When he was tearing apart defenses for the Philadelphia Eagles, it was easy to daydream about how his athleticism might carry over, either to his future progeny or other members of the extended McNabb family. Now we can all rest assured that the athleticism really was in the family, even when it had to be expressed on a different surface. Like ice.
As noted by the Cherry Hill Courier Post, McNabb’s nephew, Darnell Nurse, has emerged as one of the top NHL draft prospects while starring for the Sault Saint Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League, the famed Canadian junior circuit. Nurse plays as a steady skating defenseman with a particular penchant for delivering offensive results to complement tough defense. The 18-year-old has scored 12 goals and 29 assists in 68 OHL games in a final tuneup before the NHL.
While Nurse’s natural physical development has been a key catalyst to his rising star, so has his famous uncle, whom the teen credited with having a profound impact on his ability to cope with a competitive athletic schedule.
“No matter what the question is or no matter what I’m going through, he’s always been available,” Nurse told the Courier-Post. “If I can’t get a hold of him at 10 o’clock in the morning, he’ll call me back at 10:30. It’s a relationship where we’re always in touch and we always know what’s going on in each other’s lives. He’s been someone that I’ve been real lucky to have.”
Nurse has spent summers training with his uncle since he was just entering his teenage years, with those conditioning workouts forming the basis of a devotion to the sport that continues to flourish. Now that McNabb’s professional football career has come to a close, the former Pro Bowler has taken an even more active role in mentoring Nurse.
In return, Nurse has tutored McNabb on hockey so he can speak more intelligently about the sport during his radio and television appearances.
Between his skills and pedigree, Nurse is a sure-fire first round pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft. He has emerged as the accepted second-most-talented defenseman behind Seth Jones, the son of former NBA player Popeye Jones.
Nurse isn’t taken the future for granted, particularly because of his rapid rise through the ranks of prospects. Still, he said that when his name is called to join an NHL franchise, he’ll be living out a dream that has previously been shared by both his uncle and his father, who was a receiver in the Canadian Football League himself.
“It’s something that every kid — no matter where you play, if it’s in Canada or Europe — dream of having your name called,” Nurse said. “It’s something I’m working for and hopefully I’ll be blessed enough to have that opportunity.”