Not that long ago, Donovan McNabb was considered one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. In an increasingly pass-happy league, you would think it would be easy for a player with his career statistics and pedigree to find an opportunity to compete for a job.
But times evovle and it doesn’t seem like McNabb is ready to embrace the change. Now having played for, and been dumped by, three teams in three seasons, McNabb still seems to think that he has the goods to be a quality NFL signal-caller. It doesn’t appear that anyone else agrees with that assessment.
Questioning Donovan McNabb’s abilities is nothing new. He was famously booed by Philadelphia Eagles fans when he was selected 2nd overall in the 1999 NFL Draft. Though he eventually won the team and fan-base over, he was always quick to receive criticism and blame, whether warranted or not.
There were whispers that McNabb was a poor leader and not well-respected in the Philadelphia locker-room. McNabb was heavily criticised for a perceived lack of conditioning, deteriorating skill-set and for comments he would make about his abilities and the team’s play.
Despite helping the Eagles make it to four straight NFC Championship games and their only Super Bowl appearance, fans called for his removal for Kevin Kolb, who played well in relief of McNabb. Eventually Andy Reid did just that, signing Kolb to a long-term extension as the Eagles’ new starter and trading McNabb to Washington.
The Redskins were happy to finally have a veteran quarterback of McNabb’s caliber, but the pairing ended up being a poor one for both sides. McNabb struggled with turnovers and by the end of the season, was clearly in Mike Shanahan‘s doghouse. Shanahan famously demoted McNabb to third string to “evaluate” journeyman Rex Grossman.
McNabb did not take the benching well and was perceived to be pouting. It was widely-rumored that he was not highly regarded in the Redskins locker room. When the NFL lockout ended in late July of 2011, McNabb’s disappointing one-year stint in D.C. ended and he was traded to the Vikings.
Fans is Minnesota were happy to acquire an established veteran to continue the overall good quarterback play they had gotten in the past two seasons from Brett Favre. But the Vikings got out of the gate at 1-5, McNabb was benched if favor of rookie Christian Ponder.
Throughout the season, McNabb questioned his role, denied his poor-play was a factor and seemed to throw his teammates under the bus. By December, he asked for and was granted a release from the Vikings. With so many contending teams in need of veteran signal-callers, McNabb assumed he would quickly find a new home.
But it never happened. At 35 years old, many questioned if the end was here for Donovan McNabb. With a declining skill-set, perceived attitude-problems, a sense of entitlement and his desire to be a starter rather than a back-up, it’s difficult to see the former All-Pro ever getting another shot to lead an NFL squad again.
Ultimately, McNabb was a great quarterback for many seasons in Philadelphia, but his legacy may be marred by never winning a championship despite being surrounded by excellent talent. The past two disappointing years have been filled with controversy and have further tainted his legacy.
For Donovan McNabb to finally reach the promised-land and win a Super Bowl ring, he is likely going to have to accept that his days of being an NFL starting quarterback are over and accept a reduced role as a “team-first” veteran who teaches the next generation what it takes be an NFL star while patiently waiting in the wings for one final shot of glory on the gridiron.