DiBiase: McNabb back, but timing still off

Justin Dibiase

Ever since the first “boo” reigned down upon Donovan McNabb on his draft day in 1999, he has been the center of criticism and controversy. So it was no surprise that the Philadelphia media and Eagles fans turned their backs on McNabb after his team’s poor start. The city of brotherly love is one of the hardest places on earth to play because of the expectations fans have for their teams and athletes. McNabb has seen the highest of highs (2004 NFC Champions) and the lowest of lows (ACL tear). He has also dealt with hot-headed former teammate Terrell Owens, as well as racist remarks from media personality Rush Limbaugh. His calm nature when it comes to media relations is the reason why his recent outburst on the record has some baffled.

McNabb has endured many things that NFL quarterbacks should never have to experience. He has won big games and handled drama like a true professional. However, during his recent HBO interview, he voiced his opinion on criticism of black quarterbacks in the NFL.

His observations that black quarterbacks have to do more than their white counterparts to succeed were accurate. It is a fact of life that racism still exists in all parts of the world. McNabb has been faced with more racially charged comments than anyone. Sadly, there are still some people in the world who have a problem with a man of a different race at the helm of their favorite team.

McNabb’s comments may or may not have been directed at the criticism that he has encountered during the first few weeks of the new season. If they were, then these comments could not have come at a worse time for the struggling quarterback. Granted, McNabb is coming off a terrible injury and is still recovering, but his play in the first two weeks has deserved every bit of criticism it has received. If there were ever a time when he needed to stay quiet and let his playing do the talking, it would be now. Despite the 100 percent validity of his HBO interview, it now seems that McNabb is trying to convince the public that he is playing better than they give him credit for. He appears to be lobbying for people’s support. It is more likely a matter of bad timing than McNabb begging for criticism to ease. Since the 0-2 start, McNabb has silenced some critics by throwing for four touchdown passes in a win against the Detroit Lions.

For a quarterback who is often criticized for being a “company man” and for not speaking out at all, this is an inopportune time to be bold. If McNabb had been playing at the level that he is capable of playing at, his comments would seem more thoughtful and less a function of his poor play. I commend McNabb for finally speaking his mind and telling the world what he believes, but I cannot understand why he waited until now to express himself. After being verbally insulted by Rush Limbaugh and even Philadelphia NAACP President J. Whyatt Mondesire, McNabb did not have much at all to say.

The substance of his recent comments was taken well, but I cannot help but think that the timing made it appear like he was running away from his struggles.

McNabb was quick to throw two white quarterbacks, Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning, into the mix in his self-defense. McNabb said, “[Manning and Palmer] don’t get criticized as much as we do. They don’t.”

Maybe McNabb is right, but the bottom line is that neither of them is the quarterback struggling in a town that is in dire need of a winning football team. Manning is hands down the best quarterback in the league. He holds the single-season record for touchdowns and is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time; yet, Manning was bombarded with criticism for not being able to win the big game before finally winning the Super Bowl last season. Palmer has been excellent in his last two seasons as the quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals. It is probably true, however, that they do not get criticized as much as black quarterbacks, but McNabb picked two wrong targets here. Manning and Palmer are hands down better than McNabb right now.

Like McNabb, Palmer tore his ACL but also tore his MCL. Palmer came back from his injury firing on all cylinders, unlike McNabb. Palmer claimed that during his comeback season, his knee did not feel totally comfortable until week nine of the regular season. If McNabb does not feel as if he is ready to perform at 100 percent, he should have taken a few weeks off to start the season and allow capable backup A.J. Feeley to quarterback the team until he was back to full strength. That would have been much better for the team and for McNabb’s image, as well.

Racism is still a living, breathing thing in the world, and McNabb’s comments underline that fact. It was not, however, in his best interest to make them during a time like this. The only thing in McNabb’s best interest presently is winning and proving naysayers wrong.


Justin DiBiase is a junior civil engineering major from Franklinville, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected].