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.