(photo by Brian Murphy)
The decision by the Washington Redskins to acquire quarterback Donovan McNabb from the Philadelphia Eagles has been met with mixed emotions by ‘Skins fans.
Some fans are thrilled with the move to bring in an elite player such as McNabb, who has won two thirds of the games he’s played in over an 11-season career. Other fans have a hard time suddenly cheering for a player that comes to town from a hated rival. And another faction with the fanbase has nothing against McNabb, they just wish the Redskins would value draft picks and stop trading them away for aging veterans.
Regardless of what category you fall in, the one thing all ‘Skins fans should be happy about is the way this trade has been received within the locker room. Before many of the players had even had the chance to meet their newest teammate, they liked the move enough to attend McNabb’s introductory press conference.
Current players such as Chris Cooley, DeAngelo Hall, Carlos Rogers, Justin Tryon, Mike Sellers and even Clinton Portis freed up their schedule to show their support for McNabb.
If that’s not enough, Hall of Famer Art Monk also made a rare appearance at Redskins Park to take in the moment. The usually reserved Monk liked the move enough that he even agreed to do a few select interviews with local media. After the press conference, we caught up with one of the greatest players in Redskins history to get his perspective on the trade and more importantly, to get his thoughts on the marriage of McNabb and the Redskins.
How strange was it to see Donovan McNabb, a player who this town has been trained to despise for more than a decade now, holding up his new burgundy and gold jersey?
“Well, I think we’re all kind of used to this type of change,” Monk said. “As players you know you can be one place one minute and another place the next. Even though we may have been enemies and opponents over the years, we’ve always respected him as a player. Now to have him be part of us, we know what his capabilities are, so we’re excited to have him.”
We’re old school, so we miss the days when a player spent his entire career on one team. In fact, to this day we pretend you only ever played for the Redskins …
You’re a Hall of Fame receiver who obviously knows a little bit about the game of football. What does McNabb bring to the Redskins?
“He’s a proven quarterback,” said Monk. “He’s a class guy. He’s not a cocky guy and he’s not about himself. He’s about team and really helping his team to succeed and do well. He brings a level of leadership and those qualities that we’ve lacked in recent years. He really is the total package. Even though he’s 33-years-old, he still has some good years left. We really are excited to have him here.”
Obviously his resume is impressive with six Pro Bowls, playing in five NFC title games and everything else. You know this team pretty well, so let us ask – when was the last time the Redskins had a top-10 talent at quarterback on the level of McNabb?
“Probably Mark Rypien,” he said. “I think Rypien was there. Probably Doug Williams. Definitely Joe Theismann. I think those guys were the last top quarterbacks to play at that elite level for us.”
Sounds like you have a ton of respect for McNabb. Would you have loved to play alongside him?
“Absolutely,” said Monk. “I put him in the same class as those guys. He knows the game. He studies off the field. He works hard. He can throw the ball. He knows what he’s doing and he’s got the leadership skills to help direct his offense down the field.”
What you’re basically saying is ‘Skins fans have a legitimate reason to be optimistic about this move and next season now, right?
“I think it’s safe to say that, yes,” Monk said. “Of course, as Donovan would say, this is not a one-man game. It takes the other 10 players surrounding him doing their part and everyone working together to make it work. But yes, this gives us reason to be excited.”
We liked the McNabb trade before this. But considering that Monk is our all-time favorite football player, we’re officially drinking the burgundy Kool-Aid now. Forget comparisons to John Elway. We’ve always hated that guy anyway. When Monk says McNabb is on the level of three quarterbacks who called the shots during the best era of Redskins football, that’s more than enough reason for us to be excited.
There’s still plenty of work left to be done before this team should start printing playoff tickets, but as we’ve said before, this team is better with McNabb on the roster than it was without him. Don’t take out word for it. Listen to Art Monk.