Donovan McNabb, one of the greatest lightning rods sports has ever seen, makes his return to Philly. It is taking over newspapers, radio shows talk shows, and even national media coverage. The majority of people from Philadelphia don't hate McNabb, nor do they want to do any bodily harm to him, contrary to what some may think. It's very simple: his act got tired, and Philadelphians got tired of him. These are five things people outside of Philly need to recognize before bashing Philadelphia fans (again).
Believe it or not, Donovan McNabb was never underappreciated in this city. He was never booed even close to as much as some other athletes in Philly have been.
People from Philly understand that Donovan was a very good quarterback. What national people can't seem to get is that he was not a great quarterback. He was not able to win the big games, nor come through when his team needed him most (we'll get to those later).
For some reason, national writers and fans feel the need to protect McNabb like he's their own. McNabb got his due in this city, and he had it easier than a lot of other athletes that have played in this town.
After a win. After a touchdown. At the dinner table with Sam and Wilma. All those are fine places to show off your smile and try to be fun-loving. What McNabb never seemed to get was that it was not okay to smile and giggle after an interception, or a tough loss. Donovan always seemed to be smiling.
In a blue-collar town like Philadelphia, that usually won't fly. McNabb was always doing ridiculous dances after a touchdown, which got many Eagles fans saying things like, "Come on, dude. This is football". He was a little bit too happy-go-luck for a lot of fans in this city, and it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
Donovan McNabb was a very classy guy, and by all accounts a very nice man. However, when it came to the fans, he gave them nothing, and I mean nothing. He would give all the cliched responses all the time, almost the same approach that his head coach took.
McNabb came across as trying to be superior to the fans. He would act like they owed him something after every game, and would not go out and say anything to make the fans feel good. Donovan also never got especially angry after losses. He would always say the "right" things. People in Philadelphia like to see some blowups. They want to see you throw a chair, or curse during a postgame press conference.
The bottom line is that McNabb never understood Philadelphia.
If you were listening to national analysts lately, you would have thought Donovan McNabb was the equivalent of Moses in his leadership skills. This is not the truth. While it has been disputed, a few a McNabb's teammates said he threw up in the huddle during the Super Bowl. If your supposed leader threw up in the huddle in the biggest game, what would you be thinking?
The number one unwritten rule of being a quarterback is that it is always your fault, even when it's not. McNabb apparently didn't get the memo. He was constantly coming up with reason why it was not his fault. After the Super Bowl loss, he made this quote: "Everyone wants to blame the QB, but it's definitely not all my fault that we lost that game". Are you kidding me? Or how about when he made the excuse that they lost because the team was "so young"?
Donovan McNabb very rarely took responsibility, and when you play the most important position and make the most money, you need to be able to do that.
The number one thing people outside of Philadelphia don't get is that McNabb was not a clutch performer. He very rarely led a fourth quarter comeback or a game-winning drive. The Eagles were always one of the worst teams in the league in the red zone (And now theyr'e number one, would you look at that?). He just was not a guy that other teams looked at and said, "Uh oh, we're in trouble".
But of course the most important thing is that he was 1-4 in NFC Title games. Thats is hard to do. In three of those losses, to the Cardinals, Buccaneers, and Panthers, the Eagles were favored. McNabb was horrid aside from the third quarter in the Cardinals game. Against the Bucs, he threw an interception inside the red zone on a potential game-tying drive that Ronde Barber returned for a touchdown to seal the game. Against the Panthers, he led his team to all of three points. And that's not even mentioning the Super Bowl, when he had ample chances to win, but threw three costly picks.
People outside of Philly just don't get this. Believe it or not, the fans here want a championship. Why do you think the Phillies are so beloved? McNabb had so many chances with great teams, and he almost always underachieved.
Contrary to what people who have never been to Philadelphia think, Philly fans are not monsters. They are very passionate and very knowledgeable fans who want the best from their players. Just ask the Phillies; everyone wants to come here now and play in front of a raucous sellout every night.
So, all the national media, give us a break for once. They threw snowballs at some drunk Santa Claus fifty years ago. Thirty idiots went up to the draft in '99 to boo anyone that wasn't Ricky Williams, not to boo McNabb. They had no idea that their greatest antagonizer, Michael Irvin, had a neck injury when he got hurt at the vet.
So, give us a break for once, and report some of the good things instead of all the negatives.