Every year for decades devoted sports fans around the country sit and ponder about whether or not their favorite sports teams' former or current star athlete is, or will be, an NFL Hall of Famer down the line. Many have questioned whether or not former Philadelphia Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb is a Hall of Famer .
Simply put: McNabb, within his professional career, had his good moments, & his not-so good moments.
Off-the-bat, McNabb's career was marred by controversy- through no fault of his own. When he arrived in Philadelphia, after being drafted second overall (behind Tim Couch) in the 1999 NFL draft, he was soon booed by Philadelphia radio-station WIP anchor Angelo Cataldi's formed group "The Dirty 30," due to being picked over Texas running-back Rick Williams.
At times he looked like he could carry the Eagles to great heights. At other times, not so much.
His resume: six-time Pro Bowler (2000-2004, 2009), NFC Champion (2004), NFC Player of the Year (2004) and he played in five NFC Championship games- including four straight from 2001-2004.
During the 2005 NFL Postseason, the Eagles finally reached the top plateau of the football world; the Superbowl. McNabb's QB rating during that postseason? 99.7 - in three games vs. Minnesota, Atlanta and New England. In that same postseason, he threw seven touchdowns to just three interceptions, with a 62.6 completion percentage.
Additionally, McNabb, at times, proved that he could be accurate and smart behind center, while proving to be a huge running threat as well. He is compared in this facet to Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick, especially to Cunningham considering that both QBs could run and pass the ball very well so. Vick and Cunningham are first and second all-time among QBs in rushing yards, respectively. McNabb is sixth on that list, with 3,459 yards, to go along with 29 rushing TDs. Ironically, all three played for Philadelphia.
He currently stands at 22nd among QBs all-time in touchdown passes, with 234, which has him wedged in between Hall-of-Famers George Blanda and Steve Young.
Despite his frequent health problems and injuries during his playing years, part of the reason why McNabb was so successful statistically speaking was because of his ability to stay on the field and thus stay within rhythm. Between 2000 and 2010, for Philadelphia, Washington and Minnesota, he started 161 games and only missed 23 games in that time span due to injury (he was rested in the 2004 season after clinching home field advantage for the Eagles, and benched in 2009 and 2010 in favor of younger quarterbacks on Washington/Minnesota team getting playing time).
Looking at McNabb's career from a pure football perspective, and disregarding stats, he was a relatively poor pocket passer with bad pocket presence, when he wasn't able to run and succeed the pass rusher(s) that is. Most of the time, when hurried by a pass rusher or blitzed by the opposition's defensive line, instead of throwing the ball away he would usually panic and do something stupid or dangerous. This was especial during clutch/playoff situations/scenarios.
Over the span of his 11-year career he had 17 4th-quarter comebacks and 25 game-winning drives, but he wasn't considered by football fans and sports analysts as a clutch performer by any means. Out of the five NFC Championship Game appearances McNabb made as a starter, (all of which were with the Eagles) he only made it to the Super Bowl once. In those four NFC title game losses he threw at least one interception in all of them, including three vs. Carolina in 2004.
Taking a further look at his poor postseason performances within his career and comparing them to his regular season numbers, within the aforementioned four NFC title game losses he threw 6 INTs to just 4 touchdowns. This translates to an interception percentage of 4.1, which is nearly double to the INT % within his regular season career (2.2).
In the 2005 Super Bowl vs. New England, he was great at times and atrocious at other times. During that game he threw for an impressive 357 passing yards, albeit on 51 passing attempts, completing 30 of them in the process. He threw just as many touchdown passes as interceptions (3) and nearly threw a fourth interception, if not for a dropped interception. Regardless of McNabb's individual success statistically within Super Bowl XXXIX, the fact that he was unable to come through in the clutch for the Eagles in the game and win the big one for the franchise tarnishes his name, stature and possibly his chances of getting into Canton as well (where the Pro Football Hall of Fame is located).
Although McNabb does have a winning playoff record in his career (9-7), he only has seven more passing TDs compared to INTs (24/17), and compared to the 167 regular season games that he played in his career - per his TD% and INT% -he's thrown less touchdown passes in the playoffs (4.4 TD% in the regular season, 4.2 TD% in the playoffs) and more interceptions (2.2 INT% in the regular season, 2.9% in the playoffs).
On the flip side, McNabb, due to the Eagles' front-office's inability to draft or acquire one, didn't have the luxury of throwing to a Pro-Bowl caliber wide receiver in the first 5 seasons of his career until Terrell Owens was subsequently traded to the Eagles from San Francisco prior to the 2004 NFL season.
In McNabb's first season throwing to Owens, he reached career highs in all major QB categories- including passing yards (3875), TD passes (31), interceptions thrown (8), completion percentage (64%) and passer rating (104.7). Not only did he set career highs in numerous categories but his 31 TD passes, 3875 passing yards and 104.7 QB rating are the highest in team history. On top of that, in the process, at the time McNabb became the first NFL quarterback in single-season history to throw for 30 or more touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions (this record went on to be topped in years to come by numerous QBs).
Throughout his 11-year tenure in Philadelphia, when given the talent around him, he showed the ability to play an efficient, quality game- all while having the chance to throw the long ball countless amounts of times with such Pro-Bowl caliber receivers to throw to as: Terrell Owens, Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Donovan's career prior to the acquisition of Owens was a slightly above average one, but yet he proved that he couldn't carry a team or the workload on his own.
With all things considered- statistics, the ability to win the big one, clutch performances and pocket presence - I believe McNabb, although he's fairly close, isn't deserving of the NFL Hall of Fame. This is based off of his consistent, inconsistent play, poor playoff performances and his inability to perform in clutch environments and win a Super Bowl.