One of the most infamous Philly sports stars of the 00’s alongside Allen Iverson, Donovan McNabb was front and center for the Eagles longest (and arguably most painful) run of dominance in the modern NFL.
Five NFC Championship game appearances. One Super Bowl Appearance. McNabb
led the Eagles to a lot of winning during his time in Philly, but he never quite won enough to have one of the toughest professional sports cities in North America fully embrace him.
Heartbreaking NFC Championship losses to the Rams, Buccaneers, and Panthers were finally avenged in 2004 when McNabb and Andy Reid finally led the Eagles to the super Bowl where Terrell Owens made a return to play injured and the Eagles nearly upset the Patriots dynasty in one of the more memorable Super Bowls of the 00’s.
After that game the Eagles relationship with McNabb would begin to sour as the relationship between him and Owens turned into a soap opera and T.O. famously threw McNabb under the bus for throwing up in the Eagles huddle during the final drive of their loss in the Super Bowl. Something that Eagles fans would never forget and something that ruined a partnership between Owens and McNabb that never got to reach its full potential as both players careers began to take a downturn once Owens was forced out of town.
McNabb would get to one more NFC Championship game, losing to the Arizona Cardinals Cinderella run led by Kurt Warner that year. It would push McNabb’s record to 1-4 in games with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line and would mark the beginning of the end for No. 5 in Philly as the Eagles picked up Mike Vick and eventually traded McNabb to Washington, naming Kevin Kolb the starter.
McNabb would flame out in Washington and Andy Reid’s era running the Eagles ended in a similar fashion. Now with McNabb retired and Reid moving on to a new chapter as head coach in Kansas City, the two will both meet up in the city they were loved and hated in for a decade as McNabb’s No. 5 will be retired by the Eagles September 19 when the Eagles host the Chiefs in a Thursday night meeting.
“Donovan McNabb was a franchise-changing quarterback for the Eagles and helped raise the bar of success for this franchise during his 11-year tenure with the team,” owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a team-issued release. ”On the field, the numbers that Donovan posted during his time in an Eagles uniform speak for themselves. He is the franchise leader in nearly every major passing category and is the all-time winningest quarterback in Eagles history. His unique ability to make plays through the air and with his legs made him one of the most dynamic players this city has ever seen. Donovan was the face and the focal point of so many of our great Eagles teams and he helped make this franchise a contender each and every year that he was here.”
McNabb’s No. 5 will join eight others as retired by the Eagles through 80 years of football: 15 (Steve Van Buren); 20 (Brian Dawkins); 40 (Tom Brookshier); 44 (Pete Retzlaff); 60 (Chuck Bednarik); 70 (Al Wistert); 92 (Reggie White); 99 (Jerome Brown).
McNabb’s retirement will spark a lot of debate about where he fits amongst the memorable stars of the 90’s and 00’s which many people have a different opinion on, even in Philadelphia where many feel that McNabb could never win the big one. Still he is one of the most iconic Eagles ever and without him the Eagles wouldn’t have been the most consistent franchise in the NFL in the 00’s. His number deserves to be retired by the Eagles and there is no more fitting way it should be done than with Andy Reid, the man who stuck by his side for so many years, in the building when McNabb is immortalized as a true Eagles great.