His greatness just a memory, it's time for McNabb to retire and do TV

by | CBSSports.com National NFL Insider
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Donovan McNabb hasn't shown any signs he could help another team, so it's time to hang it up. (AP)  
Donovan McNabb hasn't shown any signs he could help another team, so it's time to hang it up. (AP)  

Donovan McNabb spoke with a former Minnesota teammate within the past few days and according to the player, McNabb sounded totally and utterly confused.

"Part of Donovan wants to play again," the Vikings player said to me, "and part of him wants to say, '[Screw] it. I'm gone.' "

When McNabb appeared on ESPN to discuss the Vikings releasing him, he did nothing to alleviate that he's not fully committed to football. He talked about weighing options and seeing what's out there. Translation: halfway in, halfway out. Good team comes along, maybe I play. Crappy team asks me to sign, I go to the analyst chair.

I've been a huge supporter of McNabb. He's one of the most underrated players in NFL history, was never fully appreciated in Philadelphia, was a remarkable and transformative player, and understood the value of not appearing on a police blotter. He was as good a human being as he was quarterback.

But every player has his time to go. Montana, Elway, Marino, Unitas, Griese, Favre, Favre, Favre, Favre -- they all retired. They all left. It happens to the best.

It's time for McNabb to leave now. It's time to go, Donovan.

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I think McNabb knows this as well. I think that's why he told former Vikings teammates he's not certain what he's going to do and why he appears to be vacillating. I think, deep down, McNabb knows he's just about done, if not completely so.

The Vikings are the third team in the past 20 months. That says something.

"I had a discussion with [McNabb] and we both agreed mutually that this was the best decision for both parties," Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Thursday on the team's website. "He was and has been a great player for our league for a long, long time. I have a lot of affection and love for Donovan. A tremendous person and a tremendous competitor, and we really wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. He did a good job for us here. He really helped our young quarterbacks. He did a good job in a lot of ways."

But not good enough to keep him, apparently.

Watching McNabb play over the past few years, it's clear his skills have dramatically diminished. His arm strength, once one of the strongest, isn't any longer. His accuracy, always an issue, has grown worse. His work ethic, often questioned, many times unfairly so, has now been challenged by two different franchises, the Washington Redskins, run by buffoons, and the Vikings. One franchise is an anomaly. Two is a trend.

Could McNabb go someplace else and play? Sure. The problem is he was supposed to be the solution in Washington. Now, the Redskins are run by goofs, so he gets a mulligan there, but then in Minnesota he was beaten out by a rookie. The great Donovan McNabb beaten out by a rookie. A talented rookie, but a rookie nonetheless. If he could still play, no way that happens.

Do you know who McNabb is? He's John Unitas. No, he wasn't as good as Unitas, but the skills of Unitas went from Hall of Fame, all-time elite to something very different, very scary, in a flash. That's what's happened to McNabb. I watch McNabb play and I don't recognize him. He was never a stickler for fundamentals, but basics like proper mechanics are all but gone. He's not Tim Tebow bad, but he's bad.

This is honesty. This is the truth. This isn't easy to say, but this is who McNabb has become.

I want him to leave while memories of his greatness are still fresh and not replaced with something else. Sure, he can go to the Bears, but has McNabb shown anything in the past few years that tells you he can change from what he has been, which is a shadow of himself?

When you reach McNabb's age, you have to work twice as hard, and McNabb, quite simply, hasn't been doing that.

I know McNabb has spoken to people close to him about doing television. He would be as good, if not better, than almost any other analyst. He's extremely smart and charismatic and can explain the technical aspects of football better than almost anyone I know.

That's what he should do, because it's time. You were classy, you were elite, but it's time, Donovan.

It's time to go.

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