Donovan McNabb Bullying: Examining Both Sides of Shawn Andrews' Accusation

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Donovan McNabb Bullying: Examining Both Sides of Shawn Andrews' Accusation
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Bullying has been a big theme around the NFL these days and in our society in general, and former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb now has his name in the middle of a controversy relating to bullying.

Former offensive lineman and teammate of McNabb's on the Philadelphia Eagles, Shawn Andrews, recently accused McNabb and others of bullying him during his time with the team from 2004 to 2009, but he singles out McNabb as the major catalyst of what he claims was poor treatment.

Here is what Andrews had to say about the issue in an interview with Philadelphia radio station 97.5 The Fanatic (WPEN-FM), per Nate Olson of SyncWeekly.com:

In light of the recent bullying case in the Miami Dolphins locker room involving second-year lineman Jonathan Martin and veteran teammate Richie Incognito, Andrews has spoken out about a rocky relationship with McNabb. During a recent radio interview on Philadelphia radio, Andrews says he was “disgusted” by how McNabb treated him.

Andrews alleges McNabb and other Eagles players spread rumors concerning Andrews’ sexual orientation. The gossip spread to other players on different NFL teams, and by the end of his six years in Philadelphia, Andrews had contemplated suicide and eventually had to seek psychiatric treatment, which meant missing the 2008 training camp.

“It just felt like I was in a living hell,” Andrews says of his time with the Eagles.

“[McNabb] was a big part of it—he was a big part of my issues there. Bully is a strong word, but he was degrading to me and spread rumors. It’s bothered me that I haven’t really spoken about it.”

Since these allegations have come to light against McNabb, the retired signal-caller has shot back and denied anything like that ever took place, per Mike Sielski of Philly.com:

"That is ridiculous," McNabb said. "I don't know what comments you expect to get from me, but that is news to me and completely false. For me to bully anybody, that sounds unbelievable..."

"I don't really understand why this would come about, one, and two, how this would even be an accusation. If there's anything I can say, I was more than open to Shawn. I always tried to be open to all the guys. I'd invite them over to my house. I'd have holiday dinners or team functions, especially for the offense, every year. I'd buy all the guys gifts, if I made the Pro Bowl or not, for an appreciation. Shawn was one of the most talented offensive linemen we had. I was always happy to have him."

McNabb went on to elaborate further as to why Andrews' accusation is odd:

"Does this seem kind of odd that all of a sudden my name would pop up in a situation like this?" McNabb said. "I haven't played with Shawn in years. I haven't said anything bad. It's odd to me because again, my name is a lightning rod anytime it's mentioned. If there were issues that were going on, wouldn't that have come out?

"I don't believe bullying answers anything. I'm really taken aback by this whole accusation."

In the same Philly.com report, Andrews responded to McNabb's denial and why he said anything in the first place:

"I just did it for my conscience, man," said Andrews, a University of Arkansas alumnus who lives in Little Rock with his wife and son. "I did it for my freaking conscience, man. The normal thing to do is deny it, especially if I was in that position. So many people are coming at me, defending him because of his superstar status, but they didn't work with him. Shawn Andrews worked with him and for him. I laid it on the line for him."

As was to be expected, we have a case of he said/he said and McNabb is not going to admit he bullied Andrews even if he actually did. And that's especially true after seeing the backlash alleged bully Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins got in the wake of his interactions with fellow teammate Jonathan Martin.

With that being said, we may never know the actual truth of what went on because it appears neither side will budge in this instance, but there are some important questions to ask in the matter that are legit.

For one: Why would Andrews lie?

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Of course, the obvious answer is that Andrews could be desiring the spotlight as many will allege, but it isn't clear what Andrews would have to gain other than simple and temporary attention that will be here today and gone tomorrow.

A second question that needs to be asked is: Why did Andrews wait so long to come out with this?

It's been about four years since Andrews has suited up and he started playing for the Eagles a decade ago. That's a long time to keep such a difficult and troubling situation so close to the vest. But with the recent attention on bullying spurred on by the Incognito-Martin-Dolphins situation, it seems like as good a time as any for Andrews to come to light about this.

Even if McNabb is actually guilty of this bullying of Andrews, there haven't been any teammates to back up his claims. You would imagine at least one of his former teammates would surface in order to defend and back Andrews, but that hasn't happened just yet.

In fact, former back up quarterback to McNabb, Jeff Garcia, who was a victim in a somewhat similar situation when his former teammate, wide receiver Terrell Owens, implied he was gay in an interview with Playboy Magazine once again backed up McNabb as he did during his career, according to Sielski's report:

In 2004, Owens, who'd been Garcia's teammate with the San Francisco 49ers, implied in an interview with Playboy Magazine that Garcia was gay. But Garcia said Wednesday that he "never saw or heard anything along those lines come out of Donovan or where Shawn was unhappy or felt like he was being discriminated against in any sort of way.

"Donovan was a very playful, joking individual," Garcia said. "He always seemed to be goofing around in the locker room. He even took it too far at times, I think, in goofing around on the field during actual games. But that's how Donovan was, and I never saw anything negative or evil come out of him."

If anything, you would expect Garcia to come to Andrews' defense since they were in a similar boat. However, there is a chance Garcia simply never witnessed McNabb saying what Andrews accuses him of saying.

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The Philly.com piece also points out that running backs Brian Westbrook and Reno Mahe, both former teammates of McNabb and Andrews, came to the defense of the QB:

Two other Eagles from that era, running backs Brian Westbrook and Reno Mahe, said Wednesday that they never heard McNabb discuss Andrews' sexuality and don't believe he mistreated Andrews or gossiped about him.

"I don't ever remember seeing that," Mahe said. Andrews does. He described a culture of cliques throughout the Eagles' locker room, men who would praise one another publicly, then disparage one another once the cameras and microphones were gone.

We're still waiting on a former teammate to corroborate Andrews' side of the story and until that happens, this situation is in McNabb's favor as far as public perception is concerned. And, if this was such a problem for Andrews involving multiple players, why not come out with more names of guys who gave him a hard time?

There is no evidence that McNabb ever said any of this stuff to Andrews' face as the former offensive lineman himself didn't say so.

It is quite possible McNabb did say and do these things behind Andrews' back and the lack of a smoking gun such as a face-to-face interaction with bullying has allowed McNabb to successfully take cover.

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Or perhaps this is just one big cover-up and McNabb will forever be protected by the same teammates that he enjoyed so much success with during his tenure in Philadelphia. Allegiance is everything, and it's always likely players will have an NFL signal-caller's back since he is the leader of the team in most instances.

Like the Incognito-Martin case, this is a wildly twisted maze that is extremely difficult to navigate, and it's simply impossible to jump to conclusions with one side saying one thing and the other side saying something different.

Only time will tell if more information surfaces to prove either side correct. While we wait for that to occurs, it's left up to the readers to decide what they believe may or may not have happened.

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