In light of the Philadelphia Eagles' giving DonovanMcNabb a significant pay raise over the next two years, it occurred to me that he has to be among the most underappreciated players in NFL history.
I grew up near Philadelphia and most, if not all of my family and friends are diehard Eagles fans. They have had, for the most part, a love-hate relationship with their signal-caller, even though he has led the franchise to a remarkable run of prosperity, including five NFC Championship games in the past eight seasons. That is a stretch of success that that would bring tears of joy to fans of the teams I played with during my career, those in New England being the exception.
So how can a quarterback with virtually every Eagles passing record still get a mixed response from his diehard fan base? The most legitimate critiques of McNabb are the football ones, which focus primarily on his inconsistent accuracy and inability to bring home a championship. In fact, he probably never will get his just due in some circles until he wins a Super Bowl. Most discussions about all-time great quarterbacks begin with that all-important resume-topper. But it makes one wonder whether Eagles fans would rather have won one Super Bowl and been 4-12 every other season or been in the thick of things, as they have been with McNabb, playing important postseason contests late into January on nearly an annual basis.
The other critiques of McNabb are much more superficial. Most fans of the Birds with whom I have spoken can't stand his almost perpetual smile while he's playing, even when things aren't going well. Call it Dwight Howard syndrome. His injury history is the other big beef, as if McNabb should have his toughness questioned for tearing an ACL or suffering a broken leg. I wonder if TomBrady would face the same wrath if he got injured in 2010 or '11. In fact, McNabb's persistence and resiliency in the face of these injuries is one reason he should be more revered than he is.
McNabb has provided Eagles fans with an exciting decade of football with an extremely entertaining style. Just like most of other teams would take the Eagles' success in a heartbeat, the same goes for franchises that would love to have him under center. He is a proven winner who has stood in the face of intense criticism for years and handled it with aplomb. Now if only Eagles fans could see as much.
Onto some diverse e-mail and a tweet ...
With a number of quarterback battles in the league this year, and in particular with my Lions, how does a QB competition affect the other players on offense? Does each player have a particular favorite? Is it debated between the teammates as to which player should start? How is the eventual backup treated in the locker room?-- James Springsteen, McGregor, Iowa
I think deep down, players have someone they would prefer to see get the job in true competitions, but they realize it is out of their hands anyway, thus pretty fruitless to spend time worrying about it. Most of them are much more focused on their specific role and the tasks at hand, whether that be blocking a defensive tackle or covering a tight end. It is a team sport but an individual business, and players are all independent contractors.
As for the Lions, it really doesn't matter who starts the opener. As soon as Matthew Stafford is ready, he will play.
I saw your article regarding small receivers; why no mention of Davone Bess [of the Dolphins]? He had 54 catches as an undrafted 5-foot-10,190-pound rookie, which supports your theory. I'm looking forward to see if he can build on 2008, and I'm excited about Patrick Turner, he's apparently been an OTA stud.-- Charlie Schultz, Daytona Beach Shores, Fla.
I was really focusing primarily on draft picks in my column earlier this week, but Bess is a fantastic example of an undersized rookie with serious "quicks" having a productive first season. Though this isn't really a trend over a number of years, because big boys Dwayne Bowe from the Chiefs and Calvin Johnson of the Lions were the best of the '07 draft class, it bears watching going forward.
I think you're nuts to put Randy Moss in TO's baggage and drama club. I realize you said the last 10 years, but Mossie's been an excellent teammate, hard worker and drama free by almost all account since the Pats acquired him for a fourth-round pick from the Old Man in Oakland.-- Russ Copley, Dracut, Mass.
I don't disagree with you in regards to Moss in New England, but the folks in Minnesota and Oakland can enlighten you on his behavior when he was on their teams. And unlike T.O., Moss had some run-ins with the law as well.
A key aspect of leadership is trust. I cannot understand how Jack Del Rio helped himself in this regard with his latest action. I would not choose to work for someone who pulled such a stunt.-- Grant B. Kenion, Düsseldorf, Germany
I get where you are coming from with trust, but Del Rio told defensive tackle JohnHenderson what he was going to say and my guess is why he was going to say it before he even spoke to the media. It remains to be seen whether or not the message will have the desired impact of changing the mind set in the locker room. It probably will for the young guys on the roster, but the veterans likely won't be swayed by Del Rio's mind games.
Thanks for the analytical approach to your pieces. You've helped salve the absence of Dr. Z. My question for you is your take on the hands-on owner vs. hands-off. I think of Jerry Jones exemplifying the former while a Paul Allen probably typifies the latter camp. Which type do players prefer?-- Razab, Fremont
I don't think players really care as long as they win. But my experience tells me they like the hands-on guys like Jones and Dan Snyder, believe it or not. Players like having the interaction with the guy who signs their checks. And an owner's willingness to make the bold move or do what it takes to bring in elite talent is thought of in high regard by players because at least the owner is "doing something," even though those transactions are not always prudent.
What are your thoughts on Chad Ochocinco's return? At least he accepted responsibility for last year. We'll see from here on out.-- Submitted via Twitter @BengalManiac
I am not sure whether or not I am impressed with his honesty or amazed by his stupidity in talking publicly about doing absolutely nothing last offseason. I can't imagine how angry I would be if I were a Bengals fan, or worse yet, a player. His decision to do nothing adversely affected many players' careers, like Levi Jones, Eric Ghiaciuc and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Though those players are responsible for their own performance, every player is viewed through a different lens depending on how good their team is. Some people will say that Chad is just eccentric, but I think it goes way deeper than that.