Philadelphia Eagles News

Donovan McNabb Retirement Press Conference

JEFFREY LURIE:  Welcome, everybody.  I think I can talk about No. 5 all day, all morning, all night, but I'm going to try to keep it brief and let some others talk, because this is a very special moment for the Eagles franchise today.  We're really honoring one of the greatest players in the history of the Eagles and certainly the greatest quarterback in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Simply put, when all is said and done, this man, No. 5, Donovan McNabb was a franchise‑changing quarterback, and those words are not spoken very often.  On the field, the numbers speak for themselves.  He's the franchise leader in every major category, yards, completions, touchdowns, quarterback rating and most important, wins.  He led the team to five NFC East titles and seven playoff appearances in his 11 years here, including five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl.  Donovan ranks among the all time greats in the NFL in several statistical categories.  He's one of three players in league history with over 35,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards, joining only Hall of Famers John Elway and Fran Tarkenton.

Tough, there has never been a player tougher.  He didn't go around talking about how tough he was, but all of us remember that Arizona game in just one instance, breaking his ankle early in the game, coming back and throwing four touchdown passes.  Just doesn't happen.  I don't think a lot of people know, one time he was Offensive Player of the Month in the NFL and he's playing every single game on a painful sports hernia injury.  Never one to complain and never one to talk about his injuries, he was a warrior.

As a person, Donovan was somebody a lot of us worked with for thousands of days, an all‑time great person.  Someone who treated everybody in the building exactly the same.  I can't tell you how important that is for a sports franchise when you have hierarchies of coaches, players, owners and interns, wherever you are in the ranking or sort of the hierarchy of any corporate structure, when you have one of your top field generals and leaders treat everyone the same, it exemplifies everything I know I believe in in running an organization.

He's got a beautiful wife and four amazing kids.  He's done nothing but contribute so much time in the Philadelphia community through the Donovan McNabb Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, he was a constant presence here, and I think touched so many lives that way as well.

Impeccable character, an amazing face of the franchise.  You know, you just couldn't be more proud.

I used to tell my fellow owners that I'm so lucky to have a quarterback and a leader that you can be so proud of every single day of the year.

With all that said, I'd like to congratulate Donovan on his retirement from the NFL, and really can't wait until September 19th when, on that night, we're going to induct Donovan into the Eagles Hall of Fame and retire No. 5 forever.

You know, we don't retire numbers that often, Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb, these are players that have had a monumental impact on the franchise, and that's how we measure it.  It's rare, it's happened, and it's wonderful.

Donovan richly deserves it.  His importance both within the Eagles and the sport as a whole will go down in history.

The nine players, including Donovan, that have been retired are all franchise changing, impact players from Steve van Buren, Reggie [White], Brian Dawkins and Donovan, I just can't say enough about No. 5.  Donovan, congratulations.  You've earned your mark in every way possible.  We're all proud of you, and I want to turn it over to Brian Westbrook to say a few words.

BRIAN WESTBROOK: I want to say it's an honor to be here.  It's been a long time, 5, and you know we've shared a lot of great memories.  A lot of on-the-field memories, definitely a lot of off-the-field memories.  Just like Lurie said, one of the best players that played the game.  But my part here is definitely to let you know that you're one of the best friends around the game.  I've known Donovan since me and Roxie were at Villanova where she was working, and he's been a great friend from that day when I was still in college.  When some little kid at Villanova had no meaning to anyone, and Donovan was the same man that he is today.  If I called him and needed him then, he'd answer the phone then, and he'll still answer the phone now.

So obviously you did so many things throughout your career that are so meaningful to people.  The most important thing for me, and I think for so many other people, just like Lurie said, when you walk in this building, people enjoy having you around.  I enjoy being your friend.  Still enjoy being your friend.  It's a meaningful moment today for me to celebrate your career.

A big part of your career and big part of my career was being able to play with you, and I appreciate that.  So many times there is a duo in sports, so many people play with another person.  Jordan had Pippin; I had Donovan McNabb.  To be able to say that is a special thing for me.  It's meaningful, and I just want to thank you for that, and thank you for the opportunity in allowing me to share the football field with you.

BRIAN DAWKINS: Not too long ago I was up here having this same type of thing going on, and it's just a blessing to see that this is now being done for Donovan.  Because I just so happened to be a guy that was here in Philadelphia before Donovan got here, and I remember the times, I remember what those feelings felt like before 5 got here.

I remember those seasons, and many of you know exactly what I'm talking about, and when he got here, how quickly this thing went on the upswing.  When you look at all the things he was able to do.  Sometimes when I'm home now I go and work out up in the gym and I put in some of the old tapes and I watch how we put it down, and I say we because Donovan was a huge part of that.

Watching him hold the ball for four, five, six, 14 seconds and make plays when the play is broken down, but that's what we expected from him.

Brian Westbrook was talking about how he is in the locker room and he kept everything light for us, joking around, keeping everything loose so that we could go out and play loose on the football field.  But the thing that people don't understand is the type of leader that he truly is and what he brought to the football team.  Because I knew when I stepped on the football field, I knew I was going to get 110% from my quarterback, and he was going to get out and give everything that he could, everything.

You talk about playing on different things.  Donovan was not going to tell you guys what was hurting on him.  That was not his character.  He was just going to go out and perform and do it to the best of his ability.  And for a guy to go out on the football field and play with that broken ankle, that's not everybody's character.  Not every football player has that in him to do, and that's what Donovan did, and he would do it again even after that.  So, Donovan, I want to tell you, brother, it was a pleasure going to war with you.  It was a pleasure going out and playing the game the way that we played it because we enjoyed doing it.  And we did it at a high level for so long.

 For the 2000s, if you want to call it, the 2000s, I believe we went out and put a product on the football field that the Philadelphia fans could be proud of.  That they can own.  I know we didn't bring the ultimate and that hurts us all.  But at the end of the day, if you look at what we were able to accomplish and what this man did at the helm, because a lot of it had to do with what he did on the football field, and we, a lot of times, followed his lead as far as what he was doing.  We went as far as he took us every year because of what his determination showed us.

So, Donovan, once again, brother, I appreciate it.  I appreciate the way you played, the man that you are, and I thank you.  It's a pleasure for me to call you a friend.  I love you, brother, thank you.

DONOVAN McNABB:  Special day, special day.  I'm not one for emotion, but this is pretty tough, pretty tough.  First, let me start by thanking God for blessing me to achieve great things and surrounding me with a wonderful group of human beings.  Secondly, I want to thank Jeffrey Lurie, obviously, Ms. Lurie, and the Eagles organization for this unbelievable honor.  To be mentioned with the likes of Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Chuck Bednarik, Tommy McDonald, Brian Dawkins, and all the other players who have paved the way for me and for my former teammates and current players.  It's truly an honor, not only to be the first pick of the draft in 1999, but to be your starter for 11 years.  But most importantly, to be inducted into the Ring of Honor and to have my number retired.

As a young man, having dreams of becoming a professional athlete, never would I have thought this day would come true.  Watching the likes of Michael Jordan and Walter Payton flourish in their given sports, I tried to model myself with the same preparation.  Motivation, determination, most importantly, the results on the field as well.  But most importantly to me in my heart off the field.

 In order to become a champion and to go down as one of the best to ever do it, it would take more than expected, and I would never allow myself or allow anyone to tell me what I could and could not accomplish.

Fortunately, I was blessed to have two of the greatest parents in the world who care, who motivated me, who drove me, who challenged me not only to be a great athlete, but to become a great role model.  What you do on the field or on the court does not make you a great role model.  It's the decisions that you make away from your place of business and when no one is looking.  With those words instilled in me each and every opportune time, they knew it was going to be more of a challenge, and that's why I took it on and prepared myself for such.

No matter what you decide to do in life, there is always someone out there watching every step you make, and that's why I want to stop right now and say thank you and I love you to my parents, Wilma and Sam McNabb.  I want to also say thank you and I love you truly to my wife, Roxie, my four beautiful kids, Alexis, Sariah, Donovan Jr., and Devin James.  You've always been there with me through the good and the bad times.  I know it's been tough these last few years of my career, but you never allowed it to get in the way of what we set out to accomplish as a family and where we want to go.

As we embark on this new journey, it will continue to bring us stronger and closer as a family, and tighten the chain we started since 1994.

I know at times you wanted to lash out at folks, but I appreciate your passion and your love and your strength, so I'll take this moment to say I love you.

As for my teammates, it's hard to explain how to put in words how I truly feel.  Being a man in this world, you have to choose your words wisely, but I'll take this time to tell you, all of my former teammates who are here as well as the current players, I appreciate everything, everything about each and every one of you.  This would not be possible without your effort, sacrifice, passion or resolve.  We all knew they weren't the easiest times, but I appreciate you putting things behind when it came down for us to put it on the line.

I had the opportunity to play with some great players in my time here.  Not only were they great athletes, but they were wonderful human beings.  From the battles and team drills, to the trash talking and one‑on‑ones, to the arguing in seven-on-seven, I felt like it made us closer as a unit and also as a team.

If there was any jealousy, dislike, disagreements, whatever we'd feel, we'd form like Voltron when the time was called.

This day is a special day for me, because it's not from me doing anything out of the ordinary, but for the great players I stepped on the field with and gave me the opportunity to do my job.

When you lineup behind the line with the names of Hank "Honey Bun" Fraley, Jamaal "Bubbles" Jackson, Todd "The Pretty Boy" Herremans, Max Jean-Gilles, Shawn Andrews, Tra "Nobody Can Get Around Me" Thomas, and Jason "Franchise" Peters. Jon "Congressman" Runyan, and I did say Congressman. It makes my job easier.  Also I want to thank the wide receivers and tight ends who made plays in the not only in the passing game but in the run game as well.

To my running backs, fullbacks, Duce, B. West, Buck, McCoy, Richie and Weave, thank you for everything that you've done it won't go unnoticed.

Last but not least, I want to thank Big Red, who probably is in camp right now.  But for taking the chance and sticking with me in '99. 11 great years.  We'll forever be linked together, but that's one of the things I can honestly say I love it.  We made history, big fella.

Again, to everyone that's here, everybody that's watching, to all the fans, I truly love you.  I gave everything I had when I stepped out on that field, I never complained.  When you see '5', you knew '5' was going to give you what he's got.

To all you current players that are playing now, play with passion, play with heart, trust the man next to you, understand he's going to give you what he's got.  I was a true competitor.  It didn't matter if we were on the field in the weight room in the classroom or if we were in the cafeteria, I'm going to outdo you.  And if you outdid me, I wasn't going to tell you because I was going to find the time to outdo you.

If you want to win, you write goals down.  You don't have to share it with anybody, and you write your goals down, you write your goals down to achieve those goals.  Those are some things that stay in the heart.

One thing I learned from a historic man who is no longer with us, never take anything for granted because when it's all said and done and you lay the shoes up, unlace them and put that helmet behind you, you don't ever want to regret anything.  That man was Jim Johnson, one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL and to this day.

So love your brother.  Love the man next to you because everything you set to accomplish, you've got to do it together.  There is no 'I' in 'team'.  But if you want to be great, make the man next to you greater.  Thank you.

Did you know Mr. Lurie was going to retire your number and make that announcement today, that particular part of it?  And how special is that?

DONOVAN McNABB:  Well, we had talked about it, and it was one decision that was made by Jeffrey and the organization.  For me, again, like I said in the speech, first of all, it's an honor to be here, you know, when I decided to retire as an Eagle, I thought it was only fitting.

To be here last year with Brian Dawkins and what they were able to do with Dawk, it was one that I think was a shoo-in.  For me, it wasn't anything that I was expecting, but when the decision was made, I mean, what can you say?  You know, again, like I talked about, these pictures that you see here in the auditorium are pictures of which you know the Philadelphia Eagles with Reggie, Tommy McDonald, Chuck Bednarik, these guys reflect on who a Philadelphia football player really is, and to have your name mentioned in the likes of those guys is truly an honor.

In some ways do you think your career was over-criticized and underappreciated?

DONOVAN McNABB:  As a quarterback, you get criticized no matter what you do anyway.  If you win, you didn't throw enough completions. If you lose, it's your fault.  That is what you take on.  That is the job you take, and I loved every bit of it.  It never bothered me if I got criticized.  It never affected anything that I did out on the field.

One thing that I tried to display to my teammates was that it didn't affect me.  I was going to continue to work hard, no matter if we won or lost.

So over-criticized? I don't look at it that way.  Most of the people across the country do, but one thing I will say playing here in Philadelphia, as a quarterback, you get measured by your wins and losses, and we sure won a lot.

You received a nice ovation yesterday when you were introduced at practice.  You've had kind of a mixed relationship with Eagles fans here.  How do you look back upon that relationship?

DONOVAN McNABB:  I look at the relationship just like a marriage.  You have some great times, you have some tough times.  Hey, one thing is for sure and I've said it before and I'll say it again, I told the fans that I would bring a championship here.  My goal was to have that parade down Broad Street.  Now the Phillies did it first, and I apologized to the fans because that was my goal.  I felt like I let them down.

The thing for me is I don't regret anything that happened throughout my career here.  You know, for the fans, they thoroughly appreciate the effort that I gave and what I gave them out on the field.  It's about the product.

You expressed some hurt when you were traded to Washington.  Where are you now in the healing process of that and how much does this help, the retiring of your number?

DONOVAN McNABB:  At times, you go through tough times.  If you get traded or you get cut or they just don't resign you.  It happens.  That's sports.  But that's not one that I kind of blow past and don't forget.  It took time.  But I was able to get through it.

You know, hey, we all have a job to do.  You know, if it's here or if it's anywhere else.  I wanted to retire here and that's what I'm doing today.  But with situations in this league, you just never know.

In watching that film, Donovan, which highlight most resonated with you?

DONOVAN McNABB:  Holding up the NFC Championship.  Holding that trophy up.  That was something that we fought for a couple times.  That brings back memories of the effort you put in.  There were times we spent, guys came out to Arizona and we spent a week or two.  Guys, we spent time with here in Philadelphia, we went out to dinner together, invited each other over to each other's houses.  It was the bond that we built from '99 on.  We felt like it was weight off of all of our shoulders to finally get it done.

That right there just brought a tear to me, because I haven't watched that game nor the Super Bowl since.  To see that highlight again brings back special memories.

You talked about a lot of people in your career.  What you saw from some of the young guys coming up, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and RGIII, in terms of what they bring to the game in playing quarterback?

DONOVAN McNABB:  Everybody presents something different.  I think it's not just the quarterbacks, but just the youth in general, utilize your resources.  You know, there are a lot of guys who have paved the way for me; a lot of guys who have done this. Communicate with them, prepare yourself.  Because if you're just focusing in on the next day, then you're not truly focusing on your future.  Ask questions, find out what to expect.  Find out what's next because we're all great athletes.

When there comes a time and you're just not doing the things that you were doing when you were younger, how are you able to evolve your game?  And I think that's important for the youth to just communicate with guys who have done it.  Here, look at the Philadelphia Eagles.  You have Tra Thomas, Duce Staley, guys who have played and who have been in battle.  Sit down and talk to them.  Just never be afraid to get more information because it's only going to help.

Donovan, what made you realize you didn't want to play anymore or it was time to make that next step?

DONOVAN McNABB:  Well, you've got to know when it's time.  Again, like I just talked about, when you're not able to do the things that you were doing back when you were younger.  You've got to know the game changes, and for 13 years the game has continued to evolve.  Can you catch up and can you play at the pace that they're playing?  I felt like I could, but opportunities weren't there where I wanted it.

So fortunately I've had the opportunity to move into TV, to radio, and I have that on the table.  I've had calls that come in and guys wanted me to come in and be a back‑up or whatever it may be, but it just wasn't the right situation.  I didn't want to become a one‑stop shop.  I didn't want to be part of a rebuilding phase.

Because as a veteran in this game, rebuilding phase, most vets are on their way out.  I've got four beautiful kids here.  No need to try to travel them all around the country just so dad can throw a couple footballs, so I moved into phase two for me, and that was something that I prepared myself for through college, and it was the right decision.

When you look back at your career, has that been put to rest in your mind just the way you performed and the success that you've had throughout your career?

DONOVAN McNABB:  Let's put the booing to rest.  That was back in '99.  That was the beginning of an era, and this is the end.  So I guess that made me stronger as a man, but I don't talk about it until y'all ask the question (laughing).  Let's just say I made history twice.

What do you take away from Super Bowl XXXIX?  What do you think of when you remember that Super Bowl?

DONOVAN McNABB: Well, I mean, the big result is obviously we didn't win.  But the thing that stands in my mind is you had 53 men out there putting everything on the line to fulfill a dream.  When you step out on that field playing a Super Bowl, as a kid in the backyard, playing King of the Hill, playing flag football, playing tackle on the cement, and then you're throwing that last pass saying, 'This is me in the Super Bowl throwing win the game with a touchdown or making that big hit,' whatever it may be.

That was a dream that we all had, and we felt leading up to that, that was the best week of my career because it felt like everybody in that locker room had could take a deep breath because we made it.

Now it wasn't everything.  We didn't put the sugar on top or the cherry on top.  We know that.  But one thing is for sure, that we can say when we're all done and we look back on jerseys or pictures when we were younger and a little slimmer ‑‑ because I still maintain my sexiness -- but we can say we played in a Super Bowl.  We've been to five NFC Championships.  For us, we've been to Pro Bowls, but the thing that sticks out in my mind and probably Dawkins and everybody else, when it came to the 2000s, there were only three teams that had a high winning percentage and we were one of them.  That's one thing that nobody can ever take away.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.