Eagles fans, it’s time for a gut check

Santo Caruso

The inguinal canal: A natural passage or opening through the abdominal wall.*

See Also: anterior abdominal wall, rectus abdominus muscle and sports hernia

Sports hernia: disruption of the inguinal canal without a clinically detectable hernia. During coughing and straining, intra-abdominal pressure threatens to force some of the abdominal contents through the canal, producing a hernia. Insidious onset of unilateral groin pain is the most common symptom. *

See Also: torn external oblique aponeurosis, torn conjoined tendon, and literally gut-wrenching tear-inducing pain.

See Also: Donovan McNabb (Sorry, I had to channel Chuck Palahniuk to get my point across. Point taken, I hope.)

If you are a guy and you read that, did you wince? I didn’t even mention where the inguinal canal is (It is where your testicles drop from and where the spermatic chord is.) Now are you cringing a bit? Have a better idea what number five is playing through, or at least the general region from which his pain is deriving? I’ve seen the pictures, and when I discovered what the euphemism “sports hernia” protected the groin-having public from, I made the same face I make when watching “America’s Funniest Home Videos” do the sporting equipment to the genitals montage.

So what is it like to be internally kicked in the nuts every single day? How does it feel after 54 passes, each one twisting his midsection in such a way as to inflame the injury ? I don’t think anyone knows because the rest of us would be in bed crying for Mommy and complaining that “my tummy hurts” any time you had to so much as roll over. I include myself in this group with only a little bit of shame.

Fans and announcers worry about the big hits 300 lb defensive tackles lay on him, but this doesn’t compare to the pain another heavyweight is putting him through. McNabb calls this bucket of fun (and cheesesteaks) “Coach” and Andy Reid has done everything but punch his quarterback in the area and ask him if he felt it.

McNabb set a record both for completions and attempts in Sunday’s miracle win over San Diego, and the Eagles led for most of the game. I only expect that kind of play calling from three people: the hospitilized and criminally insane ego maniac Mike Martz, Peyton Manning trying to set a record before the Patriots strip him of all his dignity again or the Vikings after all of their running backs get lost on Gilligan’s Island during another sex cruise. Not from a team with a Pro Bowl running back in the backfield.

On Saturday ‘Nova retired Brian Westbrook’s number (although the retirement is a joke since the number remains in circulation. At least make anyone who wants to wear number 20 change his name legally to Brian Westbrook, Jr. We could make it a tradition, like Jim Brown’s 34 at Syracuse. By 2020, I expect the number of Brian Westbrooks to have passed the amount of Rockys, assuming I take out Stallone before Rocky 6.) If Villanova recognizes his abilities, why can’t a supposed professional judge of talent like Reid see it? I bet if Westbrook were a hoagie, he’d get more notice from Andy.

Still despite Reid treating him like a human ball machine, McNabb has responded with his best performance to date. Even in 2000, when the Eagles didn’t even bother sending anyone else out on the field for offense, they at least ran some of the time. Now the onus has been on his right arm all season, and the Chicago-born, New Jersey native leads the NFC in completions and attempts, is third in yards, second in touchdowns and basically third in interceptions (Kurt Warner doesn’t count because he is no longer starting.) He has led all of these categories in previous seasons, but the circumstances, the injury, the lack of a running game and the Terrell Owens situation makes this rival anything he has ever accomplished. This from a guy who threw three touchdowns with a broken leg.

Admittedly the offense has looked dysfunctional at times, but even in the jaded metropolis of Philadelphia, none of the blame falls on Donovan. His injury, Reid’s play calling, a lack of a running game and the disaffected play of TO (when the ball is not coming his way, I’m more convinced by his route than an Eagles play fake.

Speaking of play fake, they have become as effective as play action in Madden. All it does is give the defense more time to get the sack.) If even fickle Philly fans aren’t willing to blame the player, you know something is up.

What is the point of all this? Did I just want to throw around a bunch of medical jargon that has no meaning to me, like an actor playing a doctor on a Fox drama? Or am I an overly-praising Eagles fan? Or am I part of the secret media, conspiring to raise up a black quarterback (no, but I do think Donovan McNabb is already the best African-American quarterback to ever play in the NFL)? The answer is none of the above, as it always is on those damn multiple choice tests. All I really want is some recognition for the effort this, for lack of a better word, warrior has put forth thus far. Like in the Teddy Bruschi situation, where the decision to play despite the potential for a more serious injury, my opinion has no weight. But I know for sure, if it were me, not only would I have had the surgery, but I would have retired and bought a Porche dealership on Lancaster Ave. But that is what makes Donovan J. McNabb (its J for Jamal, Wilbon) so special.

*All medical definitions taken from webmd.com and physsportsmed.com