Donovan McNabb

Donovan Jamal McNabb (born November 25, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American football quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League (NFL). He has been the Eagles franchise quarterback since 1999. McNabb played college football for Syracuse University. The Eagles selected him as the second overall pick of the 1999 NFL Draft.

McNabb led the Eagles to four division championships (2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004), four NFC Championship Games (2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004), one NFC Championship (2004), and one Super Bowl appearance (XXXIX). One of McNabb's most famous plays is 4th and 26, completed against the Green Bay Packers in a 2003 NFC Divisional Playoff Game.

He is currently the least intercepted quarterback in NFL history. He is also the Eagles All-Time leader in career wins and touchdowns.

Early years

McNabb grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and attended Mt. Carmel High School where, as a sophomore, he helped Mount Carmel win the 1991 State Championship. As a senior, he led the team to a Chicago Prep Bowl championship. McNabb also excelled in track and field during his high school years, and played on the school basketball team with Antoine Walker.

College career

After McNabb left high school he was the source of much interest by college recruiters, though only two colleges - Syracuse University and the University of Nebraska - offered him a scholarship to play as a quarterback. He initially leaned toward attending Nebraska, as he relished the idea of being coached by Tom Osborne. Eventually, however, he decided to attend Syracuse, principally because he wanted to prove he was a competent "pocket passer", but also for academic reasons.

One of the most decorated athletes in Syracuse University history, McNabb was a four-year starter as quarterback and a reserve on the school's nationally ranked basketball team. On the gridiron, he was named the Big East Conference's offensive player of the decade for the 1990s, and 'offensive player of the year an unprecedented three times from 1996-98, as well as the first-team all-conference vote earner in each of his four seasons. Later, he was named to the Syracuse All-Century Football team.

McNabb started every game during his college career, compiling a 35–14 record. He red shirted in 1994. As a freshman, he was the Big East rookie of the year and completing a 96-yard touchdown pass against West Virginia University, the longest in SU history, while accounting for 354 total yards of offense. McNabb amassed 2,892 yards of total offense in his junior season to set a school record. As a senior, he led Syracuse to a berth in the Orange Bowl against Florida as he completed 157 of 251 passes (62.5%) for 2,134 yards; he also pushed the eventual champions, the 1998 Tennessee Volunteers, to the limit in a very close game. His 22 touchdown passes tied the school's single season record, set by former Eagle Don McPherson in 1987. McNabb also rushed 135 times for 438 yards and 8 touchdowns. He ranked sixth in the nation with a 158.9 Passer rating and 22nd in total offense, with 233.8 yards per game. He tied a school record with 4 touchdown passes against Cincinnati, and scored 5 touchdowns against Miami (3 rushing and 2 passing).

Big East records

  • 1st - touchdown passes (77)
  • 1st - touchdowns responsible for (96)
  • 1st - passing yards (8,389)
  • 1st - total offensive yards (9,950)
  • 1st - total offensive plays (1,403)

Syracuse University records

  • 1st - total yards per game (221.1)
  • 1st - passing efficiency (155.1)
  • 1st - yards per attempt (9.1)

NFL career


McNabb was drafted second overall by the Eagles in the 1999 NFL Draft, a choice which was famously booed by Philadelphia fans present at the draft, most of whom were pushing for their team to draft University of Texas running back Ricky Williams. McNabb was the second of five quarterbacks selected in the first 12 picks of a quarterback-rich class that was at that point considered the best quarterback draft since the infamous Class of 1983. However, only McNabb and Daunte Culpepper would go on to have successful careers in the NFL (Tim Couch struggled with the Cleveland Browns and officially retired in 2007 after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars in a failed comeback bid while Akili Smith and Cade McNown were out of the NFL by 2002.) and by 2006 only McNabb was still with the team that originally drafted him.

McNabb saw his first NFL regular season action in the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 19-5 home loss on September 19. He made his first career start at home against Washington on November 14, completing 8 of 21 passes for 60 yards in a 35-28 win. He also had 9 carries for 49 rushing yards and led the team to a pair of successful two-point conversions (1 rush and 1 pass). He was the first Eagles rookie to start at quarterback since Brad Goebel.", and the first Eagles rookie draft pick to start since John Reaves in 1972. With the win, McNabb became the first Eagles rookie QB to win his first NFL start since Mike Boryla (December 1, 1974 against Green Bay) and the first Eagle QB to win his first start since Ty Detmer (October 13, 1996 at NYG).

McNabb threw the first TD pass of his career (6 yards to tight end Chad Lewis) vs. Indianapolis in a 44-17 home loss on November 21, 1999. McNabb went on to start six of the Eagles' final seven contests (missing the December 19 home game against New England, a 24-9 victory, due to injury) as he became the first Philadelphia Eagles rookie to start in the quarterback position since Brad Goebel on October 13, 1991


In his first full season as a NFL starter in 2000, McNabb finished second in the Associated Press MVP voting (24-11) to St. Louis RB Marshall Faulk, who set the NFL record for most TDs scored in a season. McNabb made his prime time debut on ESPN against Atlanta at home (October 1), with his first 300-yard passing game in a 38-10 victory and the Eagles' first since Bobby Hoying against Cincinnati at home on November 30, 1997. McNabb's 55 pass attempts at Pittsburgh in a come-from-behind 26-23 overtime victory (November 12) were a career high and the fourth-highest total in team history. He was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week after accounting for 90.7% of the offense in a 23-20-overtime victory at Washington (November 26). His 125 rushing yards were the most by an NFL Quarterback since the Bears Bobby Douglass (127 on December 17, 1972) and was the sixth-best rushing effort by a QB since 1940 when the T formation was introduced. Threw for a career-high 390 passing yards and 4 TDs in a 35-24 victory at Cleveland (December 10) en route to NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. McNabb led the Eagles to their first playoff appearance since 1996, where they defeated the favored Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-3 before losing to the New York Giants 20-10.

He was selected as a first alternate to the NFC Pro Bowl squad in 2000 (behind the Minnesota Vikings Daunte Culpepper, San Francisco 49ers Jeff Garcia, and St. Louis Rams Kurt Warner). When Warner was unable to participate due to injury, McNabb led the NFC on a touchdown scoring drive in his first series. Accounted for 74.6% of the team's total net yards in 2000. Only Carolina's Steve Beuerlein (75.3%) and San Francisco's Jeff Garcia (75.1%) had a higher percentage. His 629 rushing yards in 2000 were tops among NFL QBs and, at the time, the fourth-highest total ever (968 by Bobby Douglass in 1972; 942 by Randall Cunningham in 1990; and 674 by Steve McNair in 1997. Michael Vick has since eclipsed that total three times). His six rushing TDs in 2000 were the most by an Eagles QB since Randall Cunningham also had six in 1988. Broke the club's single season record for most attempts (569) and completions (330) in 2000, marks previously set by Cunningham (560 and 301 respectively) in 1988. Named 2000 NFL Player of the Year by CBS Radio and the Terry (Bradshaw) Awards on Fox Sports and was named to the All-Madden team.


McNabb led the Eagles in fourth-quarter comebacks in two wins vs. the Giants in 2001. At the Meadowlands (October 22), his 18-yard pass to James Thrash with 1:52 remaining gave the Eagles a 10-9 victory. At Philadelphia (December 30), wiped out a 21-14 deficit, engineering two fourth-quarter scores as the Eagles clinched the NFC East title with a 24-21 over archrival New York Giants. Tied Ron Jaworski and Tommy Thompson for the most postseason wins in franchise history by a QB (3). His 8-career playoff TDs trails only Jaworski (9). Named NFL Offensive Player of the Week after the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Chicago (January 19, 2002). Completed 26 of 40 for 262 yards with 2 touchdowns passing and added 37 yards and a TD on the ground. That rushing TD was the final touchdown at the old Soldier Field. Became only the fourth QB in Eagles history to pass for 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons - Sonny Jurgensen (1961-62), Ron Jaworski (1980-81), and Randall Cunningham (1988-90) were the others. McNabb's Eagles advanced to the NFC championship game for the first time since 1980, losing to the heavily favored St. Louis Rams 29-24.

He earned his second trip to the Pro Bowl (was originally elected as an alternate) following the 2001 season after combining for 3,715 yards of total offense and establishing career highs in TD passes (25) and QB rating (84.3). Including playoffs, threw TD passes in 15 of 18 games and 2-or-more in 12 of those games. Named by his teammates as the club's offensive MVP in 2000 and 2001. During the off-season, McNabb signed a new contract with the Eagles worth $115 million over 12 years, with a $20.5 million signing bonus.


In week 11 of the 2002 season, McNabb suffered a broken ankle. On the third play of the game against the Arizona Cardinals, he was sacked by the Cardinals' Adrian Wilson and LeVar Woods. He fumbled the ball, fell to the ground, and held his right leg. He went to the locker room to have his ankle taped, but returned for the Eagles' second drive. His injury was reported to be a sprained ankle, but X-rays after the game revealed that it was a broken ankle. During the game, however, McNabb made an impressive show of toughness. In one of the best passing games of his career, he was 20 of 25 passing, with 255 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also threw an interception. McNabb was out for the last six weeks of the regular season, and returned to face the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs, but he recovered slowly. The Eagles defeated the Falcons 20-6, but were beaten by the underdog Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-10 in the NFC championship game.

In late September 2003, McNabb was the subject of very controversial comments made by Rush Limbaugh, who worked as a commentator for ESPN at the time, stating that the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed. The comments came after the Eagles began the season 0-2, losing to defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers and eventual champion New England, both losses coming in their newly opened stadium, Lincoln Financial Field. There has been much discussion about the merit of these comments, which resulted in Limbaugh's resignation from ESPN.

Despite the slow start in the 2003 season, McNabb again led his team to the NFC Championship game - yet his detractors pointed out that in his five years in the NFL, McNabb had yet to complete 60 percent of his passes or average seven yards per attempt over the course of an entire season, two statistical thresholds widely accepted as benchmarks for what constitutes a successful season for a modern-day NFL quarterback. Although the slow start hindered his overall statistics for 2003, Mcnabb had the highest quarterback rating(97.5)in the NFL for the second half of the season and also completed over 62% of his passes for over eight yards per attempt. With Philadelphia's 14-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the 2003 NFC championship game, McNabb became the first NFL quarterback since Danny White of the Dallas Cowboys (1980-1982) to lead a team to three consecutive defeats in conference title games, prompting some observers to conclude that McNabb "chokes" in big games (his cumulative passer rating in the three conference championship games was 50.5 - a figure that is approximately 10 points lower than what the worst quarterback in the league earns over the course of a typical year). McNabb was knocked out of the NFC title game after being hit on the ground by Panthers' linebacker Will Witherspoon after he had been tripped up on a broken play.

McNabb's defenders, however, point out that Philadelphia had the worst contingent of wide receivers in the NFL throughout McNabb's tenure with the team up to that point, and perhaps in modern professional football history. In 2003, for example, Philadelphia's wide receivers caught only five touchdown passes - tying the record for fewest in a season since the regular-season schedule was lengthened to its present 16 games in 1978 and that, by going the entire months of September and October without having a wide receiver catch a touchdown pass, the 2003 Eagles became the first NFL team since 1945 not to have gotten a touchdown pass from any of its wide receivers in the first two months of a season.


McNabb finally amassed the kind of numbers that placed him firmly as one of the elite NFL quarterbacks statistically. He averaged 8.26 yards per attempt, completed 64.0 percent of his passes, threw 31 touchdown passes (he also ran for three more), and only eight interceptions. These numbers translated to a Passer Rating of 104.7. Furthermore, he became the first quarterback in league history to throw over 30 touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions in a single season. This dramatic improvement coincided with a massive upgrading of the Eagles' receiving corps, namely the arrival of Terrell Owens, who caught 14 touchdowns. As a result, the Eagles won their first seven games of the season for the first time in franchise history, clinched first place in their division with five weeks still to play in the regular season (becoming only the third team in modern NFL history to do this) and won the NFC's Eastern Division by a record-tying seven-game margin in posting a 13-3 record, the franchise's best 16-game season ever. In the playoffs, McNabb led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl in almost a quarter century, with victories over the Minnesota Vikings 27-14 in the divisional game that set up Philadelphia's fourth consecutive NFC Championship Game. But this year they managed to win it over the Atlanta Falcons 27-10. Owens was not in the lineup during the two-playoff victories, and was recovering from a broken ankle. McNabb became only the third African-American quarterback to start in a Super Bowl after Doug Williams in the 1987 season and Steve McNair in 1999.

Super Bowl XXXIX

McNabb led his team against a newly forming dynasty, the New England Patriots, in Super Bowl XXXIX. McNabb struggled at points, throwing three crucial interceptions. Two of these were thrown in New England territory, and one of those two was a rare mistake for McNabb in the red zone. The final interception was last-gasp "hail mary" at the end of the game. He was also sacked four times. Controversy surrounds the end of the game, as McNabb was reportedly dehydrated and vomited in the huddle, as stated by former 1st Round pick and Philadelphia Eagle teammate Freddie Mitchell, leading to the inability to call a play and poor clock management by the Philadelphia Eagles on their final drive. However, in an interview with NBC, McNabb said he was not sick and did not throw up. He just said he was tired. Some reports claim that McNabb had the wind knocked out of him by an earlier hit while others assert that he was unduly fatigued (interestingly, McNabb also suffered from a bout of nausea at the conclusion of a 2002 regular-season game played at Alltel Stadium, where Super Bowl XXXIX was contested). Both Coach Andy Reid and McNabb have denied any physical problems that led to the puzzlingly slow pace of play, but they did not address mental problems. McNabb finished the game with 30 completions for 357 yards, the third highest total for both categories in Super Bowl history, and 3 touchdowns. The Eagles lost 24-21.


McNabb's 2005 season began with turmoil and ended on injured reserve. Terrell Owens had called out McNabb repeatedly since the Super Bowl XXXIX loss and refused to speak with McNabb. Despite not speaking with his main target and all the distractions that came with the Owens controversy, McNabb managed to be named the NFC's Player of the Month for September. Perhaps one of the finer months of his career, McNabb threw for 964 yards, eight touchdowns and only two interceptions in three games, leading the Eagles to a 2-1 record. McNabb carried that momentum into October as he went 33 for 48 (68.8 completion %), threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns en route to leading the Eagles to a memorable come-from-behind victory at an unfriendly Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs. McNabb could not keep the momentum rolling however as the Eagles lost four straight games. Over that span, McNabb only posted a quarterback rating higher than 72 once Sunday, November 6 at the Washington Redskins. After playing with a sports hernia and sore thumb, McNabb decided to end his season early after a disastrous effort at home on November 14 on Monday night against the rival Dallas Cowboys. Though low for his standards McNabb put up respectable numbers in 2005. In nine games, he threw for 2,507 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions. To go along with that, he completed 59.1% (211-357) of his passes. Prior to his season ending early, McNabb was on pace to throw for 4,457 yards, which would have easily eclipsed his career high of 3,875, set in 2004.


McNabb and the Eagles began the 2006 season at 5-4 heading into a week 11 game with Tennessee Titans on Sunday November 19. At that point, McNabb had been having an up and down season. His weekly passing ratings ranged from a lofty 113 all the way down to 65. Overall, the team was struggling. During the game, McNabb tore the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee while jumping out of bounds, ending his season, the third time in five years McNabb had gone down with six or more games remaining in the regular season. Eagles officials stated that his rehabilitation would likely last eight to twelve months, which completely ended his 2006 season and even raised questions as to whether he would be ready to begin playing by the beginning of the 2007 season. In the meantime, backup quarterback Jeff Garcia took McNabb's place as the Eagles' quarterback. Since McNabb became starting quarterback in 1999, the Eagles are 8-7 without him. A dominant defense in 2002 helped A.J. Feeley and Koy Detmer go a combined 5-1 to finish the season after McNabb broke his ankle against the Arizona Cardinals. Detmer lost a meaningless game during the Eagles Super Bowl season in 2004. In 2005, Mike McMahon went 2-5 when McNabb's season was lost to a sports hernia in Week 10 against the Cowboys. In 2006, Jeff Garcia had success, leading the Eagles from 5-5 after the Tennessee game to 10-6 and winners of the NFC East. The Eagles then went on to win their Home Playoff game in the Wild Card round of the playoffs against the New York Giants 23-20 with Jeff Garcia under center. However, in the following divisional round they were beaten by the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome 27-24.


Having played nearly up to full speed in the preseason games, it was decided that McNabb would return to the field several months short of the full yearlong recovery expected of an ACL injury. In the season opener at Green Bay, the Eagles and McNabb suffered a 16-13 loss. McNabb had his share of problems, completing less than half of his passes for 184 yards and one touchdown. The Eagles lost their first home game of the season to the rival Washington Redskins, 20-12, though his numbers improved. As week three approached, skeptics had already wondered whether McNabb still had his skill that propelled him to success in the past. The Eagles defeated the Detroit Lions in a 56-21 win. McNabb completed 21 out of his 26 attempted passes for 381 yards. Four of those passes went for touchdowns (3 of them went to Kevin Curtis). His brilliant performance against the Lions was highlighted by his first perfect (158.3) Quarterback Rating. However, week 4 did not prove to be as good as the Eagles thought it would be. The Eagles endured yet another loss, this time to the New York Giants. The Giants' defense, led by defensive end Osi Umenyiora, sacked McNabb a record-tying 12 times. McNabb completed 15 out of 31 attempted passes for 138 yards and no touchdowns. In week 6 game against the Jets, McNabb completed 22 out of 36 attempted passes for 278 yards total. McNabb also had a touchdown pass to Curtis, plus one interception. With the help of placekicker David Akers, the Eagles went on to win, 16-9. McNabb had stated before the Dallas Cowboys game that the NFC East title went through Philadelphia, so Dallas responded with a 38-17 win on primetime Sunday Night Football. Against the Redskins, McNabb completed a high percentage of passes and ended with a QB rating of 138.5 in a tough win. In the week 11 game against the Miami Dolphins, McNabb sprained his ankle and injured his right (throwing side) thumb. As a result McNabb had been ruled out for the game against the New England Patriots, replaced by AJ Feeley, who although gave a valiant effort through two games, came up short. Feeley threw 7 interceptions in 2 games (4 coming in the opening and closing drives of both games). During a win against the cowboys, news reporter Pam Oliver reported during the game that McNabb indicated that he didn't expect to be back in Philadelphia for the 2008 season. McNabb later indicated that this was not true, and stated although he believed rookie Kevin Kolb's time would come, he would be an Eagle next season.


At the conclusion of the Season, McNabb faced criticism for asking for playmakers on his yardbarker blog. He did however, deny he was taking a shot at anyone in particular, saying "We were 8-8. There is room for improvement.

McNabb caused another mild stir in camp when he basically suggested that the Eagles shouldn't have lost a game to any of their NFC East opponents last season. He felt that they were just a few plays away from being a playoff team. He even went on to say, "I still put us at the top of the NFC. In week 1 of the 2008 NFL season Mcnabb threw for 361 yards (the most of any quarterback that week) and 3 touchdowns which included a 90 yard toss to Hank Baskett at the end of the second quarter. In week 3 against the Steelers, McNabb threw his 176th career touchdown passing Ron Jaworski and becoming the Eagles all time TD leader.

NFL year by year statistics

Year Games Games Started Attempts Completions Completion % Yards Yards/Attempt Touchdowns Interceptions Rating
1999 12 6 216 106 49.1 948 4.39 8 7 60.1
2000 16 16 569 330 58.0 3365 5.91 21 13 77.8
2001 16 16 493 285 57.8 3233 6.56 25 12 84.3
2002 10 10 361 211 58.4 2289 6.34 17 6 86.0
2003 16 16 478 275 57.5 3216 6.73 16 11 79.6
2004 15 15 469 300 64.0 3875 8.26 31 8 104.7
2005 9 9 357 211 59.1 2507 7.00 16 9 85.0
2006 10 10 316 180 57.0 2647 8.36 18 6 95.5
2007 14 14 473 291 61.5 3324 7.00 19 7 89.9
Totals 118 112 3732 2189 58.7 25404 6.80 171 79 85.8
Playoffs 12 12 419 249 59.4 2630 6.26 18 12 80.1

Rushing Totals

  • 497 attempts 2962 yards 6.0 average 24 TDS Regular Season, 63 attempts 362 yards 5.8 average, 3 TDS Playoffs

McNabb has a winning record in postseason games at 7-5.

McNabb holds the record for most consecutive pass attempts completed with 24 over two games in 2004 against the New York Giants (his final 10 passes on November 28, 2004) and Green Bay Packers (his first 14 passes on December 5, 2004). Mark Brunell and David Carr hold the record for most consecutive completed passes in a single game with 22. McNabb also completed 25 consecutive passes against the San Diego Chargers on October 23, 2005, but this record is not counted by the NFL as it included a spiking of the ball to stop the clock at the end of the half. The 2005 game was also noteworthy for Coach Reid calling for McNabb to have 25 pass attempts in a row, without interruption by a running play.

After starting the 2008 season with 105 pass attempts and one interception, McNabb is the least intercepted quarterback per pass attempt in NFL history, passing Neil O'Donnell, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers. McNabb's career ratio is 1 interception in every 47.96 pass attempts (2.08%), while O'Donnell was intercepted only once every 47.49 pass attempts (2.11%).

Personal life

McNabb and his college sweetheart, Raquel-Ann Sarah "Roxie" Nurse, were married in June of 2003. He has one child: daughter Alexis, who was born in September 2004. His other loves include his two dogs, Sinbad and Diego and his parakeet named Tudy. They reside in Chandler, Arizona.

In 2002, McNabb, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in speech communications from Syracuse University, was named to that institution's Board of Trustees; he is one of the youngest trustees to have served there.

McNabb's parents, Sam and Wilma McNabb, have gained fame appearing as themselves in the Campbell's Chunky Soup commercial series. The actress Marcella Lowery has played McNabb's mother on occasion. Wilma is also a vice president of the NFL Mother's Association, the executive director of the Donovan McNabb Foundation, and runs McNabb Unlimited, which oversees Donovan's endorsements.

In 2006, he released a clothing line, which he designed, called Super Five.

He also played basketball at Syracuse University as a reserve guard. In the 1996 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament national championship game against the University of Kentucky Wildcats, McNabb played against his former high school teammate Antoine Walker.

McNabb has been a resident of Harrison Township, New Jersey, an affluent suburb of Philadelphia.


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