Reid Has Only Fueled QB Controversy

Recent reports claim that the relationship between the Eagles and quarterback Donovan McNabb has become strained over issues including the rehab on his injured knee, the team not letting him travel to New Orleans for the playoff game and team veterans supposedly preferring Jeff Garcia to McNabb as the quarterback next season. So, what's the truth and how bad will the controversy get?

Eagles coach Andy Reid, who cancelled a scheduled McNabb news conference last week because he felt "nothing beneficial" would come from it, insisted that not only were the reports untrue, but they were made up. So did McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith.

"I think people are making a lot of things up here that aren't true," Reid said. "Donovan knows what's the truth and what isn't the truth. I'm disappointed that people are making things up."

Said Smith: "None of these stories quoted Donovan. They're all quoting sources close to Donovan. They claim to know what he thinks and what he's feeling. Who are these people? I don't know. I think there should be some level of responsibility in getting his side of the story before printing some of this stuff. It's sensationalism, and I guess it sells newspapers."

Smith said nothing that has been written is a true reflection of McNabb's feelings. "I'm absolutely comfortable saying that," he said. McNabb hasn't done any interviews since shortly after his season-ending knee injury in mid-November.

Perhaps something good could have come from McNabb going through with his scheduled news conference had he insisted on standing in front of the media and dispelling all of the supposed myths surrounding his situation. Instead of nothing good coming from the news conference, nothing good has come from Reid's insistence upon keeping McNabb gagged. Reid can only keep McNabb quiet for so long though, since the oft-injured quarterback is scheduled to speak this week at the Super Bowl in Miami where he'll make an appearance as part of his endorsement deal for Campbell's Chunky Soup. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the media event and how McNabb responds to questions about his situation and relationship with the Eagles.

For his part, Jeff Garcia can become a free agent in March, but definitely hopes to re-sign with the Eagles, even though it would mean backing up McNabb again. Asked what would happen if another team offers him a lot more money and a chance to start, he said: "I know that it possibly will be something I'll have to deal with once free agency comes about. But to look at changing teams or changing situations, I really hope that something can be worked out because, like I said, this has been one of the more enjoyable experiences that I've had in my NFL career. I can just see this team continuing to go in the right direction. That's really what it's all about and that's really what I want to be a part of."

The Eagles have gone on record as saying that they won't give Garcia stater's money, especially since they don't enjoy a huge amount of cap room to throw money around with. Instead, it's very likely that Garcia will have to choose between "one of the more enjoyable experiences" and taking a bunch more money to play elsewhere and possibly take a team to the Super Bowl as the starter. Of course, he could always figure that there will be another opportunity for him in Philadelphia if McNabb gets hurt or struggles.

One scenario is that the Eagles will hope for Garcia to go elsewhere to avoid potential controversies down the road. If both quarterbacks were to stay in Philadelphia and McNabb struggled, there would likely be calls among fans and possibly players for Garcia to step in. If Garcia finds a team willing to give him plenty of money, the Eagles can always point to their inability under the cap to match the offer to keep Garcia in Philadelphia. Where it will get interesting is if Garcia publicly states that he'll accept less money to stay with the team.

One thing that the Eagles must acknowledge is that there is definitely a controversy over their quarterback situation and it's not going to go away until either Garcia or McNabb would leave. Since the Eagles have said that they won't trade McNabb – especially since his trade value is pretty low – his departure isn't likely. The longer that McNabb doesn't – or isn't allowed to – address the situation will also serve to just make it tougher for all involved.

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