Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Five Answer

After an opening week in which he finished with just 39 passing yards in a road loss to the Chargers, there are all kinds of Donovan McNabb Is Finished stories on the Web... and all I can think of is how the best QB in the history of my franchise is going down, at age 35, with a quickness, and how unseemly the glee of many people in my fandom is.

There is no doubt that he's not the player he used to be, or that the team didn't do well in getting him out of town when they did. The fact that second year safety Nate Allen, the player they got with the second round pick, is looking less helpful by the day will make the trade less of a theft, but moving him was clearly the right move. Some of his comments since leaving town have also seemed somewhat churlish or curious, and there's that whole matter of the 1-4 record in NFC championship games to discuss.

But, um... why does Kevin Kolb get a pass and our general good wishes, while McNabb's struggles and decline are met with barely contained glee?

The answer, as always with McNabb, is complicated. He never *really* fit into the zeitgeist of this town, seeing how he was articulate and didn't seem to be having a life and death life experience out there. For a man who beat teams with his legs early in his career, he seemed gun-shy about running later, and maybe even a little heavy. Low interception rates also spoke to ineffectiveness in the red zone, and for every great memory in the division (the Tecmo Bowl scramble and throw to DeSean Jackson against Dallas, the phone call punking of the Giants, any number of games against the Redkins), there was misery outside of it. Some blamed him for "losing" Terrell Owens; others conflated him with Andy Reid to question the team's decisions in the red zone and game management. By the time he was sent out, there was surprisingly little loyalty left for him, either in the front office or in the fan base.

The biggest problem with McNabb, really, is that he disappointed, mostly because his Eagles could never do anything but disappointment, given their level and opportunity.

But it's not as if anyone in town hates the Vikings, has any connection with Christian Ponder or anyone else in Minny, or should give him grief for the way everything worked out. He got old, they shipped him out, he's not good anymore and will probably be out of football in another couple of years. In other words, he's done everything you could ask of him to do, and you'll probably cheer him in a few years when they bring him in for that one-day contract and number retirement. (How much do you get paid for those one-day deals, I wonder?)

So why not just let him be now.. and why did the same fan base keep rooting for, say, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson until the ends of their careers in opposing laundry? (Because we're haters, and hateful, and don't do well with smooth guys. But still, y'all should be ashamed of yourselves.)

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