Mondesire stands by criticism of McNabb

Updated: December 15, 2005, 8:25 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- Donovan McNabb is still taking shots -- the latest from an NAACP leader who criticized the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback's leadership skills and said he "played the race card" in explaining why he no longer runs the ball.

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2005 SEASON STATISTICS
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357211239516985.0

J. Whyatt Mondesire, who publishes a newspaper for blacks and is the president of the Philadelphia branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, recently wrote that the Eagles' star quarterback failed as a team leader and choked in the Super Bowl.

McNabb responded sharply, but Mondesire hasn't changed his stance.

"He doesn't get it," Mondesire said Wednesday. "If he got it, I wouldn't have written the article."

Mondesire, publisher of the Philadelphia Sunday Sun, criticized McNabb in a column in his newspaper on Nov. 27.

He wrote that McNabb's tendency to run the ball early in his career "not only confused defenses, it also thrilled Eagles fans," but that abandoning that element "by claiming that'everybody expects black quarterbacks to scramble' not only amounts to a breach of faith but also belittles the real struggles of blackathletes who've had to overcome real racial stereotypcasting inaddition to downright segregation."

Mondesire said the bottom line is that McNabb is "not that good."

"In essence Donny, you are mediocre at best," Mondesire wrote. "And trying to disguise that fact behind some concocted reasoning that African American quarterbacks who can scramble and who can run the ball are somehow lesser field generals ... is more insulting off the field than on."

McNabb, who endured Rush Limbaugh's comments just a few years earlier, was baffled by Mondesire's remarks.

"Especially being the same color I am," McNabb told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Obviously if it's someone else who is not African American, it's racism. But when someone of the same race talks about you because you're selling out because you're not running the ball, it goes back to: What are we really talking about here?

"If you talk about my play, that's one thing. When you talk about my race, now we've got problems. If you're trying to make a name off my name, again, I hope your closet is clean because something is going to come out about you ... I always thought the NAACP supported African Americans and didn't talk bad about them. Now you learn a little bit more."

Mondesire also claimed that McNabb's "failure as a team leader off the field" led to the Terrell Owens situation. If McNabb "had the courage to offer only a tiny fraction" of his bonus to Owens and running back Brian Westbrook, Mondesire wrote, the "media circus" could have been avoided.
"When you go deep into that, or say I didn't stick up for someone, or why didn't I give a little bit of my money to someone else who is making money, you try to find an answer for that," McNabb told the Phialdelphia Daily News. "There's no answer that I've found."

McNabb's season ended last month when he decided to have surgery for a sports hernia. It's been a miserable year for the five-time Pro Bowl selection, starting with his feud with now-banished wideout Terrell Owens.
Mondesire wrote that McNabb shares the blame for Owens' departure.

"Finally, your failure as a team leader off the field to my mind did as much as anything to exacerbate the debacle that has become synonymous with T.O.'s full name."

Mondesire said the article expressed his opinion of McNabb, not the view of the NAACP. When Limbaugh said on ESPN two years ago that McNabb is overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback succeed, the NAACP criticized the conservative commentator and called on him to quit. Limbaugh resigned from ESPN three days later.
Mondesire said McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, called him after the story appeared. He returned the call twice, but hasn't spoken to McNabb.

McNabb plans to move on from Mondesire's column, but for the first time in his Eagles' tenure, McNabb has to answer questions about locker-room leadership.

"This season was a tough season from the beginning," McNabb told the Inquirer. "People may blame it on just one particular person, but ... it's something that kind of spread in the locker room.

"There's never been a question of me losing the locker room until this year. If I've lost the locker room, then the question goes up why. Is it because now people are starting to look at me sideways for what I've been doing, or what I make, or whatever he had a problem with? That's the question I'm trying to get answered: If I've lost the locker room or not? No answer has come my way.

"But I do know the main reason we're not a good team is because we don't play as a team. Everybody has to realize that in order for us to get back to the Super Bowl and win it, we all have to play well together. You never heard anything like this coming from the Indianapolis Colts. You never heard anything like this coming from the New England Patriots. Baltimore, when they won the Super Bowl, they never had anything like this."
McNabb had a strong start this season, throwing for 1,333 yards and 11 touchdowns while leading the Eagles to a 3-1 record. But he was bothered by injuries and struggled over the next several games before going on injured reserve.

McNabb clearly wasn't the same quarterback who led the Eagles to the NFC championship game the last four years. He threw a costly interception in the fourth quarter in each of his last three games, and had nine picks this season.
Overall, McNabb passed for 2,507 yards, 16 TDs and had a passer rating of 85.0 this season. McNabb was reluctant to leave the pocket this year. He had just 55 yards rushing on 25 carries, including several kneel-downs.

McNabb's problems with Owens dominated the headlines most of the year. Their issues began when Owens dissed McNabb after the Eagles lost to New England in the Super Bowl last February. The two didn't speak for a prolonged period, but performed well on the field together.

Owens was suspended last month for a series of infractions and critical public comments about McNabb and the organization, dating back to his offseason demands for a new contract. An arbitrator later upheld the Eagles' decision to deactivate him for the remainder of the season.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.