The Donovan McNabb Era in Philadelphia was always going to end badly. That's no surprise. But the details of where McNabb ended up and how the rest of his career will pan out provide proof of two irrefutable truths. No. 1, professional athletes have every right in the world to act like me-first jerks because at some point, eventually, the team will throw you away like garbage. No. 2, Donovan McNabb was never meant to be a Philadelphia Eagle.
Before Donovan ever took one snap for Philadelphia, his storyline had already been written. When the Eagles drafted McNabb over Ricky Williams, their fans booed so hard that it even made Jet fans cringed. In retrospect, it makes you wish Eagle fans could have gotten what they wanted. If only they had indeed taken Ricky Williams and his half-a-career and McNabb could have gone to New Orleans or St. Louis, places where the fans might not have made it such a sport to hate on him.
As any Syracuse fan could have told you, Donny was not only gifted-athletically but he was also gifted with one of the best personalities around. It's no surprise that he would, for a brief time, become the face of the NFL. Nor was it any surprise that he would become a spokesperson for any number of products, services and charities. Donovan McNabb is one of the good guys.
I won't sit here and defend McNabb's shortcomings. Five Division Titles, Five NFC Championships...no Super Bowl wins. At the end of the day, the Eagles did not win a title under McNabb and as the quarterback he must shoulder the responsibility, fairly or not.
But rather than focus on the one thing he didn't do, I can't help but look at the hundreds of things he did do. The post-Randall Cunningham Philadelphia Eagles were a mediocre franchise. If McNabb takes the blame for what went wrong, then he also gets to be the face of the franchise's rebirth and it's golden age ('00 - '04). He owns more team records and awards than I care to recount. He was, for a generation of fans, the Eagles.
Kevin Kolb will almost assuredly take over as the new starting quarterback. That said, you have to "love" the fact that Michael Vick will probably receive significantly more playing time because of McNabb's trade. The same Vick that McNabb openly stumped for to become a member of the Eagles last season.
The same Vick who spent most of the season and post-season whining and complaining about his place on the depth chart and his perceived worth.
The same Vick who spent much of the last year collecting awards and citations simply by not getting into more trouble since leaving jail while McNabb, a model citizen his entire life and career, gets crapped on by Philly fans and media.
Michael Vick, the worst kind of professional athlete...still on the Eagles. Donovan McNabb, the best kind of professional athlete...not.
I'm actually somewhat surprised the Eagles didn't trade Donovan to the Raiders. That seemed like the "perfect" ending to the saga. Sending Donovan, who had sacrificed so much for this franchise, to the career graveyard that is Oakland would have made just too much sense. Yet somehow, sending him to the Redskins is even worse. It's worse because it says the following to Donovan.
"Not only do we not think you're good enough to be our quarterback anymore but we think you're so bad now that we'd happily send you to one of our arch-rivals and go up against you TWICE a season. With the division title and the pride of the Eagles on the line, we want to line up against you."
Andy Reid and Jeff Lurie can write all the press releases they want, the actions of the trade speak volumes louder than any of their words.
As a Syracuse fan and a Giants fan, it's always been hard for me to rationalize rooting for Donny. I've rooted for him as a person but I've never been able to reconcile his green jersey. I've been waiting years for his eventual trade to another team so that I could root for him to crush the Eagles and win a championship without them. But of course...he just HAD to be traded to the Redskins. If ever there were a fanbase less deserving (in my eyes) of such an outcome, it would be them. So entitled and so whiny, the last thing in the world I ever want is to see Skins fans happy (other than Cowboy fans happy). It's going to take a lot for me to sort through this.
That said, I will be rooting for Donovan when the Skins plays the Eagles the way so many of us rooted against Brett Favre when his Vikings played the Packers. It might not be Good vs. Evil but it feels more ike Right vs. Wrong. After that, I can make no promises. Neither can McNabb, I'm sure. His best days are almost surely behind him. Still, any Redskins fan who wouldn't take a 75% Donovan McNabb over a 100% Jason Campbell is an insane person (which, given that these are Redskins fans, is highly plausible).
In a perfect world, Donovan would have spent most of his career winning titles for the Chicago Bears, his hometown team. Sadly, his talent and personality were wasted on Philadelphia. A town that didn't deserve him, a fanbase that didn't appreciate him and a franchise that won't replace him for a long, long time.