As if to mark the occasion, coach Andy Reid gave him back his starting job. It wasn't much of a gift. Nor was it much of a choice, as second-year pro Kevin Kolb proved dreadful in relief.
Make no mistake: McNabb's benching was richly deserved. Nine days ago, in a game that would go into the books as the NFL's first tie in six years, he threw three interceptions and fumbled in overtime. After the game, Philadelphia's 10-year starter famously declared not knowing a game could end in a tie.
Then, in two quarters of action against the Ravens on Sunday, he was 8-for-10 for 59 yards, with two interceptions and a fumble.
Great quarterbacks—and perhaps McNabb's curse is having everybody believe he should've been one—go through tough times. He's allowed to have a bad stretch. But the most damning evidence coming out of Philadelphia is what's not coming out of Philadelphia. It's not just the lack of love from the fans.
It's McNabb's teammates. Where are they? Where's the show of support? I hate to invoke Terrell Owens here, but is there a single guy who stood up and declared, in effect, that's my quarterback?
For whatever reason, or maybe for a lot of reasons, McNabb inspires something less than fierce loyalty. It's a shame, really. Give him a mulligan on the "I didn't know you could have a tie" line. Also acknowledge that he's had to put up with knuckleheads of every stripe, from the aforementioned Owens to Rush Limbaugh. What's more, he's never really embarrassed himself, or anyone else for that matter.
Finally, let's concede McNabb's unmatched talent for selling cans of Campbell's Soup. But as Andy Warhol could've told him, that alone doesn't qualify you as a leader of men.
You want to know who has his back? You should also ask whom he's made better. Who among the Philadelphia Eagles has Donovan McNabb made a better football player?
Blame Reid's pass-happy play-calling if you must. Blame the lack of supporting stars. But blame McNabb, too. It's a mistake to continue to cast McNabb as a passive observer in the drama that inevitably swirls around him. He shouldn't be so helpless. He is, after all, the quarterback.
He's put up great numbers. But with the last two Sundays in evidence, he remains as capable of mediocrity as brilliance. Philadelphians recall too many seasons that ended on McNabb interceptions.
Now the Eagles are almost four years removed from their loss in the championship round. McNabb has missed bunches of games with a sports hernia and a torn ACL. Still—and this is just a fact—the best and most inspiring quarterbacking the team has seen since their loss Super Bowl loss to New England was done by Jeff Garcia.
By virtue of talent and tenure, McNabb should be an icon, at least in Philadelphia. I understand that he's never delivered a victory parade. But neither did Allen Iverson, a man more flawed, perhaps, but also more loved and respected.
Iverson's passion was palpable, though. McNabb's is not. Maybe that's part of it, too, a crisis of demeanor.
Whatever the case, McNabb's birthday coincides neatly with the beginning of his end in Philadelphia.
Said Andy Reid, "I think I know Donovan better than anyone in this room."
But still not well enough.
On the Mark
Don't tell me that the prospect of a Jets-Giants Super Bowl is too far-fetched.
|No jokes. No lines. Just enjoy. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)|
I mean, what were the odds of Turtle spending the weekend with Meadow Soprano?
Oops. Oklahoma just scored again.
Not for nothing, but did you get the feeling Texas Tech was playing without shoulder pads?
Quick, what's the difference between the Lions and the Thanksgiving Day floats?
The floats have a better chance of hitting someone.
Read in USA Today that Michael Jordan—the public face, chief executive, and part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats—is in Dubai.
And not expected back until December.
Basically, Axl Rose is more accessible.
Charlie Weis says that Notre Dame "has gone from a crummy team to a decent team."
This after losing at home to Syracuse, which is two rungs below crummy.
Of course, this is the same Charlie Weis who assured his players and the press that Notre Dame would have a "decided schematic advantage" against every opponent.
Already the oddsmakers have USC favored by 29.5.
And you've got to wonder what that number would be without the schematics.
All that said, Weis would be Coach of the Year in the AFC West.
Now that Pacman is out of rehab and fully healed, it's only a matter of time before Jerry Jones asks Bush to grant him an executive pardon.
There's this rumor that the Major League Soccer season has finally come to an end.
"I looked it up," said a friend. "It began before baseball, Mar. 29."
Mar. 29? I ask. Of what year?
No NASCAR, no MLS, no Davis Cup. How will we ever get by?
|At what point did boxers say, "You know who has a great fashion sense? Pro wrestlers."(John Gichigi / Getty Images)|
Liked what I saw Saturday from Ricky Hatton, but the girlfriend couldn't have been more impressed with Brooklyn's Own, Paulie Malignaggi, and his electric blue loincloth.
"That last time I saw an outfit like that," she said, "was 1982, Halloween in West Hollywood."
She would've died for Hector Camacho.
It's been two weeks since the Yankees offered CC Sabathia $140 million, and if I didn't know better I'd think he might not want to play in New York.
I don't know if Mark Cuban has committed any insider trading violations, but why should Cubs fans have to be punished even more?
In a related development, Oakland A's owner Lew Wolff thinks the baseball playoffs should be single-elimination.
Such a proposal would find great support on the North Side of Chicago.
I mean, why prolong the agony?
You know the NBA season isn't off to a great start when the only thing people can talk about in 2008 is 2010.
My knee surgery couldn't have gone worse: no pain, no sympathy, no drugs.
Ed Tapscott, among the smartest, most charming and big-hearted guys I know, has just been made coach of the Washington Wizards.
But, hey, bad things happen to good people.
This article originally published on FOXSports.com.
Read more of Mark's columns here.