Donovan McNabb said that 65 friends, family members and former teammates will be in attendance Thursday to watch his No.5 go into the rafters. His parents, Sam and Wilma, will be there. Brian Dawkins will emcee the ceremony. Chad Lewis, Correll Buckhalter, Jon Runyan, Bobby Taylor, Jamaal Jackson and more are expected to show.
And, by no coincidence whatsoever, his former head coach will be in the building as well.
“That was part of the decision-making,” said McNabb to a small group of reporters Wednesday evening at Lincoln Financial Field. “I wanted him to be a part of it. I think it it’s rightfully so, for me to go into the ring of honor and have my number retired, I want the person who was more than responsible for it, took a chance on me, stuck with me for 11 years and had success with me [to be there.]”
It was often said that the coach and quarterback were “attached at the hip” during their time in Philly. But Easter, 2010 served as a reminder that all unions in the NFL are temporary. McNabb was shipped to Washington, and headed south with a bad taste in his mouth. The negative feelings lingered for a couple years.
A lot of the ice was chipped off during a face-to-face meeting with Reid in March.
“We had lunch together at the [owners] meetings in Arizona. He ate more tacos than I did,” said McNabb. “It was needed. I wish it could have happened earlier but it was needed. We were able to talk about a few things and get some stuff out on the table. I think that conversation alone has given us the opportunity to move forward.
“I thought that it was important that we sat down and looked each other eye-to-eye and got a chance to talk about a few things.”
“First and foremost I wanted to know whose decision it was to move on, and what was the next step? What was your game plan when you decided to trade me? Was it to play Kevin Kolb or start a new regime to see what happens?”
Did he just blame Joe Banner?
“No. Well…No,” he said, drawing laughs.
McNabb did not reveal the answers to those questions, but obviously felt good enough with the answers to move on. And, as he gets set for Thursday’s retirement ceremony, he appears to be in a good place when it comes to the relationship with both the organization and his longtime coach.
That doesn’t mean he’s ready to take a bullet for the Chiefs’ head man. Reid has been joking that he wants McNabb to come out of the tunnel with him Thursday night to absorb any of the potential punishment that might come his way from Eagles fans.
“No I told him if they boo him, they’re booing him,” said McNabb. “I’m not being a part of that one.
“Andy’s just going to keep the same straight face, he’ll probably pump the fist or something. I think the fans will truly show their appreciation for what he was able to do here.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Good All-22 look from Sheil on how Chip Kelly is getting DeSean Jackson loose.
What will the Eagles do to mark McNabb and Reid’s return? Here’s a look.
Stanford head coach David Shaw talks to The MMQB’s Peter King about Kelly.
Here’s a link to the Birds 24/7 podcast if you missed it. How can you resist Kapadia in stereo?
The Eagles sign cornerback Roc Carmichael.
Checking in on Fletcher Cox.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Ray Didinger shares an interesting conversation he had with Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi before the 1999 draft.
Accorsi knows a quarterback when he sees one and he was high on McNabb. He stunned me by comparing McNabb to Roger Staubach. “He is like Staubach,” he said. “He can do everything.”
Accorsi related a story from the Scouting Combine. He was in a restaurant one evening and a group of players were seated across the room. All were college stars in town to take part in the combine testing. They were from different schools and different conferences. Most had not met prior to that week.
“All through the meal I watched them,” Accorsi said.
Hey, when you’re a GM, you never stop scouting. And what did Accorsi see?
“McNabb ran the show,” he said. “All the conversation, all the energy revolved around him. He just had a way about him. The other guys – and, remember, they’re all big-timers themselves – deferred to him. He had that ‘It’ thing we talk about. I thought, ‘That’s a quarterback.’”
Bob Ford notes that Thursday’s game marks the end to the Eagles’ prime time schedule.
There is always the possibility, if the Eagles win more than expected, that some of their late-season games could be switched to showcase programming, but that seems like a long shot right now. Thursday’s game will probably be the last one in the national glare and if it also represents the final closing of the door on the Reid Era, then bring up the lights, cue the Liberty Bell and the city skyline and offer a hearty farewell to the guy who made the team a prime-time staple in the first place.
Game day. Eagles host Reid and the Chiefs at 8:25. We’ll hold a live chat during the game.