|Is McNabb Canton-worthy? He thinks so. (Getty Images)|
In the last two seasons, Donovan McNabb was benched for Rex Grossman and Christian Ponder. Now a free agent, the quarterback "absolutely" believes he is a future Hall of Famer.
Before forgettable stints in Washington and Minnesota in 2010 and 2011, McNabb had a successful 11-year run with the Eagles, the team that selected in him the first round of the 1999 draft. During his time in Philadelphia, McNabb went to six Pro Bowls, was the 2004 NFC Player of the Year, led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games, but only got to one Super Bowl, following the 2004 season, an eventual loss to the Patriots.
McNabb has been a target for fans, media and even teammates for much of his career. And while a lot of it was unwarranted, he's opening himself up to more criticism with his latest comments.
"Peyton (Manning) never won the big game until he won the Super Bowl finally. Dan Marino never won the big game. But does that mean his career is a failure? No. Not at all," McNabb told Fox Sports' Mark Kriegel. "When you sit and look at the numbers -- and that's what it is when it comes to the Hall of Fame -- my numbers are better than Jim Kelly, better than Troy Aikman, better than a lot of guys in the Hall of Fame, but the one thing they do have is a Super Bowl."
Kelly never won a Super Bowl though he appeared in four straight. Pro-Football-Reference.com's handy "similar players" tool lists Kelly, Aikman and three other Hall of Fame quarterbacks -- Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach -- as having similar careers to McNabb. But there's one huge difference and it's not just that those five players all have Super Bowl rings: they're also from a different era, back when the NFL wasn't a pass-happy league and tight ends didn't run 4.4 40s right past the nickel backs trying to cover them. Running backs were still an integral part of an offense and the defense had to devote some practice time actually preparing to stop the run.
Right or wrong, Super Bowls have a lot to do with a quarterback's chances to get into Canton. McNabb rightly thinks it should be about more than that, although he wrongly concludes that he should be in that conversation.
"What makes a Hall of Fame quarterback is, first of all, his numbers, (then) how many times he's led his team to the big game -- which the big game still is the NFC championship, to lead you there -- and, most importantly of all, did he make the players around him better," he said. "In his time, in his era, was he a top five, top 10 quarterback in the league….
"Even these last two years, when people may look at it and say, 'Oh, he's done, or whatever.' I'm 34, 35 years old, but still, I played at the pinnacle, I played at the highest level of my career. I played there," said McNabb. "And I would vote for myself for the Hall of Fame."
McNabb's right -- he was a top-10 quarterback during his prime, probably even top five at some point. But that's not enough. And while five championship games looks great on the CV, two of McNabb's teammates questioned his leadership skills during the Super Bowl loss. Granted, Freddie Mitchell and Terrell Owens were those two teammates -- not exactly beacons of credibiilty -- but even without their commentary, it was obvious to anyone watching that McNabb didn't play well in that game.
That's not an indictment of his career, just more evidence that he's not a Hall of Famer. Instead, he was a really good NFL quarterback who played at a high level for most of his 13 years in the league. And there's no shame in that.
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