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Donovan McNabb loses 20 pounds to get back in the league

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Before (left): Getty Images / After (right): ESPN

The three biggest reasons that Donovan McNabb is not employed as an NFL quarterback right now are 1) his age, 2) the fact that he hasn't performed that well in recent years, and 3) he's not willing to play anywhere that won't give him a chance to be a starting quarterback.

If there's a fourth reason, maybe it's the perception that he's not in great shape. But since he can't do anything about the first two reasons, and seems unwilling to do anything about the third, it's that fourth thing that he's rectifying.

The before and after pictures aren't dramatic, but, according to McNabb, it was more about perception than reality anyway. McNabb talked to ESPN, via The Huddle:

"I'm in great shape, dropped 15-20 pounds," he said. "But again, it's not really about that. Because for me, people may have seen how strong I looked, and they kind of (assumed I was) maybe out of shape or whatever. But now that I'm lighter, people all of a sudden (are saying), 'Well, he's in shape.' I've been in shape."

OK, so now he's definitely in shape. I'm going to wager that his phone is still not ringing off the hook.

That's not to say that he can't help a team ‒ I believe he still can. But given how he looked in Washington and Minnesota, has McNabb gotten to the point where the productivity boost he'll give a team in place of a rookie is no longer worth the cost of having that rookie sit on the bench?

[Also: QB Kellen Moore trying to prove himself at Detroit Lions minicamp]

That's pretty much what happened with McNabb in Minnesota last year. He opened the season as a starter and went 1-5 while playing just OK. His quarterback rating was 82.9. But at 1-5, what's the point at sticking with the veteran, when you can give that time to someone who might be able to help you for the next 10 years? So the Vikings put Christian Ponder in the lineup ahead of McNabb. And no, Ponder wasn't an improvement ‒ but he'll be better in 2012 because he played in 2011.

That's what McNabb couldn't offer.

[Related: Olympian Shawn Johnson lost 25 pounds after 'hurtful' weight criticism]

As far as the 20 pounds go, hey, it can't hurt. Ever since McNabb was benched in favor of Rex Grossman during the 2010 season, because, according to Mike Shanahan, McNabb wasn't in good enough shape to run the two-minute offense, maybe the label has plagued McNabb. If nothing else, it's a demonstration that he's determined and willing to work to get back in the league.

Still, I don't think those 20 pounds were keeping him out of a job. It's my guess that he's still going to end up waiting for some rookie to not pan out, or for someone to get injured.

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