Donovan Should Have Stayed On The High Road

Donovan McNabb kept quiet for months about comments from Terrell Owens. On Wednesday, he opened up - big time. The truth is that McNabb did himself and the team a big injustice by speaking out when he did.

On ESPN's NFL Live, Donovan McNabb lobbed some shots toward Terrell Owens and talked about how his team had to come together.

'Nuff said. Stop. Period. Over. Done with. Point made. Instead, McNabb did another interview with ESPN and lobbed grenades toward Owens. Calling Owens comments about how the team would be better off with Brett Favre at quarterback than McNabb "black-on-black crime," McNabb undid a lot of good. There are several problems with McNabb's comments.

First, many blacks have taken exception to the comments as making light of true black-on-black crime; a term which has come to describe crimes like rape and murder being carried out on blacks, by blacks. Just the other day, Charles Barkley was on the Imus in the Morning program talking about his book Who's Afraid of a Large, Black Man and talked at length about black-on-black crime. He talked - very articulately - about how blacks are literally and figuratively killing themselves and hurting both their culture and society in general. Nowhere in that discussion were comments of "crimes" anywhere as minor as T.O.'s comments about McNabb. For some, the phrase black-on-black crime has become routine. For others, it's the embodiment of a deep and dangerous part of life. When many blacks are offended by McNabb's use of the phrase in that context - and message boards, radio talk shows, news interviews and surveys suggest that they are - then McNabb likely went too far.

Second, why now? Owens will be gone and the team healing that McNabb spoke about earlier in the week can get started. Now, there is another nearly full week of controversy. The video is replayed on television. The comments are reprinted. What was old is new again. To borrow another phrase that lives in the history of Philadelphia sports; "For who, for what?" McNabb's comments aren't going to prevent Owens from finding work with another team, unless Owens were to step out of the high grass and start firing back. To do that though would be to shoot himself in the foot, since he needs to show a new, improved and more likeable version of T.O. You can bet that Drew Rosenhaus was on the phone to T.O. telling him to lay low. Stay quiet and let McNabb do all the talking. Rosenhaus too, gagged himself, knowing that he couldn't help his client by saying anything. McNabb's comments didn't help to close any gaps on the team or prove himself a leader. Those things are done behind closed doors. In fact, there may be some on the team that will find McNabb's comments not necessary and certainly, not helpful.

Team leaders don't always come from public comments. They come from on-the-field performance and more importantly, they come from locker room performance. To be honest, there have been other players who have privately questioned McNabb's leadership abilities, especially in light of the fact that he's suffered a number of injuries over the past few seasons. Former Eagle Hugh Douglas publicly questioned McNabb's leadership in an interview on ESPN Radio and he's an ambassador for the Eagles! The truth is that McNabb probably didn't get enough credit for his high road approach to the Terrell Owens situation. He could have fought back immediately and fanned a raging inferno into a complete and total firestorm that would have completely engulfed everything in its path. Instead, he led the Eagles in the best way that he could. His quiet approach ruled the day. Yes, we all wanted McNabb to open up, but he didn't and he deserves credit for that. So again, why now? Was he caught up in the moment of all the hype for Super Bowl XL? He had to know that his comments would be nation-wide news. He had to know that his words would be repeated over and over from one coast to the other. Especially in this area, but also in many other parts of the country, his comments eclipsed the Super Bowl coverage.

Hopefully, Owens will either be traded or sign somewhere else after he's released and this will all blow over, except for minor reminders of that "situation". It's likely though that at some point in the future, when he's officially got a new team and his contract is all figured out, Owens will respond to McNabb's comments. You know he's going to be given the opportunity. If he decides to take the high road, then he comes off looking all the better for it and McNabb's comments seem belittling and unprofessional. If Owens goes off on McNabb, then the controversy is again reignited. Again, no good comes from either situation for the Eagles or McNabb.

We can only hope for a swift resolution to the Owens situation and that all of this blows over before training camp opens this summer. Either way, there will still be questions, but they'll be more heated and more unrelenting if McNabb and Owens continue to trade shots through the media. And yes, it gets especially tough if Owens were to wind up in Tampa Bay, since they're on the Eagles 2006 schedule. Here's hoping that Owens winds up elsewhere and this whole saga dies a quick death.


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