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McNabb looking at a fork in road -- or sad ending

by | CBSSports.com National Columnist
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Another Eagles quarterback will be hard-pressed to equal McNabb's track record in Philly. (Getty Images)  
Another Eagles quarterback will be hard-pressed to equal McNabb's track record in Philly. (Getty Images)  

As the lockout plodded on, the film work continued. Two personnel men from two different teams spent considerable time examining every throw from last season made by quarterback Donovan McNabb. Maybe you've heard of him.

They basically performed an autopsy of his horrific last season. One of the personnel men ended his study of McNabb's season thinking the quarterback's ability had waned but he was still highly viable. McNabb's accuracy for the medium range passes was still borderline -- always has been -- but he was still capable of making every throw.

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The other person saw it differently. He's watched McNabb since the quarterback entered the league and felt last season was McNabb's worst ever. He walked away from the film study with a pertinent thought: McNabb might be done.

The opinions throughout football on McNabb continue to vary greatly. There are teams that think he can still play. There are teams that don't think he can. There are teams with a more nuanced view.

But after speaking with some personnel men, this is where it seems the opinion is unified. Few executives expect McNabb to garner great interest around the sport. Some even speculated McNabb might have to take a backup spot somewhere.

It's entirely possible McNabb goes to Minnesota or another team and his career prospers. It's possible there is hidden interest in him and the Redskins trade McNabb and his career takes a final, great arc.

But it increasingly sounds like we are seeing the beginning of the end of one of the great careers for one of the modern ambassadors in the sport.

It's sad to watch McNabb go out this way. While the Washington Redskins publicly insist they want McNabb back, that just isn't true. They can't wait to dump, er, trade McNabb after benching him last season. Could the Redskins look at the garbage they have at quarterback now and change their minds? It's possible but unlikely.

What will probably happen is the Redskins will continue their basically criminal mistreatment of McNabb, stringing him along, hoping to get some trade value for him, before perhaps releasing him.

I'm not the only one who despises what Washington is doing to McNabb. When Washington tight end Chris Cooley was asked in a recent radio interview who he hated to talk about more, McNabb or the human poltergeist, Albert Haynesworth, Cooley almost became emotional on the air.

"Donovan," he responded. "Because I love the guy and I hate talking about the situation, and because it's impossible to say anything without coming off as negative towards [the organization]."

Cooley continued: "I love the guy and don't want to say anything negative," he continued. "It just didn't work out. That's all I ever really want to say, so that's been the hardest to talk about."

Minus a few jealous chumps like Terrell Owens, that's the general consensus around football. We're witnessing the end of McNabb's career and it's stomach churning.

Remember: four straight NFC East titles, five NFC title games, one Super Bowl appearance -- losing to Bill Belichick, the best coach in NFL history -- and he remains the Eagles' all-time leader in career wins, pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns.

No, McNabb didn't win a Super Bowl, but it's unlikely a quarterback in Philadelphia will accumulate the wins and statistics McNabb did.

So the examination of McNabb will likely continue. There are teams watching all of his snaps from last season and beyond wondering if he can still play. Some will determine he can. Most will say he's done.

And that's sad.

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