I find myself torn by what’s become of Donovan McNabb, whose enigmatic career now appears to be on its last legs after being placed on waivers Thursday by the Minnesota Vikings.  This is the third time in two years that a team has given up on him.  It is not the way a former star quarterback wants to be remembered.

Donovan McNabb

McNabb went to the Vikings this season as essentially a placeholder for rookie quarterback Christian Ponder.   McNabb began the season as the starter but was benched after six mostly ineffective games, opening the door for Ponder to be inserted into the lineup.

McNabb’s short stint with Minnesota came after a painful, misunderstood year with the Washington Redskins in 2010.  It was a year in which Redskins coach Mike Shanahan demeaned McNabb by suggesting he was not in shape, and could not effectively run or understand the team’s two-minute offense.

McNabb was traded to Washington following 11 largely successful seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.   But the prevailing wisdom was that for McNabb to be traded within the division meant that Philadelphia felt he was done as a top tier quarterback – something that McNabb has tried but failed to disprove.

I always thought McNabb played it too safe, and unnecessarily went out of his way to prove that he could be a conventional pocket quarterback, at the expense of his natural ability.  There were many times he would have been more successful running the ball to make the play instead of opting to pass.  To my eyes these were squandered opportunities, which made it hard for me to root for him.

I did though admire the way McNabb comported himself away from the field – he almost always came across as a dignified, smart and honorable man, who you were never concerned might do something to embarrass himself or his team.

It should also be noted that McNabb took the Eagles to the NFC championship game 5 times, and to one Super Bowl – impressive accomplishments.  He was a 6-time Pro bowl selection, and has thrown more touchdown passes and fewer interceptions than revered Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman.

Still, many of us wanted more from the 35-year old McNabb.   He should have won Super Bowls.  He should have been more daring.  He should be in the same conversation as Manning and Brady.  But unfortunately that will not be his legacy.


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