Make that your former best friend.
Yes, the Redskins introduced their new starting quarterback, Donovan McNabb, to the D.C. sporting press at the creatively named Redskin Park on Tuesday afternoon at a press conference that could aptly be described as tense or standoffish. Oh sure, there were attempts to put on a happy face and to say the right thing to placate those left behind and those waiting there with outspread arms for a giant, bear-like hug, but the animosity was as thick as the swampy, humid D.C. air.
If there were any doubts they are gone now – it’s so over!
How’s this for it being so over: the Redskins’ public relations staff informed a few of the folks in the Philly press that McNabb would be unavailable for side interviews with them. Oh, it was cool if the D.C. scribes chatted up the new Redskins quarterback, but the gang from Philadelphia was treated as if they were little rats that escaped from the maze. If not confined they could infest the joint and then what?
No, it’s better to keep them in a windowless room with shaky internet access and no beverages.
That was the least of where the tension was most palpable. After all, no one cares about how the media is treated… least of all, the media. Instead, McNabb, like Mark McGwire once said during an interview in Washington, was not there to talk about the past. Besides, he said, it wasn’t about him when he was playing for the Eagles. Football is a team game with 11 players on each side of the ball, he explained. The quarterback is just one of those 11 guys, he told us.
But in the next breath he told us how great the Eagles became when they smartly took him with the No. 2 pick in the 1999 draft.
“I came to a team that was 3-13 and we went 5-11 (his rookie year) and then average nine of 10 wins a year and made it to five NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl, and not many teams can say that,” McNabb said. “Yes, we didn't win it, but it was a good ride. Every time the Eagles stepped on the field, everybody felt confident we could win that one, and I want to bring that here.”
Or, more succinctly: you’re welcome, Eagles. It was me that made you guys look better, he seemed to be saying.
That’s debatable, of course, and surely the folks in Philly will dive into that fray for as long as the Eagles continue their championship drought that is now in its 50th year. But what is not debatable is the idea that McNabb wanted to stay in Philadelphia. Why wouldn’t he? He was comfortable there and he knew his way around. He knew where all the good restaurants were and where he could go and not be bothered. Most of all, there appears to be a correlation to the specific greatness of a quarterback if he makes it through a career on just one team. Elway did that. So did Marino, Aikman, Staubach and Bradshaw, to name a few Hall-of-Famers whose career stats match up with McNabb’s.
“I've always believed in finishing where you start,” McNabb said during the main presser (not the side one with the D.C. guys). “There’s a lot to be said for that. Not a lot of quarterbacks are able to do that these days. But sometimes change is better. Sometimes you're forced into change.”
Ah yes. Change. Apparently that was what everyone was looking for when McNabb was dealt away to the Redskins on Easter Sunday night, a mere 16 hours before the Phillies were to open the season in Washington. Sure, McNabb says, he really wanted to finish his career with the Eagles and try to win that elusive championship for the “gold standard” of franchises. But things are different now. The Eagles are going in a different direction. Nothing lasts forever.
McNabb says he knew his days with the Eagles were likely numbered when Brian Dawkins was allowed to leave. Sure, coach Andy Reid told anyone who would listen that he saw McNabb quarterbacking his team for the foreseeable future, but McNabb knew otherwise. Reid was creating an oil slick on the surface to try and create a diversion of sorts.
“We knew it was going on from the beginning,” McNabb said about the trade talks by the Eagles.
Gone are Brian Westbrook, Kevin Curtis, Shawn Andrews, Sheldon Brown and, of course, Dawkins.
“For you not to bring Brian Dawkins back, that (says) we're all replaceable," McNabb said. “I'm a part of it this year. They’re rebuilding, and they're going young. I never knew 33 was old, but I guess I'm old.”
Old news for sure. Yes, McNabb is with someone new – someone we know all too well. Worse, he’s telling us how great things are going to be now that we’re finally gone.
It doesn’t hurt as much as it makes you mad.
“You guys from Philly don’t know much about the running game,” he said with one of those grins that makes it seem like a joke, but it’s really a dig. “We will run the ball here.”
Yeah, well, good luck with that.
 But it is funny. Go ahead and admit that it’s funny. Who doesn’t love to hear press types whine about their jobs? “Oh my goodness they are making me travel to new places and to see new things to write and report about sports. Can you believe that? And they have the nerve to pay me for it.” Yes that was sarcasm, and yes it would have been easier to just to write, “Hey guys, stop whining. If you don’t like traveling around to report on sports, I hear they’re hiring at the post office ”