Apr 20, 2010

Editorial: Donovan (Mc)Nabbed by Redskins

by Jordan LoSasso

With the second pick in the 1999 NFL draft the Philadelphia Eagles select Donovan McNabb — cue booing. Not just ordinary boos of discontent. More like a chorus, choir, orchestra and symphony of booing — relentless and loud.

Not much seems to have changed throughout McNabb’s 11-year career in Philadelphia. Just like draft day, McNabb has been blamed for nearly every Eagles shortcoming, no matter whether they were his fault or not.

Based on the perception in his own team’s hometown, you would think the Eagles were perennial losers, never seriously contending for the postseason, conference championships or Super Bowl victories.

You probably wouldn’t know that the Washington Redskins just traded for a franchise quarterback that can still lead a team to the playoffs with little offensive help, even vying for NFL championships yearly.

McNabb led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games in an eight year span. Normally when a quarterback carries an offense with wide receivers named Todd Pinkston, James Thrash, Freddie Mitchell and Greg Lewis to championship games he gets some credit.

However, each of those years the Eagles did fall short. McNabb did throw untimely picks late in games when he was trying to make things happen on his own, and he did have a
habit of struggling with accuracy, often leading to worm burners in the grass.

You probably wouldn’t know McNabb led the Eagles to a Super Bowl appearance in 2004, which was only the second trip to the Super Bowl in team history. That was the first year McNabb had a real No. 1 receiver. He took advantage of it, too. With the help of

Terrell Owens that year, McNabb threw for 3,875 yards, 31 touchdowns with only eight interceptions, and had a quarterback rating of 104.7.

The offense was electrifying. Watching those games you expected the Eagles to score on every drive, and win every game — they were 13-1 when Owens’ leg broke from a Roy Williams horse-collar tackle and Head Coach Andy Reid decided to rest the starters for the playoffs. The Eagles finished the year 13-3, 15-4 counting the playoffs.

They happened to run into the NFL’s most recent dynasty in the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots, losing 24-21.
Unfortunately, McNabb will mostly be remembered for allegedly throwing up late in the game rather than for his performance.

You probably wouldn’t know McNabb threw four touchdowns, completed 80 percent of his passes and had a 132.1 quarterback rating against the Arizona Cardinals in 2002 — on a broken ankle. In the first quarter McNabb was tackled awkwardly, and his ankle collapsed under him. He returned that game to lead the Eagles to victory.

He finished the game but was forced to miss the next six because of the injury. He returned for the playoffs, though, and led his team to their second NFC Championship game.
But he has struggled with staying healthy in his career. He has only completed five seasons without missing time due to injuries.

You probably wouldn’t know that in 2009, McNabb’s final year as an Eagle before being traded to the Washington Redskins, he was selected to his sixth Pro Bowl, throwing for 3,553 yards, 22 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions with a 92.9 quarterback rating.

However, he underperformed against the Dallas Cowboys in the regular season finale, and in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, which led to two embarrassing blowouts for the Eagles.

I supported McNabb staying in Philadelphia up until the playoff loss to the Cowboys. I would have excused his boyish air guitar sideshow as he was entering the field before the game if he beat Dallas— but he didn’t.

After 11 years, it’s just time for a change, and McNabb finally got the cheers he deserved. They were not cheers for his on the field heroics, though. The cheers were for his departure. The cheers were as ecstatic as the boos on draft day were angry.

Now McNabb is in Washington, playing for the Eagles division rival. He play’s the Eagles twice a season, and he will be traveling North on I-95 to Lincoln Financial Field yearly.

He will be booed, probably as soon as his name is announced over the stadium’s PA speakers, and undoubtedly and relentlessly when he shows off in front of his ex-team and ex-fans with a brilliant play, touchdown pass or scramble for a first down.

He will make plays that make the Eagles front office reconsider if they ever should have traded him — especially to a division rival, and especially if, and when, the Redskins beat the Eagles.

Contact Jordan LoSasso
at jlosasso@liberty.edu.

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