The League

Zach Leibowitz
Sideline Reporter

Zach Leibowitz

A former sideline reporter for ESPN

Benchmark Moment

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Donovan McNabb's stellar career in Philadelphia will forever be remembered by a couple major events. McNabb will be remembered for being booed upon his draft-day introduction with the Eagles because he wasn't Ricky Williams. He will be remembered for resurrecting a sagging franchise in the late 1990's and propelling them to elite status for years in the beginning of the new century. People will acknowledge his elusiveness, his injuries, his Chunky Soup, his relationship with T.O. and his final moments in Super Bowl XXXIX when he "left it all out on the field." There have been far more highs than lows over the years with McNabb. And then came the benching, the moment forever remembered in Eagles history as the day the McNabb/Andy Reid relationship had come to a close, the moment it was time to move in the other direction.

And then the new direction arrived, an incredible, almost miraculous ascent into the Divisional round of the NFC Playoffs, two wins away from the Super Bowl. We should all be benched in our respective professions just so we can respond the way McNabb has. He's been remarkable, accurate, poised, steady and confident. Dare I say it, there's a swagger back with the Eagles.

On that fateful day in Baltimore, McNabb was awful. And that was a game after the Eagles tied Cincinnati. Not a memorable stretch for McNabb. Except, young Kevin Kolb stepped in and was clearly overmatched. I'm still trying to figure out why Kolb was thrown in there on the road against that Ravens defense. But now it all makes sense. It wasn't about Kolb at all. It was about sending the message to McNabb.

And what do you know, he got the message loud and clear.

There have been more consistent Eagles teams from start to finish with McNabb at the helm. Seven years in the playoffs, four NFC Title games and a Super Bowl appearance.

But in this highly unique season, where the Eagles were the ultimate enigma, the true Birds are beginning to flap their wings. The 2008 Eagles are in fact a legitimate Super Bowl Contender. They have played their best team football at the most critical time. Players are healthier and hungrier than they've been all season. And they've been blessed with a chance to keep it going in New York, and possibly onward to Carolina and then Tampa. And that opportunity arrived solely because Reid benched McNabb and the Eagles QB responded like the player he is -- the best QB in Eagles history.

By Zach Leibowitz  |  January 6, 2009; 8:00 AM ET  | Category:  New York Giants , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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