Donovan McNabb “Jim Thome told me playing in Philly was hard to deal with”


If you didn’t get a chance to check out yesterday’s Daily News, you missed a very interesting interview between Paul Domowitch and Donovan McNabb. McNabb touched on his feelings on retiring as an Eagle, his relationship with Andy Reid, and even the news that he will be joining Fox Sports One.  Oh yeah, and McNabb managed to get talk about the Eagles fans and his feelings on Philadelphia too.

First, McNabb was asked about the idea that Andy Reid drafted him over guys like Daunte Culpepper because he had the mental makeup to play in a hard-nosed city like Philadelphia.

"“I think I was. He understood that I wouldn’t let anything bother me. Anything could happen around me, and as long as everybody was OK, I was fine. I mean, I was introduced to it at the draft when they booed me. It was funny. I started laughing. I was like, did they just boo me? I had never seen or heard of anybody getting booed when they got drafted. It was an awakening. After that, it was, I’m just going to go out and prove a point every time. I never let anything get up under my skin. I think that’s the thing that bothered people the most. That I kept smiling, kept moving.”"

McNabb never got as far as taking responsibility for his mistakes or not smiling after three and outs, but I think it is fair to say he dealt with Eagles fans being highly critical of him at times. Not to say that Eagles fans shouldn’t have been critical at times, but McNabb performed extremely well here for a long time.

And when asked about Philadelphia fans McNabb gave Eagles fans high praise.

"“I thought they were true fans who loved the Eagles and loved the game of football. Opinionated, for sure. But they loved their teams. They just want to see winners. And over the years, we gave them that. But after a while, the wins didn’t become enough. It became all about winning the Super Bowl, which was understandable. That was the same attitude we went in with as players after we won the NFC Championship [in ’04]. We felt we needed to win a Super Bowl. And that didn’t happen.”"

Still, McNabb says they when talking about Eagles fans. He never connected with Eagles fans and their passion the way that a guys like Brian Dawkins and Jeremiah Trotter did, and that may be one of the reasons McNabb isn’t more loved in this town.

The question and answer that caught my attention the most out of the interview, was when McNabb was asked if he was worried that he would be booed during his week three retirement ceremony. His initial response was predictable.

"“I truly wouldn’t care. To me, it’s an appreciation for the people who truly respected what I did. I’ve always lived by the motto that you can’t please everyone. So, for me, if I get booed, it wouldn’t be anything new. If they cheer, that would be great. Obviously I’ll be out there with my family and the teammates I played with. If there are any boos, I will smile."

I don’t buy for a second that McNabb “wouldn’t care” if he was booed, but that’s how he would act in front of the Monday Night Football cameras to make us look like the big bad Philly fans to the rest of the country.

Somehow though, McNabb didn’t feel his initial response was enough. Instead he took one of the most beloved Philadelphia sports figures of the last 15 years, and tried to almost villainize him.

"“I’ve always heard that they appreciate you [more] when you’re gone. It’s funny. Flying out here, I stopped in Chicago to visit my family. I ran into [former Phillie] Jim Thome in the airport. We were talking about playing in Philly. He asked me how I dealt with it because he said it was really hard for him. I said I just let it run right down my back. I never let it bother me. I told him I loved the game too much to let it affect what I was doing. All the time I put in preparing, I didn’t let it bother me.”"

Wait, so we are actually supposed to believe that Jim Thome, who was treated like a god when he signed  and played here, got a standing ovation every time he came back to Philly, and re-signed here last season, “had trouble dealing with playing in Philly”? Ohhhhkayy Donovan.

Most people I heard react to this interview, didn’t feel like this was a big deal. I couldn’t disagree more, because I don’t believe Thome said that. He may have asked McNabb how he dealt with the criticism that he faced, but Jim Thome never for a second said that it was hard for him to play here. He wouldn’t have had any reason to do so.

So this is a classic case of Donovan McNabb alienating the Eagles fanbase even further than they already had been from him. We all have tremendous respect for McNabb’s accomplishments in Philly, although a certain trophy is missing from the case, but he takes little shots like this at Philly and acts like he was a warrior who led a revolution over a dictatorship and we should constantly comment him.

We really didn’t treat Donovan that badly, he just never had the Philly mindset. That’s okay, neither did Jim Thome. But Thome never took underhand shots at the fanbase and talked about how he was unfairly treated by the fanbase. Instead he just shut up and performed on the field. I guess now that Donovan is an analyst, it’s hard for me to tell him to shut up. He is kind of paid to speak. But damn, don’t over-exaggerate a passing conversation you had with Jim Thome in a Chicago airport to make it sound like Thome melted in the pressure this city put on him, and you were there to give him pointers on how to play in Philadelphia.