As reporters waited for Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb to appear in the NovaCare auditorium for his weekly Wednesday news conference, predictions were offered on how the QB would handle the flap over McNabb not knowing there wouldn't be a second overtime in the Birds' 13-13 tie at Cincinnati.
Some people theorized he would refuse to talk about it. Your Eagletarian felt the way to go would be self-deprecating humor, like Mike Schmidt showing up wearing the funny wig when Phillies fans were mad at him back in the '80s. I figured, you bring the rule book up the podium, pretend to be studying it, remark that there are a lot of neat things in there, etc.
But Donovan, alas, does not do self-deprecating humor. Instead, he went the "victim" route.
Someone asked how McNabb handled the past few days, if he got upset or "laughed at himself."
"Laughed at myself? No. This is 10 years for me. I've been through the down days, the down weeks. I've been through the highs," he said."So I don't let anything like this affect me in any way."
Later, McNabb said: “Should I have known that rule? Yeah. There are lot of rules that those of us don’t know.”
Asked if he regretted not knowing the rule, McNabb said: " No. A hundred percent of everybody in the league knows now,” he said. “If I am a trendsetter then I have set the trend.”
McNabb’s gaffe has gotten national attention and led some observers to call his leadership into question. A number of players, including Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, have come out in support of McNabb since Sunday.
“It did not make me feel bad at all,” McNabb said of the tempest that followed. “I was truly being honest. You see other people starting to say they did not know it, either.”
He said he thought the game would go into a second overtime, but he also seemed to have done some homework on the history of OT rules, referencing some changes that have been made in OT policies.
“I am not talking about it anymore,” McNabb said. “The overtime is over.”
McNabb was not the only Eagles player unaware Sunday that a game could end in a tie. However, as is usually the case, coach Andy Reid took the blame when asked if he planned to call a team meeting to review the rules.
“That’s my responsibility and I’ll learn from it,” Reid said. “The players will learn. We don’t have a lot of time to spend on things that happened in the past. We have to move on to the Ravens. We’ll be aware of the rules that we need to be aware of. That particular rule is irrelevant.”
Reid then cut off a reporter attempting to ask a follow-up question:
“It’s a dead issue. We’re moving on.”
Given an opportunity to make his case to critical fans, to assert that he has the focus and passion fans are questioning, McNabb said: “That (criticism is) unbelievable … I just go out and play football. There is no reason for me to sit up here and try to answer every question people have about me. You’re not going to impress everyone.”
The Eagles are 5-4-1 heading into Sunday's game at Baltimore, with fans and the media wondering where this team stands. Reid left no doubt in again proclaiming that he “has a lot of trust in this team.”
“We have enough talent on our football team to be very successful in this league,” he said.
Reid brushed off those calling for him to lose his job.
“I don’t get into all that. I’m here to do my job,” Reid said. “We are here to win football games. Anything that gets in the way of that I ignore. We’re trying to take care of business and get back on track.”
McNabb said what people say about him does not bother him, but took offense to those criticizing the coaches and his teammates.
“The way that I can try to eliminate that is for us to go out and play football and win football games,” McNabb said. “You’re not going to please everybody. Everybody has their own opinion ...
“People think change is the answer. Andy is a guy that I expect to be here for a long time. I expect to be here for a long time. I’m going out and focusing on what we have to do to win.”
Asked if he was considering lineup changes, Reid did not rule that out as a possibility.
“We’ll see how things work out here,” he said.
Reid said running back Brian Westbrook, who has been hampered by a high ankle sprain and a knee injury, would be limited in practice this week, if he practices at all.
Asked how much impact Westbrook’s injuries are having on his performance, Reid said: “I’m not going to sit here and tell you that he is 100 percent. If we take care of business around him, he can still function very well.”
Westbrook later said he can make "some cuts" on his right ankle, which he said gets worse during games.
Guard Shawn Andrews could travel back from the West Coast this week. Andrews has been in California since having back surgery late last month. Reid said last week that doctors found some bleeding in Andrews’ back, preventing him from traveling. He has not played since Week 2 against Dallas.
“We’d like to see him first and have [trainer Rick Burkholder] and our doctors see him before I say or do anything,” Reid said.