The descent has been startling in angle and suddenness, a sharp decline seemingly out of nowhere.
Two years ago, Donovan McNabb was enjoying his 11th season as the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback in the midst of leading his team to yet another first-place finish in the NFC East. Philly advanced to the playoffs for the second consecutive season and the seventh time in McNabb's tenure.
But the Eagles decided that they were set for the future with two younger quarterbacks — Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick — so McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins in April 2010. That could have been the first red flag, the fact that Philly didn't fear shipping its quarterback to a division rival.
McNabb vowed that he was still an elite QB and Washington believed him, signing him to a five-year contract extension.
Now it appears that Eagles coach Andy Reid saw what was coming: McNabb's worst season since he was a rookie. He suffered numerous indignities with Washington, including his removal from a game with less than two minutes remaining, rumors about his inability to learn the offense and being benched for the season with three games remaining.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan took a lot of heat at the time. But hindsight is proving him correct.
McNabb has played poorly since being traded from Washington to Minnesota this summer. He was relieved of his starting job this week after leading the Vikings to a 1-5 record (and falling to 2-10 in his last 12 starts). With his 35th birthday looming next month, McNabb's future as an NFL starter is iffy — whether he admits it or not.
“I have a lot of football left in me,” he told reporters after the latest demotion.
That might be true. But the borderline Hall of Famer will have to get comfortable holding a clipboard more than passing the football.
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