Donovan McNabb is now a Washington Redskin. Another great Philadelphia athlete has left with his tail between his legs, after having failed to achieve what Philadelphia fans have built up in their minds as the end all be all of human existence, winning championships. Donovan is the best quarterback in Eagles history, and the franchise enjoyed a decade of sustained regular season success with him under center. But what makes a man in this city? Championships. Nobody wants to hear about all the sustained success, regular season accolades, and stats. 5 NFC title game appearances don't add up to a Super Bowl Championship. Unless Wade Boggs travels back in time to the late 90's to coach McNabb at Syracuse, McNabb's Lombardi trophy tally remains at zero. There are no redemption credits for conference title game appearances. This is not like collecting UPC's from a cereal box to redeem them for a t-shirt. Eli Manning has more Super Bowls than Donovan McNabb. Period. Who is the better quarterback can be discussed until the cows come home, but the facts are what they are. Giants fans can look back at the last ten years and hang their hat on something. What will be McNabb's legacy in Philadelphia?
I readily admit that I bashed this guy more than I should've during his career, and I should be more grateful to Donovan for making the Eagles a competitive product most years. However, as I look back I recall alot of frustration and disappointment. It was mostly alot of letdowns. Had the Phillies not won the World Series in 2008, the fan's venom towards the Eagles would be a lot more potent in my opinion. That is how I feel personally. The Eagles spent a decade conjuring the championship appetite of the Philadelphia fans, but the Phillies served the meal, much to the chagrin of Eagles management. Guess where the fans are eating for the time being? My frustration with the Eagles was somewhat alleviated by the Phillies success. This does not mean the Eagles are off the hook. From a marketing standpoint, the Phillies success is bad news for the Birds. Fan interest shifts to baseball which leads to a shift in merchandise sales to Phillies stuff and so on. I do not have facts to present on the matter, but conceptually it's easy to see the Eagles are not the focal point they were in the past. The point is, I slowly became accustomed to and immune to the annual Eagles letdown.
Donovan never really had the best receiver corps, but they were good enough most years. This thing just did not quite pan out. We'll never know what went on behind closed clubhouse doors in terms of Donovan's relationship with his teammates. I can only comment on what I saw on the field. I saw an incredible athlete that enjoyed alot of success against equal or lesser opponents, while he seemed to be tense and disinterested against superior opposition. I had little confidence in him with the chips down in a crucial game late in the postseason. As a quarterback, he had a rocket arm that lacked an artists touch like a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Donovan forced the ball into a lot of coverage he should not have, often did not recognize open receivers, and struggled mightily at times with his accuracy.
As the face of the franchise, he will be the one who receives undue heat for the lack of a Super Bowl victory, but such is the quarterback position. People revere Brian Dawkins as if he walked on water, but he has taken the mouse's share of the blame for the paradeless Donovan era. Obviously, this is so because of his emotional connection with the blue collar identity of the fans. Donovan was perceieved as an aloof, care-free prima donna at times, which is unfair to him. Yet, the championship is not on McNabb's resume. Donovan's perceived leadership skills were not the best. I hate assessing a professional athlete's "leadership ability". Most fans are too dumb to understand what is happening on the field, in plain view. Yet, they often take a stab at knowing what is going on behind closed doors. Personally, it is impossible to weed through all the hearsay regarding his status in the clubhouse. Perhaps this franchise as a whole is terribly overrated.
I would still stand behind my belief that the Flyers are by far the most successful franchise in Philadelphia. From the get go they have been contenders, suffering only sporadic periods of futility. Lately, they have been painfully mediocre. The Phillies as a franchise have subjected fans to lengthy periods of insufferable poor baseball. They are the toast of the town in recent years, but look at what they have done overall in their long history. The 76ers have been displaced by a soccer team. Why should Eagles fans revere Donovan though? He did not bring home a title. The fans do not want to settle for second best. How many Yankees have their number retired that have not won a World Series with them (need help here Lou, without checking wiki I believe Don Mattingly is one). The Cowboys, Steelers and 49ers would not retire McNabb's number. Eagles fans will not look back at Donovan's days the way Giants fans will look at Eli's reign. Donovan joins a list of Philadelphia athletes from my youth that have failed to acheive.
Eric Lindros was a solid player. For a time in the 1990's, he was one of the best players in the league. The Flyers sold the farm to bring him in. 88 was supposed to be the chosen one. The one who would put the Flyers back on top. Instead, he came up short. Same story with Allen Iverson. I do not care about stats. I want results. Why should I be satisfied with "oh, that was a great season"? I did not want Donovan to go the way of Eric Lindros and Allen Iverson. I so badly wanted him to bring home a Lombardi trophy to Philadelphia and shove it up the keisters of all his doubters. Luckily, DC is only a short trip away so I would imagine that quick drive up 95 will not bother him at all when he does it for the Skins.