Donovan McNabb is two wins away from redemption. The only thing that can stop him is a tiny red bird.
At the Super Bowl in Miami in 2006, right after McNabb's arthroscopic knee surgery, he came gimping into radio row with what seemed like his whole immediate family in tow. His giant-sized jaw was in fight position as he made his way around the blue carpet. He made sure everyone on radio row knew that, even though his limp was still very pronounced, he'd be back. He seemed angry that the rest of the football world didn't realize that THE KNEE IS FINE. If the Eagles weren't going to publicly support him, or even hint that he wouldn't be the same quarterback he was before his ligament snapped, he'd just have to do it all by himself. Just three months later, on April 28th 2007, the Philadelphia Eagles used their first available draft pick on University of Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb. BUT THE KNEE IS FINE.
It's easy to pick on McNabb. As outgoing and jovial he is when things are going well, he can never hide his frustration during the media pile-on when things aren't so good. The praise about a 400-yard, three-touchdown game is brief and the accolades only last until the next 8-yard out-pass bounces off the ground. Or he sails one high over the receiver's head. Or doesn't run, dammit, run. Even though he's been with the team for ten years, he's never really been thought of as the main guy, the one who makes the Eagles work. Always a playmaker, never a leader. And that's why every year the Eagles fall short people suggest he needs more help: he has no receivers, he has no real running game, he has no other playmakers. The Terrell Owens disaster is always used as Exhibit A in this theory: that was the only year the Eagles made the Super Bowl with McNabb under center. But people always seem to forget that T.O. was injured late in the season and missed those two important playoff games against the Vikings and the Falcons, the two games needed to actually get to the Super Bowl. So, T.O. didn't do dick to get the Eagles to Jacksonville that year — that was all McNabb.
He's also just flat out weird. And it's not the kind of weird that Philadelphia tolerates anymore. Early in his career it was because he smiled too much after incomplete passes or when threw an ugly interception. He seemed to be having too much fun out there when the game was still undecided. Troy Aikman, whose Hall of Famestatistics were eclipsed by McNabb last season, probably said it best after the phone call incident against the Giants: "You know, sometimes I don't know what runs through that guy's head ..." Nobody does. And given all he's been through, and the success he's had, Super Bowl victory or not, it's probably about time we time just let the guy play and stopped giving a shit about what's going on in his head, his emotional state, or obsess over why he hates us. Regardless of how miserable playing in Philadelphia has been for him, he's still out there trying to win. Everybody else is just waiting for him to lose. This time, I'm more confident than ever he'll succeed.
And it is with this confidence that, I, A.J. Daulerio, shall pledge to do the following should the Buzzsaw that is the Arizona Cardinals win the NFC Championship this Sunday:
1. I will take Will Leitch out for a sushi dinner: This is only because there are no really good raisin restaurants in Cobble Hill.