Sunday, December 2, 2007

Why is There Always Controversy Surrounding Donovan McNabb?

Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer has a theory about why the Eagles seem to play better without Donovan McNabb: "The rest of the Eagles know that McNabb will absorb a disproportionate amount of criticism and blame when things go wrong. He is the lightning rod that keeps the rest of them from taking any direct hits from the fans and reporters...They play, and coach, better not for (Jeff) Garcia or (A.J.) Feeley, but to cover their own well-remunerated backsides." Most reporters are barely qualified to evaluate what actually happened on the field in terms of execution and Xs and Os, let alone make determinations about the psychological motivations of players and coaches. Film study no doubt shows that Garcia and Feeley, at least in recent seasons, are playing the quarterback position better from a technical standpoint than McNabb is. However, if we are going to ignore how the various Eagles' quarterbacks have performed and try to figure out why the other Eagles' players don't perform as well with/for McNabb then it is only logical to at least consider the possibility that those players don't perceive him to be a great leader--basically, a position completely opposite from the one that Sheridan takes. Sheridan claims to have great insight into how athletes think but it doesn't ring true to me that the Eagles players perform worse with McNabb because they supposedly realize that he is so great; truly great players bring out the best in their teammates--as the cliche states, they "make their teammates better" or, as I prefer to say, "Great players create openings and opportunities for their lesser talented teammates to do what they do well." I don't think that Feeley is a better quarterback than McNabb and the bloom may already be off the Feeley rose after he threw four interceptions in Phildelphia's 28-24 loss to Seattle--but I also don't buy Sheridan's dime store psychoanalysis of why some Eagles players seem to perform better when McNabb is not in the lineup.


madnice said...

What a dumb article!!!!!!!!!Did Feeley take the Eagles to championship games and a Super Bowl? No. Not once did Sheridan mention that after an ACL is takes a least a year to recover. What has Feeley done during and after Patriots loss? He has thrown 7 INTs. But they play better? McNabb hasnt had the weapons like Manning, Brady or any of the few top quarterbacks. When he did what happened? He played in a Super Bowl. What happened when Manning played with a mash unit against the Chargers? He threw 6 INTs. All McNabb has had is Westbrook and you need more than just him.

I know white sportswriters dont like to bring up race so I will. There is always controversy in Philly with the black athlete who has any success. The only one void of this was Doctor J. From Moses, to Toney, to Barkley, AI, Cunningham (Randall) to McNabb (who no one really wanted) there is always controversy with the black athlete in Philly. I know you can bring up how Schmidt was booed. But it has always been this way. Now the race element doesnt play into what goes on with his teammates and what quarterback should play. It just disgraceful why there is any controversy with him.

David Friedman said...


My main disagreement with Sheridan is his idea that the other Eagles players play harder for other QBs than they do for McNabb because the players feel that McNabb will either get the job done or take the heat if the job does not get done. That simply makes no sense. Great players bring out the best in their teammates; they don't cause their teammates to not try as hard.

A more logical theory is that McNabb is not a great leader. When Owens criticized McNabb's Super Bowl performance, I did not see other Eagles rushing to McNabb's defense. McNabb is perceived as a "company guy" who is more aligned with management than the other players, some of whom have not been pleased with how management dealt with them and with some of their former teammates.

McNabb is without question better than Feeley when McNabb is healthy (it is less clear that McNabb is better than Garcia at this stage of their respective careers). When/if McNabb will be completely healthy is a concern, though.

As for the racial component, I don't doubt that it exists at some level but I don't think that it played a role in what Sheridan wrote. What he wrote was stupid but it did not have anything to do with race.

By the way, I believe that even Dr. J was booed once or twice in Philly (I'm thinking of the 1985 ECF). The fans there are rough on everyone but there certainly have been a lot of examples of black athletes seeming to get the short end of the stick.

McNabb has had a good career but everything seems to have unraveled after the Super Bowl--or, to be precise, it started to unravel in the final moments of the Super Bowl, the part of the game for which Owens later criticized McNabb. If the Eagles had won that game, Owens--not McNabb--would most likely have been the MVP.