Philadelphia Eagles: Donovan McNabb the Franchise Quarterback Retires

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Philadelphia Eagles: Donovan McNabb the Franchise Quarterback Retires
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Greatest Eagles QB Ever Hangs Them Up

With Donovan McNabb leaving football for broadcasting, here's a look back at his Eagles career...

In 1999, the Philadelphia Eagles used their first-round pick (second overall) to select Donovan McNabb from Syracuse. It was a pick that saved the franchise from being the poor stepsister of the NFC East and made them a perennial contender for the Super Bowl for the next decade.

We all know what else happened that day. The local Philadelphia sports station bused 30 Eagles fans calling themselves "The Dirty 30" to the draft in New York to boo the selection of Donovan McNabb.

It was an act that has been rehashed to death by the national and local media, by the fans calling in to sports talk radio programs and by the hosts (and organizers) themselves.

If ever you want to point to an example of why Philadelphia is labelled a negative sports town, look no further. Thirty people—grown adults, not to mention the people it took to organize the event—took time out of their lives to take a two-hour bus trip up to New York and a two-hour bus trip back for the sole purpose of booing and heckling another human being whom they had never even seen play his position at the professional level.

However much the fans and media liked to bring that moment up, it was a subject rarely brought up by the man who was the focus of such negative hostility. In fact, the few times it was brought up directly to him he always downplayed the event.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

 

 Oh, they'll tell you he was obsessed by it, but McNabb was never the one harping on it. That was the radio station and their morning show host and his sidekicks who were obsessed with McNabb, not the other way around. But people with big egos and agendas usually like to exaggerate their impact on things.

 There was a story written by Michael Klein originally published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on March 18, 2007, that sums up the relationship between the sports talk radio station, their on-air personalities and McNabb perfectly.

The morning radio show's host and newswoman were at dinner with their spouses at the Water Works restaurant behind the Philadelphia Art Museum when in walked McNabb and his family. McNabb noticed the radio personalities and bought them a round of drinks. To thank McNabb, the radio station news woman paid for the bottle of champagne McNabb and his wife were drinking and sent a message thanking him for "keeping [them] employed."

McNabb reportedly was perplexed and asked, "What does that mean?"

The morning show host summed it up best when he told reporter Michael Klein, "He was very much the gentleman."

Very much the gentleman? You mean not openly bitter towards the people who daily put the skewers in him?

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

 

 As a matter of fact he seemed outwardly oblivious to the fact the every morning, every day, the radio hosts on that station, made a living picking apart every single part of McNabb's game, his personality and his dedication to his team and the goal of winning the Super Bowl.

 They even took him to task for being a family man who was still close with his parents. The nerve of the guy, keeping a close relationship with the loving parents who raised him to become a premier athlete and decent human being.

McNabb, a deacon's son from a strong, close knit family, always carried himself like a gentleman and a class act—and was actually mocked for it in some very vocal circles.

We'll get to that later.

Make no mistake, when McNabb joined the Eagles, they were awful. As bad as the team was during the doldrums of the '70s, the Ray Rhodes era may have been even worse. The 1998 season was actually beyond awful.

The team went 3-13, with that 13th loss coming on the rainy, freezing, miserable day of December 27, as the New York Giants defeated the Eagles 20-10.

  The Eagles starting quarterback that day: Koy Detmer.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

 

 McNabb spent a season learning behind veteran quarterback Doug Pederson and he took over as the starting quarterback for the Eagles in 2000 during which he led the team back to the playoffs for the first time since 1996. The team went 11-5 in the regular season and won their first-round playoff game against Tampa Bay, their first playoff victory since 1995.
 
For the next three seasons McNabb, with very few weapons around him, excelled and made it to the Pro Bowl each season.

 The Eagles teams of those seasons were basically a great defense and an offense with Donovan McNabb and Duce Staley. The receivers were mediocre to poor. The ones who could catch (James Thrash, Freddie Mitchell) couldn't get open and the ones who could get open (i.e. Todd Pinkston) couldn't catch.

McNabb detractors will say the success of those teams--and by extension McNabb--was due solely to the defense. While its true those defenses were great you still need to score. You still need your offense to produce and Eagles fans need only to look back at the Buddy Ryan era (and believe me they do with Kelly Green tinted glasses firmly affixed) to see that having a great defense doesn't necessarily mean success.

  Number of playoff wins with that defense and offense under Buddy Ryan: zero.

McNabb led the team to the playoffs again the following year, again defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

 

In the second round, the team went into Chicago to take on the 13-3 Bears and defeated them 33-19.

McNabb threw two touchdowns and rushed for another, as the Eagles upset the team many observers had picked to be the Super Bowl champs on their home turf.

In the NFC Championship Game against the heavily favored St. Louis Rams, who looked to be back in their 2000 "Greatest Show on Turf" mode, the Eagles fell 29-24 after having the lead at halftime.

 The Rams, who just two seasons prior had won the Super Bowl, used Marshall Faulk to run all over the Eagles defense in the second half scoring points and eating up huge chunks of the clock.

 The following season was to be The Season. The building process around their first round quarterback and their aggressive defense was to be complete. No one looked like they could challenge the Eagles.

 After opening the season with a heartbreaker of a loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Eagles went on a tear and were 6-3 going into a game on November 17 against the Arizona Cardinals.

On the third play of the game, McNabb was hit hard by Levar Woods and Adrian Wilson, fell awkwardly and fumbled the ball. He got up limping. He went to the sideline and had his leg taped up and then returned to the game during the next Eagles possession.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
McNabb broke his leg on this play--and then threw 4 TDs

 

 He then went on to complete the next 19 of 24 passing attempts for 255 yards and four touchdowns on what was later revealed to be a broken leg.

McNabb missed the rest of the regular season.

He rushed his rehab in order to return for the Eagles playoff meeting with the Atlanta Falcons. There he went up against Michael Vick and even while hobbling on his bad leg and seeming a step slower he still completed 20 of 30 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown en route to 20-6 victory.

 His counterpart, the "Human Highlight Reel" Vick, went 22 for 38 throwing zero touchdowns and two interceptions. McNabb, rusty and with a recently healed broken leg, also managed to rush for just six fewer yards than the mobile Vick.

This set up the most heartbreaking game in Eagles, and possibly all of Philadelphia sports history: the 2002 NFC Championship Game. The Eagles were once again facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and were favored.

This was to be a cakewalk. The Eagles owned Tampa in their meetings the previous two playoff seasons and had beaten them handily earlier that season at home.  

Tampa Bay supposedly couldn't play in the cold having never won a game played below 30 degrees in the history of their franchise. It was 20 degrees at kickoff with a wind chill of seven—seven!

 

 It was to be the final Eagles game at Veteran's Stadium, which was supposed to lift the intimidating Eagles crowd to even higher levels of feverish insanity.

And it started off great.

Brian Mitchell returned the kickoff 70 yards to open the game. The cheering from the run back had not died down by the time Duce Staley ran the ball into the endzone on the second play from scrimmage. Just 45 seconds into the game, the Eagles were ahead by seven.

Bedlam in the crowd ensued.

  Then the bottom dropped out.

The next possession the Buccaneers methodically made their way up field into field goal range and put three points on the board. The next possession for the Eagles was a three and out, after an incomplete pass and two runs by Dorsey Levens went for a combined gain of one yard.  

Andy Reid and Jim Johnson, known for their aggressiveness, both went to game plans that were so conservative Karl Rove would've blushed.

As in the St. Louis game the year before, Jim Johnson's defense couldn't stop the run. There was no pressure put on Tampa quarterback Brad Johnson whose mobility has been compared to that of the Statue of David.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Stake in the heart

 

The Eagles offense never got much going for it either. 

 With 1:57 left in the first quarter, Brad Johnson hit a crossing Joe Jurevicius who took the pass for 71 yards setting up the go ahead touchdown.

The offense couldn't get in rhythm, the defense couldn't get off the field and the fans in attendance sat in stunned—and freezing cold—silence as the unthinkable unfolded in front of their eyes and The Season came to an end.

 The enduring image is of Rondae Barber jumping a route late in the game, picking off McNabb and returning the interception for the six points that drove the nail into the coffin of the Eagles season.

  The city began turning on McNabb then.

The radio hosts and listeners who had made fools out of themselves at the draft sharpened their knives and set out to prove they were right all along. That NFC Championship loss was McNabb's fault and all they needed to do to prove themselves right was to point at the highlight of Barber's interception.

Never mind that had the Eagles actually scored a touchdown on that drive, they'd still have been down three points and would've had to rely on a defense that couldn't get off the field for the second consecutive NFC Championship game to get them the ball back with little time remaining.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

 

Never mind the fact that both Reid and Johnson were totally out coached (a theme Reid would revisit many times in his playoff career).

 Never mind the team lacked skilled players at two positions: wide receiver and line backer, the absence of both coming back to bite the team.

 Never mind Michael Pittman and Mike Alstott ran through the Eagles defense like they were made of wet paper bags.

Never mind all of that; it was McNabb's fault.

The next season started out terribly for the Eagles and they dropped their first two games in embarrassing fashion.

 Noted loud mouth and right wing propagandist Rush Limbaugh (who somehow got a gig as "the voice of the fans" on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown) basically called McNabb a fraud who was being overrated and propped up by the league and media because of a secret desire to see a black quarterback excel. (Apparently Rush never listened to Philadelphia sports talk radio).

McNabb, again, dealt with this with dignity and class and it wasn't surprising.

Race did play a huge part in how McNabb was perceived by a select few; to ignore this would be dishonest.

 

For those witty geniuses in corner bars who use the phrase BQS (Black Quarterback Syndrome) to explain why only one black quarterback has won a Super Bowl, "Dunavin" could do no right because he was a black man playing in a predominantly white position.

  But the door swung both ways and McNabb even took heat from the African-American community.

 NAACP Philadelphia Chapter president J. Whyatt Mondesire wrote a scathing article accusing McNabb of selling out his race by refusing to run the ball more.

Mondesire called McNabb "mediocre" and basically echoed the same statements as Limbaugh and un-necessarily brought race into the discussion.

Bigotry and ignorance can be found anywhere: in the dark corners of local bars and rec rooms, from the keyboard of a NCAAP Chapter president and from the lips of a multimillionaire "voice of the fans".

After the Limbaugh comments the team bounced back and won 12 of their next 14 games.

They again made it to the playoffs. McNabb again made it to the Pro Bowl.

The Birds' first-round opponent was the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre, who had most of the nation and football media pulling for him due to the recent death of his father.

 

 The Packers jumped out to a 14-0 lead early, but the Eagles took control of the game in the second half tying the score at 14. The Packers took a three-point lead which set the stage for one of the greatest moments in Eagle history: 4th and 26.

 Down three with 1:12 left in the game, on their own 26-yard line and facing fourth down and 26 yards to go, McNabb dropped back in the pocket and threw the ball down the middle of the field between two defenders into the leaping arms of Freddie Mitchell who made a spectacular catch 28 yards down field.

 It was an amazingly clutch throw and catch.

The Eagles kept driving, and Akers kicked a field goal to tie the game and send it in to overtime where on the first possession Brett Favre chucked the ball up for grabs to an area of the field that no Green Bay Packer was remotely near and was picked off.

 Akers kicked a field goal to win the game. 

  McNabb went 21 for 39 throwing for 248 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions and rushed for 107 yards himself.

The Eagles were back in to the NFC Championship game.

To say the 2003 NFC Championship Game was a disaster would be to put it mildly. McNabb got hurt early, Todd Pinkston and James Thrash were both absolutely horrid. They got pushed around by the Panther secondary, ran the wrong routes and gave up on throws all game.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

 

 The Eagles scored just three points (three points!), and Koy Detmer had to finish the game due to McNabb sustaining fractured ribs.

 The receivers were so horrendous that the front office finally woke up and realized they needed a receiver to compliment their franchise quarterback, so they traded for Terrell Owens.

 With Owens the offense was now a machine. From the opening day destruction of the New York Giants, McNabb, Owens, Westbrook and tight ends Chad Lewis and LJ Smith picked apart defenses.

Most games were laughers. The offense was clicking; the defense was dominate.

 Many great moments happened that season.

 The Eagles jumped out to a 13-1 record before essentially shutting all of their starters down for the remaining two games of the season, no doubt influenced by the ankle injury Terrell Owens sustained against Dallas on December 19.

 McNabb made yet another Pro Bowl and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Year.

He completed 64% of his passes, threw for 3,875 yards, 31 touchdowns, only eight interceptions, his quarterback rating was 104.7, it is amazing what a quarterback can do when he has a receiver to throw the football to.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
NFC Champs, 2004

 

 It was a fantastic time to be an Eagle fan as even without Owens the Eagles rolled over the Minnesota Vikings and once again the Michael Vick led Atlanta Falcons, this time in the NFC Title game, to return to the Super Bowl for just the second time in the team's existence.

McNabb gets unfairly criticized for the Super Bowl mainly for the three interceptions he threw—which does have some validity—but the third of which was a desperation pass from the Eagles five-yard line with 17 seconds left and no timeouts. I'm sure if the pass was completed to LJ Smith, they'd have had no problem going an additional 72 yards with 10 seconds and no time outs.

 Despite the other two INTs, McNabb had a solid game and was not the reason for the loss.

He looked shaky in the opening drive but then settled down.

He went 30 for 51 throwing for 357 yards and three touchdowns to go along with the three INTs against a defense that had just completely shut down the Colts and the Steelers to get to the Super Bowl, their third in four seasons. Those are better numbers than the winning quarterbacks of the next four Super Bowls.

   The other event that McNabb gets criticized for is throwing up at the Super Bowl, which never happened.

There are about seven billion TV cameras (rough estimate) at the Super Bowl, a majority of which are focused on the quarterback of the team that has the ball on offense.

A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

 

If McNabb really did throw up at the Super Bowl there would be some video evidence of it and there is none. Not one second of footage from any camera anywhere at the Super Bowl shows McNabb throwing up. No player ever said it happened, in fact any player ever to comment on it has said the opposite. 

 McNabb throwing up at the Super Bowl is pure myth.

A myth propagated again by the sports talk station in Philadelphia, whose midday hosts to this day go out of their way to badmouth McNabb and even play the sound effect of a person vomiting every time his name is mentioned. Stay classy, fellas.

 This is what did happen: McNabb took a hit high from Richard Seymour.

The next play there was a bad snap and McNabb scrambled up the middle for no gain being stopped in his tracks from a helmet first hit delivered by Tedy Bruschi. McNabb was dazed, possibly concussed, and struggled to call out the play in the huddle as attested by receiver Freddie Mitchell.

  McNabb got his bearings back and completed two of the next four passes to Mitchell and Westbrook for a combined 23 yards and then delivered a 30-yard touchdown pass to Greg Lewis in the back of the endzone to bring the Eagles within three points.

Nowhere in that sequence did he throw up, but even if he did, so what?

 

 Even if he puked all over the field, wet himself, collapsed into the fetal position and wept like a baby what does it matter? The drive ended with a beautiful 30-yard touchdown pass.

If every time a quarterback vomited on the field he ended that drive with a 30 yard pass for a TD, trainers would be spiking their quarterbacks' water bottles with ipecac.

After the Super Bowl run, the 2005 season was a mess in large part due to Terrell Owens going off the rails. Angry about his contract (the same one he signed after the Eagles traded for him just the year before) Owens drove a wedge between himself and the team.

 Being the shrewd manipulator that Owens was he knew who to target: McNabb.  

Owens, unprovoked, said this to the media, "I'm not the one who got tired in the Super Bowl." This was an obvious reference to McNabb and a call to arms for the McNabb haters. And for what? More money for Owens.

 The narrative was now spelled out in the press: Owens was the hero who played a great game in the Super Bowl on a busted ankle, and McNabb was the choke artist who got tired and vomited on the field. McNabb couldn't win without Owens. The Eagles only made it to the Super Bowl the season they got him. This of course ignores the fact Owens did not play in either of the Eagles playoff games leading up to the Super Bowl, but what did that matter?

A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

 Truth had no bearing in any of this, but it made great headlines and great conversation on radio, which meant in turn great ratings for the latter, which is what it's all about.

   Owens was eventually dismissed and as he's subsequently shown in Dallas, Buffalo, Cincinnati and even Seattle his ego and drama queen act far outweigh his on-field talents.

2005 continued to be bad even after Owens departure.

McNabb had taken a beating over his career. Michael Vick whines and cries about how officials don't protect him, but McNabb took a worse beating than Vick ever has. He never complained about it though.

  Maybe it was because of his size. At 6'2" and 245 pounds McNabb looked like he could take it, and take it he did.

Ike Reese and Hugh Douglas, former teammates of McNabb, have said in the past that McNabb regularly worked out and weight trained with the linemen, an apparent rarity in the NFL for a QB, and that he could bench press as much as the offensive linemen paid to protect him and the defensive linemen paid to dismantle opposing quarterbacks.

  Despite his size, the beatings came regularly and the body does wear down.

For a man whose heart was openly questioned in Philadelphia, he certainly played through a lot of pain.

The broken leg against Arizona.

  He had his ribs broken early in the 2003 NFC Championship game on an uncalled late hit while laying defenseless on the ground and stayed in the game for as long as he could.

  He had his ribs broken on another uncalled late hit again against Carolina after rushing for a touchdown and was laying defenseless on the ground in 2009. He only missed two games.

 In 2005 he took two hits simultaneously in the opener against Atlanta and sustained a sports hernia.

He continued playing that game, and for months after despite the fact every time he tossed a football the throwing motion ripped his abdominal muscles and intestines apart. He later injured his hamstring that season and played through that as well. Only after the Eagles suspended TO and realizing the season was in the tank when McNabb shredded his groin muscle in a Monday night game against Dallas did the quarterback go under the knife and have surgery to repair his injuries.

 2006 started brilliantly for McNabb and the Eagles. They were 4-1 and McNabb had a weekly 113 QB rating early in the season. Over the next four games the team and its quarterback hit a rough patch and struggled. McNabb suffered an ACL and meniscus tear in the Eagles 10th game that season.

 He was expected to miss a full year of action leaving his play for the 2007 season in doubt, but he returned months ahead of schedule to lead the rebuilding Eagles to an 8-8 finish winning their last three games. McNabb, who sustained an ankle injury during the season started 14 of the 16 games and the team went 8-6 with him as the starter.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

  On a rebuilt knee and a bum ankle, returning months ahead of schedule from rehab, McNabb had a 61.5% completion rating, threw for 3,324 yards and had a quarterback rating of 95.5.

  2008 was the rebirth year and McNabb's true last hurrah with the Eagles.

He completed 60.4% of his passes, threw for 3,916 yards and 23 touchdowns. After struggling a bit midseason, and the team hovering around the .500 mark, the Eagles won five of their last six games including a demolition of the Dallas Cowboys at home in a de facto playoff game to end the season strong.

 McNabb completed 12 of 21 passes for 175 yards, two touchdowns and ran in a touchdown himself in the Eagles 44-6 victory over the Cowboys which sent them back to the postseason for the sixth time in McNabb's career.

They went into Minnesota and beat the favored Vikings 26-14.McNabb's line for the day 23 for 34, 300 yards passing, one touchdown, one interception.

 Next up was a road game against the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants where McNabb outplayed Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning to return the Eagles to the NFC Championship game for the fifth time in his career.

 Again, the Eagles failed and again the blame fell on McNabb's shoulders. He completed 28 of 47 passes for 375 yards. He ran twice for a combined 31 yards.

Nick Laham/Getty Images

  He led a second half comeback.

The Eagles entered the half down 24-6. McNabb led the team back to take a 25-24 lead in the fourth quarter.

  The Cardinals got the ball back with 10:39 remaining and did not relinquish it until they scored a touchdown and two-point conversion with 2:59 left in the game. Again, the Eagles defense could not get off the field in the crucial moments during the second half of a NFC Championship game.

 The Eagles got the ball at their own 20 needing a touchdown to tie. They made it to the Arizona 47 before four straight incomplete passes—the last of which hit a clearly interfered with Kevin Curtis right in his hands—ended their season. 

Once again it was the quarterback.

  It wasn't the defense that let Arizona run and pass all over them in the first half and hold the ball over eight minutes during their fourth quarter touchdown drive.

It wasn't the coach who, yet again, did not have his team prepared going into a big game and was then out-coached throughout.

  It wasn't the star running back, Brian Westbrook who was held to just 45 yards rushing.

 It wasn't the beloved kicker, David Akers, who missed a field goal from 47 yards in the second quarter and missed an extra point during the second half comeback forcing the Eagles to go for a two-point conversion which failed late in the game.

It wasn't Kevin Curtis who dropped a fourth down pass that would've extended the Eagles' last drive.

 They say quarterbacks get all of the glory and all of the blame, but this was never weighted evenly for McNabb.

 In 2009 McNabb returned and again played well. He missed two games due to broken ribs sustained during the opening game against Carolina and the team went 10-4 with him as the starter. He completed 60.3% of his passes for 3,553 yards, threw 22 touchdowns and had a QB rating 92.9.

  With the emergence of star receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, McNabb again had a good receiving corps and put up some of the best numbers of his career.

 The year ended with back to back defeats in Dallas. McNabb did not play well, but neither did any Eagle. The offensive line was decimated with injuries and they needed to use a back up center, Nick Cole, who literally had trouble snapping the ball between his thighs to the quarterback.

 Someone apparently forgot to pick up DeSean Jackson at the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport for either game as well.

After the disappointing first round elimination, Kevin Kolb was being hailed as the next great franchise quarterback.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
The End

The puff pieces were written about him in all the publications. He became a media darling, the "Coach's Son" bred to play quarterback.

 Andy Reid was singing Kolb's praises and the writing was on the wall for McNabb.

 On Easter Sunday, 2010, the son of a deacon, was traded to the Washington Redskins.

 Sam McNabb, went a tad overboard by comparing Donovan starting over in Washington to the Resurrection of Christ, but obviously Sam was a little out of sorts because of the trade.

 McNabb went to Washington, didn't play great, didn't play terrible. The team was terrible that was for sure. He didn't fit in the system, didn't get along with the coaches who apparently never wanted him there in the first place, you know since he didn't fit their system.

He wound up in Minnesota, another terrible team, and again did not play well. He asked to be released after being demoted to backup quarterback. He was not picked up by another team, yet didn't seem too perturbed by that either.

 A once glorious career went out with a whimper of disinterest.

 During his career, he was hailed nationally as an elite quarterback and a great person.

But by some in his adopted hometown, he was mocked for having a close relationship to his parents, his mother in particular who he appeared in a number of Campbell's Soup Commercials with. For this McNabb was called a "Mama's Boy."

Larry French/Getty Images

 In the same town Phillies star, Ryan Howard, is on an allowance from his mother and that is thought of as charming.

 In a time when the sports section is full of stories about corruption, crime, domestic abuse, gun-related violence, dog-fighting rings, homicides, etc. McNabb has never been cited for so much as a traffic ticket. He is a family man, married to his college sweetheart and raising four children, who donated hundreds of thousands of dollars and raised millions more to open a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Voorhees, NJ.

 In other words he is an actual role model.

 He was called a choke artist who "couldn't win the big game" until he did, and then the next game became "the big game".

 He never won a Super Bowl so he's not thought of as great because that's the insane measuring stick people use to judge such things. This logic says Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer are great and Dan Marino is mediocre.

 Not everyone wins. That's life. In 2004, the Patriots were a better team, had a better coach, a better defense and, yes, a better quarterback—they also allegedly cheated, which helps.

 In 2001, St. Louis was the better team, the Eagles were just coming into their own and still came within half a football field of going to the Super Bowl in just McNabb's second year as starter.

In 2002, McNabb was a hobbled QB on a healing leg and had to face a monstrously aggressive defense that caught the Eagles coaching staff completely off guard. The Eagles also had no decent linebackers or receivers and the Buccaneers exploited those deficiencies consistently.

 In 2003 his ribs were broken early in the game and he played through horrendous pain but, with the help of some incredibly inept receivers who couldn't catch or run their proper routes, he was ineffective. Koy Detmer finished that game. 

  Had the Eagles by some miracle won with Detmer, team doctors said he'd have been the starting QB in the Super Bowl as McNabb would never have healed in time. Koy Detmer, James Thrash and Todd Pinkston going up against the Patriots in the Super Bowl would not have been pretty.

In 2008 against Arizona, McNabb threw three touchdowns and for 375 yards, he put up 25 points and his kicker left four points on the field. Twenty-five points should be good enough to win in the NFL (29 would've been better). It wasn't that day mainly because the Eagles defense wasn't good enough.

He was accused of being too inaccurate and throwing "worm balls" at receivers' feet. He threw for a franchise record 32,873 yards and 216 touchdowns. If he was that horrible of a passer he must've put these numbers up using some sort of voodoo magic.

It's been said he never led the Eagles to a comeback victory, but the fact is he led them to 24 fourth quarter comeback/game winning drives. Also, when you're ahead in the fourth quarter as the Eagles often were you don't need to comeback.

The Eagles have won a total of 19 playoff games in their entire history. Donovan McNabb was the starting quarterback for nine of them.

 

 Between Randall Cunningham and Donovan McNabb the Eagles have had the following players start at quarterback: Bubby Brister, Ken O'Brien, Jim McMahon, Rodney Peete, Ty Detmer, Bobby Hoying, Koy Detmer and Doug Pederson. That was just under a decade. Finding a franchise quarterback is not easy.

 Replacing one is difficult as well. The Kevin Kolb era lasted all of one quarter before that crashed and burned spectacularly. Kolb is now the back up to Jon Skelton in Arizona.

 Michael Vick had six games in 2010 where he dazzled but has since reverted to being the turnover machine who is incapable of reading a defense or properly protecting the football or himself.

 Nick Foles should be getting his chance sooner than later. We'll see how that shakes out.

 When McNabb returned as a Redskin in 2010, the knives were out again and the radio jackals that screamed for his departure for over six years staged an anti-McNabb rally before the game in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field--it was poorly attended.

They encouraged fans attending the game to boo McNabb during his introduction; they gave him a standing ovation.

 It was never the true Eagles fans who hated McNabb, who overreacted with every bad pass, who mocked him for his strong ties to his family or who unfairly called him a choke-artist, it was the small, very vocal, negative, reactionary, hyper-critical portion of the fan base who passionately love their team but sometimes that passion clouds their vision.

 After the Redskins game in 2010 McNabb was clearly touched by the fan's response. He wrote a note to the fans on his Yardbarker blog.

I hope that everyone has an opportunity in their lifetime to experience what I did Sunday because words can hardly describe it.

It’s no secret I went home again....and was greeted with an ovation that was overwhelming. Philadelphia - you gave me chills during that pregame introduction. I know many people didn’t know what to expect but I knew there were many fans I met over my 11 seasons who expressed nothing but positive feelings towards me. Previously, they may have been considered the silent majority but Sunday they made their feeling heard - loudly. I sincerely appreciate that support.

 

When McNabb comes home again for the final time when the Eagles retire his number five jersey they'll be another ovation for the man who loved the fans here and wanted nothing more than to lead them in a parade down Broad Street on some February afternoon.

Doug Benc/Getty Images

Sometimes people just fall a little short, but that should not overshadow all of their other achievements.

 

 

 

 

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