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http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/sports/football/13761742.htm

Posted on Wed, Feb. 01, 2006

FROM SOUP TO RUTS

By LES BOWENbowenl@phillynews.comDETROIT

- Healing can be a long, tricky process, Donovan McNabb has learned.

The Eagles quarterback isn't sure he can trust his repaired groin to be ready for the team's first minicamp in April. He has a lot of rehab work to do, work that can't be pushed too hard for fear of a relapse.

McNabb also isn't sure right now that his team is his team, that his teammates have his back, after a disastrous season of injury and intrigue, lowlighted by the exile of wide receiver Terrell Owens. That process probably can't be pushed too hard, either. The bonds of trust will have to be reforged, to get the Eagles' locker room back to where it was before the devastation that began a little less than a year ago, amid the fallout from the last Super Bowl.

McNabb made his annual Super Bowl Week appearance yesterday on behalf of Campbell's Chunky Soup, along with his mother, Wilma, Pittsburgh Steelers star Jerome Bettis, and Bettis' mom, Gladys. After prolonged festivities surrounding Campbell's donations to food banks, McNabb talked to reporters about his sports hernia - which he said was bothering him when he reported to training camp last July - as well as Owens, and the Eagles.

McNabb said he feels his experience with T.O. should have been a lesson for the team, but he isn't sure the lesson has sunk in yet. McNabb influenced the Eagles to bring in Owens 2 years ago, then became an object of Owens' scorn when the All-Pro wideout grew dissatisfied with his contract.

"This is a sign for my teammates, for them to see that that person you may smile and talk to every day, that same person may talk to the media... talk to somebody else about how he doesn't like you or he's jealous of you, or whatever," McNabb said. "Every individual makes their own decisions. Now, for me, it's kind of to see how my teammates react to that. We've obviously seen how they reacted to it during the season, by wanting him back. So what message does that send to you?"

McNabb was hustled away by a handler before he could answer his own question. But it was pretty clear that the message McNabb got was one of nonsupport, though at the end of the disaster of a 6-10 season, several players spoke out on McNabb's behalf, and made it clear that McNabb was not the only Eagle who considered Owens a huge distraction.

McNabb was referring to what they said before that, the week after McNabb finally ripped his groin to the point where he needed season-ending surgery. As the Eagles prepared to play at the Giants on Nov. 20, middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter led a bizarre effort to get Owens reinstated, more than a week after coach Andy Reid had made it clear T.O. would not play again for the Eagles.

With Trotter, a dominant personality, agitating hard for Owens, it was hard to find anyone in the locker room willing to say publicly that they disagreed. Trotter said he thought most of the locker room, including McNabb, would be willing to take Owens back. By the end of the season, several players had acknowledged that the failed effort had been Trotter's campaign, not the team's.

"That was one man," cornerback Sheldon Brown said.

Reporters were unable to talk to McNabb then, but yesterday he clearly implied the wounds of November hadn't healed. Asked how he knew teammates had wanted Owens to return, McNabb said: "I heard it in the media, I read it in the newspapers, just like you guys."

It sure sounds as if there will be some interesting discussions when the Eagles convene for that first minicamp. A source close to McNabb acknowledged that the QB was disappointed in how teammates and fans reacted to the dispute with Owens, that McNabb feels after seven seasons in Philadelphia, and five playoff appearances, he should have earned more trust.

"It's going to take time" to get the Eagles back to where they once were, McNabb said yesterday. "It's nothing that can happen overnight... we all know what happened, with our team kind of being separated and all... what got us to four straight NFC championship [games], that was teamwork, that was playing together as one, and trusting the guy next to you."

Yesterday, it somehow seemed more than a year ago that a confident McNabb led the Birds into Super Bowl week. There were no questions then about support, from fans or teammates.

"Since I've last been here, I guess all hell broke loose," McNabb said. "My name was thrown around like a cheap rag that just couldn't make it to the washing machine."

McNabb said he can only repair the damage done to his name by getting back to where he was a year ago, and this time coming out on top, instead of three points short.

"I've been thrown under the bus, my name's been thrown out there for good and bad - it happened with Freddie [Mitchell]," McNabb said. "Now, T.O.'s a bigger name. It just so happens those guys are the best of friends now. What a coincidence. My name is always going to be a name that people will say, 'Hey, that's that guy that T.O. talked about.' Does that matter to me? No. Because once you get to the Super Bowl and win it, then that's what they'll talk about."

Asked about Owens' criticisms of him, McNabb said: "Remember, I don't play childish games. If one person tries to lead you in that direction, as a man, you have to make your own decision. I didn't go that direction."

McNabb's nightmarish season began with the aftermath of that 24-21 loss to New England, the flap over McNabb apparently being out of breath during the Eagles' final touchdown drive. Owens exploited that episode for his own reasons last spring, when the Birds wouldn't revise his contract and McNabb declined to intervene on his behalf.

Then, trying to get ready for training camp, McNabb did something to his abdomen, an injury that got worse and finally became public after the Eagles' victory over San Francisco in the second game of the 2005 season. At that point, McNabb and team management felt he could play with the injury.

"Going into training camp, I felt a little bit of pain in that area," McNabb said yesterday. "Just trying to train hard - that's the kind of thing that leads to a sports hernia, doing abdominal work, trying to get tight abs... You don't want to be by the pool with a T-shirt on while everybody else is in their bikini, right? That might have led to me tearing my stomach up a little bit."

McNabb has spent the last month or so rehabbing in Philadelphia. He said he plans to move that effort to his home in Arizona within a few weeks.

"My message, to be with the team, was to show everyone that I'm working hard, that I'm looking forward to changing things that obviously have happened this year, and that I'm looking forward to moving things in a positive direction, to where maybe we'll be the team representing the NFC again next year," he said.

Sports hernias are tricky; even after surgery, players have problems, especially if they rehab too aggressively.

"I've talked to a couple of other players who have had the surgery," McNabb said. "They say just when you feel like you're 100 percent, you can kind of tweak a spot or something like that. That's something I'm trying to avoid by making sure that I continue to rest. I want to get back into it and train hard, but the doctor told me kind of to relax, and if you start to feel pain, pull off a little bit. I'm just trying to give it some time."

Of course, McNabb was asked about Owens' visit to Denver this week, as agent Drew Rosenhaus tries to interest a team in trading for T.O.'s rights or signing him after his anticipated release by the Eagles next month. Someone asked if McNabb thought Owens would be a changed man.

"There's only one person that can answer that, and that's Terrell. I can't answer that. I don't think any of his San Francisco teammates can answer that. I don't even know if Drew Rosenhaus can answer it," said McNabb, who called Owens "a great player."

McNabb noted his close friendship with Denver's quarterback.

"I'm sure I'll probably get a call from Jake Plummer,'' McNabb said. "What will I tell him? That'll be between me and Jake."

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I don't get McNabb. He holds a grudge longer than most, that's for sure.

For instance, he still feels snubbed that he was booed at the draft by a bunch of idiots who wanted Ricky Williams.

Now he's upset that some teammates wanted TO back. Now it "going to take time" to get the team back to winning becauase it the team is "kind of being separated and all"

Get over it already.

You don't want peolpe insinuating you got tired in the SB? You did. Get over it.

You don't want people taking sides with the person who insinuated that?

Now he's talking to the media during SuperBowl Week, complaining about other players talking to the media????

Takes. Himself. Too. Seriously.

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My take is that he is a TAD bitter by the actions of one or more of his fellow teammates. It has been documented that a serious power void was left in his absence both on and off the field. It ironically came from the defense were as the old dawg (Trotter) was gradually having his voiced muted by the press. Those who wanted to get more pro-Eagles information rather than WE NEED TO information was Sheldon Brown who in the eyes of many fans is the new Troy Vincent. Note that the article shows that Brown said, "That was one man".

I look for a McNabb playing with a chip on his shoulder. He is going to play with an attitude of TEAM FIRST meaning that he will do whatever it takes to win. Look for a scrambling, dashing, yet more accurate McNabb then in years past....kinda like the 2000 version, but without as many worm balls!

There is no doubt in my mind that the entire franchise has a chip on its shoulder and was throughly embrassed by last season so I would expect them to reloaded and come back with venegance. In my mind, after reading this.......the rest of the league should take note that a healthy McNabb makes the Eagles a legitamate contender, but a healthy and pissed off McNabb is far more dangerous, especially since not only does he have to prove himself to his city, teammates, and himself, but to a newly competetive NFC East.

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Even when Mcnabb gets back to 100%, I think that there will be serious repercussions from the TO saga for the next season and possibly longer.

Mcnabb doesn't trust his teammates or holds some disdain for the lack of support he got from them (siding with TO???).

Just because TO will be gone next year doesn't mean that everybody forgot what happened and who was on whose side (Mcnabb or TO).

At least Mcnabb can feel that his coach sided with him.

I still don't think that the Eagles will be 6-10 again next year, but the days of 13-3 and easily walking away with the NFCE are over for now.

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....the rest of the league should take note that a healthy McNabb makes the Eagles a legitamate contender, but a healthy and pissed off McNabb is far more dangerous, especially since not only does he have to prove himself to his city, teammates, and himself, but to a newly competetive NFC East.

Hey, I've never been a McNabb hater. I like to see him do poorly, and like it when he comes up small in certain games, but that's just the team he plays on. :silly:

He's good. If he's able to get healthy, he'll be able to make some things happen.

But it's not all up to him. I said it in a previous thread; he's been the benefieiary of a great O-line, and a great release valve in Chad, and that gave him great opportunities. The O-line is possibly losing both tackles, and Chad is long gone. If they can't protect him, it doesn't matter how healthy he is.

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I makes you wonder just how this injury will effect him long term. I know in the past he trains hard in the offseason and holds his own camp in AZ. Without being able to do that ,and coming into camp still recovering it may effect his season.

Theres the mental aspect of overcoming something like this as well. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

McNabb is a great competitor but injuries can take a toll on anyone.

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Well, well, well...McNabb is sounding a bit like TO isn't he?

I just lost a lot of respect for the guy, and this will come back to haunt him. Every team goes through a period where either the offense stinks or the defense stinks. If the sniping is starting now, imagine what it will be like during tought times.

Is bringing this up in the press a smart thing to do? :doh:

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The eagles have more problems than eagles fans believe.

The defensive line which I thought would be a strength, underacheived dramatically (Kearse is way overpaid, nearing bust status)

The linebacking core minus Trotter is pathetic.

The secondary is overrated. Dawkins is solid, Brown was disapointing, Sheppard is terribly inconsistent and Lewis had a disasterous season.

The biggest problem on the Eagles is their defense, yes their offense has problems but the defense is where they collapsed.

On the offense, Mcnabb lets too many issues get under his skin, being an NFL qb. Westbrook is a good back, not franchise, a good back. The line is in my opinion a bargian basement. The receivers are one potential solid 2 and a bunch of 3,4,5's.

It seems like Reid is so hell bent on his system he is destroying the team.

The eagles need a FEW 27-30 yr old solid role playing veterans to compete for the east crown.

Any eagles fan believing just "getting people back healthy"/ "another year in the system" are setting themselves for another depressing season, then eagles fans might start asking for Reid's head.

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The eagles have more problems than eagles fans believe.

The defensive line which I thought would be a strength, underacheived dramatically (Kearse is way overpaid, nearing bust status)

The linebacking core minus Trotter is pathetic.

The secondary is overrated. Dawkins is solid, Brown was disapointing, Sheppard is terribly inconsistent and Lewis had a disasterous season.

The biggest problem on the Eagles is their defense, yes their offense has problems but the defense is where they collapsed.

On the offense, Mcnabb lets too many issues get under his skin, being an NFL qb. Westbrook is a good back, not franchise, a good back. The line is in my opinion a bargian basement. The receivers are one potential solid 2 and a bunch of 3,4,5's.

It seems like Reid is so hell bent on his system he is destroying the team.

The eagles need a FEW 27-30 yr old solid role playing veterans to compete for the east crown.

Any eagles fan believing just "getting people back healthy"/ "another year in the system" are setting themselves for another depressing season, then eagles fans might start asking for Reid's head.

Good points, but maybe that turmoil could be used to unify the team and allow it took take an US against the WORLD approach....

Also jp, you listen to WIP this morning and hear Hugh Douglas?

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Good points, but maybe that turmoil could be used to unify the team and allow it took take an US against the WORLD approach....

Also jp, you listen to WIP this morning and hear Hugh Douglas?

No I didn't but I was listening to Gargano this afternoon and I believe he was talking to Hugh.

Why what was said?

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No I didn't but I was listening to Gargano this afternoon and I believe he was talking to Hugh.

Why what was said?

This morning Angelo was outraged by the whole thing....Hugh went on to say that Donavan never was really a leader of the locker. The team was Troy Vincent's, then Duce's, and then Dawkins.He said the Donny doens't have it in him to be a truely vocal leader even though he is loved among the team. They look at him more like a little brother in need of protection than a capt of a battlefleet. Though he is a good on the field leader, he doesn't have that fire in his belly like Dawkins or even the departed Ike Reese.

Basically, Donny is too quiet to be the Elway/Marino type leader he wants to be. Hugh wasn't saying that he isn't a leader though, just not the leader that they need right now!

Also said that leaders in the locker room are emerging, especially Sheldon Brown who was taken under the wing by Vincent and is considered Troy himself as his heir apparent as the vocal leader and face of the Eagles.

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This morning Angelo was outraged by the whole thing....Hugh went on to say that Donavan never was really a leader of the locker. The team was Troy Vincent's, then Duce's, and then Dawkins.He said the Donny doens't have it in him to be a truely vocal leader even though he is loved among the team. They look at him more like a little brother in need of protection than a capt of a battlefleet. Though he is a good on the field leader, he doesn't have that fire in his belly like Dawkins or even the departed Ike Reese.

Basically, Donny is too quiet to be the Elway/Marino type leader he wants to be. Hugh wasn't saying that he isn't a leader though, just not the leader that they need right now!

Also said that leaders in the locker room are emerging, especially Sheldon Brown who was taken under the wing by Vincent and is considered Troy himself as his heir apparent as the vocal leader and face of the Eagles.

Thanks,

This is exactly what I believe they need.

I stated they need a FEW 27-30yr old role players. (strong veterans)

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This morning Angelo was outraged by the whole thing....Hugh went on to say that Donavan never was really a leader of the locker. The team was Troy Vincent's, then Duce's, and then Dawkins.He said the Donny doens't have it in him to be a truely vocal leader even though he is loved among the team. They look at him more like a little brother in need of protection than a capt of a battlefleet. Though he is a good on the field leader, he doesn't have that fire in his belly like Dawkins or even the departed Ike Reese.

Basically, Donny is too quiet to be the Elway/Marino type leader he wants to be. Hugh wasn't saying that he isn't a leader though, just not the leader that they need right now!

I can't believe Hugh would say that on the radio. It really paints McNabb in a bad light. A little brother you need to protect? Not good.

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