What we can learn from McNabb and the Eagles

On the night of November 23rd, the Philadelphia Eagles had just been thoroughly embarrassed by the Baltimore Ravens, losing 36-7. The first half performance by Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb was so bad, that he was benched. He had thrown two interceptions and fumbled the ball in one half. This was after he had thrown three interceptions and lost a fumble in a humiliatingly bad overtime tie with the awful Cincinnati Bengals. After this blowout loss and benching of the quarterback, the Eagles could have self-destructed, could have blamed each other, could have written off the season, but they didn’t. McNabb could have raised hell and gone on TV and radio telling everyone how he was humiliated and that it wasn’t fair for such a successful quarterback to be benched, but he didn’t.

What was McNabb’s reaction after the first time he was ever benched during a game in his career?

“My first (reaction) was, ‘Wow.’ But you go along with it,” McNabb said. “I am upset about us losing the game, and I’m upset that I wasn’t able to contribute. But I am going to focus on trying to help this team get better by eliminating mistakes and turnovers.”

(That quote was pulled from a yahoo sports story after the game: (McNabb quote )

Instead of bitching and moaning, the Eagles re-committed themselves to each other, to winning, to getting better and to the team and not to the individual. The result was that they turned around and blew out Arizona four days later (because of the Thanksgiving Day game). McNabb broke out of his funk and threw four touchdowns. The Eagles won four out of five to end the season, including a destruction of what should have been a super Bowl bound team, the Dallas Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys are the exact opposite of the Eagles in every way. With spoiled players who only think of me, me and me. You constantly hear them chattering away to anyone who will listen in the media about how they aren’t being used right. Led by a egotistic owner Jerry Jones, who is constantly interfering with player personnel and coaches, this team has consistently self-destructed. (Just look as a comparison to how Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie has been in the shadows and yet grew a beard with the rest of his players to show solidarity in their improbable playoff run.)

Now the team Eagles are one game away from the Super Bowl and playing the best and loosest football of the playoffs. Personally, even though I’m not an Eagles fan, I will be rooting them on. McNabb despite a stellar career has constantly and consistently been criticized and harassed despite a great career. He has always been an example of how to conduct yourself, despite playing in a city that once booed Santa Claus (Philly fans are a rough lot).

The Eagles despite tremendous criticism this season including calls for coach Andy Reid to be fired, stuck together and never criticized each other. But more importantly, they never gave up. They never quit. You could see the fight and toughness in them on Sunday against the Giants, especially on two fourth down defensive stands. Their lesson of perseverance, despite long odds and tough times is an excellent lesson for life and especially these tough times.