Hopkins still thinking about McNabb

Photos: SARAH J. GLOVER / Staff photographer
Photos: SARAH J. GLOVER / Staff photographer
Posted: May 11, 2011

JUST DAYS before a title bout that could eclipse the miracles of George Foreman, ageless phenomenon Bernard Hopkins addressed what really matters:

Questioning former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb's blackness and mettle.

According to Hopkins, McNabb had a privileged childhood in suburban Chicago and, as a result, is not black enough or tough enough, at least compared with, say, himself, Michael Vick and Terrell Owens.

"Forget this," Hopkins said, pointing to his own dark skin. "He's got a suntan. That's all."

Hopkins also implied that, while Vick and Owens remained true to their roots, McNabb did not, and that McNabb was rudely awakened when the Eagles traded him to the Redskins last year.

"Why do you think McNabb felt he was betrayed? Because McNabb is the guy in the house, while everybody else is on the field. He's the one who got the extra coat. The extra servings. 'You're our boy,' " Hopkins said, patting a reporter on the back in illustration. "He thought he was one of them."

Replace "guy in the house" with "slave in the house," then replace "on the field" with "in the field," and Hopkins' message is Uncle Tom-clear.

McNabb's publicist, Rich Burg, said McNabb would have no comment.

Hopkins yesterday invited the press to watch him train at Joe Hand's North Philadelphia gym and to answer questions pertaining to his rematch May 21 against Jean Pascal in Montreal for the WBC and The Ring magazine light heavyweight championship, which will be televised on HBO.

In true Hopkins fashion, he reiterated his stance that he disputed the results of the Dec. 18 bout in Quebec City, which ended in a majority draw and therefore allowed Pascal to retain the belts.

Hopkins also revealed that, after their news conference in Montreal in March, in which the pair scuffled a bit, Hopkins did not return the belts after Pascal jokingly handed them to him during the media sessions. Hopkins said he brought them back through customs and they are in his Center City condominium; he looks at them every morning when he rises to train.

In Hopkins' eyes they are rightfully his. He took them as part of a lesson to Pascal, whom Hopkins considers a target the way Osama bin Laden was targeted by Navy SEALs. Or, to use another Hopkins analogy, Pascal is an unruly child.

"You've got to spank them," Hopkins said. "Literally, I could be his parent."

Mainly, Hopkins addressed the remarkable fact that he is still contending for titles at age 46. A win for Hopkins next weekend would eclipse Foreman's feat, when the heavyweight, then 45, defeated Michael Moorer in 1994.

However, as yesterday's diatribe ended, Hopkins was asked how he felt about Vick joining his hometown football team and, under the pall of felony convictions and public castigation, succeeded.

Essentially, Hopkins said, he saw a fighting mentality in Vick that Eagles fans could only hope for from McNabb, whom Hopkins has blasted in the past.

Hopkins has acknowledged he felt snubbed by McNabb when Hopkins visited the Eagles practice facilities. Since the snub, McNabb squarely has been in Hopkins' sights.

Yesterday, unprovoked, Hopkins fired again and again, using as ammunition McNabb's 2007 interview with HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," in which McNabb addressed the problems for black quarterbacks in the NFL.

"He goes on HBO and talks about [being] black. He was right, but it was the wrong messenger. He was right, but [he doesn't] represent that," Hopkins said. "The only reason he spoke was because he felt betrayed: 'I thought I was one of y'all's guys. I thought I was the good one. Y'all told me this.'

"And they did what they always do, kicked his ass right [out of] there."

Hopkins' time line is a bit skewed, since the Eagles traded McNabb three seasons after the HBO interview. But then, Hopkins has plenty on his mind.

He will again fight Pascal in Pascal's homeland, but this time with no Canadian or American judges. In the first fight, after Hopkins was knocked down twice in the first three rounds, he rallied. A Canadian judge and a Belgian judge scored the fight a draw, while an American judge gave Hopkins a narrow victory, 114-112. These new judges will be from the Philippines, Thailand and Italy, and the referee is from England.

The Hopkins-McNabb feud is much more lopsided.

The Eagles traded McNabb to the Redskins last year. Vick eventually won the Eagles' quarterback job. Owens had a rough relationship with McNabb in his two seasons as an Eagle.

"McNabb? Great. Skills? Throw the ball? Great. But there was something missing," Hopkins said. "Vick? He understands. And T.O. - same cloth."

Owens, said Hopkins, was taken aback at how assimilated McNabb was: "T.O. got [into] the boardroom and saw the way they talked to McNabb. Coming from where he [comes from] - that's strange to some white people, when a black man speaks."

Here, Hopkins' publicist, who is white, gasped a little. But he was not to be deterred:

"When T.O. walks in the boardroom with the Eagles suits, he's like, 'What the heck? I ain't used to this language. I'm used to speaking up.' "

So, too, is Hopkins.

He contended that, with the Flyers' and 76ers' quick playoff exits, he is the best show in town, since the Phillies are in regular-season mode.

He also promised a great show in Canada next weekend. He pledged to be more aggressive, said that the belts he absconded with will be justly presented to him, anyway, after the fight.

Interestingly, while Hopkins trod all over McNabb's ego and ethnicity, he was careful not to assault McNabb's character.

"Nice guy. I'd trust him around my kids," Hopkins said.

But not in his huddle.

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