Leading a perennially-strong Philadelphia Eagles team for the better part of the 2000s, Donovan McNabb was a premier talent in the NFL. And although his career will partially be defined by frustration – his Eagles were always knocking on the door of greatness, making it to five NFC Championship games (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2008) and a Super Bowl (XXXIX), but never broke through – his resume is still worthy of a Hall of Fame debate. The Eagles acknowledge this, and are planning to retire his number five in the near future.
So says USA Today:
“Monday, McNabb officially retired with the Eagles, the team which drafted him second overall in 1999 and employed him for 11 of his 13 NFL seasons, and learned he would enter the club’s Hall of Fame and have his No. 5 retired.
“‘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 owner Jeffrey Lurie.”
Now that the dust has settled and Eagles fans have different players to worry about, it should be said with conviction that McNabb was one of the best players of his generation. Injuries prevented him from reaching the Brady-Manning-Brees pantheon of excellence, but at his best, he was second-to-none. The case can be made that he’s the best duel-threat quarterback, ever. Peep game:
I can watch that highlight for days and not get bored. His ability to extend the play, and the arm strength to find Freddie “Fred Ex” Mitchell streaking down the field were an incredibly rare combination. That throwing ability can also be seen here, in McNabb’s famous “4th and 26” play against the Green Bay Packers:
Not as flashy as his scramble against the Cowboys, but much more significant in the grand scheme of things. The play would prolong a playoff run that would see Philadelphia lose in the NFC Championship game.
All in all, hats off to a great career. How many franchises out there spend years trying to find a quarterback as consistently good as Donovan McNabb? His highs might not have been on par with the best quarterbacks of his generation, but for a 10-year run, you could count on his Philadelphia Eagles to be a tough out on bad days, and a Super Bowl contender on good ones.
If that doesn’t qualify him to get his number retired, I don’t know what does.