Eagles Wake-Up Call: Reid Back By McNabb’s Side

photo (48)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.”

Such as?

“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.

COMING UP

Game day. Eagles host Reid and the Chiefs at 8:25. We’ll hold a live chat during the game.

What To Expect For Reid And McNabb

Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid are back in town, you may have heard. The Eagles are hosting Reid’s Chiefs on Thursday night, of course, and decided to hold a retirement ceremony for their former quarterback while their old head coach is in the building.

What should you expect?

Aside from perhaps a few highlights running on the big screens during the course of the game, McNabb’s moment will come at halftime. Brian Dawkins will serve as the emcee for the ceremony, and there will be a laser light and fireworks show as part of the festivities as the No.5 goes up into the rafters.

The following excerpt from a recent Ashley Fox article had some fans scratching their heads:

Reid said he asked McNabb, who will have his jersey number retired at halftime, to walk onto the field with him, as well as the other former Eagles who will be in attendance.

“Donovan and all those guys, they were giving me the business about it,” Reid said. “I told them they all have to walk out of the tunnel with me and see where the loyalty stands.”

Probably just a joke. Wouldn’t be the best PR move for McNabb to come out of the Chiefs’ tunnel. Crazier things have happened, but I don’t anticipate seeing McNabb walking out with Reid — or crawling out of the Eagles’ tunnel like B-Dawk.

From what I have gathered, if Reid is acknowledged it won’t be during the game itself. This is a pretty big spot for the Eagles, and it makes little sense to be paying tribute to the opposing coach once the ball is in the air. There will probably be a tip of the cap to Reid pregame, but that’s it.

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Show Some Class, Philly: Don’t Boo McNabb

If a single Philadelphia fan boos Donovan McNabb Thursday when the Eagles retire his number at halftime, the offender ought to lose his or her ticket privileges for life.

Some knuckleheads are going to be tempted to vent their frustrations at McNabb when he walks onto the field, but they need to show restraint. More than that, they need to show some class. Forget about McNabb’s status as the franchise’s most productive and winningest quarterback. More on that later. If Eagles fans boo No. 5, they will be doing exactly what the rest of the country expects them to do. That behavior will inspire a return to the hackneyed list of Philadelphia fan transgressions and encourage those who love to bash the city to continue their piling on.

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What Donovan McNabb Says and What Donovan McNabb Means

Donovan McNabb is running late. It’s 11:30 a.m., and the ex-Eagles quarterback was scheduled for a photo shoot and interview at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. The occasion—a comprehensive look back at his career, timed to his retirement ceremony on Sept. 19. A little tardiness wouldn’t usually be a big deal, but for the fact his agent made it clear that McNabb only had an hour to spare. When he arrives just before noon, he’s relaxed and low-key, shaking hands and posing for photos with a football. The shoot goes well and fast. Now, though, we’re officially into overtime and the reporter—me—hasn’t said a word to McNabb yet. I’d hoped for a lengthy sit-down; what if he bails after 20 minutes?
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Iverson and McNabb: A Tale of Two Retirements

The tale of two retirements speaks volumes about Philadelphia and our relationship with our sports stars.

Allen Iverson is finally calling it quits after running out of teams and countries that want his diminishing skills. The Philadelphia 76ers are sure to retire AI’s number 3 at a game this year.

The Philadelphia Eagles will retire Donovan McNabb’s No. 5 at halftime on Sept. 19, when former Eagles coach and McNabb mentor Andy Reid comes to town with his new team, the Kansas City Chiefs.

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The Whole World Is Watching to See if Philly Boos Donovan McNabb

This is about as brilliant a defense of Donovan McNabb’s tenure as Eagles QB as exists—a thorough, funny, and wide-ranging case that the major criticisms of McNabb over the years have been unfair and overwrought. But what’s most damning is the writer Jon Bois’ verdict on Philly fans: This is probably our chance to make or break the reputation that our sports fans have, nationally, for being brutish thugs.

I try to keep an arm’s length from geocultural exceptionalism, at least within the context of the United States. I understand that it’s there, and that if I were to chance upon someone from Philadelphia, that person might well be different from his or her analogue in Wichita, Kansas, on account of where he or she is from.

At the same time, I know people from Philadelphia and Wichita and Los Angeles and Decatur, Georgia and Chicago, and in large part I can’t pick out one of their character traits and explain to you why they’re that way. This country is far more homogenous than its myths would have you believe. The Philly Sports Fan is surely not fundamentally different from the New York Fan who is surely not fundamentally different from the Alabama Fan. I’m suspicious of anyone who really believes otherwise to a particular extreme or another.

But I swear to God, if the Eagles boo Donovan McNabb at his retirement ceremony in September, it’s gonna test me a little bit.

I still reckon that the reputation of Philly fans precedes them, and that if they really are more ornery than Chicago fans or San Diego fans, it’s by a margin of 10 percent or less. But if they do follow up the warm reception for Dawkins by booing the Hell out of McNabb, the greatest quarterback in the city’s history, I’ll probably need to revisit this.

Lord God, that guy’s a stupid-magnet.

The whole thing is worth a read, but the gauntlet has been thrown: Philly, do you love or hate your sports reputation? Act accordingly at McNabb’s retirement.

McNabb-Philly Relationship Remains Complicated

The video montage that played prior to Donovan McNabb‘s retirement ceremony stirred old memories, and refreshed  you on how good No. 5 was when he was in his prime. The stats that flashed on the screen reminded you that he is the franchise leader in every major passing category, and may very well be the greatest quarterback in Eagles history. The glowing words from Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook and Jeffrey Lurie showed the kind of respect he has earned from some of the franchise’s keepers. And the tears that welled up in the quarterback’s eyes suggested that his time here meant more to him than he’d like to let on.

Viewed from this angle, it makes perfect sense that the team would decide to honor McNabb by retiring his jersey. They will do so on September 19 when the Eagles host Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs.

But as we know, McNabb’s time in Philadelphia can not be looked at from one angle alone. Like a prism, you can examine his career from a slightly different vantage point and a burst of new colors will be introduced.

His relationship with the team, and this city, was complicated. It wasn’t the most natural fit. There was never universal acceptance —  in either direction.

Lurie was asked if this dynamic was studied when deciding whether to retire the No. 5 jersey.

“Everything was discussed. It is a very rare and unusual decision to retire a number,” said Lurie. “You don’t want to in the moment decide exactly what that relationship was. I think we’ll look back. And looking back currently, when Donovan was here he led the NFL in jersey sales multiple years, by far the most popular jersey in Philadelphia. I remember the time when it was Donovan’s turn to do the autographs at Lehigh, and we had people sleeping over for two days to be first in line to get his autograph. We couldn’t sell enough season tickets. That continues, but that’s because of the franchise-changing winning ways that Donovan led. There was no doubt in my mind when he came back with the Redskins that he would get a standing ovation. I know our fans — they understand.

“Players connect in different ways. And it’s not always the organic connection of a Brian Dawkins. It’s very hard for a quarterback to have that organic connection because you are going to have so many ups and downs, and I think most of us recognize it’s the hardest position in sports, both on a personal level and an organic level. It’s just brutal. You’re not always going to have that organic matching, and Donovan had to fight a lot of criticism from crazy critics from around different issues. He was a path-breaker, the highest African American [quarterback] drafted ever at the time, and there was a lot on him. But I just think that he will go down as incredibly popular and at times criticized as every quarterback is in every market.”

McNabb recently told Philly Mag that his return to the NovaCare Complex for Dawkins’ retirement ceremony was a sour day for him. That was just last year. He explained why on Monday.

“In any marriage or any relationship, you want it to kind of be storybook,” said McNabb. “You watch over the years guys like Jerome Bettis ride off into the sunset and you see some of these guys who have been with one franchise and can retire there and close the door on your career.

“I thought that I would retire here. And the way the way things kind of went on with the trade, it left a bad taste in my mouth. The only time I had been in Lincoln Financial was when I was with the Redskins and we played here, hadn’t been in this facility until Dawkins had his retirement, and at that point I was still a little upset. I was able to put it behind me and move on, and we’re here.”

Lurie and McNabb have conflicting accounts of that Easter Sunday when he was traded to the Redskins.

“I remember I had to make the call to Donovan,” said Lurie. “Tears were coming down talking to him and telling him he was traded. And I tried to reassure him that he would always be an Eagle and I hoped we were delivering him to a coach who was a really competent offensive coach in Mike Shanahan, and I wished him well. It was a tearful moment.”

McNabb contends that he was roused from a nap by calls from his agent, who broke the news to him. He then turned on the TV and it was everywhere. He did not speak with Lurie, he says, until a couple weeks later.

At least as of last year, McNabb was not totally over the way things went down at the end of his career in Philadelphia. It’s a safe bet that there are several things about his time here that he hasn’t fully gotten past. Similarly, not everyone in this town is ready to put differences aside and honor the franchise’s top QB. But more and more seem to be. And chances are, the stances on both sides will further soften as time goes on.

“I look at the relationship [with the fans] just like a marriage. You have some great times, you have some tough times. Hey, one thing’s for sure. I told the fans that I would bring a championship here. My goal was to have them parade down Broad Street. Now the Phillies did it first. But you know, I apologized to the fans because that was my goal. I feel like I let them down. I don’t regret anything that happened throughout my career here. The fans, they truly appreciate the effort I gave.”

Afterwards, as McNabb was reflecting on the day ["I even shed tear. How about that?" he said] the former QB was asked if he felt like returning to the facility this time around felt like coming home.

“Absolutely,” said McNabb, who was getting ready to wrap up his session with reporters.

“And I’m leaving.”

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Lurie: If McNabb Went 1st, James Would’ve Been the Pick

At the time, the 1999 draft was considered to be a great opportunity for teams to find their franchise quarterbacks.

Five of the top 12 picks were signal-callers: Tim Couch (No. 1), McNabb (No. 2), Akili Smith (No. 3), Daunte Culpepper (No. 11) and Cade McNown (No. 12).

But the way Jeffrey Lurie tells it, the only one the Eagles thought was worthy of the second pick was McNabb.

“I remember it like it was yesterday, the details, amazing,” Lurie said. “It was dubbed as sort of the year of the franchise quarterback. New Coach Andy [Reid] was here. We were interviewing all together and very intensely every one of these quarterbacks and the top players at the top of the round with the second pick. This was meant to be a very, very important pick.

“We, ironically, going back, didn’t have a lot of confidence in most of the quarterbacks in that draft. The only quarterback that we all, and Andy leading the way, was very confident in was Donovan. And it wasn’t just his athletic ability. It was his years at Syracuse, his being able to learn a complicated offense, the way he was as a person, stable family background compared to some other quarterbacks both in that draft and elsewhere. So it all came together that that was really the only quarterback that was really far above all the others for us.”

The obvious follow-up question was: What would have happened if the Browns had taken McNabb with the first pick?

“It was really Donovan or ‘yikes.’ ” Lurie said. “What are we going to do? I guess the answer was Edgerrin [James]. We thought this was a potential Hall of Fame running back.

“But it was a no-brainer to go with the potential franchise quarterback [over] the running back, although Edgerrin became a superb player as well.”

That would have been quite the scene. Fans who infamously booed the McNabb pick wanted Ricky Williams. Had Cleveland taken McNabb No. 1 overall, selecting James might have drawn the same reaction.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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McNabb To Officially Retire As An Eagle

Donovan McNabb will formally announce his retirement as an Eagle on Monday, July 29th, the team announced. He and Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie will hold a press conference at the NovaCare Complex at 10 am.

McNabb is the team’s all-time leader in every major passing category, including attempts (4,746), completions (2,801), yards (32,873), and touchdowns (216). He led the team to 91 regular season and nine playoff wins over  11 years in Philadelphia.

The Eagles traded him to the Redskins after the 2009 season. In a recent interview with Philly Mag, he gave the impression that there are some lingering hard feelings.

“I never forgot what happened in Philadelphia. Those were great years. I would have loved to have had another couple years after that and just say ‘Thank you, I’m done.’ But it didn’t happen that way. I sold my house when I got traded. Never even touched foot in Philadelphia until I played there as a Washington Redskin. I hadn’t even been back to the facility until Brian Dawkins retired. It was a sour day for me. I was pissed off to go, but [Brian’s] like my brother. I went for my brother. I felt the same as Brian—you turned your back on me. You basically pointed the finger at me. Things haven’t been right in Philadelphia since [I left].”

According to McNabb, the team will have a retirement ceremony for him on September 19 when the Eagles host Andy Reid and the Chiefs.

What does he expect?

“I don’t know,” he said. “I remember being there with Brian for his press conference. I almost got emotional for him. I can’t promise you I won’t get emotional. Nobody has ever seen that side of me. To see Brian reflect on that, talk about our friendship—I was like, “[expletive], 11 years being here.” Then when they said nobody will ever wear number 20, which was well deserved, that is special. Then I heard they would do that for me.”

McNabb is expected to be at Eagles’ practice Sunday for Alumni Day.

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