Apr 19, 2012, 2:44 PM EDT
His playing days seemingly over, Donovan McNabb is attempting to sidestep irrelevance by granting an increasing number of interviews, presumably in an effort to further a broadcasting career. Unfortunately, it probably doesn’t bother television producers that McNabb’s words somehow always boil down to inane ramblings about how great/unfairly treated he was during his 13 seasons in the NFL, because Donovan McNabb is still a name — a Hall of Famer in his own mind.
Tempting as it is to mock McNabb’s latest comments (via PFT), in which the former franchise quarterback of the Eagles stated his case for Canton — placing himself alongside Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, and Troy Aikman in the process — there really is no need to go there. He was asked a question, and he answered it honestly, and while it lends the appearance Donovan is over-compensating for something, perhaps the brutal way his career ended, professional athletes are proud people. Nobody should expect a quarterback with a competitive streak and his accolades to back down from a Hall discussion.
McNabb is probably grateful his words gained a surprising little traction in Philly though. Maybe the writers in this town finally grow tired of his game of cat and mouse, or maybe they’re too busy covering real news, like the upcoming draft next week. Maybe both. However, NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal wasn’t afraid to take the bait, making the claim, “This debate is just getting started.” Sure, McNabb deserves some consideration, and he might even make it as a finalist on the ballot somewhere down the road, as Rosenthal insists.
Trouble is, McNabb played during an era with far more accomplished quarterbacks. Naming Marino, Kelly, and Aikman really misses the point, because Donovan’s not up against those guys. The real debate starts with Manning, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Drew Brees — five players who look like locks for the Hall, all of whom will be on the ballot at or around the same time as McNabb. They are among the most prolific passers of all time. Does McNabb belong in their company?
Assuming he doesn’t get in with his own peers, the next crop of elite quarterbacks already has prospects. Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers all have rings, numbers, and Pro Bowls, all before they turned 30. Nobody is enshrining those guys today or anything, but somebody has to win the next decade’s worth of Super Bowls.
So before we can even get into the merits of Donovan McNabb, you must first acknowledge he is up against some stiff competition. Then, compare him to some players who are not likely to garner seriously consideration. Is Drew Bledsoe a Hall of Fame quarterback? He’s eighth all time with 44,611 yards passing, 7,000 more than Donovan. Is Randall Cunningham a Hall of Famer? He ran for over 1,000 more yards, and helped pave the way for mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. Michael Vick is approaching McNabb’s six Pro Bowls — will his bust arrive in Canton?
I won’t go so far to say what McNabb achieved was ordinary. Appearing in five NFC Championship games, win or lose, is a historic feat, and only three active quarterbacks have thrown for more yards and touchdowns. His mobility, especially earlier in his career, gives him an added dimension many passers simply don’t possess. Yes, he is the greatest quarterback in Eagles franchise history. But is he one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history? I think not.
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