By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
Now that Donovan McNabb has been traded to the Washington Redskins, the most common thing that you’ll hear from local media types about his legacy in Philadelphia is that he failed to produce a Super Bowl win for the franchise during his 11-year tenure.
Some will say that he choked in four out of those five NFC Championship games and in the Eagles’ lone Super Bowl appearance during his tenure in Philadelphia.
The idea that McNabb’s legacy in Philadelphia is his failure to win a Super Bowl ring is as myopic and irrational as it is actually far from the truth. It is absolutely silly for fans and the sports talk radio crowd to blame McNabb for the Eagles not having a Super Bowl title.
That failure goes on the ledger of the Eagles as an organization because they did not do enough to put a team on the field that was good enough to win a Super Bowl. Because the personnel decisions that the Eagles made weren’t good enough to attract top talent, it ultimately affected what they did on the field. Without such things as a game breaking wide receiver and a stubborn unwillingness to truly commit to a running game, the Eagles postseason failures over the years was inevitable.
Eagles team president Joe Banner’s cost-cutting measures of keeping the team under the salary cap and not bringing in big-time players that could have helped McNabb over the years is not the fault of the former Syracuse star. McNabb was not the one making the front office decisions for the Birds for the past 11 years.
When the Eagles brought in wide receiver Terrell Owens in 2004, the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl and McNabb had the best statistical year of his career, completing a career-high 64 percent of his passes with 31 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions.
But that marriage didn’t last long. T.O.’s unceremonious departure from the Eagles was a combination of Owens publicly criticizing McNabb and Eagles management’s poor handling of that situation. On one hand, it didn’t help that Owens’ agent Drew Rosenhaus tried to strong arm the Eagles organization to pay his client more money.
On the flip side of the coin, the Eagles could have recognized Owens’ value to the offense, renegotiated his contract and given him the money, knowing that they could alter the terms of the contract any time they wanted—which is managment’s right to do under the current collective bargaining agreement.
After Owens left, Banner and company would never again bring a receiver of Owen’s caliber. Instead, they drafted guys like Reggie Brown, who turned out to be a dud and Kevin Curtis, who was merely good enough to be a No. 2 receiver. When former Eagles Donte Stallworth developed some chemistry with McNabb during the 2007 season, the Eagles refused to re-sign him.
Through all of the booing on draft day, racist comments by Rush Limbaugh and the constant derision from Eagles fans and the sports talk radio community, McNabb has won 65 percent of his games as the Birds starting quarterback.
McNabb’s tenure in Philadelphia gave the Eagles it’s most successful 11-year stretch in the history of the franchise. He led the Birds to the playoffs in eight of his 11 years, which included five division titles, five appearances in the NFC title game and a Super Bowl appearance.
McNabb managed to pull this off with the few weapons he had in his arsenal. The only other quarterback in franchise history that got so much with absolutely no help on offense was former Eagles signal caller Randall Cunningham, who had no offensive line and no running game.
Unfortunately, fans in this town arent’ going to see it that way. Back in 1999, Philly fans were upset that the organization drafted McNabb ahead of former University of Texas star running back and Heisman Trophy winner Rickey Williams.
As it turned out, McNabb was by far the best choice. I don’t think you could have said the same thing about Williams, who has been a chronic head case throughout his career. He has spent most of career being suspended for marijuana use. McNabb has been a great player and a model citizen.
If anything, McNabb’s legacy in the City of Brotherly Love can be best described as an old James Ingram song that said, “I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough.”
Thats’ true, but it wasn’t all his fault. The thing that Eagles fans fail to see through all their emotion of not having won a championship since 1960 and their constant scapegoating of McNabb is that their team was not well equiped with the players they needed on both sides of the ball to win a Super Bowl.
For all of Banner’s maneuvering of the salary cap and getting players on the cheap has not translated into a team capable of winning the Super Bowl.
One superstar athlete isn’t enough to win a championship. It’s something that Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson found out playing with the 76ers. The same goes for Cunningham during his time with the Eagles, who had even fewer weapons than McNabb.
What has to be maddening for McNabb is that new Eagles starting quarterback Kevin Kolb is going to have all the weapons he didn’t have during his time with the Eagles. He will have emerging stars in wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin as well as tight end Brent Celek and he will have a running game with LeSean McCoy.
In Washington, McNabb will have a head coach in Mike Shanahan that will surround him with good receivers and will be committed to having a running game to keep teams off balance. More imporantly, McNabb will be playing in front of a more knowledgeable fan base in Washington that will actually appreciate his efforts.