Just Donovan Being Donovan

On September 19th, Donovan McNabb will officially retire a Philadelphia Eagle. During their Week 3 game against the Kansas City Chiefs—the team now coached by the man who was at the helm in Philly for 14 seasons—the Eagles will have a halftime ceremony, honoring their former first round draft pick.

In anticipation of that night, and as the new NFL season is getting underway, several media outlets in the City of Brotherly Love were given access to No. 5, and on Wednesday some previews of those interviews were shared. I say juicy in the hed up top, but some of the things McNabb says are just so, well, McNabb, and if you’ve been following his post-football career on the NFL Network and his Twitter account you’ll understand just what I’m getting at.

To the splice machine. First up, his sit down with Paul Domowitch of the Daily News:

Andy Reid has said one of the reasons he drafted you in ’99 … [was] that you could handle the intense fan and media scrutiny that goes with being the starting quarterback in this town. Agree?

I think I was. He understood that I wouldn’t let anything bother me. Anything could happen around me, and as long as everybody was OK, I was fine. I mean, I was introduced to it at the draft when they booed me. It was funny. I started laughing. … After that, it was, I’m just going to go out and prove a point every time. I never let anything get up under my skin. I think that’s the thing that bothered people the most. That I kept smiling, kept moving.

Riiiight, he never let anything get to him ever during his 11 years years here. Not the booing (like I actually believe his answer there…) or Rush Limbaugh’s racist comments or the criticism he took for puking in the huddle during the 4th quarter of Super Bowl XXXIX or the shitshow that was T.O. or being “blindsided” by a trade. Nothing at all… Moving on.

Any concerns that you might hear some boos when they honor you in September?

I truly wouldn’t care. To me, it’s an appreciation for the people who truly respected what I did. I’ve always lived by the motto that you can’t please everyone. So, for me, if I get booed, it wouldn’t be anything new. If they cheer, that would be great. Obviously I’ll be out there with my family and the teammates I played with. If there are any boos, I will smile.

My, what thick skin you have, grandma…

What’s your opinion of Philly fans?

I thought they were true fans who loved the Eagles and loved the game of football. Opinionated, for sure. But they loved their teams. They just want to see winners. And over the years, we gave them that. But after a while, the wins didn’t become enough. It became all about winning the Super Bowl, which was understandable. That was the same attitude we went in with as players after we won the NFC Championship (in ’04). We felt we needed to win a Super Bowl. And that didn’t happen.

You started out fine there, Donovan, but then you just had to go off on one of those tangents about winning not being enough for us fans. I’m sorry, but isn’t winning the Super Bowl top of mind for every professional football player at the outset of the season? Isn’t that why everyone, fans, owners, players, EVERYONE, is pumped out of their mind in early September, because their team has a shot, they’re on even pegging with the other 31 teams. Some obviously have a more realistic shot than others, but it’s a shot nonetheless. That attitude might explain a great deal about the former QB. If you aren’t in it to raise that Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season then you might as well get out, or get traded to a place like Washington. Oh, and speaking of that…

What did Andy say to you after they traded you?

To me, it felt like his hands were tied. … I said I’ve been here long enough that you can at least give me that kind of respect. He said, well what do you want to do? I said, what do I want to do? I told you from the very beginning that I want to retire here.

When I got traded, I talked to him on the phone. He asked me, how I was doing with all of this. I said, I don’t know what to think to be honest with you. I said, I was asleep when you called me (to inform him he was traded). What am I supposed to think when you guys don’t talk to me? I asked him one question. Who made the move. Was it your move or somebody else’s? He kind of hemmed and hawed, and I said, say no more.

What happened to that thick skin, 5?

In a second interview preview, this one with Richard Rys of Philadelphia magazine, McNabb answered similar questions, but was also a bit more vicious when talking about the Birds’ downward slide in the years after their Super Bowl appearance.

What went wrong?

Everybody wanted to be a star. That’s the problem with a lot of teams. When you make it to the Super Bowl, all of the sudden, everybody feels like, “This is my chance.” Everybody had websites, everybody was doing TV segments or shows. Everybody’s doing other things.

And on his style of play versus Brian Dawkins, who had his retirement ceremony last year, which McNabb was in attendance for.

The fans gravitated more to his style—fiery, intense. You were the laid-back guy. Did that bother you?

Not at all. I couldn’t care less about what people say on the outside. It ain’t about who looks good. It’s about winning football games. Brian and I are like brothers. We still talk to this day. Brian would get everybody fired up. Then he’d come to me—“Do your thing.” And I would be who I am. There’s ways of leading. The problem a lot of times, someone gets fired up, raaaaah! and all that—that works for a period of time. But then it dies out. Brian and I knew that. We led in the right way. I don’t need to cuss and head-butt and get in your face. You drop three balls? “Look, man—don’t worry about it. I’m coming back to you. This next one’s gonna be the big play. Nobody will remember you dropped three.” I’m that guy. I’m an easy target because I’m not that raaaaah! guy.

And, finally, on having to move on.

Did your time with Washington and Minnesota give you a different perspective on the Eagles?

I never forgot what happened in Philadelphia. Those were great years. I would have loved to have had another couple years after that and just say “Thank you, I’m done.” But it didn’t happen that way. I sold my house when I got traded. Never even touched foot in Philadelphia until I played there as a Washington Redskin. I hadn’t even been back to the facility until Brian Dawkins retired. It was a sour day for me. I was pissed off to go, but [Brian’s] like my brother. I went for my brother. I felt the same as Brian—you turned your back on me. You basically pointed the finger at me. Things haven’t been right in Philadelphia since [I left].

So, there goes the thick skin again… This whole love-hate thing is just too much for me to handle. I’m at the point where I’m not even excited for this who ceremony anymore. I just want it to happen, let him have his day, and move on. And hopefully he will as well, because, no matter what he says to the medials on the record, he’s clearly bothered by a lot of things. You were great while you were here, Donovan. I truly believe that. If you had a few more pieces to help you on the outside, things may have ended differently. But you didn’t, or did for a year and a half then had a falling out. Either way, thanks for your service. Nice knowing you. Now please shut the hell up.

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