McNabb, Eagles reflect on an era

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie pats Donovan McNabb as he officially retires as an Eagle.

Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie touted Donovan McNabb as a “franchise-changing quarterback” Monday as Lurie announced that McNabb’s No. 5 will be retired in a ceremony Sept. 19, when the Eagles host Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs.

McNabb, 36, got emotional during his speech at the NovaCare podium, during which he officially retired as an Eagle, after setting all major franchise passing records. Afterward he opened up on a variety of subjects, including his 2010 trade to the Redskins (he indicated he thought Reid’s “hands were tied,”) and the 2005 Terrell Owens debacle, which McNabb said divided the locker room and kept the Eagles from completing their Super Bowl championship quest.

Some highlights:

*Lurie said “there’s never been a player tougher” than McNabb, the owner citing the 4 touchdown passes McNabb threw on a broken fibula against Arizona in 2002 and the half-season he played with a sports hernia in 2005.

*Brian Dawkins said that as a player who was here for the 3-13 1998 Eagles, he appreciated “how quickly this thing went on the upswing” when McNabb arrived in 1999.

*Lurie said McNabb was the clear choice among the 5 highly touted quarterbacks in the 1999 draft, but he disclosed that if the Eagles hadn’t been able to draft McNabb, their second choice would have been running back Edgerrin James, not Ricky Williams. (Imagine that reaction: “The Eagles select running back …”)

*“It was a pleasure going to war with you,” Dawkins told McNabb.

*McNabb said the Eagles came together “like Voltron” for their run to five NFC championship games.

*McNabb said he loved Andy Reid, and Eagles fans.

*McNabb said that while retiring Dawkins’ No. 20 was “a shoo-in,” he wasn’t really expecting it for his number.

*McNabb said he looked at his relationship with the fans “like a marriage.” Insert your own divorce/abuse joke here.

*McNabb said he wants to put the draft day booing to rest.

*He said the week leading up to Super Bowl XXXIX was “the best week of my career.” Regrets not putting “sugar on top” by winning game.

*McNabb said he would vote for himself for Hall of Fame, if he could, but questioned whether “you need a Super Bowl (win) to be verified.”

*McNabb said he’ll remember the great plays he made with Terrell Owens in 2004, but he said he did feel the 2005 bitterness Owens engendered over a contract dispute definitely divided the locker room. He said he thought it “was funny” when after Owens was exiled, his locker room faction had to come back to McNabb. But McNabb said he did not think the TO fallout permanently damaged his ability to lead the team.

*McNabb said it’s tough for old quarterbacks to learn new systems; he was referring to himself in Washington and Michael Vick now.

*McNabb touted Reid’s current quarterback, Alex Smith, for comeback player of the year this season.

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