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What a scene at the Eagles' Novacare Complex on Monday afternoon where you saw a jam packed auditorium filled with Eagles employees, media, family, friends, former and current players that had the honor to share the field with one of the greatest players to put on that midnight green jersey, QB Donovan Mcnabb.
It was an emotional day for all involved but got even more emotional when Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie made the announcement that the organization will induct McNabb into the Eagles Wall of Fame and retire his #5 jersey when the Eagles host the Kansas City Chiefs and his former coach, Andy Reid on Thursday September 19th. He will be the 9th player to have his numbered retired by the franchise, the 1st quarterback. A choked up Mcnabb says this was a great honor for him.
"It is awesome. It still hasn't sinked in yet," McNabb said. "But as a parent this is a great feeling because you always want your children to look up to you as a superhero. That you did something great in their eyes and now they will always see that number."
This was definintely a different side of McNabb that we hardly saw in his 11 year career in the city of brotherly love. We saw a emotional man that really showed his true feelings. He admitted that it brought a tear to his eye when the Eagles Tribute video of Mcnabb's career with the Eagles showed him hoisting the NFC Championhsip trophy and declared that his greatest moment in his career. We saw a more open Mcnabb with the media and the fans mentioning he still wishes he could of brought home that championship and go off into the sunset.
"After 11 yrs, I feel like I owe the fans that. An opportunity 4 me to say thank u and I'll always bleed green. I truly love you all," Mcnabb says in his speech to the fans. "We all played the game with the same goal in mind and it's disappointing to all we couldn't get the job done. But the fans know i gave it my all whenever i was out on that field. In any relationship you want it to be that storybook ending. I thought I would I would retire here in Philadelphia and it left a bad taste in my mouth it didn't end that way."
It was a day to remember Donovan not only as a player but a person as well where we heard from former teammates and friends, Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook embracing McNabb's legacy. And we also heard from Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie on what the former quarterback meant to this franchise.
"Donovan McNabb was a franchise-changing quarterback for the Eagles and helped raise the bar of success for this franchise during his 11-year tenure with the team," said Lurie. "On the field, the numbers that Donovan posted during his time in an Eagles uniform speak for themselves. He is the franchise leader in nearly every major passing category and is the all-time winningest quarterback in Eagles history. His unique ability to make plays through the air and with his legs made him one of the most dynamic players this city has ever seen. Donovan was the face and the focal point of so many of our great Eagles teams and he helped make this franchise a contender each and every year that he was here."
Lurie wanted to makeit known that he felt it is important to honor your greatest players and by doing this he feels he is doing just that.
"The number '5' has become synonymous with one of the greatest eras of Eagles football," added Lurie, "And ensuring that no one else will ever wear Donovan's number, we honor one of the greatest playmakers to ever wear an Eagles uniform."
We just saw an open McNabb with the media. Something we didn't see during his 11 year teunure here in Philadelphia. And we got his side and thoughts on a lot of controversal matters during his time with the Eagles.
McNabb addressed the dark times in Philadelphia with the whole falling out with former Eagles WR Terrell Owens saying it could of been something "special" and he still thinks about what could of been. And that he felt that it divided the locker room and making teammates choose sides which tore it apart.
He was also asked if he felt Andy Reid still wanted him he openly said, "Yes." He felt that Reid's hands were tied and was forced to trade him. McNabb asked Reid on whose decision it was and Andy wouldn't give him the answer so he said to himself, "It's time to move on."
But the question everyone constantly debates is, did Donovan Mcnabb have a hall of fame career? Looking at the stats it's compelling and still debatable when you compare numbers to other quarterbacks who have been inducted...
Entering the 2013 season, McNabb ranks among the NFL's top-25 quarterbacks all-time in wins (12th), career passing yardage (17th), career passing touchdowns (22nd), attempts (14th), completions (14th), passer rating (24th) and interception percentage (4th). McNabb also set an NFL record in 2004 with 24 consecutive completions. In addition, he is one of only three players in NFL history with over 35,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards, along with Hall of Famers John Elway and Fran Tarkenton. He was a six-time pro bowl selection, took his team to five NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl berth. But to McNabb it doesn't matter either way.
"I didn't play the game for individual achievements. I played the game because I wanted to win and for the enjoyment. If it happens, it happens but if I had a vote, I would vote myself in, At least I'm honest."
Whether he gets in or not, we know it isn't debatable that he will go down as one of the greatest Eagles quarterbacks in franchise history. McNabb is at the top of nearly every passing category in the Eagles all-time record book. The franchise's all-time leader in pass attempts (4,746), completions (2,801), yards (32,873) and touchdowns (216), he became one of just four players in NFL history to amass 30,000 passing yards, 200 TD passes, 3,000 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns in his career. And in McNabb's eyes you can't take his achievements away.
"Not many teams can say they did what we did," Mcnabb said. "In the 2000s there were three teams that had the highest winning percentage in the league and contended every year, and we were one of them. No one can take that away."