Number Five Alive

(via Sports Illustrated)


It's here. The day Eagles fans have thought and wondered about since the news of Donovan McNabb's trade to the Redskins was announced in April. Today Donovan McNabb plays at Lincoln Financial Field, but this time in a Redskins jersey.

The story has dominated local and national headlines. As usual, Philadelphia's media has outdone themselves with naming the event: The Return of the Don is how CSN Philadelphia's has dubbed it. How will McNabb as a Redskin be received by Eagles fans? Will his years of relative success as an Eagle be acknowledged, or will the reputation of Philadelphia fans once again be tarnished by a harsh and unduly negative reaction? We are only a matter of hours from finding out.

I love Donovan McNabb. I love the Philadelphia Eagles. I know that this will be a good, emotion filled match up--for both teams as well as the fans. Regardless of the outcome, I anticipate feeling a mixture of pleasure and sadness. From what I have already seen and heard from the coverage of the return of Number 5, I am hopeful that McNabb will be given the respect he is due when returning to his former home field. WIP 610's Angelo Cataldi is attempting to cash in on the attention on this game by reuniting the Dirty 30, the 30 individuals who shamefully tried to ruin the excitement of a young #1 draft pick, Donovan McNabb, by booing the him at the draft in 1999. In attempting to reunite the Dirty 30, Cataldi reached a long lost member of the group on the air this week to ask if he would participate in Cataldi's protest "march" to the Linc just before the game. I was heartened to hear this particular individual decline the invitation to take part, saying that it just wouldn't be right.

The story is so big that former teammates have weighed in on what to expect. Jeremiah Trotter had my favorite assessment of what will happen, as he also was a longtime Eagle that went to the Redskins. To paraphrase his remarks, he stated: When you're on the Eagles the fans are the best in the NFL. IF you're not on the Eagles, the fans are the worst in the country.

Donovan McNabb is the only long time Eagles quarterback I have observed since living in Philadelphia for the past 10 years. I can't comment on how other QBs have been treated in the city. What I can say is that I have never understood the strong reaction many fans seemed to have against Donovan McNabb when here. I have always found him to be a talented, handsome, charming, articulate and positive representative for the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Eagles. Though he is now on another team, I will continue to be his fan. There are many story lines that are of interest for today's game: McNabb's return and Vick's performance being chief among them. But the reaction of the Philadelphia fans is no small part of this plot. One assessment predicted that the reaction of the fans would be 70/30--70% cheering for McNabb as he is introduced and 30% jeering. That sounds about right. It would be a shame for Philadelphia to embarrass itself on the national stage yet again and not acknowledge the success Donovan brought to the Eagles and the city of Philadelphia. No, he didn't bring the team a Super Bowl. But that doesn't mean he is a failure and deserves to be treated with anything other than respect when returning to his home of eleven years.

Let's all enjoy what is sure to be a great game and seeing #5 playing at the Linc once again. Go Eagles and Go Donovan.

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