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Richard Miller: Give Donovan McNabb One More Shot

miller-article1Among the talk of potential NFL draft picks, Pro Days and mock drafts, quarterback Donovan McNabb has been on everyone’s mind for the last week – NFL organizations included.

Why not try out the 33-year-old McNabb? He has thrown for over 3,000 yards in seven years. He has won ball games with a limited array of offensive weapons and currently owns the third-highest winning percentage behind Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. He has taken the heat in Philadelphia.

For me, McNabb is what I want out of a quarterback. He brings confidence, poise and toughness to the pocket that most quarterbacks could only wish to possess.

For the last 11 NFL seasons, McNabb has entered our living rooms while playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. But, he is primarily known for his five NFC Championship appearances and one Super Bowl berth (XXXIX in Jacksonville against the New England Patriots). It should come as no surprise that McNabb is famous for these alleged short-comings – no Super Bowl rings. I guess the logic is: if you eat Campbell’s Chunky Soup, then one should be able to win numerous Super Bowls, leap tall buildings and cure cancer. This is merely a hypothesis.

When you think about it, McNabb started off on the wrong foot in Philadelphia – by no fault of his own. In 1999, he was announced as the Eagles’ No. 2 overall pick. At the time, the 22-year-old former Syracuse quarterback was passionately booed by the Eagles’ faithful. They wanted Texas Longhorns running back Ricky Williams, who was taken fifth by the New Orleans Saints. Eleven years after that 1999 Draft, McNabb has outshined the five other signal-callers chosen in the first two rounds – Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper, Cade McNown and Shaun King.

Throughout the 2000s, McNabb was the face of the Philadelphia Eagles. However, when a starting quarterback’s face begins to age just the slightest bit, then that means it is time for a replacement. Speaking of which, that would be 25-year-old Kevin Kolb, the Eagles’ second-round pick in 2007 out of Houston. Recently, Kolb voiced his opinion on wanting to be the team’s starter and play all 16 games. According to ESPN insider Adam Schefter, the Eagles plan on Kolb starting for them to open the 2010 season. At this point, you could say the baton is being passed, but it’s more like it is being ripped out of McNabb’s hand.

It is hard to blame the Eagles though for wanting to move forward with a quarterback who isn’t on the wrong side of 30. When a team drafts a top-tier player, the organization expects him to contribute as soon as possible. Nevertheless, when I ponder McNabb’s situation in Philadelphia, two similar examples come to mind.

How many people knew that long-time Green Bay Packer Brett Favre or two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner had any gas left in the tank? Favre was THE sports topic this time two years ago. And, after making a name for himself with the St. Louis Rams, the recently-retired Warner backed up Eli Manning in New York and Matt Leinart for a while in Arizona. Then, at 37-years-old, Warner led the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl after the 2008 season. Favre and Warner were given second and third chances to prove themselves.

I would like to see McNabb given another opportunity to prove himself elsewhere. Numerous teams could use his services – the Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders and every team in the NFC West. In the end, it always comes back to the almighty dollar. This season, the last year of McNabb’s contract, he is set to earn $5 million in base salary. That isn’t even the primary fear of some clubs. [Note: Jacksonville Jaguars fans should not think about McNabb playing quarterback in the black and teal.] McNabb, who signed the richest deal, at the time in NFL history, in 2002 for 12 years and $115 million, reportedly wants another nine-figure deal.

I say McNabb deserves another chance to lead a team into the playoffs, but not for eight-figures per year. McNabb has shown interest in playing for Arizona, where he also owns a house. It could be a landing spot where he can yet again prove his worth to not only an organization but to the NFL itself. Years from now, I don’t want to be saying, “Gosh, what if McNabb had one more shot?” Sundays are special because of players like McNabb. I plan on watching McNabb from my living room for a couple more years – even if he’s with another team.

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Richard Miller is a national broadcaster for Jacksonville Jaguars’ home games on Sporting News Radio.

Additionally, he can be heard on ABC 1320 WBOB in Jacksonville at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesdays with The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show. Richard also contributes to Inside the Game every Saturday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on WBOB.

Currently, Richard is writing David Lamm’s biography entitled Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2010.

Follow Richard’s daily blog on The Jacksonville Observer.

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