Donovan McNabb Pick Could Have Been Edgerrin James

Donovan McNabb Pick Could Have Been Edgerrin James

Imagine if Donovan McNabb had been chosen first overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 1999 NFL Draft instead Tim Couch. Say what you want about Five, but in hindsight that’s definitely what should have happened. Well, where would that have left the Eagles?

Probably not where you would expect. Team owner Jeffrey Lurie shared an interesting story about that fateful draft at McNabb’s formal retirement press conference on Monday. Had the Browns taken the right guy, the Dirty Thirty would have wound up booing Edgerrin James instead.

Lurie told the assembled that if McNabb had not been available at No. 2, the long-time Colts running back would have been the pick over any of the other quarterbacks – notably Couch or Akili Smith – as well as fan favorite Heisman Trophy-winning back Ricky Williams.

"We were interviewing all together and very intensely every one of these quarterbacks and the top players at the top of the round obviously with the second pick," said Lurie. "This was meant to be a very, very important pick.

"We didn't have a lot of confidence in most of the quarterbacks in that draft. The only quarterback that we all - and Andy leading the way - felt very confident in was Donovan, and it wasn't just his athletic ability. It was his years at Syracuse, his being able to learn a complicated offense, the way he was as a person, stable family background compared to some other quarterbacks both in that draft and elsewhere. So it all came together that he was really the only quarterback that was really far above all the others for us."

And if the Cleveland Browns had selected McNabb instead of Tim Couch?

"It was really, Donovan or 'Yikes, what are we going to do?' " said Lurie. "I guess the answer was Edgerrin. We thought this probably was a potential Hall of Fame running back."

James wound up going one pick before Williams at No. 4, going on to carve out a nice 11-year career primarily in Indianapolis and with the Arizona Cardinals. The four-time Pro Bowler is 11th all-time on the NFL career rushing list with 12,246 yards on the ground, 18th with 80 touchdowns.

But it goes without saying James wouldn’t have had the impact in Philadelphia that Donovan had. Chances are nobody from that draft class would have.

That’s something to think about the next time you or somebody you know goes to bash McNabb’s career in Philly. True, he couldn’t bring home the Lombardi Trophy. Yes, he had his share of flaws. Also, where would the franchise have been for those 11 seasons if he wasn’t the starting quarterback?

Who knows, but chances are great it wouldn’t have been winning five NFC East titles, much less making five appearances in NFC Championship games.

If for some reason you can’t appreciate McNabb on his own merits, maybe you should consider how much worse things could have been without him. As long as he was here, the Eagles had a chance to win it all every year. Those were good times.

>> If not McNabb, James the pick [Rdg Eagle]

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.

The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.

Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.

Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players' first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists (see full recap).

LeBron triple-double powers Cavs past Knicks
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James recorded his 48th career triple-double and Kyrie Irving scored 23 points, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 119-104 victory over the New York Knicks, who hung on to superstar Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose at Thursday's trade deadline.

James scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds with 15 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season.

Anthony, the subject of trade rumors because of a strained relationship with Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson, scored 20 points, going 9 of 25 from the field.

Kyle Korver scored 20 points for Cleveland, which is 8-1 in February and has beaten New York 10 straight times.

Courtney Lee had 25 points for New York, which has lost six of seven and is 12th in the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Pistons rally from 18 down to beat Hornets in OT
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 33 points, including three 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter during a pulsating Detroit rally, and the Pistons outlasted the Charlotte Hornets 114-108 in overtime Thursday night.

Caldwell-Pope scored Detroit's last 11 points of regulation, and his 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds to play tied the game at 100. Kemba Walker scored Charlotte's final nine points of the fourth, but the Pistons forced him to give up the ball on the last possession, and Marco Belinelli missed a 3-pointer that could have won it.

Detroit, which was behind by 18 in the third quarter, never trailed in the overtime. Caldwell-Pope's 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining put the Pistons up 110-102.

Charlotte led 85-70 at the start of the fourth but missed 14 of its first 15 shots in the period, enabling Detroit to cut into the lead.

Walker scored 34 points. Tobias Harris had 25 for the Pistons (see full recap).