For 11 seasons, Donovan McNabb was a lightning rod for criticism despite immense success. He walked away as the greatest quarterback in franchise history.
Along the way, the 42-year-old was often mocked and attacked for a variety of things. Fans booed him at the 1999 NFL Draft. They picked on him for smiling when the team was losing. He was accused of puking in the Super Bowl. Nothing ever came easy.
McNabb never seemed to fit the prototypical image of what a franchise quarterback should look like or how he should act. On Thursday night, McNabb was honored at Rivers Casino when he was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.
It was a well-deserved honor for the man who holds the franchise records for passing yards, completion percentage, wins and touchdowns. He took a few minutes to speak with the media ahead of the ceremony and touched on his rocky relationship with Philly fans.
“Really!? Only when they weren’t going well?,” McNabb replied when Heavy.com’s Mike Greger asked him why he took so much heat when Carson Wentz seemingly gets none. “That’s not my decision to make or my question to answer. Listen, every quarterback receives some type of attention, press, whatever it may be. Everyone’s going to be criticized.
“If they pick and choose who it is, that’s not my concern. Here in Philadelphia, we know it’s tough. It’s tough to win. It’s tough to play on a consistent basis. If you don’t, they’ll find a way to get you out of there. And I’m not saying they need to get Carson out of there, but you gotta win.”
Andy Reid Shows Up to Support Former Eagles Quarterback
It was a special night for Donovan McNabb. He got teary-eyed recalling his career in Philadelphia during his induction speech Thursday night at Rivers Casino.
He thanked his parents, Wilma and Sam, along with his four children, for “blocking out all the haters” and making him a stronger man. McNabb also sent an incredible amount of gratitude to his former coach, Andy Reid. The current Chiefs coach flew in for the occasion despite having a game in Tennessee in three days.
“There was a guy who was just stepping into a head coaching position for the very first time and he reached out to me and said: ‘You know what, you are my guy and I will be tied to the hip with you,'” McNabb said, joking those are “some pretty big hips.”
“We are going to do this thing here in Philadelphia and have people appreciate everything about each and every one of us when all is said and done. Andy [Reid] took that chance on me and drafted me second pick overall. I look back on that, that was one of the best things in my life and he is a close friend of mine.”
Reid was sitting front and center at a VIP table, along with the majority of McNabb’s starting offensive line: Jermaine Mayberry, Tra Thomas, Jon Runyan and Todd Herremans. The former quarterback referenced each guy in his speech — plus Brian Westbrook — and thanked Runyan for “throwing snaggletooth Mike Strahan on the ground.”
“People fail to realize it wasn’t about how many wins you had to start the season. It was about who you were going to play in the playoffs or the NFC championship,” McNabb said. “So that was the confidence we tried to exude to everyone who was there at the games, and that’s kind of the approach we embraced. It’s not just about competing, it’s about dominating.”
Donovan McNabb Reflects on Legacy in Philadelphia
Donovan McNabb’s weird dichotomy with Eagles fans has been well-documented. On Thursday, he took a moment to reflect on his overall legacy. First and foremost, McNabb wanted everyone to remember him as a winner.
“I think my legacy is about working hard, always wanting to be the best at everything that I do,” McNabb said, “and always have a smile on my face and enjoy the moment. And was a winner.”
While some fans may take issue with that statement — remember, he never delivered a Super Bowl championship — it’s a pretty fair assessment. McNabb won 94 games in 11 seasons while leading the Eagles to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl. He successfully established a consistent winning culture for a franchise not known for that prior to his arrival.
“People don’t realize how hard it is to be consistent,” McNabb said. “That’s why you give a lot of credit to Tom Brady and the Patriots. We were in that same boat for over a decade. There were three teams that had a consistent winning percentage each and every year and that was us, the Colts and I think it was the Patriots.”
Yes, he knows Brady’s Patriots won their lone battle in 2005.
“Tom and I had that kind of duel and it was our only Super Bowl but still it hurts,” McNabb said. “But then to look back and to lose to the GOAT … it’s one that I still get pissed off about but then I go, ‘OK I get it.'”
And McNabb is quick to point out that his Syracuse team beat Brady’s Michigan team in 1998.
“Tom and I have a history,” he said. “In 1998, I beat Tom in Ann Arbor, Michigan and he found a way to get back at me five years later.”
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