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Note to Eagles fans: Appreciate Donovan McNabb for the things he DID do

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I'm a little disappointed at some of the Donovan McNabb backlash this week. Donovan McNabb will return to Lincoln Financial Field Sunday.To be blunt, some of the fans (aided by local sports talk radio stations) act like McNabb did nothing for the Philadelphia Eagles and that's a shame. Donovan McNabb is not Adam Eaton, and it doesn't say much for Eagles fans who continuously dwell on his time in Philly.

He is no longer an Eagle. He's a Washington Redskin, so we're obviously not going to root for him Sunday. However, McNabb does deserve a standing ovation prior to the game when he returns this weekend to Lincoln Financial Field. To boo the man would be pretty classless. Remember how bad the Birds were for those several seasons prior to his arrival? This is America, and people can do as they wish. However, it may be wise not to feed the beast that is the national media, as they feast on moments like this in Philly.

Don't get me wrong, I'm NEVER going to feel sorry for a multi-million dollar athlete. I know I'm going to take some crap for this, but some Philly sports fans really need to think before they react sometimes.

Donovan McNabb was hands down the best quarterback the Philadelphia Eagles have ever had. People who completely support Michael Vick after half of the town didn't even want him on the Eagles last year are now praising him because he beat two "beyond less-than average" teams in just two starts. These were the same people who thought Jeff Garcia was our savior in addition to those who couldn't wait for Kevin Kolb to take McNabb's place.

Either I'm missing something here, or: 1. Eagles fans want to win SO badly that they don't give a crap who is quarterbacking this team. 2. They've already forgotten the fun and exciting times they had watching the Eagles during the last decade. Like it or not, McNabb had a lot to do with this. 

Someone tried to tell me last weekend that Jaws and Randall Cunnigham were better than McNabb. With all due respect to those guys, McNabb owns virtually every Eagles passing record that exists. The team went to FIVE NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl during McNabb's tenure. Did the Eagles ever win the big game? No, they didn't. Should they have? In my opinion, multiple times. Did McNabb come up small for the most part in these games? Yeah, he did. But so did Blaine Bishop  and his torn hamstring against Tampa Bay. So did James Thrash and Todd Pinkston against Carolina. So did the defense against Arizona. Eventually, the Eagles will win a Super Bowl, but chances are you may not ever see four consecutive NFC Championship Games again in this town. Never say never, but it's tough getting to one let alone five in eight years.

If you're going to pin the tail on McNabb for not winning the big game, you might as well blame EVERY Philadelphia team in the last 27 years except for one. That means YOU Eric Lindros, Allen Iverson, and virtually EVERY athlete who has come through this town after June of 1983. I know we were so close with the Eagles, and maybe that's why it stings so badly.

That was my defense of McNabb. However, he is not free of blame by any means.

Did the way McNabb go about things irritate the hell out of me at times? Absolutely.McNabb and T.O. in happier times. Photo: http://www.ddotomen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/owensmcnabb.jpg The laughing on the sidelines after crucial interceptions always did it for me. I despise Tom Brady and that whole New England cheating team. However, watch him or Peyton Manning after a loss. See where I'm going with this?

Donovan McNabb wanted to win, but it didn't seem like it killed him to lose (there were even those rumors of him spinning records at a party shortly after the Eagles' Super Bowl loss.) And I think over the years, that really got under the skin of the fans and the whole scenario became very predictable. It must be hard watching all of your contemporaries (INCLUDING Eli Manning) win a Super Bowl while you are still ringless. It's the equivilant to watching all your friends become successful while you're still trying to make things happen. (Gee, even I can relate to that....)

Let's be honest, Terrell Owens was in the wrong for the way he handled his contract issues in 2005. However, why did the locker room become divided between McNabb and TO Bernard Hopkins has always taking a public disliking to McNabb. Moreover, the current Eagles players didn't seem particularly phased that he was even traded. People generally don't take shots at people for the sake of doing it. Personally, I've never met McNabb, but he seems to really get under the skin of some of his contemporaries with his passive aggressive behavior.

Not ONCE in 11 years did I ever hear McNabb say at a press conference, "That one's on me. My bad." McNabb was probably the best football player in his pee-wee league, high school, and college. LOTS of people tell you how great you are during those years. However, nobody is going to coddle you in the NFL, and I think McNabb had a problem with that. Rumors even circulated that McNabb was jealous of Owens' immense popularity upon his arrival in Philly.

He never got over the fans booing him on draft day. Then there was the "I'm the captain of this ship," nonsense, the whole "overtime" debacle (where he claimed that Hines Ward didn't know the overtime rule, either), and my personal favorite, "Black on black crime."   It's apparent that McNabb never spent any time in selected "less-than desireable" areas of South Jersey and Pennsylvania (I won't mention any cities, but you know where they are). Stuff like that doesn't exactly endear you to anyone let alone one of the toughest cities in the country to play in.

I guess in the end, Donovan McNabb wasn't really a Philly guy and the fans picked up on that. After all, fans booed Mike Schmidt, so everyone else is fair game. His best wasn't good enough, but that can be said for many athletes in this town. Especially when you're talking about the team with the longest championship drought of the four major sports teams.

Just like Lindros and Iverson, don't remember the bad. Remember the good, because there WAS more good than bad with Donovan McNabb. And as you know and hopefully didn't forget, there was baggage with those other guys as well.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

Home Page photo: http://images.tbd.com/sports/0807_redskins_mcnabb_606.jpg