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The End of the Line for Donovan McNabb’s NFL Career?

Donovan McNabb is seen as the victim once again in WashingtonAs a Philadelphia Eagles fan I am keeping a close eye on the Donovan McNabb game of chicken between the veteran QB and the Washington Redskins. All indications appear that McNabb will wind up as a free agent in 2011. But a recent commentary suggests that the former Pro Bowl QB may have played his last down in the NFL.

Geoff Mosher of DelawareOnline.com believes that the first round of the 2011 NFL draft wrote the end of the story of Donovan McNabb’s NFL career. Mosher believes that teams who looked like potential suitors for McNabb have opted to invest their time and money in young quarterbacks rather than a polarizing 34-year old quarterback on the downside of a 13-year career.

Mosher may be jumping the gun a little fast on the McNabb retirement talk but he does bring up some really interesting points. At the top of the list is a story about McNabb refusing to wear a playsheet wristband last season because he felt that it would look bad. Add this to McNabb and his agent Fletcher Smith’s public bashing of Mike and Kyle Shanahan last season and you have a 34-year old aging quarterback on the market who has the potential to be an off the field headache if things don’t go his way. These are issues that certainly won’t go unnoticed by potential suitors.

Speaking of those potential suitors, the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Minnesota Vikings all looked like potential new homes for Donovan McNabb a few weeks ago. Mosher thinks that has changed after watching the NFL draft. That takes five potential landing spots for McNabb off the table. It is doubtful after seeing how McNabb reacted in Philly and Washington to being benched that a new team would invest in McNabb knowing that he was a short term stopgap and vice versa.

The Minnesota Vikings reportedly had interest in McNabb over the last few seasons. Even up to just a couple of weeks ago, there was noise coming out of Minnesota that the Vikings were interested in McNabb. That all changed when as Mosher put it, “Leslie Frazier almost tore a biceps tendon reaching for Christian Ponder at 12th overall.”

That leaves the Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders as the only two NFL teams that would remotely be interested in McNabb. There are plenty of different reports out of Arizona that suggest the Cardinals have no interest in McNabb to take Arizona out of the equation. The Cardinals reportedly had little to no interest in McNabb last year when he was available form the Eagles and reportedly aren’t interested today.

The Oakland Raiders are probably McNabb’s last hope at finding redemption in the NFL. The Raiders were reportedly interested in McNabb last year when the Eagles were shopping him around. Conflicting reports indicate that McNabb shut down any Raiders talk. Well many NFL reporters believe that, while McNabb has denied that. However, with Al Davis reportedly being in love with Jason Campbell I can’t believe that he would be so quick to move on McNabb with the kind of salary that McNabb wants.

Oh yes the salary. According to Mosher, that is the biggest factor in McNabb playing football in the NFL in 2011. McNabb signed a $78 million contract with the Redskins last season, although most of it is not guaranteed. If McNabb’s gentle ego was too frail to allow him to wear a simple wristband last season for the Redskins, is he really going to take a giant pay cut to play in the NFL in 2011? Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com says no and speculates that McNabb will demand to be the Day One starter with his new team. I don’t think even the Oakland Raiders would be dumb enough to agree to those terms.

In all fairness, Vic Carucci of NFL.com believes that Donovan McNabb won’t have those high contract demands that Mosher and Florio anticipate. As much as I love Carucci’s writings, he loses a lot of credibility to me when he spends 90% of his article defending McNabb, including his reluctance to wear the wristband. Carucci thinks it is fair to understand McNabb’s concerns. I am sorry but Mike Shanahan is in the business of winning games and if he thinks McNabb could improve with a wristband, refusing to wear it because he felt he would “look bad” is inexcusable. Unfortunately Carucci is part of that NFL media elite who continue to defend McNabb even in the face of absurdity.

One story certainly not getting enough attention here is either the Philadelphia sports media’s horrific job in covering McNabb or the tremendous job from the Philadelphia Eagles in protecting their starter. I find it ironic that in one year more stories have been reported out of Washington about McNabb’s character than an entire career’s worth in Philadelphia. Did McNabb suddenly turn into this egomaniac overnight or were Philadelphia Eagles fans served a bill of goods on #5? I find it almost laughable that the talking heads on the NFL Network continue to portray McNabb as a “leader” and fawn over his “character” even in the midst of a year’s worth of stories that say differently.

I still chuckle when I hear about what a great family man Donovan McNabb is. How about those pictures of McNabb with porn stars story thatt was mysteriously buried two years ago? I digress.

There is also the Mike Shanahan factor. How much do the other head coaches and organizations in the NFL respect Mike Shanahan? Do they put him up on the same pedestal many in the NFL media do? If so and it comes down to McNabb’s word or Shanahan’s word about McNabb’s struggles in 2011, McNabb is losing out. I wouldn’t expect a glowing recommendation from his old boss.

Look I while I think it is a bit overzealous to predict the end of Donovan McNabb in the NFL, it certainly isn’t without merit. With all things remaining equal, yes I do think the odds of Donovan McNabb landing elsewhere in the NFL this season are looking very slim. Yet maybe McNabb swallows a huge chunk of humble pie and signs either a short-term contract or a low downside/high bonus deal with a new team. He is certainly worth a low risk gamble, even to a team that grabbed a quarterback in the draft.

The NFL lockout will also certainly impact the future of Donovan McNabb. The fact of the matter is that he joined the Redskins last April and struggled to pick up the offense. That is four months! If the NFL returns with a partial season in 2011, will any team trust Donovan McNabb with its offense with weeks instead of months to prepare? For McNabb’s sake, the biggest chance he has in that situation is a full season with the league operating without a CBA like in 1987.

The clock is certainly ticking on the future of Donovan McNabb. McNabb is going to find himself on the clock in the near future and only he and his humility can avoid a bad ending to this story.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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