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A couple of things stand out about Donovan McNabb that have not a thing to do with football.
I admire him for both attributes.
First off, it has to be mentioned that the guy has a great smile. There aren't that many quarterbacks who get beat up each Sunday afternoon only to smile every time they're thrown to the cold turf by a 292-pound, angry defensive lineman. McNabb is one tough dude and an auspicious one.
He usually sees the glass half full.
And then there's his other likable trait. The man is very honest. For the most part, he speaks the truth. In today's jaded sports world, he stands out in that regard.
But, unfortunately, I must say I think less of McNabb the football player, and this may be a result of his honestly. McNabb didn't have to come out after Philadelphia's brutal 13-13 tie with Cincinnati Sunday and say this, but I guess he wasn't ashamed of it. He should have been:
"I've never been a part of a tie. I never even knew that was in the rule book," McNabb said. "It's part of the rules, and we have to go with it. I was looking forward to getting the opportunity to get out there and try to drive to win the game. But unfortunately, with the rules, we settled with a tie."
I was shocked by McNabb's revelation. It's one thing for a rookie wide receiver, such as his teammate Desean Jackson, to not know the rule. But for a quarterback, who directs the offense and decides when to snap the ball, to be oblivious to the fact that overtime is just 15 minutes is, well, just plain unacceptable.
And to think that McNabb has been in the NFL for 10 seasons. That's an eternity for a football player, folks. McNabb has played in a Super Bowl. He led the Eagles to four consecutive conference-championship games. Yet in a game Philadelphia desperately needed to win over a one-win team Sunday, McNabb didn't know that his team needed to score in the first 15 minutes of extra time to do just that.
I like McNabb, he's a good guy, but that's just sad, pitiful, unexplainable. Just hear what he had to say about a possible "tie" in the playoffs.
"I hate to see what would happen in the Super Bowl and in the playoffs."
Uh, Donovan, there are no "ties" in the playoffs. Those are the only games that would be decided in the manner you thought Sunday's ugly back-and-forth would end. There obviously can't be ties in the postseason. Even the average Bengals fan knows that.
McNabb's defenders claim that his ignorance had no effect on the game, that it would have reached the same result if he had known about the rule. I can't agree or disagree with this. I (thankfully) didn't see a minute of the game.
But let me ask this: Would it hurt McNabb to be aware of the rule? The obvious answer is no. Scouring the play-by-play of overtime — yes, I'm brutally honest too — I noticed that on Philadelphia's last legitimate possession that begin with 1 minute, 50 seconds to go, the Eagles faced a third-and-10 at their 13-yard line.
Some context: Philadelphia had smartly used its two allotted timeouts during Cincinnati's previous possession — apparently oblivious to McNabb. So this was its last chance to win the game. If the Bengals got the ball back, they'd definitely try to score. But Philly wouldn't get the pigskin back, again, with enough time to get into field-goal range.
So what did McNabb do on Philly's final meaningful offensive play, needing 10 yards? He threw a 9-yard pass to Kevin Curtis — and then headed to the sideline.
The Eagles punted. The Bengals, led by Ryan Fitzpatrick in his 12th career game, quickly drove into field-goal range. Shayne Graham missed his game-winning attempt. And Philly got the ball back with 7 seconds remaining. As McNabb took the field, he was finally told that he was a touchdown of ticks way from a tie.
So he heaved a deep pass, which was easily broken up. And the NFL had its first tie since 2002.
It doesn't matter what might have happened had McNabb read the NFL rulebook or gone online — like I just did in 27 seconds — to read the explanation of overtime. The point here is that one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks, one of its better-paid QBs, didn't know a very simple rule that the average football fan is well aware of.
This also begs the question of just how smart of a quarterback McNabb is. We all know what happened in Super Bowl XXXIX, which caused mercurial wide receiver Terrell Owens to publicly criticize McNabb and probably helped lead to Owens' exile from the City of Brotherly Love.
In that game, with the Eagles trailing 24-14, McNabb and the offense took nearly 4 minutes to drive 79 yards on 13 plays and finally score a touchdown with 1:48 to play. It would have been fine if the Eagles were down just a touchdown. But as was the case, McNabb's casualness in marching his team down the field forced Philly to attempt an onside kick.
The Patriots recovered, and even though Philly forced a punt with less than a minute remaining, the Eagles started their final possession at their own 4-yard line. A McNabb interception quickly put an end to the drama.
No one will argue that scoring against that Patriots' defense was no easy task. But how quickly you get your team to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball is not affected by the opposition. McNabb should have shown more desperation in getting his team down the field.
(Head coach Andy Reid should have also received criticism for not getting the offense in hurry-up mode.)
So here we are, almost four years later, and again McNabb's acumen must be questioned. His arm can't be questioned. Nor should we doubt his ability to thread the needle on tough throws. And he can still get out of the pocket and run on occasion. He remains a very able quarterback.
But to excel at the toughest position on the football field, one must be a complete player — both in mind and body.
Here's to hoping one of the NFL's most likable, and honest, guys spends a few minutes this week to read over not only his Eagles playbook, but the NFL rulebook as well.
Because for a soon-to-be 32-year-old (the big day is Nov. 25) quarterback and offensive leader, McNabb should be one of the more knowledgeable players on his team.
Right now, his ignorance smells almost as bad as Jackson's dropping of the football before crossing the goal line in his second career league game.