Is it time for Donovan McNabb to retire?

May, 16, 2012
5/16/12
5:36
PM ET
Donovan McNabb's been in the news this week. The former Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins quarterback has been working out and drumming up publicity in an effort to get a job with an NFL team and continue his career. Eagles coach Andy Reid said he'd recommend McNabb to other teams, which is tough to believe considering he traded him two years ago and needs a veteran backup quarterback and doesn't seem interested in signing McNabb himself. We still get plenty of McNabb questions on this blog because Eagles fans still care about him and for good reason. He was a great player for a long time in Philadelphia, and should be remembered fondly there.

But as Ashley Fox points out at the end of her latest column, sometimes the player is the last to know when his career is over. And for McNabb, it obviously appears that that time has come:
McNabb should walk away, head held high, knowing he impacted at least one franchise for the better. He is the Eagles' most accomplished quarterback of all time, with more attempts, completions, passing yards, touchdowns and games played than anyone else. In 11 years, McNabb played in 148 regular-season games and went to the playoffs seven times, including five NFC title games and one Super Bowl.

His legacy is set. He was an iconic player. He wasn't perfect, and there are indelible marks on his tenure -- he either did or didn't get sick in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, he didn't know the overtime rules in a 2008 game at Cincinnati, he either was or wasn't jealous of Terrell Owens, and on and on -- but McNabb is the best modern-day quarterback the franchise has had.

McNabb will be up for discussion for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but the last two seasons haven't helped him. There is no reason to add meaningless years to the journey and prolong the inevitable. McNabb should start the next phase of his life. He will make an insightful television analyst, and he might even find peace in being the one to critique and criticize, rather than being the one who is critiqued and criticized.

We've been saying this for a while here on this blog -- that McNabb is more likely to be working for the same company I do than playing quarterback for an NFL team in 2012. There simply isn't any evidence over the past two years to indicate that he can possibly be of use to any team in the league. He's not, as Ashley points out, interested in serving as a mentor/backup to a young quarterback, or that's what he'd have done last year in Minnesota. And since no team needs or wants him as a starter, he's got no real avenue for a return to the league. It may take him some time to realize this, but McNabb's done as an NFL quarterback, and I agree with Ashley: Continuing to deny it is only going to cost him pieces of his dignity. There's no need for that.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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