The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for

He deserves better


I understand why the Eagles want to dump Donovan McNabb.

Transition, not age -- McNabb won't turn 34 until next November and while that's old at most positions, it's not very old for quarterbacks, where experience counts. Philadelphia, unlike, say, the Redskins, is preparing for the future, even if they have to tank a season. So they have to find out if Kevin Kolb is the future, even if a team that's been to five NFC championship games and a Super Bowl with McNabb at QB slips for a year.

In fact, one of the many reasons for the decline of the Raiders, the team McNabb could join, is that they kept fading players in an effort to "win now'' and is working on a run of seven straight seasons of 11 or more losses.

Simply put, the saying in all sports is "better to get rid of a guy a year too soon than a year too late.'' Look at that iconic photo of a bloody and beaten 38-year-old Y.A. Tittle in 1964, the year that began a run of 18 consecutive seasons without a postseason appearance for one of Philadelphia's three hated division rivals. Tittle was there a year too long.

The problem for McNabb is the black hole of Oakland. Both he and those of us who have enjoyed watching him in Philly would prefer him with a team that needs only a quarterback. Something like Brett Favre did in leading the Vikings to within a coin toss of the Super Bowl last season (without the "will he or won't he'' angst you get with Favre.).

The only angst you get with the Raiders comes from the dysfunction at the top.

Al Davis once was a very good football man. Eccentric, yes. But a wise eccentric, a man who realized in the 1960s, when teams were still reluctant to sign African-American players, that being color blind was an excellent way to contend annually. And a man who seemed able to straighten out other teams' talented troublemakers, a job made easier by the fact that in those days off-field misbehavior was tolerated with a wink and a nod, not a suspension or two or three or four.

But Al Davis at 80 is not Al Davis at 50. He is still trying to run the team on his own, hiring a succession of second-raters and forcing on them the likes of the overweight and under-motivated JaMarcus Russell or Darrius Heyward-Bey, taken with the seventh pick of the 2009 draft when the 27th, 37th or 47th would have been more appropriate.

Yes, the Raiders have running backs and some potentially good receivers, like Louis Murphy, last year's fourth rounder. And they have some first-rate defensive players -- they traded last year for Richard Seymour, a former all-Pro who was reluctant to leave New England but finally showed up and became a team leader. That defense was good enough to shut down McNabb and the Eagles last year.

Maybe McNabb never quite fit in Philly -- the noisy talk radio station WIP chartered a train car on draft day in 1999 for fans to urge the Eagles to draft Ricky Williams. They booed when Donovan was taken with the second pick.

Whatever the failures, his play certainly demonstrated he was worth it.

Oakland seems like a cruel fate.

By Dave Goldberg  |  April 2, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dave Goldberg , Donovan McNabb , NFL , Oakland Raiders , Philadelphia Eagles Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The Raiders wide reciever is Louis Murphy, not Oliver. Just thought you would like to know.

Posted by: jgere | April 2, 2010 12:19 PM

Come on, getting traded to Oakland is not so bad. After enduring JaBustus for the last 3 seasons the fans will welcome Donovan with open arms. Plus, the expectations will be low, heck he should get a standing ovation evertime he completes an pass! History shows that the Raiders FO has no problem dishing out over inflated contract extensions, so that's pretty win win right there. On the downside, those beautiful beaches in California are nothing compared to the majesty of Philadelphia in April...

Posted by: ozpunk | April 2, 2010 3:05 PM

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