"If you ever loved me, don't— don't rob me of my hate; it's all I have!"
It's a powerful line from one of my favorite movies: The Count of Monte Cristo.
It also echoes the sentiments of most of Philadelphia's local media contingent and a smattering (albeit LOUD smattering) of its fan base. No one has been the focal point of more animosity than the man smiling in the above picture. No one person has been more fun to dislike.
In fact, he's brought just as much joy to some with his failures as he has others with his successes.
Despite all of his accomplishments, it is still the fact that he hasn't won a Super Bowl that some cling to. This, of course, is all due to the his shortcomings and no one else’s. And that's only one of the reasons some love to hate McNabb.
He smiles too much or at the wrong time; he throws low or high incompletions; he doesn't spend enough time in Philadelphia (really can you blame him for that?); he's too diplomatic; he's not a "Philly guy"; he cares more about slinging cans of soup than winning; the list goes on and on.
For the last decade it's been a one-sided bash session; McNabb took the criticism, both fair and unfair, with the same easy-going nature he always has. But it was always believed that McNabb was simply toeing the company line and if he were ever in a position to speak freely? Watch out!
With his exodus to Washington D.C. complete, Donovan was given the chance to do just that.
For showing class in a situation where most of us would have let loose a spew of venomous words, local media had a chance to take a similar tactic and be magnanimous; to end the anger and bitterness and move on.
And give up their hate? Are you out of your mind?
Instead they called McNabb's press conference hollow, saying that McNabb was, as usual being evasive and coy in his answers.
Some so-called analysts, like Brian Baldinger, chose to rip McNabb—a player he often supported—calling the Eagles fortunate to finally be rid of such a flawed quarterback.
Even as I write this, there are still more articles being written casting McNabb in a negative light, citing how players connected more with Kevin Kolb than with McNabb or how with Kolb the Eagles suddenly have "swagger." Many are saying that now, with a truly accurate quarterback, this offense will flourish and run like a well-oiled machine.
Now I'm not here to marvel at how the architect of the most successful decade in Eagles history has been so disrespected; instead I wonder, will there ever come a day when Donovan McNabb is not the object of spite?
After all, with Donovan in town there was always someone to blame for anything that went wrong.
Late game defensive collapse? "McNabb unable to score enough points to win."
Crucial drop by a receiver? "McNabb fails to complete easy pass to move the chains."
Fumble? "McNabb bungles handoff."
Overtime tie? "McNabb doesn't know overtime rules, plays Eagles into tie."
Predictable offensive play-calling? "McNabb unable to execute against defense."
Why bother to analyze game film when you can just put it on McNabb? You're guaranteed a hot topic after every Eagles loss: Today's topic —How did Donovan blow it this time?
Even when the Eagles won there were still other ways to feed the scorn. Ways of accentuating the negative in an otherwise positive situation.
Then there were the sub-plots that had little to do with football at all.
From benching to regurgitation and every Rush Limbaugh comment in between there was never a lack of fuel.
With him gone, will people still look for a way to get Donovan McNabb involved in the Eagles conversation?
It's a stretch, but it could be argued that by Donovan sticking around so long he hampered the growth of Kevin Kolb.
Some could argue that receivers are so used to catching McNabb bullets that the beautiful touch (their words not mine) of a Kevin Kolb pass would take time to adjust to.
Plus as a consolation prize, McNabb is bound to lose some games in a Redskins uniform so there's at least a few chances to revisit the animosity. Then, if he ever wins a Super Bowl there will be anger stemming from the "why couldn't he do that here?" question that will invariably be asked. Coupled with the fact that another NFC East team has won a ring while the Eagles cupboard remains bare.
And if the Eagles do win a Super Bowl with Kolb (which could easily happen) we can pick at the old McNabb scab again because it's his fault we've had to wait this long to win one.
But even the most irrational fan will eventually tire of the constant references to the ex-girlfriend who's gone on to date their cousin, won't they? Will they still be able to muster up the energy required?
Yes, yes they will.
McNabb likely will never be loved the way losers such as Jaws or Mitch Williams are. He simply won too many games to be considered a loser, and lost too many to be revered as a winner. When he gives his induction speech in Canton, I can guarantee that someone will show up just to boo, as sad and pathetic as that is.
Because for some, in the case of Donovan McNabb; Enmity Never Dies.
It is only transferred from one state to another.