MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FILE: Donovan McNabb #5 of the Minnesota Vikings walks off the field during the game against the Detroit Lions on September 25, 2011 at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. According to reports on December 1, 2011 the Vikings will release quarterback Donovan McNabb. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Donovan McNabb has been in the news a lot recently. He remains unemployed, but is doing some training. Is there hope left for him? What's holding him back?
Someone needs to get Donovan McNabb a meeting with Marcellus Wallace. Think about the advice that Wallace gave to Bruce Willis' character early on in Pulp Fiction.
"The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps. You fight through that shit."
Sorry for the blunt language, but that is what McNabb needs to hear.
We learned this week that McNabb had lost 15 to 20 pounds. That's great. He's embracing the need to get in top shape. Then McNabb started talking. He thinks he's in great shape now, but at the same will not acknowledge that he ever had any issues with being out of shape. Uh, okay. So you were fine, but lost 15 to 20 pounds anyway? Ugh.
This is the kind of delusional talk that is keeping McNabb out of the league. He still has the arm strength, mobility, and football skills to be a starting quarterback. What he doesn't have is a firm grip on reality. McNabb is convinced that he's still the guy who was drafted second overall, went to multiple Pro Bowls, made highlight play after highlight play, and carried the Eagles to the only Super Bowl appearance of the last 30 years.
Donovan, that guy is long gone. Deal with it.
I was a huge fan of McNabb's from the time I saw his first ever college game (a Saturday night upset of North Carolina in 1995). I followed his career very closely from that night on. I was ecstatic when the Eagles picked him in 1999. And you can sure bet that I loved all the success he brought to Philly over the years. McNabb never delivered the Lombardi Trophy, but that's hardly all on him.
It pains me to now see McNabb almost making a fool of himself. He wouldn't acknowledge conditioning issues, but is now focused on losing weight and getting in shape. He wouldn't let the Vikings coaches work on his mechanics, but is now working with a quarterback guru named George Whitfield.
What's to blame for all of this? Pride.
McNabb simply isn't willing to deal with the fact he's no longer the star quarterback that had great success for a decade. He doesn't want to admit fault in the problems that he has suffered since leaving the Eagles. I get the fact that he had a lot of people ripping on him for worthless reasons during his time as an Eagle. I can't imagine what that is like, but it must affect your psyche. I'm sorry that McNabb wasn't totally embraced by Eagles fans the way that other star players have been dealt with over the years.
It is time for McNabb to look in the mirror and make a crucial decision. Does he want to listen to his pride and still be the star quarterback? If so, retire now. Throw out a million excuses, but walk away from the game. Or, does McNabb want to play some more? If so, start acting like an older player that is coming off of two bad seasons. Set your pride aside and show some desperation.
McNabb needs to admit publicly that he is part of the problem. He needs to send a signal to teams and coaches that he will be humble. He will listen. He will learn. During his time in D.C. and Minnesota, McNabb was uncoachable. He didn't want to change his ways. He wanted to do what had worked in Philly for all those years. That's not the way the NFL works, Donovan.
He got spoiled by spending his whole Eagles career with Andy Reid. McNabb played in one system for one coach. Randall Cunningham was drafted by Marion Campbell. That only lasted a year. Then came Buddy Ryan, Rich Kotite, and Ray Rhodes. Cunningham had a slew of offensive coaches and systems thrown his way. McNabb can't imagine what that must have been like. He's finding out now. NFL coaches are control freaks. They want things done their way, not yours. You bend to them, not the other way around. McNabb needs to understand and embrace this notion. It isn't too late for him.
There are still a lot of people who either like McNabb or want him to do well. Andy Reid said he would recommend McNabb to teams. Even Mike Shanahan, who had a bad time with McNabb, would not go so far as to completely rip him in a recent interview. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was excited to sign McNabb just last summer. It isn't as if McNabb has burned every bridge he had. He's also not that far removed from playing well. In 2009 he had a good season and led the Eagles to the playoffs. Coaches simply need to know that they can trust McNabb and that he will do what they ask.
Who would have ever thought Trent Edwards would be vying for a backup spot on the Eagles with McNabb sitting out there unemployed and with no offers? Edwards was on the street last year. He's a former starter, but now knows that those days are gone. Edwards gets it. He has to fight for a roster spot, let alone a serious chance to get on the field. McNabb isn't that bad off, but could learn a lot from Edwards attitude.
As to the idea of a return to Philly, that would not be a good thing right now. McNabb would be awkward as a backup with his old team and the media side of things would be "interesting" to say the least. Plus, that would not help to knock McNabb out of the rut he's in. He needs change, not more of the old days.
Every summer Tom Brady sits on the edge of his bed and looks in the mirror. He reminds himself that he was just a sixth round pick and that he has to prove himself this season. If Brady, with his rings and supermodel wife, can have that kind of mentality, so can McNabb. Again, the stumbling block is pride.
Donovan, please listen to the words of Marcellus Wallace. Pride is your enemy. Embrace the fact that you're no longer Donovan McNabb, superstar. You're now Donovan McNabb, washed up vet. Let that fuel your comeback. You still have the talent to be a good starting quarterback. Quit lying to yourself and buy a one-way ticket to Truthtown. It won't be a fun trip, but it can save your career. As one of your many fans, I would really like to see you go out fighting, not sitting at rock bottom and telling us stories of how good you used to be.