I have been waiting to write a long detailed and emotional piece about Quarterback Donovan McNabb when he finally retires. However it appears he’s got a few more things to say before he moves into that big broadcast booth in the sky.
This week McNabb got on ESPN’s First Take and took a chunk out of Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan (and his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan) for their anticipated draft of Baylor Quarterback Robert Griffin III, a Heisman trophy winning superstar in the college game last year. While some will interpret McNabb’s move as sour grapes given his one lousy year of post-Eagles quarterbacking in Washington (he had no business moving to one of the most hated rival teams in the NFC East in the first place), as a longtime fan I saw something different. For the first time in his public career McNabb showed some spine, something I wish he would’ve done more during his time in Philly.
Donovan McNabb has been, throughout his career one of the most successful yet criticized quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. He got it from both sides: racist Philly fans who hated having a Black quarterback who was more Carlton Banks than Carl Weathers and dimwitted African Americans who fell into the good Black vs. bad Black argument successfully put forth by NFL Super Agent Drew Rosenhaus through his willing stooge Terrell Owens.
But, McNabb’s winning percentages and playoff success were matched or exceeded only by Tom Brady and Peyton Manning – yet he was still seldom mentioned in that automatic Hall of Famer club that embraced the other two. The bigger issue with McNabb, however, even amongst his supporters (like myself) was that he seemed way too passive in the face of criticism.
Those Eagles NFC Championship losses weren’t all on him: there was his coach’s lousy play-calling, the all to permeable “Bend don’t break” defense of the Eagles and the lack of talent on offense. Yet, McNabb never directly complained about this team or the various knuckleheads that came after him, ranging from Rush Limbaugh to Terrell Owens to Philadelphia NAACP president Whyatt D. Moondeshire. When it was obvious that he was being scapegoated by the incompetent coaching of re-treat Mike Shanahan on the Redskins, McNabb let his agent do the talking then backed away from his own agent’s statements. It was a wince inducing deconstruction of a Black man who clearly just wanted to be loved and couldn’t or wouldn’t fight out in the open.
It has always been clear that McNabb planned on having a career in NFL media after his playing days were over, and starting off by slamming Shanahan as an egomaniac who will blow the #2 draft pick and get fired once the season is over is a pretty good start. Let’s also hope that this is the beginning of a new era for the quarterback. He would be the first African American QB to move into the broadcast booth on a regular basis, and maybe that’ll give him the confidence to express the real opinions he denied having throughout his time in the league.
DR. JASON JOHNSON, Politic365 Chief Political Correspondent, is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio and author of the book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell. You can read more at www.drjasonjohnson.com or follow him on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson