Actions say more than birds’ word

The Eagles did much more than trade their franchise quarterback Sunday night. They also made a final statement about his 11 years in Philadelphia, a pronouncement that could not be hidden behind their usual bogus tributes.

What the Eagles said — and this includes owner Jeff Lurie, president Joe Banner and coach Andy Reid — is that Donovan?McNabb was not a player who could win it all, not a player to build a team around, and not a player to be feared.

These are Lurie’s words in an official statement after the trade: “Donovan McNabb was more than a franchise quarterback for this team. He truly embodied all of the attributes of a great quarterback and a great person.”

And here’s what Lurie meant: “Donovan McNabb is such a great quarterback, we traded him, near the height of his career, to a division rival for a second-round draft pick.”

With the Eagles, it always must be this way, weighing what they say against what they do because they don’t make a practice of telling the truth. In this case, the truth is that McNabb is not a winner. Oh, yeah, he won a ton of games over his decade-plus here, but never the big one.

McNabb will always be a mystery to this city because he could have and should have done so much more. He was a tireless worker, an excellent role model, a gifted athlete. He won much of our affection early in his career with his amazing ability to evade a rush and run recklessly down the field. He had a great arm and great legs. What he always lacked was a head to match.

We should have known a long time ago that it would end this way when he balked at using his greatest skill, his running, because he worried that it stereotyped him as a black quarterback. We should have figured out then that, for every big moment, McNabb would also supply a bizarre twist.

Of course, the most bizarre twist of all is how he left, during an offseason salary purge of historic proportions. He left in the same offseason as his sidekick, Brian Westbrook, and so many of the other Eagles who made this era both a joy and a frustration.

But in the end, the loudest statement came from his bosses, the very men who never missed a chance to tell the world how great he was after his big games and who were quick to hide in the shadows after his spectacular failures.

They traded him to a division rival, for a second-round draft pick, because they knew he’d never be good enough to win it all here.

– Angelo Cataldi is host of WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays from 5:30-10 a.m.

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