Phil Sheridan | McNabb's treatment should trouble Kolb

Posted: May 06, 2007

As the week dragged on and the jackals tore at Donovan McNabb for doing absolutely nothing at all, thoughts naturally turned toward poor Kevin Kolb.

If he listened to anything but country hits on his radio, surfed anything but houstoncougars.com on his computer or overheard a single public conversation during his time here, young Mr. Kolb must have been very happy to get home to Texas. His enthusiasm for returning to Philadelphia is likely another matter.

This is what awaits you, Mr. Kolb. Be very afraid.

Eight years ago, this city got off on the worst possible foot with the man who would become the best quarterback in Eagles history. The ramifications of draft day 1999 are indelible and deep, and let's just skip the debate over whether McNabb and his family should have moved on. What's done is done.

The issue here is whether anyone learns from mistakes, or whether we are doomed to keep repeating them until all the glaciers melt and we're washed away without ever witnessing another championship.

The issue here is not McNabb, it is Kolb.

He struck the right chord last week when asked about the televised reaction to his selection. There wasn't quite the angry mob that greeted McNabb's selection in '99, but there was enough booing for the Kolb family to notice. Kevin, preparing himself for the rest of his football career, calmed everyone down and told them it was time to grow "a thick skin."

Kolb had no idea at that moment just how thick it would have to be. If he caught wind of the ridiculous McNabb bashing that went on here all week, he's beginning to understand.

A quick review, for those of you who may have been engaged in other pursuits, such as earning a living, cutting the grass or spending quality time with your loved ones:

Eight days ago, the Eagles traded out of the first round of the draft - allowing Dallas to get the defensive end it coveted - and took Kolb with the 36th overall pick.

In his only known comment on the matter, McNabb reportedly e-mailed ESPN's Michael Smith that he was "befuddled" by the pick. Not angry or bitter or demanding a trade, but "befuddled." That would arguably place him among the 99 percent of fans, media, draftniks and classical oboists who were confused and surprised by the pick.

Since then, McNabb - who has never commented on an Eagles draft before his next scheduled availability at a May minicamp - has followed form and uttered not a peep about this draft.

The Daily News called his father, Sam, who said - gasp! - that he wasn't concerned by the pick and that he has no control over what the Eagles do.

Get me rewrite.

The Inquirer called his agent, Fletcher Smith, who said - the nerve! - "I think if it were truly a big deal, you'd probably have heard from [McNabb] by now."

Stop the presses.

So naturally McNabb was ripped for having other people speak for him. Never mind that reporters called his father and agent, not the other way around. And never mind that neither one of them said a cross word about Kolb, Andy Reid, Jeff Garcia or those 1933 throwback uniforms.

The weeklong filleting and roasting of McNabb was what passes for business here. But take a moment to hear or read the personal invective from Kolb's perspective. The subject of all this scorn, derision and hostility is a five-time Pro Bowl quarterback who took his team to four conference championship games and a Super Bowl before age 30, a Hall of Famer if he's able to bounce back from injury and play another five years at the same level.

If everything goes just right for Kolb in the NFL, he'll be fortunate to have a career anywhere near as good as the one McNabb is having. The odds are against him; nothing personal, it's just the cold reality that more young quarterbacks fail in the NFL than succeed. So if he overcomes those odds, if he has a certifiably brilliant career here, if he conducts himself with class, stays out of trouble and gives back to the community - if he does all that, he can look forward to being ridiculed and scorned.

Kolb can avoid that fate, of course. It is simple.

All he has to do is complete every pass, win every game, hoist a Lombardi trophy at the end of every season, wear the correct facial expression at all times, get along with every teammate no matter how horrible, never accept a single endorsement that might irritate a single Eagles fan, and be sure his parents, wife and agent never express a single thought of their own.

That, or Philadelphia could change. Which do you think is more likely?

Welcome to town, Mr. Kolb. Enjoy your stay.


Contact columnist Phil Sheridan

at 215-854-2844 or psheridan@phillynews.com.

Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/philsheridan.


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