You have to be bigger, badder, faster, stronger than anyone else at your position. Trust me I’ve been there. It is not simple to step in to the face of a franchise and take all of the blame, almost none of the praise, and watch Ndamukon Suh drooling on the helmet of your center.
Trust me I’ve been there.
The quarterback position is not a simple one, but like me the hopes and dreams of 10 year old children in pop warner leagues rest in your arm, your legs, and your stats from Monday Night Football.
When I walked away from the game I was one of the best. There are people who will argue that I am full of excrement, but none the less my stats speak for themselves:
Numbers for NFL QBs since 1999
Wins as Starter
Peyton Manning (192)
Peyton Manning (138)
Peyton Manning (373)
Brett Favre (189)
Tom Brady (120)
Brett Favre (295)
Matt Hasselbeck (182)
Brett Favre (112)
Tom Brady (291)
Donovan McNabb (167)
Donovan McNabb (98)
Drew Brees (265)
Tom Brady (157)
Drew Brees (87)
Donovan McNabb (234)
The company that I keep is pretty good, my numbers are comparable to the “best”.
Numbers do not tell the whole story of how I got here though….
In 1999 coming out of Syracuse, in a quarterback rich draft, I was the 2nd overall pick. The Andy Reid era in the city of Philadelphia, could never have happened were it not for me.
My receivers that year were Na Brown, Charles Johnson, and Torrence Small.
In 2001 I led the Eagles to their first NFC Championship game, in decades. We lost to the St. Louis Rams that year.
My receivers that year were Todd Pinkston and James Thrash.
I led the Eagles back to the NFC Championship game the very next year. We even played that game at home. We lost to Tampa Bay. I know you remember that year Mike because that was the year you and I met in the divisional playoffs. It was the week after you’d done the impossible; beating Green Bay at home at night in the playoffs as a traveling dome team.
In 2003 the Eagles once again were on the cusp of the big dance, at my lead. We were denied yet again, this time by the Carolina Panthers.
It was a great time to be an Eagles fan. It was not as great a time to be an Eagle.
What the record books don’t show was the growing pains of the offensive line, that did eventually settle in with Runyan & Thomas.
What the record books don’t show was a team that kept winning, even though Staley a top running back in the game was never handed the rock …. merely tossed the rock.
What the record books don’t show is that the offense of the Philadelphia Eagles during those years was #5.
It was great for my pocketbook…thank you Chunky Soup… but not do great for my hopes and dreams.
The Philly fans and sports writers compared me to Randall Cunningham. A great man in his own time, but we were not the same.
The national media over the years have forgotten that also in that 1999 draft were:
Tim Couch – Akili Smith – Dante Culepepper – Cade McNown – Shaun King
Where are THEY now? Where I could soon be…obscurity.
I accomplished so much more than my 1999 draft year peers, but that is not what I will be remembered for sadly.
I hold all the records in Philadelphia for my position but that is not what I will be remembered for sadly.
Those in Philly who appreciate football will remember moments like this:
Others will recall a game in Arizona played on a fractured ankle.
I am legend:
What the record books will never reflect? I had a bad head coach.
Remember earlier when I said you get all of the blame and almost none of the praise? That is especially true in Philadelphia.
I can’t say that Andy Reid didn’t have some brilliant moments. A stopped clock is right twice a day though, just in case no one ever told you that.
The film tells my story, better than the record books ever will.
The film of the Superbowl, hell the film of the NFC Championship games show a team that was poorly coached and unable to make adjustments.
Fans of the game watched me time and again pick up the 53 man roster and carry it on my back refusing to lose. 53 men get really heavy though.
My success in Philadelphia will always be married to my empty Superbowl ring finger. I do not carry all of the blame for that.
As I sit here a week out of asking the Vikings to let me go, there are questions about me…losing my passion for the game.
I didn’t lose my passion, it was beaten out of me.
In Philadelphia I was in a no win situation. No matter how many playoff games we won, I was always the reason we didn’t win one more.
Being a successful Black quarterback in Philadelphia meant that I could never be the angry Black man, I always had to be in control, even when T.O. was having temper tantrums.
I was a reflection of my coach in my demeanor, Andy got praised for it, I got criticized.
By the end of my stay as an Eagle I was just simply worn out. I was not washed up…but I was worn out.
With me behind center the offense was lots of go on out there and do your thing Donovan. When Koy Detmer got behind center, or AJ Feeley, or Jeff Garcia there was lots of planning and prep, and coaching.
It may not have been fair, but it was what it was.
I had high hopes for my time in Washington. If you know football, you know that I still had life left within me….I even had more zip because I suddenly had something to prove.
What I would never be able to overcome? The affection Rex Grossman’s college roommate had for his style, and Shanahan’s dedication to nepotism.
I had hope (if not high) for Minnesota. This was a team and a system that I could flourish in had I seen it (the team) 6 years earlier.
Now I am out of football, and the phone is not ringing.
I’ve watched your games Mike and I have to say you have it worse off than I did.
My line blocked for me….your line couldn’t block an old woman on a segway.
Say what you will about T.O.’s attitude, he never short armed passes like Jackson has all season.
I also don’t have a tarnished brand to rebuild after doing jail time.
Mike I wrote this because I want better for you than what I had.
I understand that Philadelphia gave you the chance that no one else would.
I get that Andy and the staff have shown you things you didn’t learn in Atlanta. To that I simply say…you were not ready then…you are now.
I understand love and loyalty.
What I do not want to happen is what happened to me.
Philly is kryptonite for Superman. #7 I need you to not allow your gratitude to destroy your potential.
Right now Andy Reid & his system are killing you. Some would say you were already fragile…but the beating that you are taking this year is historic.
Everyone around you is angry/undisciplined and you are paying the price.
I know you were worth the 100 million, but 2011 is not reflective of that.
I need you to worry less about how it may appear to the Philly fans and the media and speak out on what you see happening around you.
Show a little angry Black man for the sake of your legacy.
You are the only one who can speak up and have management listen. You are the last leader that this team has.
Andy Reid will eventually get fired, and eventually go onto another team. He may or may not have success, but what is true for a coach is not true for a quarterback. Belichek got a 2nd chance after Cleveland….for men like you and I there is no 2nd chance. Not like them.
If you get the chance? Pull Cam aside and drop some real knowledge on him.
Let him know that he will never be protected in the same manner that Peyton Manning was, and that the calls are not going to bounce his way.
Explain to him that he will have to work 4 times as hard for half the credit, and that when Steve Smith is finally retired….and his numbers drop….they will turn on him first.
Teach him that with his squeaky clean record he can do what you can not, and let him know it is okay to stand up and speak out. That a little angry Black man is called for at times.
And for all that is good and holy if things don’t work out at his current team….don’t let him go to Philadelphia.