May 24, 2019
Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has been eligible for the Hall of Fame for a few years now, but during that time his name hasn't really surfaced in the realm of finalists.
McNabb was a top-10 quarterback in the NFL for about a decade, with the exception of a few years when he was lost due to injury. He went to five NFC title games and one Super Bowl, yet the perception is a matter of phrasing. You could also say he and the Eagles lost four conference titles and a Super Bowl.
If you ask McNabb about his candidacy to get in the Hall, there's no doubt in his mind.
"Absolutely," McNabb told TMZ Sports on Friday. "And I'm not hesitating on that. I am a Hall of Famer. My numbers speak for themselves."
The question was posed in the context of comparisons with other quarterbacks of McNabb's era, specifically Eli Manning. Despite Manning's decline in recent years, many believe he'll get into Canton because of the Giants' two Super Bowl wins — and the fact that he's a Manning doesn't hurt, either.
The show's hosts pointed out that McNabb threw fewer interceptions (117) than Manning (239), albeit in four fewer seasons. McNabb agreed heartily.
"A lot," McNabb said. "A lot."
There are four main quarterbacks used to support the case that a Super Bowl victory isn't necessary to make the Hall of Fame: Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Fran Tarkenton and Warren Moon.
A purely statistical comparison of McNabb and Moon, who played 16 seasons to McNabb's 12, actually speaks pretty favorably to McNabb's chances. It makes more sense than McNabb's comparison to Troy Aikman, simply because it's a given that Aikman's Super Bowls carry a weight that stats alone cannot.
Most of the argument against McNabb for the Hall of Fame can be attributed to big game failures, although the reality there is that former coach Andy Reid shares responsibility for those. The rest has to do with McNabb's general salty demeanor, which isn't really a factor in his qualifications. If Terrell Owens can get in and skip the ceremony, McNabb's backbiting personality shouldn't be an obstacle.
Time will tell if history looks more favorably on McNabb's career, but the trend of improving quarterback play and statistical inflation in a passing league doesn't bode well for him at the moment.
If Philip Rivers never wins or gets to a Super Bowl before he retires, who between him and McNabb stands a better chance at induction? There's only so much room for players with that glaring omission of a championship on their resume. McNabb may have to live comfortably with a retired number and a banner at Lincoln Financial Field.