The year was 1999. The setting was Radio City Music Hall. The event was the NFL Draft.
Having just been hired to his first head coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles, Andy Reid, the former talented assistant coach of the Green Bay Packers, prepared to make his first-ever draft pick. Having just come off also being the quarterbacks coach for Green Bay, Reid knew exactly the player he wanted. And while “Run Ricky Run” Williams, the logical next pick, sat on the board, Reid’s pick was announced:
“With the second overall pick of the 1999 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select… Donovan McNabb, quarterback, Syracuse University.”
And so it began…
For parts of the next 11 years, Reid and McNabb co-existed in fine fashion in the city of Philadelphia as they established their own careers as head coach and franchise quarterback.
Following a 3-13 rookie season for both, the Eagles went on to win 11 regular season game and reach the playoffs in 2000. Over the course of the next 10 years, Reid and McNabb led Philadelphia to four-straight years (five in 10 years) of at least reaching the conference championship and eight playoff appearances. They made the Super Bowl together in 2004, but that has since become a game both, as well as the entire city, would like to forget.
But that devastating loss aside, Reid and McNabb’s careers have been intertwined since day one. As much as Bill Belichick is crediting with making Tom Brady (although some debate it was the other way around), Reid made McNabb. They both came into the NFL together and grew in the league together. Sure, there were ups and downs, but in the end, it was always Reid and McNabb against the world, more specifically, against the tough-to-please fans in Philadelphia.
And while it seemed a bit of bad blood developed once McNabb left the Eagles, the QB has since come out to dispute any such claims. Still to this day, he defends Reid’s legacy to screaming radio hosts and fans that can only focus on what Reid didn’t do as opposed to what he did.
It is for that reason, that the Eagles got this one right. Of course, it was done intentionally, but regardless; it is only fitting that the man who took a chance on McNabb when no one else understood why, gets to be there when the second overall pick of the 1999 draft achieves the highest honor a player can receive from their organization in having his number retired.