Throwback Thursday: Philadelphia Eagles trade Donovan McNabb


We look back at the career of Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles’ decision to ship him off to a divisional rival in this edition of ‘Throwback Thursday’.

We often discuss how the Cleveland Browns basically handed a franchise quarterback to the Philadelphia Eagles in the form of Carson Wentz. What some of you younger Eagles fans may not realize is this isn’t the first time that’s happened. Once upon a time, this same Browns organization screwed themselves and handed Philly another franchise signal caller. His name was Donovan McNabb.

The Browns, essentially, threw the ‘Alley-oop’ pass to ‘The Birds’, and Philly rode McNabb to five NFC Championship Game appearances and a trip to the Super Bowl.

A love story comes to an end.

McNabb isn’t one of the most beloved figures in Philadelphia sports history, nor is he among the most reviled. His is a difficulty story to tell. If you’re a stat guy or girl, McNabb is, arguably, the greatest quarterback in Eagles history. If you like results, he’s more of a guy that put up a ton of numbers but will always be seen as an underachiever.

Here’s one thing most Eagles fans can agree on. When the Eagles took the field for a playoff game against the Cowboys and NBC’s cameras caught him playing an imaginary guitar before slamming himself into a sheet of glass and running onto the field, McNabb’s run in Philly was over.

With both Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick waiting in the wings, the Eagles saw fit to trade McNabb on Easter night to the Washington Redskins. That was just a little over eight years ago. That was just a few days after then-head coach Andy Reid assured everyone that McNabb would remain the starter. In return Philly got a second round draft choice.

Some thought ‘Five’ had a few more years left. Some thought he was already done. Regardless of what side you were on in that argument, one thing was obvious. Philly was so unconcerned with McNabb being a danger that they didn’t even think to trade him out of the division.

Related Story: Former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb fired by ESPN

The same old McNabb pops up in the nation’s capital.

Most of McNabb’s career in D.C. to the average Eagles fan was a blur. Eagles fans will always remember two games he played in a Redskins jersey though. The first was his return to Lincoln Financial Field, where he received a standing ovation and helped the ‘Skins to a 17-12 victory.

The second game came in Week 10 of that same season. Michael Vick was Philly’s new starting quarterback, and McNabb had to endure the pain of watching an offensive masterpiece by his former team.

More from Inside the Iggles

Vick threw four touchdown passes and ran for two more as Philly dismantled the Redskins by a score of 52-21. McNabb was rarely thought of after that, unless it was for a bad reason. Since his departure, most of the McNabb talk in Philly surrounds judgement errors or some negative commentary he may have had about the team as he made his way into the sports talk arena.

We have to give the Browns one more shout out.

In basketball, an assist occurs when one teammate dishes the ball to another, and that pass leads to a score. Assists don’t really occur in football, nor is there a stat for one. Maybe that needs to be changed though. We’ve seen franchises assist others. For instance, there was the Minnesota Vikings trading all of those draft picks to the Dallas Cowboys for Herchel Walker. That was the beginning of a Cowboys dynasty that won three Super Bowls in four years.

Next: What happened with Donnie Jones?

Whether the Eagles become a dynasty or not has yet to be seen, but the Browns have done all that they can to help. You have to thank them for Wentz and, yes, for McNabb.

Time heals all wounds. So does winning. The Eagles finally have a Lombardi Trophy, and some of the talk about McNabb’s failure to deliver one may die a little. One thing’s certain. Regardless of how you feel about him, he’s a part of the Eagles family forever. His jersey hangs from the rafters, and one day, he’ll, again, find his way to Lincoln Financial Field.

Expect a standing ovation once he gets there.