2 Sept. 3, 2000: McNabb kicks off his first full year as the starting quarterback with a 41-14 victory at Dallas, in which he completes 16 of 28 passes. Fans settle in, more or less happily, for an era of building expectations. "McNabb looked reasonably comfortable in the pocket, staying in it most of the time, and when he did run he provided that extra dimension that no amount of game-planning can defend against," writes Inquirer columnist Bill Lyon.
3 Jan. 19, 2002: Amid great hoopla, McNabb returns to his hometown of Chicago for a divisional-round playoff game, the final one at the original version of Soldier Field. He masterfully leads the Birds to the NFC Championship Game, beating the Bears, 33-19. After the game, Daily News Eagles beat writer Marcus Hayes writes: "He does things that other quarterbacks cannot do; he does things few ever have been able to do."
4 Nov. 17, 2002: McNabb suffers his first major injury, a broken fibula in the first half of a 38-14 victory over visiting Arizona. McNabb plays with the ankle taped and throws for four touchdowns; postgame X-rays reveal the break. "When the great moments of McNabb's career are recounted some distant day, this one will be included," Daily News Eagles beat writer Les Bowen writes.
5 Jan. 19, 2003: McNabb, in his second game back from the ankle injury, looks rusty as the Eagles abandon a successful run-centered approach and are upset in the NFC Championship Game, 27-10, by Tampa Bay, in the final football game at Veterans Stadium. Daily News sports writer Paul Hagen writes: "So to the fans who cursed into the gloaming and roasted McNabb's less-than-stellar performance as they spilled down the Veterans Stadium ramps for the last time . . . to those who vented their frustrations in chat rooms, to those in the media who stood prepared to pick apart his long, cold afternoon like the carcass of a Thanksgiving turkey, [McNabb] had a message: You're right. 'I played poorly,' he said.
6 Jan. 23, 2005: McNabb and the Eagles, after losing three NFC title games in a row, finally break through with a home victory over Atlanta that sends them to Super Bowl XXXIX. "A few hours afterward, when the stands stood empty, the confetti sparkled like glass shards, embedded there among the cleat marks on the frozen dirt of Lincoln Financial Field. Those little strips of green, silver and white plastic were part of what Donovan McNabb had envisioned . . . ,'' writes Bowen.
7 Feb. 6, 2005: McNabb throws three interceptions and three touchdown passes in a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots and is battered by subsequent controversy over his apparent physical distress during the team's final scoring drive. "Donovan McNabb says he did not puke. He says he did not vomit, hurl or boot. He says he did not ralph, gack or spew. He says he did not, in alphabetical order, blow beets, blow breakfast, blow chow, blow chowder or blow chunks. And, still, we cannot let it go," Hofmann writes.
8 April 11, 2005: Terrell Owens kicks off his campaign to get his contract revised by telling ESPN.com that he is not the guy "who got tired in the Super Bowl." Owens spends the next 7 months largely deprecating McNabb. On Aug. 12, after Owens calls him a hypocrite in a TV interview, McNabb responds: "Keep my family's name out of your mouth. My family has nothing to do with your situation. I have nothing to do with your situation." Later, McNabb's father, Sam, refers to Owens' manipulations as "black-on-black crime," a view Donovan ultimately endorses but that many fans find inappropriate.
9 Nov. 19, 2006: McNabb tears his ACL in a loss to Tennessee, his third serious injury in the past 5 years. The Eagles go on to make the playoffs behind Jeff Garcia, prompting McNabb's mother, Wilma to blog that she finds the team's success "bittersweet" given the possible fallout for her son. "What McNabb and the city of Philadelphia need is a good marriage counselor. This relationship has been dysfunctional from the beginning, and that is, unfortunately, not likely to change," Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan writes.
10 Nov. 25, 2007: Backup A.J. Feeley nearly leads the Eagles to an upset of unbeaten New England, with McNabb sidelined by ankle and thumb injuries. After the Eagles fall to 5-6, fans call for Feeley to supplant McNabb as the starting quarterback. "I hate to sound bad here, but we do not owe McNabb anything," reader Brian Ward of Blue Bell writes in a letter to the editor published in the Daily News. "He has our thanks, and he's being paid well. But his time has passed."
- Les Bowen