Epic Carnival | Where Sports and Pop Culture Collide: Dearly beloved...

Dearly beloved...

by Tracer Bullet, Staff Writer

We gather here today to mourn the passing of the Donovan McNabb era in Philadelphia. The deceased had been growing increasingly ill the past three weeks and finally expired at halftime this week when it was finally put down. In the end, it was a mercy killing.

The era began ignominiously, as a group of drunken (and bigoted) meatheads affiliated with noted meathead communications outlet, the radio station WIP, booing McNabb at the 1999 draft. He would eventually prove said meatheads wrong, solidifying at quarterback situation that had been a mess since late in the Randall Cunningham era and turned a losing team into a perennial playoff contender. For this, the meatheads never forgave him.

The McNabb era would reach great heights: Routine pastings of divisional rivals, throwing four touchdowns while playing on a broken leg (for a man whose detractors claimed couldn't play hurt), the immortal 4th-and-26 conversion in the 2004 Divisional playoffs against the Packers -- possibly the era's greatest single moment. The era reached its pinnacle a few weeks later when McNabb lead his team to its first Super Bowl since 1981. McNabb would throw three interceptions in that game and the Eagles came up three points short. In retrospect that was both the high point and the start of the end.

Injured in 2005, injured in 2006 while Jeff Garcia led the team back to the playoffs -- some would call for Garcia to replace McNabb permanently -- never quite healthy in 2007 even as he rallied the team to three consecutive wins to end the season 8-8.

The hopes were high for the era coming into 2008 and McNabb came out like a man on fire. Eventually, though, his completions and touchdowns began falling off, his interceptions ticked up. He threw seven INTs in the eight quarters before the era's end and, ultimately, that proved too many.

Andy Reid, the coach who had drafted him, realized that his own job was hanging in the balance and made McNabb the scapegoat for a team that couldn't, or wouldn't, run the ball and couldn't stop the run. Andy Reid, the man who'd built this flawed team, will hopefully follow his quarterback out the door. He will be mourned. He will not be missed.

So now we have Kevin Kolb and at least a year of development. He is an Eagle and I will cheer for him. Should he bring that desperately craved Super Bowl win, I may even grow love him. But he will never be the singular talent McNabb was, he will probably never be asked to carry a team for with an awful collection of receivers, he probably won't be asked to execute a game plan that abandoned the run at the earliest opportunity.

So let us drink a toast to the Donovan McNabb era. We may never see its like again.

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