By Zack Cimini
Donovan McNabb has been glorified for obvious reasons of being the last man standing from the supposable takeover quarterback class of 1999. His endurance is of greatness and he has the ability to learn quickly and run with it. When you can soak in knowledge and bottle it, McNabb is exactly what you get. After being booed on draft day by Eagles fans, he already had more motivation than a weekend warrior would need. He could have been like a Steve Francis and pout on stage and show his true age, but the maturity of this man started at Syracuse University.
Syracuse football has fell off the map since McNabb and company reigned in the mid to late 90?s. In fact, Paul Pasquoloni was finally fired after one of the greatest runs in recent college history. What helped McNabb the most was the ability to play all four seasons as the virtual starter. At the time Syracuse would repeatedly knock off big east foes like the Miami Hurricanes and Virgina Tech. It led to great bowl appearances, but with the BCS system being implemented in the late 90?s it would give McNabb a shot to prove even more in his senior campaign.
That year featured an ESPN Classic for McNabb in which he defied all believers with a fourth down touchdown pass against Virginia Tech as time expired in regulation. Syracuse ended up winning, and the next week demolished Miami 62-7 in the Big East championship. It was all there for the storybook ending for McNabb, as the Orangemen earned the right to take on Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Apparently it wasn?t met for McNabb, as the Orangemen faded in their lone BCS experience. The Orangemen never really got into the game like they would?ve liked to, and lost by a wide margin. No senior likes to end on a losing note, but careers end and careers start fresh every day in life. As McNabb ventured into the NFL and continued losing big time games, it had to irk the man with unconditional extreme passion, deep inside. Doubts about his ability and questions on the Eagles development offensively, were high floating rumors after they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002.
Early in 2003, it was evident that McNabb finally let the Eagles media get into his head and throw off his concentration. His play in the first month and a half of that season is something that he?d like erased from the history books. But rather looking at it as a downfall, it should be looked at as a maturing process that was needed. Everyone, even high profiled sportscasters in Boomer Esiason and Tom Jackson were badmouthing McNabb?s mechanics and temperament. Then, Rush Limbaugh had to make the idiotic remarks that coincidentally marked the sudden rise of McNabb?s play. All of the sudden the Eagles finished off the season on a roller coaster upswing, that wasn?t about to come down.
Then McNabb endured yet another flashback championship nightmare, as he was picked and tore apart by the Panthers secondary, and made Ricky Manning look like a Larry Brown MVP. Right then and there a veteran quarterback may have imploded with fury, on the simple fact that the Eagles had done nothing to upgrade at wide receiver in those three seasons.
Instead though, McNabb handled the situation in-house behind doors, and the Eagles finally listened by signing Terrell Owens. Owens may be out and limited in the Super Bowl, but the offense is still having after shocks offensively from his presence earlier in the season. Noticing the improvement and the stature of the Eagles passing attack was prevalent in their wins against Minnesota and St. Louis. Owens mastery rubbed off on the rest of his compadres, and is paying dividends for rather average receivers.
Still in all, McNabb has never changed his demeanor and is as laid back off the field as he poses in front of the camera. Each and every off-season, he resides in Phoenix, Arizona, in which he has a house and trains at independently. You may ask why Phoenix? Well back in 1998 when Syracuse was down in Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl, McNabb fell in love with the area and its weather. There he can remain focused in solitude and even recruited Freddie Mitchell and others last year. The surprising thing was last summer, Freddie Mitchell and McNabb were walking in a local valley mall without anybody noticing them. Here is a guy that is a national icon with an afro the size of Pluto, and it seriously took a few kids to spot him for anyone to recognize him.
Athletes need to take notes from McNabb, and stay away from being distracted in the off-season. When an athlete like Clinton Portis says, don?t be surprised if you see me on the news because I?ll be vacationing in Florida to clear my mind, it shows an immaturity that targets athletes to get into unnecessary trouble.
Right now the talk is dynasty, dynasty, and dynasty for the Patriots. Well, the Patriots have proved their mark but could just as easily be broken hearted by two close Super Bowl losses. Everything happens for a reason, and McNabb is ready to step in the forefront.