MIAMI - Donovan McNabb played offense yesterday.
In his first news conference since he suffered a season-ending knee injury in mid-November, the Eagles quarterback showed up at the Miami Beach Convention Center anticipating a blitz of questions.
He fielded the first one and then answered a number of others that have been hanging in the air as speculation surfaced about the quarterback's feelings regarding a number of issues.
"Let's just start by saying that the so-called rumors that have started, they're false," McNabb said after his annual Super Bowl appearance for the Campbell's Soup "Striking Out Hunger" campaign.
Well, not all of them.
McNabb admitted that he was upset that Eagles coach Andy Reid did not let him go to New Orleans for the team's NFC divisional playoff game against the Saints, but he said he had company in that emotion.
"Yeah, I was upset that I didn't go to New Orleans," McNabb said. "But so was Jevon Kearse, Lito Sheppard, Mike Bartrum and the guys that were in that training room that were trying to get healthy. We would have enjoyed being there, but due to the rules that Andy has that he doesn't travel the injured guys, we have to accept that, and we have accepted it, and we've moved on from there."
Other than that, McNabb said he had no gripes. There has been speculation that he might want to be traded because he was unhappy with how well teammates and fans embraced Jeff Garcia after the backup quarterback led the Eagles from a 5-6 record to the NFC East title.
"I was actually very, very happy for Jeff," McNabb said. "Before the decision was made, I talked to Andy about making sure he went with Jeff. I know the fans of Philadelphia wanted A.J. Feeley . . . and I continued to tell Jeff, 'You were brought in here to lead this team . . . and now it's time.' "
McNabb said he had a strong relationship with Garcia before and after his injury, and he added in a radio interview that he hoped the Eagles re-signed Garcia, who is an unrestricted free agent.
"I would love to have Jeff back because he's that type of player . . . that type of person that you would love to have around," McNabb said. "Probably people are going crazy that I would say that because they would think otherwise of me. I hope he comes back as a Philadelphia Eagle, but it's well-deserved for him to be one of the hottest free agents out there at the quarterback position.
"I talked to Jeff right before I left to come here, and we were laughing and cracking jokes. For those who feel like I have a grudge on Jeff or that I was upset because of the way the players received him, that's completely false."
Though there have been mild trade rumors, McNabb said that they were unfounded and that he wanted to stay.
"I do not want to be traded," he said. "I plan on getting myself back healthy . . . and ready to go. I'm a Philadelphia Eagle, and I will continue to be a Philadelphia Eagle, hopefully, for years and years to come. Hopefully I'll retire as an Eagle."
McNabb said he agreed with Reid's decision to cancel the quarterback's recent news conference in Philadelphia.
"It was a situation that at that time, we both felt . . . that nothing good would have came out of it," McNabb said. "I know people wanted to ask me about the injuries and how the rehab was going, but at that time we wanted to focus in on trying to get healthy, and we felt it wouldn't be a good thing."
McNabb also tried to quell the tempest of the infamous blog his mother wrote during the Eagles' six-game winning streak with Garcia at quarterback. Wilma McNabb said it would be "bittersweet" if the Eagles won without her son at quarterback, and she worried that the fans might "crucify" him if the team won the Super Bowl. In fairness, she also wrote that she was cheering for Garcia to lead the Eagles to the NFL title.
"But, oh-oh, if they win the Super Bowl without my son, what would be the real outcome with the fans?" she wrote. "Will they crucify him? Maybe then the trade talks would begin. Off-season madness, worse than last year's fiasco. But guess what? I guess I'll have to take the beating if it comes. I would have to hope that scenario of the madness would not happen or be that bad. Well, let's wait and see. Bittersweet."
McNabb said the blog did not bother him.
"She was speaking as a mother," he said. "It was unfortunate that she has to receive the criticism that she did. I mean, I receive it every week, so it's not going to bother me. I'm sure everything else she said [in the blog] is happening. When she said it, everybody had a problem with it, but now that it's happening I guess people understand where it was coming from."
McNabb also talked about how the Eagles' offense changed with Garcia under center. Brian Westbrook became more of a focal point, and the team became more balanced.
"Five, six, seven, however many more rushes it takes to help us win, I'm all [for] it," McNabb said. "I'm all about winning. You can take away as many stats as I've had this year just so that we can be undefeated. I would give that up."
McNabb said during his radio interview that he hoped Marty Mornhinweg continues to call the plays next season, a role the offensive coordinator had assumed before Garcia took over at quarterback.
"I look for Marty to continue to call the plays, but Andy still has his hand in it," McNabb said. "He still wants to be involved. Andy's an offensive-minded guy. Eighty-five percent of the plays may be called by Marty, but Andy may still throw a trick play in there. I expect Marty to continue to hold the reins and put us in position to be successful."
McNabb can now quietly resume his rehabilitation after surgery on his right knee. The calm, however, never seems to last long for the Eagles' quarterback.