From draft day to the present, Donovan McNabb's career has never been far removed from controversy. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue was barely a breath removed from announcing McNabb as the No. 2 overall pick before Eagles fans began scrutinizing him.
While the Eagles made the right choice, particularly in passing on Ricky Williams, Donovan McNabb is presumably in the final chapter of his career without delivering a championship to Philadelphia.
But is that the real reason Philadelphia hates to love Donovan McNabb?
Donovan McNabb does not have the lightning rod personality that we as fans love to hate. He is held in high regard by teammates and opponents.
Roger Goodell will never hand McNabb a fine for excessive celebration or being a menace to society.
He always says the right thing. He's been to five NFC championships and a Super Bowl. He should be the perfect face of a franchise.
The problem with McNabb is he is too much of a nice guy.
Philadelphia does not want to get behind the nice guy. Even the mild-mannered Chase Utley gave Philly fans a bone at the All-Star game last year.
One "F--- You, Cowboys" would go a long way.
Being a nice guy does not lose games.
Or does it?
Is it possible that Donovan McNabb doesn't have the intestinal fortitude to handle pressure situations down the stretch? How many nice guys really finish first?
I've never met an Eagles fan that didn't scoff at the notion of McNabb not making the Hall of Fame. In their defense, maybe he should make the Hall. He posts consistent stats nearly every healthy season.
But if McNabb is truly a great quarterback, shouldn't he have won more than one big game?
In fact, even McNabb would have been hard-pressed to find a way to lose to the 2005 Falcons in the NFC Championship. Michael Vick led Atlanta into that game with a 73.1 rating and were never a match for the relentless Philadelphia defense.
The previous year against St. Louis, McNabb erased a first half lead by directing the Eagles to zero third quarter first downs. Down 29-24 with 2:20 on the clock and a timeout, McNabb and the Eagles began their final drive on their own 45 yard line.
It took McNabb exactly 25 seconds to throw an interception and allow St. Louis to run out the clock.
In the '03 and '04 NFC Championship games, the Eagles scored 13 points combined. In those games, McNabb threw no touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
This past year was the exception to McNabb's playoff blunders, but in all the years that Jim Johnson's defense led Philadelphia into the playoffs, shouldn't he have more than one impressive game to hang his hat on?
He has the every physical ability a coach could ever want in a quarterback. In fact, he is the rare genetic machine that also has the ability to read and identify defenses as evidenced by his better than 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio.
So why is Donovan so bad when the game is on the line?
He's just too nice a guy.
That's not exactly the reason, but it's not far from it. How many times have you, as an Eagles fan, wanted to rip the smile off Donovan's face after he throws a bad pass in a clutch situation?
Don't say I'm wrong. Everyone watches Monday Night Football and everyone stayed up to watch the Eagles close out the Week 2 game in Dallas. How in the name of Via Sikahema is it funny to throw a ball at someone's feet when the game is on the line?
Does Tiger Woods giggle as he lines up for a pressure putt in Augusta? Did Michael Jordan so much as crack a smile in his whole career?
Even Tom Brady, who has the prettiest smile in sports, somehow manages a game face and leaves his antics off the field.
Would Ray Lewis ever go to an opponent's bench after a play and pretend to make a phone call?
While I like McNabb and love drafting him in my fantasy football league, I don't believe he has the genetic composition to stand up to pressure. I suppose it can be learned, and hopefully for Philadelphia, last year was a sign of things to come.
I've heard it said that nice guys don't get the girls. In this case, I guess nice guys don't get the rings.
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