A source close to Eagles Quarterback Donovan McNabb recently told me that the embattled star “absolutely wants to stay” in the City of Brotherly Love.
McNabb told ESPN in a recent interview that he thinks they should bring more star-caliber talent into the Eagles’ the roster. Many think that he is just saying all the right things despite wanting out. Some believe that his vocal desire to add playmakers is an attempt at forcing a trade.
“Donovan definitely wants to stay in Philly,” the source said. “He wants to stay in Philly and win a championship here.”
Most probably wouldn’t blame McNabb one bit if he really did go elsewhere for a fresh start. He’s had to take heat going back to the 1999 draft when he was booed thoroughly after the Eagles made him the second overall pick.
Of course, he was booed for what he wasn’t (Ricky Williams) and not for what he was. Still, he had to stand up there and take it.
In 2003, after a rough start, which included inconsistency and a sore throwing thumb, the Philadelphia faithful clamored for third-string quarterback A.J. Feeley, who had filled in admirably in 2002 when McNabb went down with a cracked ankle (they ignored the fact that he threw four touchdown passes in that game, after the ankle snapped). Even Rush Limbaugh was able to jump in on the McNabb bashing during the 2003 season.
McNabb rebounded from all of it and rattled off nine straight wins that season, leading the Eagles to their fourth-consecutive playoff berth.
At the conclusion of the 2004 season, the Eagles lost in the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots and McNabb was held responsible by the locals. He threw three interceptions — two of them very costly — and was seen vomiting in the huddle towards the end of the game. The phone lines at Philadelphia’s sports radio 610 lit up like a Christmas tree with angry fans harping on his mistakes during the game.
Nowadays fans say Eli Manning grew up in the Super Bowl while Donovan threw up.
In 2005, Terrell Owens openly criticized McNabb as a way to help Owens get a new contract. The quarterback was then thrown under the bus by just about anyone with a pen. His leadership was called into question, and it was widely reported that he lost the locker room. McNabb was ridiculed for taking the high road and not standing up to Owens. Some claimed that he should have physically confronted the mercurial receiver.
“He did not lose that locker room,” a former Eagle teammate told me at the time. “Those guys have Donovan’s back. That stuff isn’t true.”
In 2006, following an injury-shortened season, McNabb found himself on injured reserve for the second straight year when he blew an ACL against the Tennessee Titans. The ire was now centered around his inability to stay healthy.
The NFL Draft last April saw the Eagles draft University of Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb in the second round. It was their first selection in that draft. Since the moment his name was announced, all of the talk has centered around when McNabb will be gone. He has been hammered repeatedly with questions about whether he’s going to stay, whether he wants to stay and whether he thinks the team even wants him anymore.
By the conclusion of the Eagles 8-8 season, McNabb looked bloodied. He looked like a man exhausted from the constant barrage of repetitive questions. No one would be surprised if he privately wished to re-start his career in another city. But, it seems that McNabb has just gotten used to how things work in one of the toughest sports towns in the country.
He has responded to the adversity admirably thus far in his career, and judging by the way his knee seemed to be coming around late in the season, most signs point to him doing it again.