Is Donovan McNabb the Most Unfairly Criticized Quarterback in NFL History?
No, no he’s not.
I’m not about to dive into who is, but I felt I had to step up and say something about Donovan McNabb‘s ego getting in the way of a hearty debate on ESPN’s First Take this morning. Michael David Smith over at ProFootballTalk.com sums what went down the best, and you can catch that here.
But the bulk of this story comes down to these facts: Skip Bayless said Tim Tebow is the most unfairly criticized quarterback in NFL history (and he may have a point there), and then (like a small child, mind you), Donovan McNabb chimed in repeatedly that he (McNabb) was in fact the most unfairly criticized quarterback in league history.
As Michael David Smith points out, McNabb is right when it comes to a lack of support (and an abundance of boos) when he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, or when Rush Limbaugh blasted a racialy driven rant McNabb’s way. To those two points, McNabb could argue about.
But fading off in Philly, coming up lame in Washington, and not even showing up in Minnesota reeled in 100% completely fair criticism.
When McNabb was good, he was really good. But in his last days with the Eagles, he wasn’t very effective. In Washington, he was wildly inconsistent. In Minnesota he was inept.
The cold, hard truth of McNabb’s career comes down to two fatal facts: He played in a city (Philadelphia) that loved it’s team and players when they were winning, but could easily go after their throats when they didn’t produce. And to make matters worse, McNabb got his Eagles to four straight NFC title games and one Super Bowl, but came up short for the big trophy every single time.
If McNabb is unfairly criticized for coming “close but no cigar” so many times, then so is Brett Favre and a handful of other quarterbacks who constantly get their teams far, but couldn’t end on the highest note.
Just look at Tom Brady in his past two Super Bowls. He’s 0-2, and he hasn’t exactly been on top of his game. Even beyond the Super Bowls, Brady has been lackluster overall at best in the playoffs since the last time he won one.
Perhaps McNabb should wipe the tears from his cheeks for a minute and look at other elite quarterbacks that have failed and have received equally harsh criticism.
Brady’s legacy, if he can’t win another Super Bowl, is tarnished. Heck, if he gets to one again and loses, his “forever ago” unblemished 3-0 Super Bowl record is stuck dead at 3-3. You’re not exactly the “greatest of all-time” if that happens, right?
Peyton Manning is known more for a mediocre playoff record and costing the Colts a Super Bowl title, rather than for the one he won.
Brett Favre returned the Lombardi Trophy to Title Town, but all people really remember about him these days are text messages and interceptions. And this is the guy who holds all of the major passing records, got to two straight Super Bowls, played in several NFC title games, and only missed the playoffs a handful of times in a 20-year career.
In the grand scheme of things for McNabb, he truly got criticized for losing the big games. Andy Reid shoulders some of the blame, but in the end the quarterback is the guy that needs to finish the job – especially when he has the ability to do so time and time again.
McNabb tried and tried to get the Eagles over the hump and into the Super Bowl. It finally happened, and he lost his lunch on the field and couldn’t get it done in the end. As you may remember, he threw three picks in that game. You know, the biggest game in his career.
Now McNabb is in his mid 30′s. He’s finished as an elite quarterback, and almost certainly done as a starter. His career is probably over unless he sucks it up and takes a backup job, or someone gets desperate following an injury.
He should accept that. More importantly, he should leave the game with what little grace he has left, and enter his new career (which appears to be broadcasting or commentary, because he’s actually good at it), rather than kick it off with blatant bitterness.