A tale of a QB turning point

With all the hype surrounding the possibilities of Brett Favre to the Vikings, the team easily could have ended up with No. 5 instead of No. 4 if not for a brutal backup performance last season. Here's a look at how it all could have been different if not for Kevin Kolb.

The whirlwind of excitement that has surrounded the anticipated signing of Brett Favre has gripped Vikings fans for months. The story has grown from speculation to anticipation, but if not for a Thanksgiving Day performance last season, hoopla surrounding the Favre saga could have been very much different.

Rewind to November 23, 2008. The Philadelphia Eagles are playing the Baltimore Ravens. The game comes a week after the Eagles tied the lowly Cincinnati Bengals and Donovan McNabb, it is learned, doesn't know the rules of overtime. Despite being a 10-year veteran, McNabb was unaware that, after one overtime period, regular-season games end in a tie. The fans were irate. The media was incredulous. Things couldn't have been much worse.

That was, until the Ravens game. McNabb was nothing short of awful against the Ravens, completing just 10 of 23 passes for 73 yards and two interceptions before being yanked for Kevin Kolb. Had Kolb played well in the second half, he likely would have started the Thanksgiving night game against the Cardinals. Unfortunately for Kolb, he was just as brutal as McNabb, if not more so. He completed just six of 16 passes for 59 yards and two interceptions, leaving head coach Andy Reid with a decision. McNabb had looked awful the last two games prior to his benching, but Kolb looked even worse.

At the time, the Eagles were 5-5-1 and their chances of making the playoffs looked bleak. The team was 0-2-1 in hits previous three games and seemed all but dead in the water. The word out of Philly was the McNabb was done with the Eagles. Even their most veteran of beat writers were lined up saying that his days with the organization were all but done at the end of the season. Teams like the Vikings and Bears were already being thrown around as potential landing spots, the Bears because McNabb grew up in the Chicago area and the Vikings because of McNabb's history with Vikings head coach Brad Childress. The scribes weren't sure where McNabb would wind up, but it seemed all but certain that it wouldn't be in Philly.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to running McNabb out of town. McNabb got the Thanksgiving night start and responded by throwing for 260 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-20 win over Arizona. The following week, the Eagles beat the division-leading Giants on the road. In the final game of the regular season needing a win to make the playoffs, the Eagles pounded the Cowboys 44-6.

Vikings fans know all to well what happened after that. The Eagles went on the road and beat the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs and followed that up with another road win against the Giants. After being left for dead before Thanksgiving, the Eagles advanced all the way to the NFC Championship Game and a second date with the Cardinals.

All of the rumors that had been circulating about McNabb being run out of Philadelphia died. He was once again embraced by management, the coaches and the fans. No longer a washed-up bum, McNabb was again the toast of the town. Not only was he not going to be traded or released, the team was working on re-doing his contract.

The rest is history. McNabb did restructure his deal with the Eagles. He was not dangled as trade bait. The Vikings had to turn their attention elsewhere. That started with the trade to acquire Sage Rosenfels and then blew up with the pursuit of Favre. If not for Kolb's collapse against the Ravens after he replaced McNabb, the furor of Vikings over a new quarterback wouldn't be about No. 4, it would have been about No. 5.

As luck would have it, McNabb's late-season run saved his job and cemented his place with the Eagles, while it left the Vikings looking in a different direction. For those who don't think bringing in Favre is a good idea, they have to ask themselves if they would have preferred McNabb? Him coming to Minnesota may have been closer than a lot of people might think.

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