May 9, 2007
I wrote yesterday about a very tough decision on RB Shaun Alexander, and I have an equally-tough player to talk about today: Donovan McNabb.
I found it interesting to see him break his media silence this week and being interviewed on NFL Network courtesy of Comcast Sportsnet in Philadelphia. I work for Comcast Sportsnet in Philly and I have had discussions with people there who are close to McNabb and the feeling that I always got was that Donovan STILL doesn’t forgive the fans who booed him when he was drafted over Ricky Williams in 1999. I even heard that the one dude with the face paint that they always show in the clip on TV even tried to reach out to McNabb to apologize – and that McNabb blew him off.
On one hand, I really can’t blame McNabb for harboring ill feelings because the fans were obviously stupid to boo the pick. I felt that way back then, and I certainly do now. Philly fans are notorious for a lot of things, but one thing people might not realize outside the area is that they are extremely uninformed when it comes to the rest of the league (other than the wise Philly area people who play fantasy, of course). I do get accused from time-to-time for being a Philly homer, but the reality is that the Eagles are not “my team” and I generally dislike Eagle fans. Any “normal” Eagle fans out there that lives in general Philadelphia area (as I do) knows exactly what I mean, and probably feels the same way. I do, however, greatly respect their organization and I love a lot of their players.
On the other hand, back to McNabb, I can see to an extent why Eagle fans have been hard on him at times and how they fell in love with Jeff Garcia of all people last year. I’ve never spent a lot of time with McNabb, but I have met him briefly, and based on that encounter and what I’ve witnessed of him on and off the field, he comes across as a little aloof. That may not be the best word choice because he is friendly; he just seems detached. I think he goes about his business in Philadelphia in a professional and very business-like manner, but I don’t think he’s ever fully embraced the city of Philadelphia, and you have to do that in Philly because if you don’t, the fans won’t embrace you.
Of course, there’s also the fact that his Eagles have yet to win a Super Bowl despite having several chances. Let’s face it: football is the ultimate team sport, but when the Pats win the big game, it’s all about how Tom Brady did it more than anything else. Speaking of Brady’s Pats, it’s still hard to get past how McNabb seemingly ran out of gas late in that Super Bowl game, when they needed him most.
I’m trying not to be unfair to McNabb, and I do like and respect him, but there’s something up with this guy over and above his injury issues. I think Eagle fans – very astute when it comes to their own team – have sensed it from Day One. This all said, I do read more into the drafting of Kevin Kolb then perhaps others do. I think the Eagles are tired of relying too much on McNabb as both their QB of the present and the future, and they at least want to develop another future. If that future (Kolb) comes along quickly and starting excelling in practice, it’s going to be very interesting to see how McNabb reacts because the media and fan furor over Kolb will grow quickly and largely. If the fans were calling for the 37-year old scrapheap pickup Garcia to start, and they were, then they will be all over Kolb, their top pick in the 2007 draft and still well in his 20s.
Again, I don’t mean to be unfair, and we have never seen McNabb in anything close to a QB controversy, so we don’t know how he’ll respond. But if there is one down the road, I’d have to guess, based on what I’ve observed, that McNabb will react more like the guy who seemingly ran out of gas late in the 4th quarter of that Super Bowl than anything else.