Donovan McNabb retires as an Eagle
Former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb officially retired as an Eagle on Monday morning. McNabb held a press conference at the NovaCare Complex with team owner Jeffrey Lurie.
Lurie took the podium first.
“I think I can talk about No. 5 all day, all morning, all night,” Lurie said, following a rollicking montage of McNabb’s greatest moments.
“This is a very special moment for the Eagles franchise today,” Lurie continued. “We’re really honoring one of the greatest players in the history of the Eagles and certainly the greatest quarterback in the history of the Eagles.”
"Donovan McNabb was a franchise-changing quarterback for the Eagles and helped raise the bar of success for this franchise during his 11-year tenure with the team," said Lurie. "On the field, the numbers that Donovan posted during his time in an Eagles uniform speak for themselves. He is the franchise leader in nearly every major passing category and is the all-time winningest quarterback in Eagles history. His unique ability to make plays through the air and with his legs made him one of the most dynamic players this city has ever seen. Donovan was the face and the focal point of so many of our great Eagles teams and he helped make this franchise a contender each and every year that he was here."
Lurie also added that during the September 19th ceremony to honor McNabb, the Eagles will retire his No. 5 jersey.
"The number '5' has become synonymous with one of the greatest eras of Eagles football," added Lurie, "And ensuring that no one else will ever wear Donovan's number, we honor one of the greatest playmakers to ever wear an Eagles uniform."
“There’s never been anyone tougher,” Lurie said. “Donovan was somebody a lot of us worked with for thousands of days, an all-time great person. I can’t tell you how important that is for a sports franchise. Impeccable character, an amazing face of the franchise, and you just couldn’t be more proud.”
"As a person, Donovan is also an all-time great," said Eagles President Don Smolenski. "He treated everyone in the organization with care and respect. We all shared so many great moments with him over the years and it is an honor to be able to recognize him with our fans on September 19th."
"As a general manager, you are always on the lookout for a player like Donovan," said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. "He was a guy who poured everything he had into becoming the best player that he could possibly be. You could count on Donovan to bring it, day-in and day-out, no matter what the circumstances were.
"The game against Arizona in 2002, when he led us to a win despite playing with a broken ankle, is something I will never forget. He represented this franchise and this city with class," added Roseman.
Brian Westbrook, McNabb’s friend since college, took the stage next, endlessly praising his former quarterback. “It’s been a long time, five, and we’ve shared a lot of great memories; a lot of on the field memories definitely, and a lot of off the field memories. My part here is just to let you know that you’re one of my best friends around the game.”
“So many times there’s a duo in sport, so many people play with another person – Jordan had Pippen. I had Donovan McNabb. I just want to thank you for that opportunity and allowing me to share a football field with you.”
Next came Brian Dawkins, who had been up on the same stage not too long ago for a ceremony of his own. “I remember what [things were] like before Donovan got here. And how when he got here, how quickly this thing went on the upswing.”
Dawkins admitted when he’s working out at home, he’ll still throw in some of the old tapes of he and McNabb in action and “…watch while we put it down.”
“I knew when I stepped onto the football field that I was gonna get 110 percent from my quarterback. Donovan was just going to go out and perform, to the best of his ability. Not every football player has that in him,” Dawkins said of McNabb’s playing on a broken ankle.
“I just wanted to tell you, brother, it was a pleasure going to war with you. “
As Dawkins left the stage, he met McNabb on the way up and they hugged.
And then, McNabb slowly stepped to the podium, weighed down by emotion, pausing to adjust his collar, choking back tears. “I’m not one for emotion, but it’s pretty tough,” he admitted.
“I want to thank Jeffrey Lurie, and the Eagles organization for this unbelievable honor. To be mentioned with the likes of [all the Eagles' retired numbers] who’ve paved the way for me and my former teammates and all the current players.”
He thanked his parents, told his wife and kids he loved them. “You’ve always been there with me through the good and the bad times… I know at times, you wanted to lash out at folks. I appreciate your passion and your love and your strength.”
“It’s hard to put into words how I truly feel… I appreciate everything.. everything about each and everyone of you. This would not be possible without your efforts, sacrifices, passion and resolve. I appreciate you putting things behind when it came time for us to put it on the line. I had the opportunity to play with some great players in my time here. Not only were they great athletes, but they were wonderful human beings.”
“If there was any jealousy, disagreements, whatever we feel, we formed like Voltron when the time came.”
One by one, he mentioned his offensive line, running backs and fullbacks, and finally, Andy Reid.
“We’ll probably be linked forever. We made history, big fella.”
McNabb closed with a message to the fans and current Eagles.
“Again, to everyone that’s here, everybody that’s watching, to all the fans, I truly love you. I gave everything I had when I stepped out on the field, I never complained."
“To all the current players playing now: play with passion, play with heart, and trust the man next to you… because everything you set to accomplish, you got to do it together.
“If you want to be great, make the man next to you greater.”