Love or hate him, Donovan McNabb earned the lofty accolades heaped upon him Monday morning. The Eagles won a lot of football games with No. 5 at the helm, a fact that cannot be disputed.
McNabb retired as the franchise’s all-time leader in every major passing category. Now he’ll be immortalized forever when the Eagles send his number to the rafters Sept. 19 against Kansas City. On Monday, McNabb was still shocked by the unexpected honor and attempted to put the feeling into words.
“It hasn’t settled in yet, that’s outstanding,” McNabb said. “The thing for me is, it’s not so much for me, it’s my four little kids. When my kids grow up and for all of us who have kids, daddy always wants to be remembered as something. We all want to be superheroes when it comes to our kids, or our grandkids, and now my kids will look at it like dad was a superhero and that’s something special.”
Still, McNabb couldn’t help but reflect on his Eagles past, on what could have been. While he wouldn’t admit to any regrets during his 11-year career here, there was a pang over one former teammate. Turns out, McNabb has never stopped thinking about all the records he and Terrell Owens were supposed to break.
“We were roommates up at training camp and we talked about it,” McNabb said. “Everyone was talking about Marvin [Harrison] and Peyton [Manning] and we could easily break that, you know, in a four- or five-year span but it just didn’t happen. It would have been special.”
Turmoil ultimately destroyed that dream when it crept into the locker room after the Super Bowl in 2005. McNabb shook his head yes in agreement with that statement. He confirmed that the Eagles had been split down the middle: one side for him, the other one for Owens. McNabb never let the feud distract him.
“I never let anything affect me. I thought it was pretty funny,” McNabb said, “because once thy chose one side, then you have to come back on the other side … and it’s like, ‘Hello, good seeing you again.’ In most decisions that you make, if it’s the wrong decision, you got to somehow come back to grips and understand that I made the wrong decision.”
In this case, after Owens was jettisoned off for not behaving, the players came back to McNabb. They would reach one more NFC championship game, but no other Super Bowls. Again, no regrets.
“I don’t regret anything that happened throughout my years here in Philadelphia or in my career in general because I believe it makes you stronger mentally as a human being,” McNabb said. “You learn not to take anything for granted.”
Especially not job stability. The quarterback said his “mind was blown” when he found out he had been traded to Washington. McNabb knew it was a possibility, but he didn’t think Andy Reid would let it happen. He was sort of betrayed by the way it all went down.
“My question to Andy was, ‘Whose decision was it?’ and he couldn’t give me an answer,” McNabb said.
Wait, there’s more. At the time of the trade, McNabb had one year remaining on his contract. The quarterback was half-expecting the Eagles to extend his deal, sending him into the sunset with one last payday.
“Peyton [Manning] had one year left on his deal. Tom [Brady] had one year left on his deal,” he said. “Were the Eagles willing to pay [for me]?”
Nope. McNabb spent the final two years of his career stumbling between Washington and Minnesota. Again, no regrets.
“The last two years of my career were fun,” he said. “We didn’t win too much. But they were fun.”
So were the first 11 years of his career — at least, for the majority of us that watched him. He never delivered on his promise to bring home the Vince Lombardi Trophy, but only one other Eagles quarterback got closer. McNabb dealt with a myriad of mini-controversies, most of them stupid.
He put up with what he considered was a lack of respect from the front office — remember, the benching and financial apology? — and sorted out a divided locker room. In the end, Philadelphia was home for him.
“Philly, it’s a wonderful place,” McNabb said. “It didn’t matter what was going on, if you felt this way about somebody or you didn’t like what was going on upstairs, or the money situation. When you stepped out onto the field and laced up the shoes, it was time to play ball and we made some great things happen.”
Eight playoff appearances. Five NFC East titles. Five NFC championship games. Again, no regrets.