Donovan McNabb Has a Case of 'Flacco Syndrome'

Tom Van Wyhe@askwyheContributor IIApril 19, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16:  Quaretrback Donovan McNabb # 5 of the Minnesota Vikings walk soff the field during the game against the Chicago Bears on October 16, 2011 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Would you vote for this candidate?

"Even these last two years, when people may look at it and say, 'Oh, he's done, or whatever.' I'm 34, 35 years old, but still, I played at the pinnacle, I played at the highest level of my career. I played there," McNabb told Fox Sports. "And I would vote for myself for the Hall of Fame."

While this quote from McNabb is semi-incoherent—isn't it implied? He played at the highest level of his career at one point—I believe the gist of his idea is, he was once at the pinnacle of the NFL, and since falling from grace, fans have forgotten.

Unfortunately, that isn't true, and suggests McNabb has a case of Flacco Syndrome, defined for the purposes of this argument as a quarterback with an inflated notion of his career and ability.

In 13 NFL seasons, McNabb never led the NFL in passing yards, touchdowns or passer rating. In the golden era of the passing game, McNabb passed for more than 30 touchdowns and completed more than 61 percent of his pass attempts only once. In eight of 13 seasons—including four of his six Pro Bowl seasons—his completion percentage was below 60.

But that isn't McNabb's point. Is it?

"Peyton (Manning) never won the big game until he won the Super Bowl finally. Dan Marino never won the big game. But does that mean his career is a failure? No. Not at all," McNabb argued. "When you sit and look at the numbers - and that's what it is when it comes to the Hall of Fame - my numbers are better than Jim Kelly, better than Troy Aikman, better than a lot of guys in the Hall of Fame, but the one thing they do have is a Super Bowl."

McNabb implies two distinct points: first, his numbers are good enough for the Hall of Fame and, second, his naked ring finger is keeping him out of contention.

To the first point, he makes his case based on the example of Jim Kelly. And when ESPN compares the numbers of the two quarterbacks, it appears to be a strong point—when if fact it is moot. 

Jim Kelly's career spanned 1983-1996, while McNabb's began in 1999. The importance of this point cannot be overstated enough, because McNabb's case must be made against his peers, not a quarterback of yesteryear. So if numbers are the medium of comparison, McNabb must be stacked against Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger, all of whom have put together more impressive career resumes. 

McNabb's second point is false, as well. It's true Peyton Manning had "never won the big game until he won the Super Bowl," nor did Dan Marino and Jim Kelly win a Super Bowl. Warren Moon and Dan Fouts didn't either.

That's not the argument.

While winning a Super Bowl is widely considered a prerequisite to the Hall of Fame, it is rarely pointed out four (listed above) of the past eight quarterbacks in the Hall from the Super Bowl era have not won a Super Bowl.

And more than a few quarterbacks—including Mark Rypien, Phil Simms, Ottis Anderson, Jim Plunkett, Doug Williams, Kenny "the Snake" Stabler, Jim McMahon and Joe Theismann—have won Super Bowls, and still await a bid to the Hall of Fame. Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe may never make it, either, and it isn't disrespectful or unfair to those quarterbacks.

McNabb's career accolades, while impressive, simply do not qualify him for the Hall of Fame. In the scheme of history, he was a very good quarterback who struggled with injuries, adversity and a dose of inconsistency much of his career. He will be remembered and revered as one of the best quarterbacks to ever helm the Philadelphia Eagles uni, alongside or ahead of Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham and Norm Snead.

None of those quarterbacks are in the Hall of Fame, either.