No, Donovan McNabb Should Not Have His Number Retired

No, Donovan McNabb Should Not Have His Number Retired

Most of us were happy if not downright enthusiastic about the news Donovan McNabb would officially retire a member of the Philadelphia Eagles in September. There are a few Angelo Cataldi types out there who still believe the greatest quarterback in franchise history should be booed some more, but thankfully they seem to be part of a very small minority.

A ceremony honoring McNabb’s career is completely appropriate not to mention well-deserved, and I’m sorry if you don’t think so, but the record supports this stance. The Birds made eight playoff appearances during Donovan’s 11 seasons in Philly, including five trips to NFC Championship games plus a Super Bowl. He went to six Pro Bowls and owns virtually all of the club’s meaningful passing records.

Even if you don’t feel this way right now, one day you should look back on it as a fun era.

There is another side to every coin though, and in McNabb’s case it’s the attempt by some to build him into more than he was. The announcement of this particular retirement sparked two discussions. The first – Hall of Fame candidacy – is one that has been debated ad nauseum, and while Donovan merits a certain amount of consideration, I personally do not feel he stacks up to his peers.

The second argument is actually a bit more complicated: whether or not McNabb’s number should be retired. I mean, he is the best QB the Birds have ever had, right?

Well unfortunately you can’t just retire a number in the NFL every time you have a new best whatever. 53 players are on an active roster. It’s not a distinction the organization can hand out to just anybody.

Not to say McNabb was “just anybody.” He is the best quarterback in Eagles history. But then none of the previous best quarterbacks in Eagles history have had their numbers retired, either. And while none of the signal callers from the modern era presided over the success McNabb did, it's not like he completely outclasses either Ron Jaworski or Randall Cunningham from a pure statistical standpoint.

McNabb is a special case in Philly sports, but not special enough to warrant the No. 5 never appearing in a game again. In case you need more evidence, here’s a closer look at the numbers the Eagles put away forever.

15 – Steve Van Buren

Hall of Famer. Retired as NFL’s all-time leader in rushing yards (5,860) and rushing touchdowns (69) in 1952 after eight professional seasons. Carried the Eagles to back-to-back championships in ‘48 and ‘49.

20 – Brian Dawkins

No introduction required around these parts. Only safety in history to record 30 interceptions (37), 30 forced fumbles (37), and 20 sacks (26). Member of NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. Bleeds green.

40 – Tom Brookshier

Key member of 1960 championship team. Missed two seasons (1954-55) while serving in United States Air Force. Two-time Pro-Bowl cornerback whose career was further cut short by a compound leg fracture in ’61.

44 – Pete Retzlaff

Key member of 1960 championship team. Five-time Pro Bowler who helped redefine the tight end position. Retired with franchise records in receptions (452) and receiving yards (7,412). 1965 Bert Bell Award winner for player of the year.

60 – Chuck Bednarik

Hall of Famer. Member of NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. One of pro football’s last two-way players – linebacker and center. Only Eagle to win championships in two separate decades (1948 and ’60). Legend has it he is made of concrete.

70 – Al Wistert

Captain of the 1948-49 championship teams. All-Pro offensive and defensive tackle.

92 – Reggie White

Hall of Famer. Retired as NFL’s all-time leader in sacks (198). Remains the Eagles’ franchise leader in sacks (124). Two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Greatest defensive lineman in pro football history. Etc.

99 – Jerome Brown

Tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 27. Two-time All-Pro. Voted a member of the Eagles 75th Anniversary Team. A great life and career cut far too short.

So let’s recap. Every player on this list has either been an integral part of a championship team, is one of the greatest players in NFL history (statistically or otherwise), possibly had their career cut short for one reason or another – and typically it’s some mixture of the three.

Which of those does Donovan fit into?

Even if McNabb were to one day be inducted into the Hall, not every Eagle in Canton has had their number retired. It’s not a prerequisite or anything like that.

Simply put, the No. 5 is not immortal in Philadelphia. It has nothing to do with popularity, statistics, championships, or even whether or not the man who wore it will ever go to Canton. Actually, it’s all of the above. McNabb may be one of the greatest Eagles of all time without question, but his career – exceptional though it was – simply does not meet the unofficial criteria for this particular honor.

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles (5-7) come into Sunday's game against the Redskins (6-5-1) on a three-game losing streak.

The Redskins exposed the Eagles' defense the last time these two teams met almost two months ago on Oct. 16.

Here are our (cough) expert predictions for this Week 14 matchup.

Dave Zangaro (4-8)
After losing three straight games, I couldn't pick the Eagles against just about any team in the NFL. Maybe Cleveland. Maybe Chicago. 

But against Washington? Nah. Can't do it. 

Sure, I know Washington comes into the Linc on a two-game losing streak, and they're clearly not a top team in the NFC. It just doesn't matter. Kirk Cousins is a decent quarterback and Washington clearly has enough weapons to shred the Eagles like they did for 493 yards in the first meeting. 

For the Eagles' offense, Carson Wentz hasn't looked good in a long time and this week he enters with a few of his skill position players banged up. 

This looks like another loss to me. 

Washington 26, Eagles 20

Derrick Gunn (5-7)
The Eagles are an embarrassed, desperate team, and a win over the Redskins could lift the weight of what has been a downward spiral. Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews returned to practice this week, but can they jolt this offense back to life? Carson Wentz has played like a rookie the last three games, and the once stout defense has crumbled.

So here come the Redskins, losers of two in a row but still very much in the playoff conversation. The Redskins' defense is beat up and could be missing several key players, but unfortunately for the Eagles, Washington's offensive weapons are relatively healthy, except for tight end Jordan Reed, who's listed as questionable with an AC joint sprain. Matt Jones and Robert Kelley pack a punch out of the backfield. 

Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been in a zone. Over their last six games, Cousins has averaged 352.6 passing yards, plus he's thrown 12 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. 

The Eagles remember what Washington did to them back in Week 6, but I feel their revenge motives will fall short.

Redskins 27, Eagles 17

Ray Didinger (5-7) 
With all the talk this week about effort and players dogging it, I fully expect the Eagles to come out focused and fired up at home Sunday. Here's the problem: I just don't know if they are good enough to win the game. Motivation is one thing, but talent is another and right now, the Eagles are lacking in that area.
 
The players have been called out by their coach, by the media and by the fans so if they have any pride at all they will come out and play hard against the Redskins but I look at the matchup of this Eagles' secondary against the Washington receivers — especially a hot DeSean Jackson (25.3 yards per catch the last three games) — and I don't see a happy result.
 
Redskins 24, Eagles 17

Andrew Kulp (6-6)
Not sure if the Eagles really are in freefall mode or if they've simply been unable to overcome injuries while facing some better than advertised opponents. Either way, they have plenty to play for, because Washington has been embarrassing them for awhile now. With Jordan Matthews back and against a less than stellar D, I predict an end to the losing streak, so long as they finally come up with an answer for Kirk Cousins.

Eagles 26, Redskins 24

Corey Seidman (5-7)
Close game, better performance from Carson Wentz and an awakening in the run game, but not enough defensive talent to shut down what Washington will try to do deep with DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder, over the middle with Jordan Reed and short with Pierre Garcon.

Redskins 31, Eagles 27

Andy Schwartz (5-7)
It's simply come to this. I can't pick the Eagles to win a game the rest of the season until they do.

I want to think the offense will benefit from the return of Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews. And I want to think the defense will play with desperation and break out of its "slump" and make some big plays.

But I won't believe it until I see it.

Redskins 24, Eagles 16

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere took a shot off his right hand in the second period Saturday and has a bone bruise. 
 
The Flyers will watch it because sometimes the swelling prevents wearing a glove comfortably the next day.
 
Ghost, who has five points – all assists – over his past six games, was hit with a puck in the second period of a 4-2 win over the Stars. He went to the bench and tried to shake it off, but left for the dressing room shortly after a Flyers power play began in the period’s final three minutes.
 
He participated for part of the power play, then left the ice and did not return until the start of the third period.
 
“It was good by then,” he said. “Obviously, it hurt a bit.”
 
The Flyers play in Detroit on Sunday night. 
 
Ghost has 16 points (four goals) in 29 games this season. X-rays were negative, he said, adding he was not worried about the hand, which was badly swollen after the game.