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News » Phil Sheridan: Truth is, McNabb wants to retire an Eagle


Phil Sheridan: Truth is, McNabb wants to retire an Eagle


Phil Sheridan: Truth is, McNabb wants to retire an Eagle
TAMPA, Fla. - The truth about Donovan McNabb has never been quite as sensational or as fascinating as the very distorted perception.


Yesterday, he lifted the sleeve of his polo shirt to reveal a nasty, still raw-looking turf burn on his left elbow. That wound was the reason he wore a black band around the elbow in the NFC championship game against Arizona. That band was mistaken by Warren Sapp as evidence that McNabb had needed an IV to get through the game.

And so Sapp, who from appearances stops yapping only long enough to eat and eating only long enough to yap more, concluded that McNabb was too out of shape to lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He volunteered that opinion to Inquirer Eagles beat scribe Bob Brookover the other day.

That perception will get plenty of play among the entrenched McNabb-bashing set, but there was the truth, pink and painful looking, on McNabb's elbow. The look in his eyes was mostly puzzled.

"Have you looked at Sapp lately?" McNabb said. "IV? I didn't get no IV. It's a little boo-boo. I can't answer that one."

The most important piece of McNabb-related reality is that he really does want to finish his career with the Eagles - and not anytime soon. He talked about working with new quarterbacks coach James Urban and old mentor Doug Pederson with an enthusiasm he couldn't have mustered if he really wanted out of Philadelphia.

From the time he entered the NFL in 1999, McNabb had a clear vision of what he wanted his career to be like. He wanted to be an elite quarterback, a Pro Bowler who played in big games. He wanted to win a Super Bowl or three. And yes, he also wanted to transcend whatever remained of racial assumptions about the QB position - both on the field and in the world of commercial endorsements.

That all came to mind when he brought up Irving Fryar, the wide receiver who played just three of his 17 NFL seasons with the Eagles. At the end of his tenure in Philadelphia, the charismatic and popular Fryar was given a motorcycle by the team.

That stuck with the young McNabb, became an addition to that list of career goals.

"I don't ride motorcycles," McNabb said, "but maybe I could get a car."

The point isn't the gift, of course. It's being recognized as a career Eagle. For all the chatter and hyperventilating and, in some quarters, all the wishful thinking, that really is McNabb's plan. And you know what? He has earned every chance to fulfill it.

"I want to retire as an Eagle," McNabb said, putting it about as bluntly as possible. As for the constant speculation, he said something very revealing:

"It's tiresome, but you know what? I'd rather people ask me every year than be somewhere else and have people ask me, 'How was it in Philly?' "

It's an uneasy marriage, a star player with a long memory in a city with an even longer one. It's as if neither side is willing to let anything go, from the "We-Want-Ricky-Williams" foolishness to the hazy final minutes of the Super Bowl to the Terrell Owens mess.

That probably won't change. McNabb and his family are proud people. Philadelphia is Philadelphia. But that last comment, about how he'd rather deal with constant speculation in Philadelphia than find peace elsewhere, is as candid as McNabb is likely to get with a bunch of reporters. It was a sincere answer to a face-to-face question, not more of the formulaic news-conference pablum we've grown accustomed to being fed.

McNabb was also very clear about wanting to discuss his contract status with the Eagles. He has two years remaining on the deal he signed early in the 2002 season. That contract was negotiated with the expectation that the two sides would discuss a new deal right about now. Large salaries in the final seasons were included to make a renegotiation advantageous to the Eagles for salary cap purposes and to McNabb for financial reasons.

Two things happened since then: McNabb had some serious injuries, and the cap expanded to the point where it has ceased to be much of an issue.

"I think a lot of times fans look at it as, 'He gets paid a lot of money, why does he want to talk about it?' " McNabb said. "When you do contracts, that's kind of how it goes."

By taking the team to the conference championship game for the fifth time, McNabb made a strong case for himself. He deserves a new deal that keeps him among the top-paid quarterbacks in the game and that keeps him in Philadelphia for the rest of his career.

It's what he wants, it's what the Eagles want. That's the unsensational truth.

Contact columnist Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844 or psheridan@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 31, 2009

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