Donovan McNabb has always been something of an enigma. He rarely ever says the wrong thing, but also rarely ever gives you a real insight into what he thinks. He was also always quick to take responsibility for losses, but also offered caveats ("we showed our youth"). His recent interview with GQ was no different. It's well worth a read though, because the interviewer goes through his entire Eagles career and gets answers to questions Eagles fans have been asking for years. Also, before anyone comments "why are we talking about McNabb he's a Redskin!" This article is entirely about the Eagles, not the Redskins. Here's a few highlights that I found interesting.
Maybe the most frustrating and dodgy answer McNabb gave was when he was asked about the four minute drive near the end of the Superbowl where the Eagles needed two scores but didn't seem to show any urgency.
We were trying to figure out if T.O. was in or if T.O. was out, because of his leg. T.O. wanted to be in. We were trying to rotate different guys in and get the personnel together and things of that nature. The play calling was a little slow, maybe, but it made it look like we were just kind of standing around. We were hustling, it was just blown out of proportion.
What? He appears to blame Terrell Owens, the coach, and the personnel changes ... yet then also says it was blown out of proportion. Watching that offense take their time on that drive was arguably the most frustrating moment I've felt as an Eagles fan in the past decade and McNabb's dodging here certainly didn't help.
The big one, where McNabb implies that the Eagles' brass didn't support him enough, is after the jump.
McNabb was also asked about the much publicized meeting he had with Eagles brass after the season where he had been benched against Baltimore.
I had a meeting set up with Andy and [owner] Jeffrey Lurie after the season. We sat down and talked, and I got everything off my chest from '99 on. It went all the way back to the T.O. situation, it went back to us not winning big games, me being criticized for whatever, leadership, whatever it may be, and how no one in the organization ever stepped up and said anything. They'll say something to you in the building, but not publicly. My feeling was, 'I'm out here getting cut up, where are you? I'm always defending and helping you guys, but where's that support?' I thought it was beneficial, because you can sit there and tell somebody you truly love them, you're a big fan, your family loves you, but what about when we're over here in the hot seat, where are you now?
What did this guy want? I heard Andy Reid every week talking about how Donovan McNabb was "the best quarterback in the NFL." What else was he supposed to do? Scold reporters or fans for being mean to McNabb? Are they supposed to tell fans not to boo or buy 610 WIP and fire the morning team? I have a sneaking suspicion that there are a few guys working in the Eagles PR office that rolled their eyes when they read McNabb saying, "I'm always defending and helping you guys, but where's that support?" There's also probably a few guys in the Eagles accounting department that printed out over $100 million worth of checks to McNabb that rolled their eyes as well.
There are haters out there and there's nothing anyone can do about that. McNabb admitted that his low maintenance attitude might have contributed to the team assuming he could handle the criticism.
Yeah, because you tend to get comfortable, and it's like, "Oh, he'll be fine, he'll just blow it off," but we all have feelings, we all have families.
You have no choice to blow it off. No one can handle that stuff for you Donovan. You can either handle the pressure, the expectations, the fans ect or you can't. The team can't handle it for you. What you seem to be saying here is that you couldn't handle it.
I suppose the real surprise in this interview is that McNabb finally admitted that the criticism got to him. He's spent the past 10 years saying that he just brushes it off and doesn't let it bother him. One has to wonder how things might have been different if he had admitted this earlier? Might people have eased up on him? Would they have seen him as thin skinned and turned up the volume on the criticism?
I guess we'll never know.
Finally, I may be taking McNabb too literally when he said "[I was] being criticized for whatever, leadership, whatever it may be, and how no one in the organization ever stepped up and said anything. They'll say something to you in the building, but not publicly." But for the the fun of it, I did a quick search for some comments from the Eagles brass on McNabb.
Jeff Lurie - "Donovan has played a large part of this team's success over the last 10 years, he has been a professional in every sense of the word."
Joe Banner - "He is a great football player, a great person, and someone who gives back to the community. We are lucky to have him in Philadelphia."
Andy Reid (who said hundreds of great things about McNabb and has always defended him, but I thought what he said upon McNabb's exit was best) - "...he was the greatest quarterback to ever play for the Philadelphia Eagles up to this point."