Seismic sigh. Maybe the Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton are right: You really don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone. I fear this will be the case when we look back on the should-be storied legacy of Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia.
From the moment the team drafted him, McNabb was showered with scorn, mostly because he’s “a black guy”. He wasn’t just any black guy, though. He was a great black guy with a sensitive nature and a song in his heart. None of this mattered. Truth be told, most Philly fans would prefer their quarterback be a hybrid of Jaws, Rocky, Vince Papale, Mike Schmidt, Sal Fasano and themselves (but only if they’re white). Donovan did not, could not fit this mold. All he could do was be the best quarterback we ever had. And he was hated for it.
That wasn’t me. I saw the genius and I appreciated his humanity. I felt that if we hung out, Donovan and I would become fast friends. We would go to Phish concerts together, because everyone in this town loves that shitty hippie band for some reason.
But the reasons I loved him are the same that others used to cast him out. For years, he’s been dogged by his vomiting on the final drive of Super Bowl XXXIX. This is a pain I know well. I took Lower Merion High School to consecutive Ultimate Frisbee state championships. Each time, our chances we felled by my inability to not wet myself in crucial gametime situations. This, along with general social awkwardness, contributed to a rocky social life that continues to this day.
But, really, we all buckle under pressure from time to time. Is that so hard to admit? Do we really, truly surrender our dignity to admit simple human fallibility that we all possess? And that’s ignoring the fact that our infinitesimally smaller failures are not scrutinized anywhere nearly as much as an NFL player’s are. It’s a terrible, unspeakable injustice. Who could possibly live up to that impossible standard? Not me, that’s for sure. And I doubt you could either, dear reader.
Oakland would probably be a good fit for McNabb. It’s like San Francisco’s “Island of The Misfit Blacks and Poors”. Just not actually an island, so I don’t know how well that simile works. Philadelphia doesn’t really have that so much as scary neighborhoods in which I dare not tread.
Anyway, Raiders fans would welcome Donovan, I think. Underneath the Darth Vader masks and spiked shoulder pads, they possess a vibrant soul that Philly fans do not. It’s probably why their team beat us in that Super Bowl in the ’80s. And I wish him well. In fact, few things would please me more to see him come back and beat the ever-loving snot out the team that unjustly gave up on him. It will be a victory for unappreciated people everywhere, one far more important than any Super Bowl or Ultimate Frisbee state championship. It will be a victory of the soul.