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Maybe Terrell Owens Was Right About This Eagles Great, Afterall

Let me start this piece off with a personal sentiment. In this writer’s humble opinion, Donovan McNabb is the greatest Eagles quarterback in franchise history. In fact, it’s not particularly close.

Donovan McNabb was a six-time Pro Bowl selection as an Eagle. He put up outstanding numbers despite primarily throwing to top receivers named James Thrash and Todd Pinkston, with a couple of exceptions that we will discuss in this piece. If you don’t know who those guys are, I don’t blame you.

Despite generally throwing to a subpar lineup of weapons, McNabb put up a borderline Hall of Fame career, throwing for 37,276 yards and 234 touchdowns at a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

McNabb led the Philadelphia Eagles to eight playoff appearances, five NFC East division championships, and an incredible five NFC Championship games (including four in a row). He holds numerous franchise records and led the team to a Super Bowl appearance (we’ll talk more about that in a minute).

So, to reiterate, McNabb is the greatest quarterback in Eagles franchise history. That said, he is far from the greatest human being, which, tragically, we are continuing to learn to this day.

The DeSean Jackson Beef

Former Eagles wide receiver, and all-time great deep threat, DeSean Jackson recently appeared on the “I Am Athlete” podcast with LeSean McCoy and Brandon Marshall. During the conversation, Jackson shared an anecdote in which he had been told by teammates (namely Mike Vick) that Donovan McNabb had talked negatively about Jackson behind his back during their time together.

Specifically, McNabb had stated that Jackson did not deserve to be selected as the first player in history to earn a Pro Bowl nod at two different positions (specifically wide receiver and return specialist). McCoy backed up the story, and the internet went wild.

Star athletes are bound to have egos, so this should not necessarily be a surprising story. It is safe to say McNabb and Jackson were not the first or last wide receiver/quarterback duo to have tension in their relationship. That said, this is not the first or even second time that we have heard of Donovan McNabb not playing nice with his co-stars, specifically the guys on the receiving end of his passes.

The Other, Other Beef

In an even funnier example of McNabb’s passive aggression towards his receivers, former Eagles receiver and notorious headache Freddie Mitchell (per NBC Sports Philadelphia) once explained that he found out through strippers that Donovan McNabb hated him. He said he went as far as to offer to watch McNabb’s children to win his quarterback over, to no avail.

The T.O. Eagles Drama

Jump to the 2004 and 2005 seasons, and we can reflect on the public beef that started the questioning of McNabb’s reputation, though he took less of the blame for the public feud. Despite finding huge success together in 2004, including an eventual Super Bowl appearance against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, superstar receiver Terrell Owens and McNabb could not maintain a healthy relationship for even a second full season together.

Owens, deservedly, had the reputation as a locker room cancer and a loudmouth, so most at the time assumed he deserved the brunt of the blame for their public falling out. It didn’t help when Owens disparaged McNabb in an effort to argue for his own new contract and made a series of public jabs against McNabb in the media. However, is it possible Owens was simply the more vocal of the two, but the hate flowed both ways?

Following Jackson’s recent statements, Owens tweeted that the “media, front office, they all had his back for whatever reason. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. Doesn’t matter who you are. He got management not to bring me back but still didn’t stop me from producing on the next team.”

Owens, of course, was referring to the fact that McNabb won the dispute between the two within the front office, as Owens was released in March of 2006, but went on to have a Pro Bowl and All-Pro run in Dallas, as well as reasonably productive campaigns in Buffalo and Cincinnati.

Was T.O. Right All Along?

At the time, few considered that, perhaps, the T.O./McNabb relationship was more than just a one-way bashing, but perhaps McNabb wasn’t so innocent, after all. With two other receivers coming forward with similar stories of McNabb being a terrible teammate and leader (also backed up by the team’s greatest running back of all time), even the most dedicated McNabb fan has to consider:

Is McNabb really that bad a teammate and leader? Was T.O. right, after all?

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