This morning quarterback Donovan McNabb officially retired as an Eagle. They had the news conference at the Nova Care Complex and in a surprise move the team retired his number 5 jersey. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie, along with former Eagles greats, safety Brian Dawkins and running back Brian Westbrook spoke along with McNabb during the news conference.
McNabb seemed quite emotional at the beginning of the session. I wondered whether he was going to make it all the way through his remarks without tearing up, but he gained his composure as he continued and finished up strong.
I liked the fact that he showed some emotion because McNabb really loved his time here in Philadelphia. He was elated to come back yesterday and I like the fact that the Birds reached out to him and put together the entire weekend. This is the way his career should end here in the city.
“I think I can talk about No. 5 all day, all morning, all night,” Lurie said, following a rollicking montage of McNabb’s greatest moments. “This is a very special moment for the Eagles franchise today,” Lurie continued. “We’re really honoring one of the greatest players in the history of the Eagles and certainly the greatest quarterback in the history of the Eagles.”
“Donovan McNabb was a franchise-changing quarterback for the Eagles and helped raise the bar of success for this franchise during his 11-year tenure with the team,” said Lurie. “On the field, the numbers that Donovan posted during his time in an Eagles uniform speak for themselves. He is the franchise leader in nearly every major passing category and is the all-time winningest quarterback in Eagles history. His unique ability to make plays through the air and with his legs made him one of the most dynamic players this city has ever seen. Donovan was the face and the focal point of so many of our great Eagles teams and he helped make this franchise a contender each and every year that he was here.”
Westbrook made a comment that I think came out the wrong way.
“So many times there’s a duo in sport, so many people play with another person – Jordan had Pippen. I had Donovan McNabb. I just want to thank you for that opportunity and allowing me to share a football field with you.”
I don’t think he meant that to come out the way it did because it would mean he’s putting himself on a par of Michael Jordan and I don’t think Westbrook would say that. It’s something people are going to talk about, but I don’t think he meant it that way.
Dawkins took the stage after Westbrook and he took us back to the pre-McNabb Eagles teams.
“I remember what [things were] like before Donovan got here. And how when he got here, how quickly this thing went on the upswing.”
The great safety talked about how he felt going into games with McNabb under center.
“I knew when I stepped onto the football field that I was gonna get 110 percent from my quarterback. Donovan was just going to go out and perform, to the best of his ability. Not every football player has that in him,” Dawkins said of McNabb’s playing on a broken ankle. “I just wanted to tell you, brother, it was a pleasure going to war with you. “
After Dawkins finished McNabb headed to the stage and hugged his former teammate on the way. Number five was quite emotional when he started.
“I want to thank Jeffrey Lurie, and the Eagles organization for this unbelievable honor. To be mentioned with the likes of [all the Eagles’ retired numbers] who’ve paved the way for me and my former teammates and all the current players.”
He took the time to thank all the people in his circle, his parents and his wife and four children, then he continued.
“It’s hard to put into words how I truly feel… I appreciate everything.. everything about each and everyone of you. This would not be possible without your efforts, sacrifices, passion and resolve. I appreciate you putting things behind when it came time for us to put it on the line. I had the opportunity to play with some great players in my time here. Not only were they great athletes, but they were wonderful human beings.”
McNabb went back to addressing the fans and telling them how much he appreciated playing here in front of them.
“Again, to everyone that’s here, everybody that’s watching, to all the fans, I truly love you. I gave everything I had when I stepped out on the field, I never complained.”
He culminated his remarks with advice to the current Eagles players, who were sitting in the back of the auditorium.
“To all the current players playing now: play with passion, play with heart, and trust the man next to you… because everything you set to accomplish, you got to do it together. “If you want to be great, make the man next to you greater.”
I spent most of the day with McNabb yesterday and was thinking the entire time, if he would just be himself when they put that microphone in his face, the fans would love him. He’s always fighting going into the politician mode, which doesn’t play well here in Philadelphia.
Deep down behind all of the that politician sounding talk, he’s a good person. Yes, he can be silly with the jokes and sometimes he doesn’t know when to stop, but they’re never malicious. If you get to know him, he’s a good person and down to earth.
McNabb made over $100 million dollars during his NFL career, yet he’s just as down to earth now as he was when I first met him. Now ask yourself how many people you know, who could keep their feet on the ground after making over $100 million dollars.
He does need to do a better job of managing his news conferences. Like a politician, you give the answers you want to give regardless of the questions. He should refrain from talking about being booed at the draft for the rest of his life. McNabb makes the mistake of answering questions about being booed and people would criticize him as if he brought it up.
He should make a point to talk about the good times, only. We’ve got enough people to talk about the bad times. It will balance things off.