McNabb talks draft-booing and mom with WIP’s morning lair

Posted: June 04, 2007

Eight years ago, a rabble of Eagles fans, shepherded to the NFL Draft by WIP's Angelo Cataldi, lustily booed the Eagles' top pick.

That pick was Donovan McNabb.

Monday morning, McNabb finally talked with Cataldi in-studio, explaining his feelings about that day, and tackling a bunch of other issues.

Over the years, Cataldi has apologized many times, even as callers and hosts on the sports-talk radio station have griped about McNabb's seemingly lingering resentment over that day, especially because national sports commentators keep replaying the clip as an infamously embarrassing moment for the city.

"It's all Mayor Ed Rendell's fault," Cataldi quipped, saying Rendell was the one who urged him to lobby for Ricky Williams, a top running back whose drug habits rushed him out of the NFL.

Cataldi asked whether McNabb's appearance this morning was part of a conscious campaign to be more accessible to fans and the media.

McNabb said yes, to help counteract how athletes here are often misunderstood.

"It was upsetting for me to have a guy like Allen Iverson, who while he was here everybody seemed to talk bad about him. But nobody seemed to spend time to talk with him and get to know him. But after he left, it seems like he has received more praise for what he has done here."

McNabb expressed no hard feelings toward the city, though. "I love the city of Philadelphia," he said. I've been here for eight years, going on nine, and I look for great things to happen here throughout my career."

Other highlights:

On whether the Eagles should run more: "I'm not the one calling the plays. Andy's calling the plays, Marty's calling the plays," he said, referring to head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. "But I think one thing you have to focus on, last year we were the No. 1 offense in the league. I believe we averaged over 24, or 27, points a game."

On whether he should run more: "You can't live that devilish style at the quarterback position. You have to learn the offense, and you have to be comfortable in the offense, and this offense, it's about timing." Because of his "great offensive line," he said, he rarely needs to run, because he has more time to find receivers. "It was nothing that I was making a conscious effort of not running. I just try to get the ball to the open guys and let them do the work."

On his mother's mixed feelings about the Birds winning while Jeff Garcia quarterbacked: "That wasn't me speaking, that was my mom speaking. ... We're looking too deep into something that is not even there. ... It was nothing that I told her to shut up."

On whether he was upset that the team, enforcing a club rule about injured players, didn't let him travel to the New Orleans playoff game: "No!" he said emphatically. "It's a rule that I've known ever since I've been here."

On whether he's injury prone, he said he saw his string of injuries as "one fluke thing after another." He said he expects to be back to full mobility this season.

On whether he's been treated fairly by fans and the media here: "I think I have. For the percentage of people who may voice their opinion or feel a certain way about you, it really doesn't speak for the higher percentage of people who respect you and support the way you do things."

Former teammate Hugh Douglas interjected: "How do you really feel about Angelo Cataldi?"

McNabb, in a comically animated voice, said, "I'm pissed off now!"

Lots of laughter.

"I was trying to get him to go there," said cohost Rhea Hughes.

After the show, Cataldi, interviewed by phone, said: "It seems like we'll be dining together, me and Donovan. It's the beginning of a long and very warm relationship."

Clearly, Cataldi was kidding, inasmuch as he'd just said at the end of the show that he thinks McNabb still despised him.

"Oh, without a doubt," the ex-Inquirer sportswriter said. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

If you're chummy with every athlete, "you're probably kissing their ... too much," he said.

For a podcast of the interview, and another one with Andy Reid, go to http://www.610wip.com.


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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