So, meandering about the Internet last night, I stumbled upon a BS Report with an author I dig, Chuck Klosterman. By the way, if you don’t know Klosterman, check him out some time – pretty good stuff.
Anyway, during the course of his lengthy and wandering convo with Simmons, the topic of Chris Webber – namely, his own personal evaluation of his career – came up. In essence, the two were discussing whether or not Webber would view his own career as a success, despite the fact that many fans would chide his legacy based on the enormous amount of potential he never seemed to quite live up to.
Which led Klosterman to bring up Donovan McNabb.
To me, the present day athlete who has the most fascinating career – in terms of, it’s impossible to tell whether it was good or bad, and how he feels about it – is Donovan McNabb. And I think at some point, somebody’s going to write a fascinating biography about Donovan McNabb.
(Simmons interjection: Really?)
His entire life has been punctuated by bad things. Like, he’s had all these peaks and valleys, but the valleys were the amplified aspect. Whether it was the relationship with TO, or whether it was throwing up in the Super Bowl. When he was drafted he was booed. And then, the Rush Limbaugh stuff. His inability to know about overtime rules. It seems like there’s never been a period in his life where the main thing you remember from it wasn’t the bad thing that was going on at the time.
I mean, it’s true, right? Though I do think there was the brief period, before he was injured in 2002, where the fans loved the new, flashy QB that had led them to two playoff appearances in his first two years as the starter. I might be wrong, but I think he was pretty beloved early, minus some accuracy issues. Not that he wasn’t intently scrutinized by Eagles fans, but that’s the case for most quarterbacks, in most cities. Since then, however, he has basically bounced from one controversy to another.
Klosterman continued, wondering what McNabb would be thinking were he listening to the podcast.
We’re kind of analyzing whether or not he’s happy. My suspicion is he’s going: “I don’t know.” I really think that he would never say that to somebody in the media, but I think that when he thinks about his life, he seems like a guy who doesn’t know whether his life has been good or bad.
Before everyone goes nuts, yelling about how McNabb is a spoiled prima donna that should be grateful for the opportunities he’s been afforded, let me attempt to explicate what I believe to be Klosterman’s point. I think he means that McNabb probably feels like he’s been the target of a lot of unfair criticism and controversy – much of which has nothing to do with his actual performance on the field – hence forcing him to deal with drama he feels is unwarranted rather than simply enjoying his time playing football.
And I don’t think – if that’s the case – that makes him a spoiled prima donna. In many ways, I think that is totally true. Is that the price you pay for being a professional athlete? I guess. With much money comes much scrutiny. Doesn’t mean he’s always deserved it, though. And I don’t think y0u’ll find many athletes who have dealt with more than he has.
But Klosterman’s evaluation of McNabb’s state of mind stopped a bit short, if you ask me. I’m curious as to how Donovan would judge his career strictly as a quarterback, beyond any circus that surrounded him off the field. Does that facet of his career make him happy? Sure, he’s been an excellent quarterback who has made Pro Bowls and led his team to the playoffs multiple times. Even the Super Bowl, once. He has had a successful career by those measurements.
But, underneath the surface, does he feel a pang of remorse, a painful jabbing in his ribs about all of the big-game losses he’s been a part of? Does his seeming inability to lead the team to victory in in the waning moments of big games haunt his memory? Does the word clutch make him shudder?
And, most importantly, will he base his own legacy on that, like many of the fans do?
Oh, speaking of the fans – I get the sneaking suspicion that Klosterman somehow blames us, just a tad, for much of McNabb’s turmoil.
I think, if McNabb gets drafted by a different team, his entire life – and career – might be different. Not to blame the Eagles for this, (Simmons interjection: Or their fans), but it started out bad when they booed him [at the draft], and Phildadelphia sports fans are different than other sports fans. I feel like if he would’ve gotten drafted by, say, the Dolphins or something, that his whole career might be different. And he might be a very different person.
Maybe. Don’t really know. I mean, Rush Limbaugh had nothing to do with Philly. The draft and TO most certainly did. Would he have ever gotten a chance to puke in the Super Bowl with another team? Would he have studied the rule book a bit harder in another city?
I don’t know. Don’t even care, really. And yes, we’re different. (Editor’s note: Unless that’s a veiled way of saying crazy. Which I kind of suspect it was. Whatever). But I keep coming back to one question: how does McNabb judge his own career? Will 1-4 and a splash of spew taint his own impression of his career?
What’s in your head, Mr. McNabb?
(Editor’s note: The whole conversation is here. The McNabb chatter kicks in around the 57:30 mark).