Donovan McNabb Says Jim Thome Had a Rough Time Dealing with Philly Fans

Donovan McNabb Says Jim Thome Had a Rough Time Dealing with Philly Fans

In an interview with Paul Domowitch that’s set to run in full inside Thursday’s edition of the Daily News, Donovan McNabb touches on a number of topics related to his Eagles career – his opinion of Philly fans, whether or not he’ll be booed at his retirement ceremony at the Linc this September, and some insight into how the trade to Washington went down between he and Andy Reid behind the scenes. To be honest, there’s not much you would consider very revealing from Domo’s excerpts, and a lot of it sounds like some variation of the PR-like responses McNabb normally sticks to.

There was one random but curious detail in there though, and it’s about Jim Thome of all people. According to McNabb’s anecdote, he once shared an exchange with Thome in which the former Phillies first baseman apparently admitted it wasn’t always easy dealing with the fans in Philadelphia. Here’s what he said.

Q: Any concerns that you might hear some boos when they honor you in September?

...

“I’ve always heard that they appreciate you (more) when you’re gone. It’s funny. Flying out here, I stopped in Chicago to visit my family. I ran into (former Phillie) Jim Thome in the airport. We were talking about playing in Philly. He asked me how I dealt with it because he said it was really hard for him. I said I just let it run right down my back. I never let it bother me. I told him I loved the game too much to let it affect what I was doing. All the time I put in preparing, I didn’t let it bother me.”

It seems strange Thome would say that. The man spent three seasons with the Phils from 2003 through ’05, and it was so bad for him that he… signed on for a second stint in 2012. In fact, during his first two seasons here, the fans probably bordered on hero worship of Thome. He had left Cleveland, where he played the first 12 years of his Major League career, to come to Philadelphia as a free agent and help jump start the resurrection of a moribund franchise. He then proceeded to lead the NL in home runs and runs batted in during his first season in red pinstripes, going on to bash 89 and drive in 326 runs total over the first two years of his deal.

Things did take a slight turn in Thome’s third season with the Fightins. He battled injuries and was inconsistent at the plate, plus Ryan Howard was just arriving on to the scene, so there may have been some boos or negativity directed toward Thome at the time. Still, he only appeared in 59 games in ’05 before landing on the shelf permanently, and he was traded to the Chicago White Sox soon into the offseason. He would not have endured anything close to what Donovan did.

There are few athletes in any sport who are as universally beloved as Thome, and while we can’t speak for anybody else, it seems unlikely it ever got so bad for him in Philly in such a short amount of time that he would have carried it around with him for very long. That’s not to say he wouldn’t have mentioned ’05 was difficult at times when he was playing hurt and probably never experienced a home crowd turning on him before, but to the point where he could relate to McNabb? Probably not the greatest example.

Maybe somebody out there remembers Thome’s first run in Philly differently than I do, but I definitely recall his being welcomed back with open arms last year, not to mention how excited he was to return. Doesn’t seem like a guy who would share quite the same recollection of Philly fans as the Eagles’ quarterback of 11 seasons.

>> McNabb on McNabb [DN]

UPDATE: Roob ripped into McNabb on PST this evening:

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Shaq always has the trump card -- and by that we mean championship rings -- to throw in Charles Barkley's face. But with that said, Sir Charles is probably a much better trash talker and therefore has a superior mouth to defend himself with and throw barbs back in Shaq's direction.

The mouthy duo got into it a bit last night and it teetered between fun and lighthearted and a little personal.

Shaq attacks Chuck for only playing in one NBA Finals and therefore not really knowing what he was talking about. Charles claps back at Shaq for having ridden Kobe and Dwyane Wade's coattails. 

During an NBA playoffs that has been mostly boring, at least these two can still entertain us.

Fletcher Cox should be at Eagles OTAs, but absence likely meaningless

Fletcher Cox should be at Eagles OTAs, but absence likely meaningless

Fletcher Cox wasn’t at practice with the rest of his Eagles teammates on Tuesday -- well, 86 of them -- and that’s okay. It’s May, and participation in offseason training activities is strictly voluntary. Furthermore, if Cox wants to take a vacation, he is entitled to do so under the collective bargaining agreement.

Cox really should be at OTAs. The Eagles gave him a contract potentially worth over $100 million just last year, and with that comes an obligation. Cox arguably did not live up to that contract last season, too, so he could use the practice. And if he needed a vacation, why didn’t he take one during the three months he was off from work?

As far as I’m concerned, both takes are true. Cox is free to do as he wishes, and people with careers in sports should understand better than anybody the strain it places on families, so I can’t blame most of these guys for taking a little extra time. Then again, this drama with Cox seems like it was completely avoidable, and looks especially bad in light of his contract and disappointing season, so I can’t blame people for being angry, either.

Yet, Cox’s absence almost certainly will have no bearing on the outcome of any games this season. It’s not a sign of disrespect for Eagles coach Doug Pederson or that he’s losing the locker room. It’s not going to send a message to teammates that participation is not expected or important.

Cox missing OTAs on Tuesday was of no consequence to the Eagles at all. By training camp, it will be a forgotten footnote in the story of the 2017 season, only to be mentioned in future Mays whenever somebody else exercises the option to skip a voluntary practice.

Even then, there is clearly a double standard, because the reaction isn’t the same for everybody. When Brandon Graham missed last week while he was believed to be “holding out” for a new contract -- can’t hold out when it’s voluntary -- there were equal parts rage and support for the cause. Jason Peters and Donnie Jones are out this week, too, and while some displeasure has been voiced, those absences were largely met with apathy.

Marcus Smith was missing on Tuesday as well, and it’s not immediately clear why. Pederson made no mention of the former first-round draft pick, and practice was almost over before reporters bothered to notice. In theory, this is a huge mistake, because Smith is fighting for a roster spot. We also don’t know where he is -- perhaps there’s a reasonable explanation -- so it’s unreasonable to jump to conclusions or become outraged.

This is the part where once again we remind everybody that it’s May and these practices are non-contact. And while Cox going away for a week will still be indefensible to some, it never hurts to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Maybe, for whatever reason, he was literally unable to make the trip at a time that would not interfere with Eagles business. Maybe he was simply getting grief at home because he's away so much.

That undoubtedly will be impossible for some people to accept. And, hey, maybe Cox just doesn’t care. Regardless, the practices are voluntary, Cox is expected back next week, and absolutely nobody is going to be talking about this eight months from now, eight weeks from now, or even eight days from now.