Friday, May 13, 2011

Donovan McNabb vs. Bernard Hopkins

Donovan McNabb has taken a lot of heat throughout his career.  Starting back in 1999 when he was selected #2 overall in the NFL draft by the Eagles, a rowdy fan base took out their frustrations with the Eagles organization by booing the selection.  The fans wanted the Eagles to select then University of Texas running back Ricky Williams and now with the gift of time it seems as though the Eagles got the better end of that deal. From this beginning McNabb has had to deal with a number of issues about his personality and character on and off the field, none have been created by his doing.

To play quarterback in Philadelphia one must have skin as thick as steel.  It’s a harsh fan base that will let you know when you make a mistake or don’t perform up to their standards.  It’s also a town that is starved for a Lombardi Trophy and that starvation just adds fuel to the fire.  The Philadelphia fan base is one of the most intelligent in all of sports.  They love their sports and spend a great amount of time reading about them, listening to radio talk shows and watching Comcast Sports Net.  Even with that knowledge they are sometimes blinded by passion.

What a significant number of Eagles fans fail to realize is that under McNabb and Andy Reid the Eagles had one of the best decades of football in Eagles history.  McNabb is a hall of fame candidate with the best stats of any former Eagles quarterback.  He finished his career as an Eagle with 32,873 yards, 216 touchdowns to only 100 interceptions.  He guided the Eagles to 5 NFC Championship games and one super bowl appearance.  Yet with all of his success the one thing that keeps him from being a Philadelphia legend is his lack of a super bowl title. 

Andy Reid and the Eagles organization decided it was time to move in a different direction before last season and that the McNabb era of Eagles football had run its course.  McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins, where he had somewhat of a down year.  He still passed for 3,377 yards, but his 14 touchdowns to 15 interceptions found him on the bench in favor of backup Rex Grossman.  The speculation is that McNabb will be playing for a different NFL franchise if and when the labor dispute gets resolved.

With his era in Philadelphia over and his failed season in Washington behind him McNabb was probably looking forward to moving on to his next chapter.  He had been out of sight, mostly due to the NFL lockout, but he was thrust back into national sports media attention this week when boxer and Philadelphia native Bernard Hopkins commented quite harshly about McNabb. 

Hopkins not only question McNabb’s heart, but also his “blackness”.  Hopkins justification for questioning McNabb as an African American doesn’t stem from McNabb’s skin color, which Hopkins referred to as “got a suntan, that’s all”, but McNabb’s upbringing.  He questions McNabb’s heart and skin color because McNabb was raised in the suburbs and not the inner city. 

I don’t know what it’s like to be black, mostly because I’m white, but I can’t see how being raised in a certain place or situation makes you any more of a certain ethnicity or doesn’t.  White people don’t look at other white people and claim they aren’t white enough because they were raised in the inner city.  Do other races do the same thing?  Is an Asian any less of an Asian because they weren’t raised in China Town?  These notions of being any more or less of a race because of where you grew up are absurd.  I can say that being raised in a suburb has nothing to do with having heart or not.  If that were the case, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady wouldn’t have the heart to win the 4 championships between them. 

Bernard Hopkins has no base for his argument.  McNabb is a potential hall of fame quarterback and you don’t get to that level of greatness without heart.  Hopkins two dimensional view of race is misguided and close minded.  McNabb and his family should be looked at as a guide to success for anyone with a rough upbringing.  His parent’s hard work and sacrifices afforded their children with a better upbringing and more of a chance to succeed.  Donovan McNabb may have not won a championship yet, but one thing he does have is heart. 

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