On something called The Real Robinson Report, McNabb made national news by delivering this pro wrestling style one-man promo into a camera: "2011 is different than 2010," he began, resisting the urge to channel Hulk Hogan and add "lemme tell ya somethin' Mean Gene." "For those who want to sit back and dwell on what happened last year, so be it. But 2011 is going to be a special season, a season for which I feel I've prepared myself well, not just conditioning- and strength-wise, but most importantly getting back to the fundamentals. I'd love to display that in the 2011 season. And for those who feel like that can't be possible, I'll prove you wrong."
Great stuff. Ignoring for a moment that 2010 was one of his worst as a pro - the 14 touchdown passes were his fewest since his rookie year, and his 15 interceptions were the most in a single season in his career - the backdrop he chose was simply too good. Behind him were giant cutouts of McNabb - as an Eagle. Things have gotten so bad for him in Washington that he's now openly pining for a time when only half of an entire city wanted him to move along.
McNabb - who also sent out fliers to promote his "homecoming weekend" featuring pictures of him wearing both Redskins and Eagles uniforms - had plenty of help on the crazy, hilarious, free-of-charge distraction front. (It's been a busy offseason, despite what you may have heard.)
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, for example, became an unlikely amateur criminologist. The one-time murder suspect implored ESPN to "Do this research: If we don't have a season, watch how much evil, which we call crime, how much crime picks up, if you take away our game."
Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall used the lockout to dabble in ill-timed rhetoric and conspiracy theories. Shortly after Osama bin Laden was killed, Mendenhell created a controversy by taking to Twitter to ask "what kind of person celebrates death" and offer the unsolicited assertion that he has a "hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style."
Mendenhall wasn't the only one who played mad scientist and mixed up a crazy concoction of football and terrorism. ProFootballTalk.com ran a now infamous piece titled ""Bin Laden's death could raise stakes in the lockout," while one ESPN reporter opined that not having football on the 10th anniversary of that horrible day would somehow obstruct our collective national reflection.
In more innocuous events, LeSean McCoy started a wildly amusing slap fight on Twitter with Osi Umenyiora and Steve Smith of the Giants. There were also countless reports from various media outlets about the pending bankruptcies of unnamed professional football players who failed to squirrel away their riches. Brandon Graham admitted he had been asked by an Eagles teammate for a $100,000 loan. He supposedly turned his coworker down. Sadder still, he didn't name the beggar.
Moving along, there was commissioner Roger Goodell's poorly executed and widely lampooned this-isn't-our-fault-blame-the-players screed in the Wall Street Journal, along with, oh, every absurd and cringe-worthy photo op for which player kingpin DeMaurice Smith posed. (I realize the slim-fit look is in, but Smith's suits make it seem like someone from Playboy's body paint division replaced his tailor.) And, of course, there was the memorable moment when Plaxico Burress was released from prison and reunited with the one person he missed most - agent Drew Rosenhaus, who shamelessly and literally jumped into Burress's arms. A regular offseason of minicamps and the usual canned news conference choreography could never compare with the lockout. The fine folks over at the NFL Network ought to do something with this posthaste. Call it: Top 10 Lockout Follies. Book the comedians. Cue up the circus sound effects. It's a can't-miss concept.
Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813, firstname.lastname@example.org or @gonzophilly on Twitter. Read his past columns at philly.com/gonzo