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Mailbag: Your answers on McNabb

I asked why you think Donovan McNabb takes so much grief for a guy who seems always to have carried himself with dignity and refused to muddy himself by firing back on silly accusations like the one involving Bernard Hopkins.

You answered.

TerriL from Washington, D.C., thinks McNabb "needs to look in the proverbial mirror:" Sure, the people who've attacked him are bumbling idiots at best. But what's of greater notice are those who don't defend him. Donovan was an Eagle for years and at no point did anyone in that locker room stand up for him and say, 'Stop. This guy is great. You don't get to talk about my guy that way.' It's very telling that when TO started up that bus to run over him, nobody really stood in its way. Donovan is the greatest QB in Philadelphia history -- but he doesn't bleed football. He seems to be a nice guy, but he's not respected as a football player or a leader.

Dan Graziano: Interesting. My first thought was that a common problem among modern sports fans is the insistence on expecting our athletes to all fit a certain mold, to act or care as we would, and that you can't expect a man to be someone he's not. But TerriL's comment raises the issue that a man's teammates might expect him to be a certain way as well, and failing to do so in their eyes can have damaging effects.


Tom Schaffer from Shamokin, Pa., echoes the above sentiments and thinks McNabb's refusal to fight back against wild accusations indicates that he's not a strong leader: I have seen more leadership and urgency out of Michael Vick in this past season than I did from McNabb during his entire career in Philadelphia. To me, it is the lack of fire or passion that Jemele mentioned in her article that is what holds McNabb back from being truly great.

Dan Graziano: This idea showed up a couple of times, including in a note from Tomi Rohlfing of Milton, Del., who called McNabb "a terrific teammate but not a great leader." Most people seem to think McNabb is a good man who just doesn't have the killer instinct a champion needs. But some were a little less quick to give on the first part of that.


Alex Cohen from Philly said McNabb was "two-faced," that he would say one thing publicly and another in private, that he would rip people through the media under the guise of "sources close to McNabb" and that his work ethic is overplayed, since he never put in the time to correct the mechanical flaws that have led to his inaccuracy. "McNabb just in general is a two-faced coward who thought he was better than he was."

Brian Ambrose from Woodbury, N.J., seems to harbor similar feelings: He brings a lot of this criticism on himself because of his passive-aggressive nature. McNabb LOVES the drama surrounding him. Did everyone notice that when McNabb left Philly for DC, the drama followed? Philly fans were always criticized for not LOVING McNabb but there were reasons. Shanahan found out those reasons quickly and so did all the Redskin fans. McNabb LOVES to play the victim and that's why people pick on him.

Dan Graziano: In the end, a lot of you seem to feel as Jemele Hill does -- that McNabb's passive personality contributes to the problems he's had (a) winning big games (b) commanding respect from his teammates and (c) accumulating loyal fans. As a fan, you'd feel better if he didn't laugh off interceptions and if he seemed more bothered by losing, because you want the players for whom you cheer to have the same level of passion you do.

Personally, I just think everybody's different and that McNabb was able to do great things in Philly without changing himself to fit the mold other people would have preferred. I kind of admire him for it, though I admit it does seem to have caused him some problems of public perception.

As a few readers pointed out, all of this would have been forgiven if he'd won a Super Bowl. But he did not, of course, so he continues to wander through a difficult career twilight without the armor that that capricious success has offered lesser players.


In closing, I want to highlight one comment on this from a Redskins fan, because it made me chuckle. It's from Jon in Jersey City, who says Redskins fans have no issue with McNabb because ... they're used to being disappointed? Writes Jon: As to Skins fans' take on why/if McNabb gets/deserves such grief. I don't think there's anger, just disappointment and frustration. And it's not personal, unlike in philly: we're used to quarterbacks who are exemplary human beings, but just don't get the job done. See Campbell, Jason; Ramsey, Patrick.

Dan Graziano: Hang with 'em, Jon. And thanks to you and everybody who wrote in on this. I appreciate the input and look forward to many more discussions like this with you folks. Enjoy your weekend.