With the start of the 2012 season about three months away, Donovan McNabb is still without a team. And with each passing day, at 35 years old, retirement seems like it might be the only option.
Terrell Owens, meanwhile, last caught a pass in the NFL in 2010. Last week, he managed to get himself kicked off of an IFL roster.
It was eight years ago that the pair teamed up to deliver the most memorable Eagles season of the Andy Reid era. McNabb completed 64 percent of his passes, while tossing 31 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. Owens caught 77 balls for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns, returning from injury and delivering a nine-catch, 122-yard performance in the Super Bowl.
But we all know what happened after that: One of the most famous break-ups in Philadelphia sports history. And Eagles great Brian Dawkins had a front-row seat.
Talking to Rich Eisen on his NFL Network podcast, Dawkins opened up about the McNabb-Owens spat. One of the greatest leaders in franchise history, he confirmed that he tried to play the role of mediator, but could never get through to both guys.
"I was in a place at that time that it didn't matter what it was," Dawkins said. "If it was something that was detrimental to the team, I wanted to be involved in it. If my hand was needed in it, I was going to be in it.
"What I tried to do was pull guys to the side, away from everybody, and just have conversations with them. 'What's going on? What's the deal? What can I do to help? This is what we need to do to get back on the winning track, and if I can assist in any way, let me know. Even if you don't let me know, this is what I'm willing to do. This is what we need to do in order for us to get this thing going in the right direction.'"
But apparently, Dawkins' words fell on deaf ears.
"The thing that you always want to do is get everybody in the room at the same time," he said. "That was never able to be done."
While Dawkins said he's at peace with his decision to retire, he admitted that his biggest disappointment was not winning a title for Philadelphia.
"At the end of the day, I knew what we needed to win football games, and we needed those two dudes to be on the same page," he said. "It was never able to get back there."
Asked if the spat tore the team apart, Dawkins said yes, to a degree.
"It's just division. Once you start having people questioning the direction of the team period, if everybody's not going in the same direction for whatever reason, there's going to be division, and you don't want division because you already got things going on with other teams."
Looking ahead, Dawkins did not sound surprised with the direction Owens' career has headed.
"I really hate the fact that it's continuing to go down this path because of other things that have come out previously about T.O.," he said. "One of the things that I always said is that when his talent was no longer of use to people, that the way that he treated some individuals could come back to haunt him. And hopefully it's not 100 percent going down that path, but it really is looking that way."
As for McNabb, Dawkins gave his former teammate a strong vote of support, recommending that a team take a chance on him one more time as a starting quarterback.
"With what he's doing this offseason, I believe it'll pay dividends," Dawkins said, adding that he was surprised by reports criticizing McNabb's work ethic with the Redskins and the Vikings.
"I've worked out with him," Dawkins said. "I would go down to Arizona and we would work out. Even during the season, when we were in Philadelphia, there would be a couple times a week when he was not doing his quarterback duties... that he would come in there and work out with myself, Trot. We would go in there and really get some good work in. And so, for anybody to question his work ethic, that surprised the heck out of me."
Discussing McNabb's weight gain, Dawkins said, "Donovan was always a guy whose weight was going to fluctuate from time to time. He's one of those individuals who can pick up weight like that, so he has to stay on top of things. I would see his weight fluctuate during the season from time to time, but it was no big deal."
Dawkins added that he understands the criticism of McNabb, but said now is the time to take a chance on him.
"For him to go into those two situations and come out the way that it came out, I see why everybody would question that. I see that," he said. "If there is a year that he's going to be able to show what he can truly do on the football field with a chip on his shoulder, it'll be this year. If a team was going to take a chance, it would be this year because of what he's doing off the field. If not, then, it is what it is."
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