It was Sunday, April 4, 2010 at 8:17 pm when I got a text message from my friend David.
“WOW!!! McNabb to the Skins,” is all it said.
I had heard the speculation from Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer on Twitter earlier in the week. I had resigned myself to the fact that the Eagles were bound and determined to trade the greatest quarterback in the team’s history, a borderline Hall of Famer who is eight months younger than Peyton Manning.
But to the Redskins?
In the division?
My initial reaction was anger. I was angry that they had traded him to a division rival. It just seemed to reek of unjustified arrogance, typical of Andy Reid.
They in essence said, “Not only are we gonna trade you, we’re gonna trade you in the division because we think you are done. Oh, we are going to say all the right things publicly, but internally, we think Kevin Kolb is better. And we will prove it.”
They say they were doing him a favor by keeping him close to home. They say they had better offers from other teams. Maybe they did. We’ll never know.
Here’s the thing, though. When the Eagles have moved on from players like this, they are almost always right. We have pitched a fit over, among others, the following players: Duce Staley, Troy Vincent, Jeremiah Trotter, Bobby Taylor, Jeremiah Trotter again, Brian Dawkins and now, Donovan McNabb.
Those last two hurt more than ever. But they were right about all of them so far. Are they right now?
That’s not going to be discussed here. Not now. It’s too fresh, and, let’s be honest, I love the man.
He is my favorite athlete of all time. He went to the NFC championship—three times—with Todd Pinkston starting at wide receiver.
Instead, I am going to talk about the greatness that is "Super 5." Thus there will be no mention of his failure to win a title, his vomiting in the Super Bowl, his refusal to run, his not knowing the overtime rules, his constant throwing behind guys or at their feet, or his tendency to disappear in championship games.
Discuss all that amongst yourselves. I put it out there just to show that I recognize his faults, but man, what about…
Stanley Richards Getting Juked out of his Underpants
On November 26, 2000, McNabb made the play that epitomized his early career. He had broken a run to the near side and was in the open field, when Redskins safety Stanley Richards came up to make the tackle.
McNabb gave him a fake that is difficult to describe in words, leaving Richards flailing in comical frustration.
You remember it. Stanley Richards sure does. You stood up out of your seat and said “Ohhhh!” Everybody did.
Super 5 accounted for 90% of the team’s offense that day in leading the team to victory. A star was born.
And remember where you were when…
He Threw Four Touchdowns on a Broken Ankle
It was 2002, Week 11. On the third play of the game, McNabb was sacked and rolled up by several Arizona Cardinal defenders. He went to the locker room, got his sprained ankle taped, came back out for the second drive and then went 20-25 for 255 yards and four touchdowns.
After the game—oops, my bad—his ankle was actually broken. IN THREE PLACES. I didn’t know ankles HAD three places to break.
That is the stuff of legend. I laugh at people who have the temerity to question his toughness. Try doing anything—even sitting down—with a broken ankle.
He had a game for the ages. On a broken ankle. A. BROKEN. ANKLE.
Ooh! Ooh! What about…
The 14.1 Second Scramble against Dallas
Bonus points for this because it was against Dallas. If I hadn’t seen this play, and someone told me about it, it would have been hard to believe.
He drops back, looks, sees nothing, breaks a tackle, rolls right, rolls right some more all the way to the far numbers, turns around, runs all the way back to the near numbers and throws the ball—across his body—58 yards down the field to Freddie Mitchell.
My first thought when I saw it was that I had done that on Madden a thousand times with Seneca Wallace, then complained about it being unrealistic.
Not for Super 5.
Oh, and for those who say he never made comebacks, how about…
Fourth and 26
January 11, 2004. Lincoln Financial Field. Millions of Eagles fans thinking, “Oh, no, not like this. Not like this.” One minute, 12 seconds to go, no time outs, trailing the legendary Brett Favre by three. McNabb rallies the troops.
“We got this. 74, double go, on one, on one, ready, break.”
A 26-yard slant to Freddie Mitchell (again!) later, and the Birds were in business.
Two field goals later, they were in the NFC Championship.
I ain’t gonna lie, I screamed myself hoarse and cried. You did too.
Keep it real.
Finally, a weapon. Terrell Owens finally gave McNabb the wideout he needed. After years of throwing to guys named Na Brown, the Eagles finally had a legitimate threat, and McNabb responded by completing 64% of his passes for nearly 4,000 yards, 31 touchdowns and a passer rating of 104.7.
They went to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the New England Cheaters, but what a great season for McNabb.
He hasn’t been the same since.
But we’re not talking about that.
He holds the NFL record for most consecutive pass attempts completed over two games. He has the best interception ratio of all time. He has the second-best touchdown-to-interception ratio of all time, behind Tom Brady. He has the third-highest winning percentage among active quarterbacks, behind Brady and Peyton Manning. And he was the first NFL quarterback ever to throw over 30 touchdowns and under 10 interceptions in a season in 2004.
Here’s what the stats don’t show. I met him once, in a driving blizzard, and he stopped to take a picture with me. I mean, it was snowing hard. He didn’t have to stop. But he did. That’s the kind of man he is.
He doesn’t get arrested. He never gets in trouble. All he has ever done was bring it, every single day, to a city that may not fully appreciate him until he is gone.
I am not looking forward to seeing him at FedEx this year. I will be there, rooting for the Eagles, probably in a Kevin Kolb jersey.
But it will hurt. A lot.
Greatest Eagle ever?