Saturday, June 08, 2013

Let's All Jump On Donovan

A McNabb Career Highlight
Even the sports world has socially awkward nerds. Case in point: Donovan McNabb, who is about as comfortable speaking with other human beings as Jeffty Loria is with a forensic accountant. For all that his career ended with a thud, McNabb really was one of the best quarterbacks of his era, a guy who consistently led undergunned Eagles teams to the playoffs (even if once he got there, he played like someone was holding his family at gunpoint in a South Philly basement). He played hard, he played hurt, and he played well, and yet the only time anyone ever warmed to him was when he was doing Chunky Soup commercials. The rest of the time, he went total McFly every time a microphone got shoved in his face, to the point where he lost sympathy and credibility at an unseemly pace. It didn't matter if he was reciting the lyrics to "Happy Birthday", he would say it in a way that was so flat, unappealing, entitled, and awkward that  you got mad just listening to it. He could have revealed the Grand Unified Theory in a postgame presser and people would have called bullshit reflexively, because he just has that kind of public voice.

No, it's not fair, not in a world where a guy buys gift baskets in bulk for his one night stands and gets lionized. But neither is life.
And just this week, Donovan did it again. Asked about Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, McNabb basically told the Washington Post three things: Griffin shouldn't spread himself too thin, he needs to establish himself on the practice field with his teammates or he's going to be spending most of the season horizontal and seeing stars, and Griffin's dad should shaddup and let the coaches coach. All excellent advice, to be sure, and entirely sensible. But because this is McNabb, people automatically took it the worst way possible. Why isn't he contacting Griffin directly? Is this because his career ended badly in DC? Why is he claiming to be a mentor? Was Donovan McNabb actually proof that ancient civilizations were assisted by aliens? (OK, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea). The message is unimportant. What mattered to the chattering class and the people who care about them was that it was Donovan McNabb saying these things, so they had to go on the offensive.
And the truth is just this: Number 5 is your awkward, well-meaning uncle who tries to cut the turkey at thanksgiving and instead knocks over the gravy boat. He's the earnest nerd who explains every last detail of what got cut out of the Lord of the Rings movies from the books to anyone in earshot. He's the  guy who was wearing parachute pants and an Axel Foley jacket at a Nirvana show in 1991. The delivery fails him, not the content.
Which is another way of saying this is a non-story. What McNabb said made sense - they only love you when you're playing well, as he knows from first-hand experience. Nothing in his statement was controversial except for the fact that he made it. Move on. Please.
And the next time Donovan says something blindingly obvious in a way that annoys the living hell out of you, remember - all the guys now hammering him for what he's saying would have killed for an awkward interview with him, and not that long ago.
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