(Originally posted on April 4, 2010)
A few hours ago my buddy Dave from Cincinnati called me with the news that Donovan McNabb just got traded to the Washington Redskins. At 9:30 PM the Eagles head coach Andy Reid held a press conference to publicly announce the trade. You’ve got to be kidding me.
There are two different emotions going around in my mind. One is about Donovan’s destination. Why to the ‘Skins, one of the Eagles’ conference rival teams..!?!?!? I really do understand the business side of this. The Eagles truly wanted him to go to the place he preferred. I bet the ‘Skins gave the best trade offer to the Eagles and the best scenario to Donovan. Obviously the Eagles didn’t want to trade him to another NFC East team, no question, but I think the team respected Donovan enough to let him go to the ‘Skins who will face (and possibly beat) the Eagles twice a year. But I just don’t want to see Donovan in that weird uniform. Midnight green is his color. It is a depressing thought that he’s going to play against the Eagles, especially in the birds’ nest (Lincoln Financial Field) once… I can’t take it. I don’t want to see it.
Another emotion is about the end of an era. One Eagles era, a prominent one, has just come to an end with Donovan leaving the team. But this era had been my only era as an Eagles fan, and I grew during this era as a fan just as Donovan grew as an elite quarterback. My first NFL football game that I went to see with my work friends was at the Veterans Stadium in 2000 — Donovan’s second year. I remember it was an over-time win over the Dallas Cowboys. I missed my opportunities to go see the Eagles in person in 2003 and 2004 as I was in Japan studying Bach, but that was the time I grew even more as a fan and started to appreciate the play-by-play calls by Merrill Reese of 94WYSP FM. I would start listening to the realtime Internet streaming audio around 3AM on Monday in Japan to catch the 1PM Sunday game broadcast. The 2004 season was particularly exciting as the iggles advanced to the Super Bowl. I remember watching the game realtime (it started around 8 in the morning) with my dad in Katsuura, Japan.
After I came back from Japan, the Eagles had a couple of rough seasons, but I became more and more like a normal Philadelphia fan. I’ve gained some knowledge of the game. I’d yell at something or somebody that didn’t do/go well in the stadium. I now sing the Eagles fight song with passion and pride, and I bleed green. I became a Philadelphia fan watching Donovan McNabb play and break all those franchise passing records. He is my quarterback. He is my guy.
Now, a sad end to the era is here. It is a new beginning for the Eagles and for me as a fan. I wonder if those harsh and vocal Eagles fans are happy to see him go… Perhaps they are unhappy about his destination, but still happy to have Kevin Kolb as our new starting quarterback. But I’m partial to Donovan, regardless of what other fans say about him. Not only on the field but he has been a great guy off the field. He stood tall when he was booed by the fans at the draft. He was a class act when Rush Limbaugh attacked him with the racial remarks. He has overcome some difficult and painful injuries with an indomitable spirit. He embraced Mike Vick, when Vick could potentially take his job, in order to help him get back in the NFL. He is a great guy. He had won so many games for us. How could we get so negative about him? I’m really sad that this era is over. I’m sad, Donovan. I wish you nothing but the best…. just know that you have many Eagles fans who love you for who you are. To me, you are always an Eagle.
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November 15, 2004, at Texas Stadium, Merrill Reese calls: “Back goes McNabb. He steps up. He’s being rushed. He gets away from one man, dashes to the outside, still rolling, comes back to the near side ala Randall Cunningham against Buffalo. Pumping. Loading up. He is firing it deep and it is…. caught by Freddy Mitchell!!!!!!!!!! Down at the 15!!!!!!!”
[Post Script: Right now in the beginning of the year 2012, obviously I don’t see it this way anymore. As the team roster changes each year, a fan changes too— one thing that won’t change is the relationship between the team and the fans.]