb. 6, 2005 during Super Bowl XXXIX against the New England Patriots.
In the final minutes of the game with his team down 24-21, Donovan had a chance to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history. What did he do, you may ask? He vomited in the huddle and was not able to call plays during the two-minute drill. This drew criticism from fans, the media and teammates in private, as well as his most vocal teammate in public, Terrell Owens.
Owens and McNabb had a rocky relationship to say the least. With the arrival of T.O., the Eagles had finally given McNabb the star receiver he had always pined for. The 2004 season was great until Owens was sidelined with a sprained ankle and fractured fibula.
He returned in time to be the Eagles' best player in the Super Bowl and vented his frustration with the McNabb incident in the huddle. McNabb and Owens had numerous disputes in the 2005 season which eventually led to the suspension and subsequent release of Owens. The feud between McNabb and Owens fractured the locker room and may have been the end of McNabb establishing himself as a team leader.
From 2006 to '09, McNabb continued as the Eagles' quarterback, but his play had begun to slip. During a 2008 game against the Ravens, McNabb was benched and replaced by second-year pro Kevin Kolb. The benching made national news and it can now be viewed as the beginning of the end for McNabb in Philly.
In 2009, Kolb started games in Weeks 2 and 3 for an injured Donovan and played well. McNabb returned as the starter but finished his season and his career in Philadelphia with back-to-back losses to the Dallas Cowboys. Say goodbye to Philly and hello to Washington D.C., along with Mike and Kyle Shanahan. Things were about to get interesting.
McNabb was traded to the rival Washington Redskins on April 4, 2010. He was let go by the team he had given 11 seasons to.He was traded within his own division to a team the Eagles would face twice a year. Philadelphia had decided it would have a better chance to win games with the combination of Kolb, who had career totals of 130 pass attempts, four touchdowns and seven interceptions, and a fresh-out-of-prison Michael Vick.
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! Red flag alert! Houston, we have a problem! Don't go in the water! Please don't feed the animals! Something is wrong here, folks.
Unfortunately for Redskins fans everywhere and for the organization that rolled the dice on McNabb, we would soon find out what the Eagles already knew. Donovan McNabb was finished as a high quality starting quarterback.
Donovan came to Washington with the thought that he was going to show the Eagles what a huge mistake they made when they traded him away. What transpired in his one season in Washington was that the Shanahans were only to blame for one thing: being the Eagles' suckers for pulling off this trade.
The Redskins received expired goods. McNabb should have had a "best used by December 2008" stamp tattooed on his forehead prior to the Redskins thinking he could lead them back to the playoffs.
McNabb played average at best as a Redskin. He struggled as always with under-throwing medium and short passes, but something else was missing. He had lost the touch on his deep ball and, most alarming to me, he had become a slow statue who was now reluctant to run with the ball when the opportunity presented itself.
He was benched before a two-minute drill against Detroit and replaced by Rex Grossman. Coach Shanahan said McNabb was not in shape to run the two minute drill and lacked the knowledge of the offense that Grossman had. This created a firestorm, but was this the first time we heard about Donovan not being able to conduct a two minute drill? I don't think so.
With McNabb's 5-8 record as a starter and the team eliminated from playoff contention, the Shanahans decided to bench Donovan and take a look at Grossman. McNabb felt like he had been treated poorly. He pouted during the last three games on the sideline. The Skins went 1-2 with Rex and scored 30 points in a game for the first time all year.
During the summer of 2011, McNabb was traded to the Minnesota Vikings, who were hoping to strike gold again, as they had recently done with Brett Favre. As the old saying goes, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Well, shame on you, Minnesota, or should I say thank you! You became the Redskins' sucker this time. McNabb lasted only six games before being benched for rookie Christian Ponder. His record as a starter with the Vikings was 1-5.
The last sign that should signal the end of his career was actually facilitated by McNabb himself. While holding a clipboard with the Vikings, he became aware that Jay Cutler had been injured while playing for the Chicago Bears. He was going to miss the rest of the season.
Donovan asked the Vikings to release him because he knew his hometown Bears would pick him up for their playoff stretch drive. The phone did not ring. The Bears felt their better option was Caleb Hanie, who had never started an NFL game in his career. Does it take a brick house to fall on you, Donovan?
While recently watching television, I came across McNabb on a talk show. It looked like he was now starting the next phase of his life with a broadcasting career. The dawn of a new day for Donovan. I thought he had finally realized his playing days are over. I was wrong.
He thinks he can still play, and that the problems he is currently encountering are the fault of Mike and Kyle Shanahan. Are you kidding me? This guy is a joke.
He went on to rip Mike Shanahan by going through a list of his past quarterbacks, reading off their records (incorrectly, I might add), and saying that even when he had success, it was basically in spite of Shanahan.
He said that even though Shanahan and Jake Plummer had gone to the AFC championship game together, their relationship soured when Plummer wouldn't listen to Shanny. When did it become a bad thing to listen to your coach?
Sounds like D Mac when he refused to wear a wristband with the plays just like Brady, Manning, Romo and many others wear. He did not mention John Elway, who won two Super Bowls with Shanahan. He also failed to mention another of the starting quarterbacks with a losing record under Shanahan...himself, at 5-8.
He attacked offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan for his lack of adapting his system to fit his talent. Kyle had major success in Houston with this offense while it was run by Matt Schaub. In 13 starts in 2011, Grossman had an identical record of 5-8, as McNabb did in 2010.He also had numbers very comparable to those of Donovan and most people consider Rex a backup at best, so what does that say about McNabb?
Finally, McNabb said that if the Redskins draft Robert Griffin III in the upcoming NFL draft, it would be a bad move because the Shanahans will ruin him. Maybe this kid will actually listen to his coach, Donovan. Maybe this kid will not carry around a "woe is me" attitude for his entire career, always feeling that he is being mistreated.
Maybe this kid will be successful because his team will follow him when he takes blame for things when they go wrong, unlike you. Maybe this kid will come up big in big games, unlike you, McNabb. And just maybe the Shanahans will be vindicated when they have success with this young, talented kid.
Don't be mad at the Shanahans for your quick demise. It is not their fault. You should be mad at the Eagles, who tossed you away like an expired gallon of milk and had the nerve to trade you to a team they would face at least twice a year and were not worried about that at all.
It sure is strange that the Packers didn't want Favre to go the Vikings, whom they would have to face at least twice a year. If you want to blame anyone, blame Father Time for catching up with you. I know you would never take the blame yourself, so just face the facts, Donovan. The Shanahans are not to blame for where you are today.