Donovan McNabb, like most other professional quarterbacks in the history of the world, has a healthy ego. And he's had an excellent career, so it's not a huge surprise to hear him say that he believes he's a Hall of Famer. He's absolutely entitled to believe that.
But I don't feel like I'm obligated to agree. When you look at the numbers, via the always-useful Similar Players tool at pro-football-reference.com, you can see that McNabb's numbers compare favorably with several Hall of Famers: Terry Bradshaw, Jim Kelly, Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach and Bob Griese.
However, it's not difficult to see what those fellows have in common with each other, but not necessarily McNabb — multiple Super Bowl appearances or championships. Bradshaw won four. Aikman won three. Staubach won two and appeared in five. Bob Griese won two. Jim Kelly never won one, but made it to four straight.
McNabb's been to just one, and he did not win it. The unofficial rule that the HOF people have carved out for themselves seems to be, "You don't have to have overwhelming numbers to be in the Hall, but if you don't, you better have some championship hardware instead."
I don't subscribe to this theory. I'm not a believer in the "You win Super Bowls, or you're not a Hall of Famer!" argument. I think it's absurd. You've either had a Hall of Fame career or you haven't. Whether or not other circumstances have converged allowing you to win a Super Bowl is another matter entirely.
So let's take rings out of the equation. Is Donovan McNabb, based on all measures aside from championships, a Hall of Fame quarterback.
It doesn't seem like it, does it?
Granted, it's difficult to judge right now. It's hard to see Donovan McNabb in a positive light after what he's done with the Redskins and the Vikings, which, for the most part, is throw footballs at grass. His recent reputation makes it hard to judge his full career.
Still, thinking back, was there ever a time you said to yourself, "Hey, Donovan McNabb's about to be on TV. This could be something special"? Even at his best ‒ five straight Pro Bowls from 2000 to 2004, and from 2004 to 2009, when his quarterback rating was consistently high (though he was injured somewhat frequently through the latter stretch) ‒ did you ever get the feeling that Donovan McNabb was one of the best QBs in the game? Did you ever feel that way for any extended period of time?
McNabb's contemporaries are Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Drew Brees. Years from now, when we think about the best quarterbacks from this era, those are the guys we'll think of as elite (alongside the legendary Joe Flacco, of course). If there's a group below that, certainly McNabb's in it and probably near the top.
The Hall of Fame's website says that committee members are tasked with enshrining "the finest the game has produced." That's pretty vague, yes, but if we're looking for the finest, and not just those who were pretty fine, I'd probably have to vote against McNabb.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Donovan McNabb