Marcus Hayes: Hard to fathom McNabb as an NFL analyst

Donovan McNabb, by signing on with the NFL Network, is apparently signing off as an NFL quarterback and heading to retirement.
Donovan McNabb, by signing on with the NFL Network, is apparently signing off as an NFL quarterback and heading to retirement. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: September 07, 2012

IT'S A BIG DEAL, this retiring as an Eagle.

Brian Dawkins, worn out and regal, did it. Brian Westbrook, bless his heart, took his knees out of the game in green, too.

In fact, at the ceremony to officially mark the end of Tra Thomas' career, the running joke was: "When is Donovan's retirement as an Eagle going to come?"

Sooner than later, it appears.

The NFL Network announced Wednesday that McNabb will join the network this season.

As an analyst.

Not as a quarterback.

Wait.

One of the more memorable images from the offseason was McNabb splashing through the waves off the coast of San Diego in an effort to reclaim his youth. And his career.

McNabb told ESPN in May that he had lost 20 pounds working with quarterback trainer George Whitfield.

That's what it had come to: working with George Whitfield.

Whitfield might be the best quarterback guru since Bill Walsh, but it should be noted that Whitfield is a year younger than McNabb, who is 35. His credentials include a career at Division II Tiffin University, a 1-year stint as an assistant at Iowa, 3 years bouncing through the Arena Football League, and a couple of months as a Chargers intern before his quarterback academy took off.

One of Whitfield's more remarkable drills involves him chasing pupils while holding aloft a straw broom that simulates an onrushing defender. Broomstick in hand, Whitfield has drilled Panthers star Cam Newton and Colts No. 1 pick Andrew Luck . . . and UFL standout Chase Clement.

And, now, he has chased six-time Pro Bowler Donovan McNabb with his Broom of Doom.

McNabb was working on footwork. Ball placement.

The things that cost him his job in Philadelphia, then Washington, then Minnesota.

Which is sort of like Nixon boning up on ethics on the way to China.

McNabb blamed his lingering mechanical issues not on the several injuries he suffered in his 13 seasons or on the abysmal protection he received from the offensive lines in Washington and Minnesota, but rather on his heretofore undocumented baseball-playing past.

And on coaches who instructed him to follow through.

Baseball.

Follow-through.

Sigh.

Is it any wonder McNabb cannot find a job?

This is a league in which Charlie Batch can play? Batch has played eight games in the past 3 years. Jason Campbell, whom McNabb supplanted in D.C., gets paid in Chicago.

Right here in Philadelphia, where McNabb served as the frontispiece for the greatest era of Eagles football, Trent Edwards experienced a resurrection and latched on as a veteran backup.

Trent Edwards spent last season on his couch, watching the NFL Network.

Now, McNabb gets to critique Trent Edwards.

How could it come to this?

Eagles coach Andy Reid this summer touted McNabb, said any club would be lucky to have him.

Apparently, just not Reid's club.

And not Reid.

Amazing.

Reid saw a gem and essentially constructed flawed but gifted McNabb from whole cloth.

Reid built his own career as a head coach around McNabb's remarkable abilities and bulletproof character.

Reid gambled the franchise for a decade on McNabb improving.

Reid also sent McNabb to the Shanahanian purgatory in 2010, in favor of Kevin Kolb, who didn't quite work out. There, McNabb served as Genius Mike's latest scapegoat: Suddenly, the quarterback who hosted his linemen in dinnertime film study every Wednesday didn't want to work? The offense run by Shanahan's son failed because of McNabb? Nepotism is a ugly curse.

Reid then watched McNabb in 2011 undergo the shame of guiding the undermanned offense of former Reid assistant Leslie Frazier into insignificance.

Nowadays, McNabb isn't fit to carry a clipboard for Andy Reid.

Trent Edwards is.

Sigh.

The sad truth is, Reid is probably right to keep McNabb away. It is too soon.

Right now, McNabb would serve as little more than a reminder of the unfulfilled promise of those excellent teams.

Five NFC Championship games? Four losses.

Super Bowl XXXIX? Jacksonville gag show.

Potato? Po-tah-to.

All joking aside, it is too soon even for McNabb to retire as an Eagle. The wounds are too fresh.

Amazingly.

He holds every career passing record of any Eagles QB to have played at least 40 games. He holds most of the single-game and single-season records, too.

He is the highest-rated passer in team history.

He threw 51 fewer interceptions than Ron Jaworski, but threw the ball 828 more times than Jaws ever did.

And still . . .

Perhaps McNabb will somehow burnish his legacy in a television studio.

Perhaps McNabb finally will speak with the candor and intelligence that often startles listeners who, when hearing him talk conversationally for the first time, cannot believe the same man mangles his diction when behind a lectern, dissecting a game in tortured, sometimes invented English.

Perhaps on set, McNabb will recall the lessons he learned at Syracuse, where he earned a communications degree. Notably, McNabb did not graduate from the esteemed communications school, which teaches things such as journalism, film and public relations; rather, he is from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, which teaches things such as . . . design, and drama, and rhetoric.

Actually, while in Philadelphia, McNabb got pretty good at rhetoric.

He has a chance to polish his rhetorical efforts further.

Because, really, he's no Trent Edwards.


Contact Marcus Hayes at hayesm@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to www.philly.com/MarcusHayes.

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