McNabb Takes the Bait on DeSean Quotes

McNabb Takes the Bait on DeSean Quotes

Donovan McNabb has only been a Washington Redskin since Easter, but it didn't take him long to take the media bait and respond to a loaded question regarding a quote from a former teammate. 

Reacting to comments made by DeSean Jackson to The Sporting News, in which DJacc said he was happy with the decision to trade McNabb, and that he thought the Eagles hadn't lost anything with the change at quarterback, McNabb had this to say:

"It's so wild when people get to talking when you're not there, but when you're there everybody loves you," McNabb said. "So I guess people will go deeper into it than I will. I'm a Redskin, no longer an Eagle. I had 11 great years and I'm moving on with my life, so whoever may say things when I'm gone, more power to them, but it's not making you look like a bigger man." 

Right away, Donovan has gone "deeper into it" than the quote he was responding to. And, I don't agree with ESPN.com's un-bylined statement that he "took the high road." He took, as he did numerous times throughout his 11 years as an Eagle, the sensitive road that leads to more and more media and fan scrutiny. 

The high road, particularly for a veteran who has been been through these tete-a-tetes before, is simply to not respond at all. Something like, "I haven't heard that quote in its context, so I can't reply to it." 

McNabb should know better how the media works when it comes to quotes. Context is rarely fully given, and you can't be sure you're even hearing the quote in its original phrasing when it's presented to you for response. Half the time, you're responding to one person's interpretation of a malapropism. Have you seen this guy's twitter posts?

How his handlers have not managed to better instruct him on the art of sound bite deflection is beyond me. Had Donovan not responded to the Jackson quote at all, most of us would have never even heard it. As it stands, I'm now over-dissecting two sets of quotes that are each pretty harmless on the spectrum of news-producing words from professional athletes. It's already juicing up a slow news Sunday, everywhere from ProFootballTalk to ESPN to fan blogs, and it's only Sunday morning. Just wait 'til local sports talk radio gets going this week. 

McNabb's new teammates may view this kind of press as a motivator in the near term, but as stories out of Eagles camp have started to indicate, his old teammates had grown tired of The Donovan Show. Perhaps that is what Donovan is responding to, if in fact he's heard the whispers, which have gotten surprisingly little press. Because in my admittedly biased opinion, Jackson's quote was pretty harmless. It all depends on how you read into the "happy with the decision" part, which can easily be skewed toward support of Andy Reid and the front office's decision, or 180º the other way, that Jackson wanted McNabb gone, whichever way fits your story angle better. It's ambiguous, and nowhere near the certain slam McNabb thought he was responding to. 

But that doesn't matter for McNabb, and it never has.  

And, as far as the Eagles not losing anything, "even with McNabb being gone," what is Jackson supposed to say? "Oh, Kevin Kolb? Yeah, huge step down. We'll be missing #5 all season and beyond." Sorry that Jackson didn't go out of his way to be more supportive of last year's QB, but he's got a new man under center, and that seems to be what he's most concerned about. Hell, acknowledging that they'll succeed even without McNabb could be seen as a statement that these are big shoes to fill, but he's confident in the team regardless. 

Yes, Jackson could have provided a more innocuous or complimentary quote. But how many times do you think he's been asked about McNabb's departure already? At some point, the headline-producing statement was going to drop, and as far as those go, this was remarkably tame. Had he wanted to rip McNabb, he has had ample opportunity. Of course, Donovan's response only makes it more likely we'll hear more from Jackson, rather than "moving on."

We've been big fans of Donovan McNabb here for a long time. I like to think I still am, although I'm rooting for him to have a down season because he's now a Redskin. That's just how it goes in the NFC East, and it's an unfortunate part of his being traded within the division as opposed to somewhere like Oakland, where we'd be happy to see him make the AFC Pro Bowl roster and be a great story out west. 

I'm a fan of his overall career as an Eagle, though not all of it, and since the trade, it's hard not to look forward to rooting against the side of him that I didn't enjoy when he was an Eagle. 

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty had four goals, Brian Flynn scored twice during a six-goal first period and the Montreal Canadiens routed the Colorado Avalanche 10-1 on Saturday night.

Flynn, Pacioretty and Artturi Lehkonen each scored against Calvin Pickard in the opening 7:12, and then Pacioretty, Paul Byron and Flynn each had a goal among the first four shots on Semyon Varlamov.

Pacioretty completed his hat trick in the second period and added another in the third to give the captain seven goals in his last four games.

Alexander Radulov and Jeff Petry also scored for Montreal, which has shown no drop-off without injured scoring leader and first-line center Alex Galchenyuk. Montreal outshot the Avs 36-16 (see full recap).

Malkin, Crosby lead Penguins past Lightning 4-3
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby had another eventful night.

The Penguins star returned after passing concussion protocol following a first-period hit to get his 20th goal, and that stoked Pittsburgh's rally for its latest victory.

Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both scored their second goals on third-period power plays, helping the Penguins come back to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday.

Crosby was shaken up by Luke Witkowski's check with eight minutes to go in the first but returned for the start of the second period (see full recap).

Late barrage helps Blue Jackets beat Islanders 6-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones each had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

Josh Anderson, Brandon Saad and Lukas Sedlak also scored for Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky had 25 saves.

Josh Bailey and John Tavares scored for New York, which had earned a point in a season-high five straight games (4-0-1). Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves until he was pulled after the Blue Jackets scored four consecutive goals in the third period.

Anderson put Columbus ahead 3-2 at 2:19 when he picked off a defensive pass and banged it in from the slot seconds after coming onto the ice for his shift (see full recap).

Matthews, Hyman score in 2nd, Maple Leafs beat Bruins 4-1
BOSTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to overcome a poor opening period.

Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman scored in the second period, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves and the Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Saturday night.

"The last three games the first period kind of did us in," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't start on time. We were able to hold on. It still wasn't the first period we wanted, but we didn't give up the goals and we were able to execute a little bit."

After managing only two shots on goal in the first, Toronto was happy to get to the dressing room with the game scoreless (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 19 points each and the Memphis Grizzlies rolled over the Golden State Warriors 110-89 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 30 points in the second half - the biggest advantage by any Warriors opponent this season. Seven Memphis players finished in double figures.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 21 points, while Stephen Curry added 17 points and Ian Clark finished with 10 points. Curry and backcourt starter Klay Thompson (eight points) were a combined 8 of 28 from the field, including 3 of 14 outside the arc.

Memphis built a double-digit lead early, led 61-38 at halftime and kept building in the third quarter (see full recap).

Butler, Wade lead Bulls to 105-100 win over Heat
CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler scored 31 points, Dwyane Wade added 28 against his former team and the Chicago Bulls held off the struggling Miami Heat 105-100 on Saturday night.

Butler scored Chicago's final 10 points to help the Bulls come out on top after Miami pulled within one.

Wade keyed a big third-quarter run in his second game against the Heat, and the Bulls hung on after handing San Antonio its first road loss two nights earlier.

Goran Dragic led Miami with 21 points and 11 assists. An energetic Hassan Whiteside added 20 points after being benched for part of Friday's blowout loss in Cleveland. Tyler Johnson scored 15, but the Heat dropped their fifth straight (see full recap).

LeBron scores 44, reaches assist mark as Cavs down Hornets
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 17 of his season-high 44 points in the fourth quarter and reached another career milestone as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight, 116-105 over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

James did it all, adding 10 assists and nine rebounds in 43 minutes. He took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 straight during one stretch to help the Cavs hold on.

As the final seconds ticked off, James stood at midcourt and spun the ball on his index finger as the crowd roared.

James, who moved into ninth place on the career scoring list Friday, recorded his 7,000th assist in the first half, becoming the first frontcourt player in NBA history to reach the plateau. James is the only player with 27,000 points and 7,000 assists (see full recap).

George has 37 points to lead Pacers over Blazers 118-111
INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored a season-high 37 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Portland Trail Blazers 118-111 on Saturday night.

George made five 3-pointers, and Thaddeus Young hit six 3s while getting 24 points and nine rebounds. Myles Turner added 14 points for the Pacers, who had lost five straight regular season games to Portland.

C.J. McCollum made a career-high seven 3-pointers and had a season-best 34 points for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard had 33 points behind five 3s.

George scored 13 straight points in the fourth quarter for Indiana. He was fouled on the go-ahead basket with 4:36 remaining and completed the three-point play to give the Pacers a 108-105 lead (see full recap).