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: