There were the details Doug Pederson attended to that helped rookie quarterback Donovan McNabb accelerate his NFL career. McNabb had all of the skills, and nobody questioned that he would someday become the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. Pederson, is his role as a one-year mentor signed by new head coach Andy Reid, helped refine those rookie rough edges.
Now that Pederson has been named the 23rd head coach in Eagles history, McNabb thinks back to the 1999 season and what Pederson, who started nine games at quarterback in his lone season as a player on the team, meant to him.
"He had experience in the league and he was able to show me some of the ins and outs of becoming a professional," McNabb said in a telephone interview. "I'm sure Doug would have loved to have been a starter throughout his career, but he was mostly a backup and he taught me how to watch film, what to recognize, what to look for, the intricacies of the West Coast offense and some of the ways that I could be myself and relax and make plays when the plays were there to be made.
On Monday, Doug Pederson arrived in Philadelphia and was officially named the Eagles head coach ...
"Doug gave me a kick-start in the NFL, introduced me to the offense the right way and also taught me what Andy was kind of looking for."
McNabb went on to finish the year as the starter and, of course, he became the most accomplished quarterback in team history. McNabb had his No. 5 retired by the team upon his induction into the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame in 2013. Pederson left the Eagles after the '99 season, played with Cleveland in 2000 and finished his playing career in Green Bay before moving into the coaching world.
That 1999 team which finished 5-11 was the stepping stone of Reid's run as head coach that included five trips to the NFC Championship Game and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX. It was also a year that helped McNabb understand the landscape of Philadelphia, the media, the fans, the expectations. Everything.
"Doug felt the highs and lows and I saw what he went through and it helped," McNabb said. "Being a starting quarterback in the NFL is a unique experience. Doug helped in every respect. When we made the change at quarterback and I became the starter, Doug was the utmost professional in every way. He made sure that I was prepared for each and every game. When I came over to the sidelines, he was there for me and so that when I went back onto the field, I was better prepared for what I was going to see."
Pederson is now a head coach in the NFL for the first time. McNabb knows that the success he achieved may not have been possible had it not been for Pederson and his leadership and selflessness.
"I'm so happy for Doug and what he's accomplished and for his family," McNabb said. "It's a great opportunity. He's got a huge responsibility and I wish him the best of luck. He's a smart guy and he is going to learn a lot every day.
"Eagles fans are passionate and they want to win. Doug has been there as a quarterback and now he's the head coach. Back then, I'm not sure we really fully appreciated Doug's role. Later in our careers, a lot of us were put in that position and it really hit home. It was a tough role and Doug handled it well. He was a true professional and he handled it and helped us develop as a football team."
- READ: Eagles Name Doug Pederson Head Coach
- READ: Spadaro: Lessons From 1999 To Now
- READ: Reaction To Doug Pederson's Hire
- READ: Pederson Crucial To McNabb's Development
- INFOGRAPHIC: A Look At Doug Pederson, By The Numbers
- VIDEO: Pederson's Journey From Player To Head Coach
- PHOTOS: Get To Know: Doug Pederson
- PHOTO COLLAGE: A Spectacular Look At Pederson's Career