Keidel: Backstab McNabb

By Jason Keidel
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It’s perilous for a New York sportswriter to babble about a hated player who played for two hated teams. But one question needs to be answered.

What has Donovan McNabb done to piss off so many people?

He’s been thrown under the bus so many times that he should have permanent tread marks on his helmet. Terrell Owens said McNabb was gassed at the end of a Super Bowl, forgetting that the only reason he was there was because of the sublime skills of his quarterback.

Mike Shanahan just asserted the same thing about McNabb last week after a loss to the Lions. Shanahan said McNabb didn’t have the cardiovascular endurance to run a two-minute offense. Or was it that he had a pulled hamstring? Or was it that Rex Grossman – Rex Grossman! – was better equipped to handle a game that too often handled him?

This all prolongs the hostile narrative that clouds McNabb’s career. Booed the moment he ambled up those steps to the stage on draft day and squeezed that cap onto his head – and booed ever since – McNabb is one of the few authentic victims in pro sports. Yes, he’s made lots of money, but he’s never been loved by a fan base that should.

Hatred in sports is normally territorial. If you wear the wrong colors you’re a stained person. But McNabb has been loathed all his pro life, as though every Sunday he played on the road.

There are 32 teams in the NFL, and about 25 of them would flip their football cards down the toilet for a stab at McNabb, who threw for about 32,000 yards and over 200 touchdowns for Philadelphia, and led the Eagles to the NFC title game five times and lost to a legendary QB (Tom Brady) by just three points in the Super Bowl. He’s also the team’s career leader in wins, pass attempts, completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns.

Ask the Lions if they’d like a little of that action over the last decade. Or ask the Browns, Chiefs, Jaguars, Dolphins, Bills, etc.

Rap sheets are relative. Our sense of forgiveness is commensurate with our beloved felon’s importance to our team. But McNabb has never sniffed trouble off the field while taking a pounding on the field with almost unprecedented dignity. His silly Michael Jackson dance is the closest he’s come to a misstep in a career that comes close to Canton, but may fall just short.

Then when we assume it’s some surly derangement syndrome that is local to Philly, McNabb gets traded but treated the same by a new coach (Shanahan) with even more gravitas than the old one (Andy Reid). We all know the ornery reputation of Philly fans, but the McNabb dynamic is odd even by the vitriolic template they built and seems to transcend the city.

A football pall seems to hover over Donovan McNabb, who often finds himself before a forest of microphones explaining problems he didn’t create (like the Shanahan brain cramp in Detroit and the beef with Terrell Owens) while, astonishingly, his replacement in Philadelphia has been sainted despite his sins.

Michael Vick doesn’t even get booed, and he spent two years in prison for slaughtering a civilization of dogs. Vick is loved yet McNabb is loathed Forgive the cliché, but am I missing something?

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a “Kevin Kolb Day” in Philadelphia. Though Vick may get one just for his fast legs and his innate ability to make us draw sides with violent haste. McNabb gets nothing for being a good guy and a great player, saying as much about us as him.

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  • Jason Keidel: Bernard Hopkins The Blowhard; Boxing Great Shoves Gloves In Mouth With Comments On Donovan McNabb « CBS New York

    […] do you think McNabb felt he was betrayed?” Hopkins added, referring to the Eagles. “Because McNabb is the guy in the house, while […]

  • Chris

    Exactly what I’ve been thinking for sooo long! I’m a Bills fan and I would sell my soul to get McNabb.

  • Herbie Original Situation Raskin

    This McNabb thing is really weird! He brought philly alot of big wins! Yea, no Superbowl, but, even Moses didn’t make it to the promised land and he still got the respect!!!

  • CHET


  • TJPhilly

    All joking aside, there were a LOT of #5 jerseys on people the last decade. But he got booed because we never quite got far enough, and it always seemed that he was giving about 85% effort. When you heard Philly boo McNabb, you need to understand that what we’re really saying is, “if you throw an interception or fumble, or chuck a critical, short third-down pass into the turf at the reciever’s feet for the eleventy-billionth time, we don’t want to see you walking to the sideline with a giant smile on your face.” McNabb never appeared to take the game as seriously as the fans, and in Philadelphia sports, that’s the worst possible offense.

  • TJPhilly

    Once again, the only people defending McNabb are those folks who don’t have to watch him every week.

    • alba boyrie

      the thing the writer missed is that michael vick did not destroy a civilization of dogs.

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