Is Donovan McNabb’s career worthy of the Hall of Fame?

Is Donovan McNabb’s career worthy of the Hall of Fame?

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Fans of the Philadelphia Eagles booed Donovan McNabb when he was selected with the second overall pick of the 1999 NFL draft — they thought  Heisman Trophy-winning running back Ricky Williams would be a better fit. With the announcement by the Eagles today that they’ll retire McNabb’s  No. 5 jersey on Sept. 19, many of those same fans will fill Lincoln Financial Field to pay their respect to a quarterback for whom they developed a love-hate relationship.

True, McNabb became a polarizing figure throughout his career and often rubbed Philadelphia fans the wrong way. But it’s perplexing that the  “City of Brotherly Love'” was reluctant to embrace him warmly, considering  he was the greatest quarterback in franchise history.

The debate will now shift to the unavoidable question of whether McNabb belongs in the Hall of Fame.

And the arguments against him will focus on the one major omission from his resume:

He never won a Super Bowl,

[If this is your argument, I’ll just say that Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl ring, and the only way he’s getting into the Hall of Fame is if he buys a ticket].

If you look at McNabb’s body of work from 1999-2009 only three quarterbacks — Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady — recorded more than the 92 wins McNabb had over that span.

If you look at McNabb’s body of work from his entire career, he’s one of seven quarterbacks to complete 59 percent of his  passes while throwing for over 35,000 yards. Favre, Manning, Brady, Joe Montana, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino are the others — and that’s some pretty exclusive company.

And if you want to add some nuance to those numbers, he probably played with the worst wide receiving corps of any great NFL quarterback, but managed to make lemonade out of the lemons that were Reggie Brown, Todd Pinkston, Kevin Curtis, James Thrash, Hank Baskett, Antonio Freeman, Na Brown and Freddie Mitchell.

The true comparison here would be Kelly, the Buffalo Bills’ Hall of Famer,  whose career trajectory was eerily similar to McNabb’s. That their teams were never able to win the big one, is far from an indictment of  their individual brilliance.

Instead of focusing on what he didn’t achieve, let’s look at what he did accomplish:

  • Over 37,000 passing yards.
  • 234 touchdowns.
  • Six Pro Bowls.
  • One NFC Player of the Year award.
  • One Super Bowl appearance.
That’s a resume that any player would be thrilled to leave the game with.

Our microwave society will probably now run what has become popularly known as 4th and 26, over and over, force feeding that one play down our collective throats as an encapsulation of Donovan’s career. Yeah, it was one of the most famous plays in NFL playoff history, when in 2004 against the Packers, in the fourth quarter of the divisional game and trailing 17-14, he completed a remarkable strike to Freddie Mitchell with no timeouts that eventually led to a game-tying field goal at the end of regulation.

But the game that is a true reflection of McNabb came in week 11 of the 2002 season, when he broke his fibula in three places on the Eagles’ first drive as he was being tackled. McNabb picked himself up, had his ankle taped, and returned for the next offensive possession.

He completed 20 of his 25 pass attempts over the course of the game for 255 yards and four touchdowns. It is, still, one of the gutsiest performances in league history.

He never acted a fool or embarrassed his franchise off the field. He always acted with class and dignity.  And from a talent perspective, he was on par with some of the greatest quarterbacks of his era.

Those are the makings of a great football player.

Those are the makings of a Hall of Famer.

Roger Romero says:

Charles Haley?(5 Rings), Greg Lloyd, L.C. Greenwood, Nate Newton, Michael Strahan. There are 70 current or former players with more pro-bowl appearances, even though that is not necessarily the benchmark for making it. Just shows how many guys have been recognized more during their careers

Roger Romero says:

What a great conversation Ali. First off, Im glad Mark made the point about McNabbs lack of urgency on the last couple of drives of that SB. Especially if he was throwing up, there should have been more urgency as that was already wasting time. Get to the line and puke on the centers back if you have to but get to the line and go, waaaaaaay too much wasted time. I remember thinking WTF are they doing, gogogogogogogogo, and….nothing. As for McNabb being in the HOF, there are still PLENTY of deserving players, much less QBs, that deserve it more than him, guys that won the big game, like Stabler(travesty) and Plunkett (2 wins), Phil Simms, Hoss (can you tell I’m a raider fan?:)). Ray Guy? Best punter ever? Cris Carter? Andre Reed? Cliff Branch? Jim Marshall? McNabb will eventually get in but it should NOT be first or 2nd ballot, maybe 6th or 7th. Also, you have to take into account the changes in the game, McNabb’s stats are modern, so statwise he may be ahead, but thats after all the defensive penalties that have been added. I think there is a relatively long list of people that deserve it more and have waited far longer.

Roger Romero says:

“But it’s perplexing that the ”City of Brotherly Love’” was reluctant to embrace him warmly, considering he was the greatest quarterback in franchise history”
You have to remember this is the city that threw snowballs at Santa

willie lump lump says:

Donovan McNabb is an arrogant arse. That being said, he is not a first ballot HOF’er, but i think he does deserve to get in.