Donovan McNabb has been enjoying life after football, especially in his new role as a businessman. In a recent interview with Entrepreneur magazine, the former Eagles quarterback delved into a bevy of topics from handling critics to following childhood dreams. McNabb was insightful and introspective throughout the conversation.
When host David Meltzer brought up the topic of Eagles fans booing him at the 1999 NFL Draft, McNabb didn’t mince words at all. He knew they wanted the team to select Ricky Williams and that motivated him during his career in Philadelphia. McNabb threw some slight shade at the city’s notoriously tough fans by saying he just wished they would have backed their sour opinions up with “evidence.”
“They had an idea of who they wanted and I don’t get upset about someone’s opinion,” McNabb told Meltzer. “But just have some information or some evidence with it because there are comments that I make that might get people rattled but there’s evidence of what I say. And I love the fact that they felt that way because that was more motivation for me.”
The former face of the franchise endured one of the most successfully tumultuous eras in Philadelphia sports history, a decade filled with unfulfilled expectations and marred by passive-aggressive comments. McNabb, a six-time Pro Bowler, retired as the Eagles’ all-time leading passer (32,873 yards) and winningest quarterback (101 wins). He had his No. 5 raised to the rafters in 2013 and has openly lobbied for his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Despite the rough introduction, McNabb turned out to be a bonafide superstar in the NFL and helped pave the way for future African-American quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray. McNabb told Meltzer that he looked up to Hall of Famer Warren Moon when he was playing and Moon would often “call to check on me.” McNabb said he felt that Moon had passed the proverbial torch to him.
“For him to be rewarded, to be in the Hall of Fame, it’s well-deserved,” McNabb said. “And that gave light to every other player, of African-American descent to play the position, to know that you have a chance. My path and my journey was a little bit different than Warren and Randall [Cunningham] and Doug [Williams]. Those guys lit the torch. They lit the torch for us and passed the torch on, and I reached my hand out and I grabbed it.”
In the long-ranging interview, the 42-year-old revealed that his goal around the age of 8 or 9 was to be a sports broadcaster. It’s also the reason why he decided to attend Syracuse University. He never wanted football to define his life or legacy.
“People look at the football aspect of it,” McNabb said. “I planned for life after football at a young age and football was just an opportunity for me to get on center stage and showcase my talent from an athletic standpoint. But you always have to have a game plan when things happen or you decide to walk away and broadcasting was my next step.”
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McNabb achieved that childhood dream in 2012 when he was hired to be an analyst for NFL Network before moving over to FOX Sports to do play-by-play work. He also spent some time broadcasting for ESPN radio but was eventually fired in 2018 after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced.
Meltzer never dug into that sensitive area, but McNabb offered a pretty telling comment about his post-football life when he said: “There’s only one person that will be the toughest critic for you and that’s the guy staring back at you in the mirror. You have to understand who you are as a person.”