McNabb trade to Redskins could shift power in NFC East

By Mark Haskell | Apr 07, 2010

How many of us have had a cavity that is starting to really bother you and you have to go to the dentist to get it filled? Maybe you have to go outside and rake the leaves or write a term paper. Or perhaps you have to pull an all-nighter at work filling in for someone.

All these scenarios have one central theme in common: You know it has to be done, but you really don't want to do it. You hope the situation just takes care of itself without it affecting you and, in the grand scheme of things, nothing about your everyday life will change.

Well, that happened to me Sunday. April 4. A day I will remember forever.

Donovan McNabb, the starting quarterback for my beloved Philadelphia Eagles, had been traded.

And not just traded, traded within the division to the Washington Redskins.

My brain has essentially been working in sensory overload trying to come to grips with how this happened. It had, of course, been long rumored that McNabb would go to the Oakland Raiders or the Buffalo Bills, two teams that would not have profoundly affected me had he gone there since they were in the AFC.

Instead, the Redskins swooped in out of nowhere and snatched him up in the steal of a lifetime, surrendering only a second-round pick this year and a third- or fourth-round pick next year depending on incentives to get the best quarterback, and possibly the best player, in Eagles' history. And now we get to face him twice this season, two games the Eagles can pretty much already chalk up as losses, in my opinion.

Many of you may be asking yourself, why didn't Philly just resign him? He's set nearly every passing record in the history of the franchise, is a future Hall-of-Famer and is still one of the top six or seven quarterbacks in football.

Well, being a huge Philadelphia fan, I can tell you that Eagles ownership believes in not resigning players once they reach a certain age.

Statistics have shown over the years that productivity typically begins to spiral downward once athletes reach the age of 30, as they can no longer handle the fast-paced, hard-hitting style of the NFL, whose players do  seem to get younger and stronger every year.

Typically, they are correct.

Where I feel Philadelphia went wrong is they assessed McNabb as a typical quarterback. He is not. He's a gifted athlete that for many years carried the organization on his back.

Since Randall Cunningham retired from the Eagles in 1995 (he later returned to the league), Philadelphia has had a laundry list of decent to mediocre quarterbacks (Rodney Peete, Ty Detmer, Koy Detmer, Bobby Hoying, Doug Pederson) go under center for it before McNabb was drafted in 1999.

McNabb became the starter midway through his rookie season and once he became the full-time starter in 2000, McNabb led Philadelphia to the playoffs in eight of the next 10 seasons, including five conference championships, five NFC East titles and one Super Bowl appearance.

The Eagles have not only made this mistake with McNabb, but with other strong players over the years who proved to have a few more seasons left in the tank, such as Jeremiah Trotter (first and second tours), Hugh Douglas, Troy Vincent and most notably Brian Dawkins, who was their defensive captain and heart and soul of the defense up until last year when Philly opted not to resign him and let him go to the Denver Broncos. Not that I'm still mad about that or anything.

So we turn the page, and there stands the incomparable Kevin Kolb, who is supposed to take Philadelphia to the next level. I'm not saying he will be horrible and I'm not saying I hope it doesn't work out, but I am saying he's not proven or battle tested.

Of course, New England Patriot fans will remember when Drew Bledsoe was unceremoniously shipped within the division to the Buffalo Bills, but it was not until they saw what they had on the field with Tom Brady for nearly a full season before they pulled the trigger.

Brady led the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory before New England shipped Bledsoe to the Bills. Kolb has four touchdowns, seven interceptions and 68.9 quarterback rating for his career and that's the guy they are now ready to go to war with.

How do you trade away a player of McNabb's caliber, knowing so little about what Kolb can do for you when you have a game you need to win to get into the playoffs or a game you need to win to advance to the next round? Sure there were bumps in the road with McNabb, but the highs always outweighed the lows. McNabb was a once-in-a-lifetime type of player: Can we really say that about Kolb?

It seems that the Eagles are too enamored with sticking to their formula and not being viewed as hypocritical or inconsistent with how they handle their personnel moves, instead of just evaluating each individual player and trying to decide what the best decision for the team might be. If that were the case, at least Dawkins and McNabb, in my opinion, would still be suiting up in Eagle Green.

I was so excited for the future when McNabb got drafted. I was certainly in the minority since so many Eagles fans booed Philadelphia taking him with the No. 2 pick instead of Ricky Williams, but I couldn't take another snap of mediocre quarterback play. We needed a playmaker, someone that would get us excited, give us a reason to tune in and above all, win games. McNabb did that. And he did most of it for a long time with at best, average offensive players surrounding him.

Does the name Torrance Small ring a bell? How about Na Brown, James Thrash or Todd Pinkston? How about Freddie "The People's Champ" Mitchell or Charles Johnson?

Other than Terrell Owens and DeSean Jackson, and perhaps rookie Jeremy Maclin, who has not yet reached his potential, McNabb has made a living out of making bad receivers good and good receivers great. That's a fact.

Getting back to my original point, in the grand scheme of things, I know they had to let McNabb go. He had one year left on his current contract, will be age 34 by the end of next season and would likely be looking for a contract that would keep him in Philly until he was 40. And that is too old to be competitive in the NFL (Do you hear me Brett Favre?)

Cunningham retired from the Eagles in 1995, feeling not only run down, but as if Philadelphia and the organization didn't fully appreciate the contribution he made to the team's success. Fifteen years later, McNabb is run out of town.

If I were Kolb, I'd get to work on bringing that Super Bowl title to Philadelphia quickly. Because if he doesn't he will find out quickly that the Eagles were not booing McNabb. They were booing out of frustration and discontent at the team's inability to get over the hump and win it all.

And love him or hate him Super Bowl victory or not, McNabb has set the bar high for his predecessor.

Be careful what you wish for Philly fans, because we just got it

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.