An era that began with Philadelphia Eagles fans unceremoniously booing Donovan McNabb‘s selection at the 1999 NFL draft came full circle when the quarterback returned to the Novacare Complex to retire as a member of the organization on Monday.
McNabb owns the franchise records for pass attempts (4,746), completions (2,801), yards (32,873) and touchdowns (216). He also became one of just four players in NFL history to amass 30,000 passing yards, 200 touchdown passes, 3,000 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns in his career, joining Pro Football Hall-of-Famers John Elway, Fran Tarkenton and Steve Young.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie announced Monday during McNabb’s retirement ceremony, in a somewhat surprising move, that the team plans to retire no. 5 in his honor and induct the former franchise quarterback into the team’s Hall of Fame on September 19 at Lincoln Financial Field in a nationally-televised game against former head coach Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs.
“The no. 5 has become synonymous with one of the greatest eras of Eagles football,” Lurie said. “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.”
“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.”
McNabb made six trips to the Pro Bowl as a member of the Eagles and led the team to Super Bowl XXXIX following the 2004 season. He always had a cantankerous relationship with Philadelphia fans, but insisted Monday that it is time to move past that.
“Let’s put the [draft day] booing to rest,” McNabb said. “That was the beginning of an era back in 1999 and this is the end. I promised the fans of Philadelphia a Super Bowl, a parade and we fell short of that. For that, I apologize. To the fans, I truly love you and when you saw no. 5 out there, you knew you were getting all that I had to give.”
Many current players and former teammates of McNabb were in attendance at Monday’s ceremony, including Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins. Dawkins, who had his number officially retired by the team last season, spoke glowingly of his memories from playing with the quarterback.
“What people don’t understand about Donovan is the leadership he brought to a team … He gave 100 percent. Even in a game where he broke his ankle against the Cardinals, he stayed out there and had a great game. There aren’t a lot of guys who have that in them.”
McNabb, one of the most recognizable figures in Philadelphia during his playing days, becomes the ninth player to have his number retired by the organization. Only he, Dawkins and Jerome Brown have received the honor but have not been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
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