The big question in Philadelphia this week is whether to celebrate or vilify Donovan McNabb when he returns to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday as a Washington Redskin.   Should the fans cheer or boo when he is introduced to the reputable Philadelphia crowd?  My answer?  Neither.

I believe the most fitting tribute to McNabb legacy is a polite golf clap.  It suits the moment perfectly.  It’s respectful, positive, but not over the top.

Donovan McNabb did a lot for the Eagles franchise.  He provided stability at one of the most important individual positions in sports.  He quarterbacked the team to five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl.  He set franchise records for production.  He did a lot for the Philadelphia community.  He was a squeaky clean guy who never made it rain in a strip club, sexually assaulted a college co-ed, or got busted for drunk driving.  He represented this city well during his interviews and guest star appearances with the national talking heads.  He was a good quarterback.  Therefore, he does not deserve to get booed.

At the same time, he was good, but he was not great.  He may have had sparks of something special, especially when he was a scrambling quarterback before he shredded his knee twice, but on the whole, he was not an elite quarterback, nor should he be remembered or treated as a hero.  Here are my top reasons why:

(1) Shrunk In the Biggest Moments – Yes, Donovan McNabb made one Super Bowl and five NFC Championship games.  Out of those six games, however, he only rose to the occasion once.  Once!  Three times in the NFC Championship game the Eagles went in as the favorite and three times they lost, twice after an anemic offense performance and once with the ball in McNabb’s hands and the opportunity to win the game.  In 2002-2003 they lost 27-10 at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The next year they lost 14-3 to the Carolina Panthers again at home.  In 2008-2009, they lost to the Arizona Cardinals 32-25.

Remember the final two minutes of the Super Bowl?  McNabb blew chunks in the huddle (allegedly).  His performance should appear in the dictionary next to the definition for “dazed and confused.”  He again had the opportunity to win the game but acted with no sense of urgency, clearly overwhelmed by the moment.  There is no way you can classify how he performed as “great.”

McNabb is no John Elway.  McNabb is no Joe Montana.  McNabb isn’t even Jim Kelly who won his four Conference Championship game appearances.

(2) Never Took Responsibility – That’s not completely true.  He took responsibility for the glory.  McNabb thinks he is a great quarterback and the savior of Philadelphia football.  What is true, however, is that he never took responsibility for the shortfalls.  For example, after the loss to the Cardinals, when McNabb started at mid-field in the last minute of the game but was unable to progress the ball, he blamed the defense.  The guy bounced ball off the ground in front of receivers more than a pee-wee football quarterback, yet it was the young receivers who could not hang onto the ball.  It was always, “I could have done better… if I was given more weapons.”  It was always excuses and deflected responsibility.

(3) Ran His Mouth Too Much – McNabb never understood Philadelphia.  Philadelphia wants championships, wins, and get it done attitude.  There are no moral victories.  Guys like Chase Utley who say as little as possible but run out every ground ball, lead the league in hit-by-pitches, and consistently show-up in the big moments are heroes in this city.

McNabb was always clowning around.  Remember before the playoff game with the Cowboys last year?  Him doing that silly dance and then falling completely flat during the game.  All the interviews with the calculated comments and smiles that would make a politician envious.  That’s not Philadelphia.

(4) Played the Race Card – This one is talked about the least, but, on a personal level, may bother me the most.  Too often when McNabb came under criticism, he hinted at race being factor.  At times, when he felt under-appreciated, he explicitly played the race card.  Remember him saying that TO committed a “black on black crime,” because TO said they would have won the Super Bowl with Brett Favre as our quarterback?  Remember him saying that Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are celebrated and viewed positively not because they won Super Bowls and MVPs, but because they are white?

McNabb never got it.  Ironically, Vick, the guy McNabb was responsible for bringing to Philadelphia, is proof of how wrong McNabb was about race being a factor.  This city was adamant about starting Vick, a black quarterback, over Kolb, a white quarterback.  The national media mirrored the sentiments of our city.  Did this city and nation have a sudden awakening since McNabb left last spring?  No.  It’s not that McNabb was never elevated to greatness because he was black, he wasn’t elevated to greatness but he wasn’t great.

So on Sunday, lets not boo McNabb.  Lets not cheer him.  Lets politely clap for him, tip our cap, and let our defense prove yet again just how great he isn’t.

Agree or disagree?  Leave a comment below and let me know!

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