John Smallwood: Time to move on, McNabb, you're a Redskin now

Donovan McNabb is brought down by Baltimore's Terrell Suggs during exhibition game.
Donovan McNabb is brought down by Baltimore's Terrell Suggs during exhibition game.
Posted: August 25, 2010

DONOVAN McNABB needs to just let go of the Eagles the way they have let go of him.

I mean, dude, really, you are a Washington Redskin now.

Your 11 years with the Eagles is history, and it's a history you can't rewrite, tidy up or change.

Your legacy is what it is here and you need to come to grips with the fact that it is a debatable one - with a lot of people viewing it a lot of different ways.

Call Randall Cunningham about that.

Really, Philadelphia wants to move on.

But you just keep pulling us back in.

It's fair if you say we should simply ignore you no matter what you say . . . You are no longer the franchise quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles.

In a practical sense, what you say has little impact on what's going to happen here.

Still, you majored in communications at Syracuse University. You know how this game works. You know that until the Eagles actually play a real game and the Kevin Kolb era actually begins, you are still newsworthy in this city.

You know all you have to do is say something slightly insightful about your time with your former employer, or in this case something really ridiculous, and you're guaranteed a news cycle in Philly.

I'm not going to go into everything that McNabb said in his interview in the current issue of GQ. Much of it is about stuff that has been discussed over and over.

I will say, however, that if No. 5 would have been so forthcoming about his thoughts when some of the incidents he reflects on actually happened, his image as a player who never said anything with meaning wouldn't be so strong.

Still, some things have to be dissected, especially the part when McNabb complained, "No one in the organization ever stepped up and said anything," in his defense about some of the real and some of the imagined criticism he took during his tenure in Philadelphia.

Huh? What?

I know I haven't always been the most ardent supporter of the Eagles front office, but McNabb must have played in New England for the last decade if he honestly believed Eagles management didn't always prop up his back.

"They'll say something to you in the building, but not publicly," McNabb told GQ about his feelings about a lack of support. "My feeling was, 'I'm out here getting cut up, where are you?' I'm always defending and helping you guys, but where's the support?"

If head coach Andy Reid, team president Joe Banner and owner Jeffrey Lurie were too busy to publicly come to McNabb's defense (which was in no way the case), it was likely because they were too busy dodging the slings and arrows of criticism being tossed their way.

And considering they paid McNabb more than $100 million over the last decade, was it really their responsibility to publicly rise to his defense like he was an insulted princess?

But, again, that wasn't the case. The Eagles turned every which way to speak up for McNabb whenever his tender ego felt it had taken too much of a beating.

I guess it was always on one of those days when McNabb wasn't reading the paper or listening to the radio when Lurie and Banner would insist that the key to winning a Super Bowl was having a franchise quarterback and they surely had one in the player they selected second overall in 1999 draft.

Even after the failed Super Bowl quest, Lurie would emphasize in his annual "State of the Eagles" address that McNabb was still the quarterback to get the job done. The only player Reid has publicly chastised was offensive lineman George Hegamin, and that was during his rookie season as a head coach and it was an action he never repeated.

More than a few of those frustratingly insulting "I take the blame because I've got to do a better job of putting the players in a better position" excuses from Reid were in response to questions about a poor performance by McNabb.

I like McNabb.

I've always said that he doesn't get nearly as much credit for what he accomplished while quarterback of the Eagles.

But I could never adequately defend him against charges that he was an oversensitive whiner who refused to take responsibility the way great quarterbacks are expected to.

The entire GQ interview is another rehash of McNabb passing the buck, qualifying his failures to disseminate blame, or simply refusing to shoulder the burden of criticism that comes with being a true leader.

Donovan McNabb got it into his head that all of Philadelphia was against him when 30 fans booed him on draft day. He spent 11 seasons as an Eagle reinforcing that belief by taking every perceived slight or complaint as a personal affront.

And now, even though he's in a new city with a new team, McNabb still can't let things go even as Philadelphia desperately wants to move on from him.

Send e-mail to

smallwj@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/smallwood.

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