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September 19, 2007 2:08 AM

It's Not Race, It's The Place

They booed and threw snowballs at Santa Claus; they shot flares across the field; they cheered when Michael Irvin was knocked unconscious; and they booed when their beloved Eagles selected Donovan McNabb 2nd overall in the 1999 Draft. There is a reason Veteran Stadium was the first (and for a long time the only) arena with a judge and jail on the premises. This is the reason Donovan McNabb is feeling the heat, not because he’s black.

In an interview with James Brown on HBO’s “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” McNabb said black quarterbacks get more scrutiny than white quarterbacks. He said, referring to Carson Palmer and Peyton Manning, “They don’t get criticized as much as we do. They don’t.” Had he changed “we” to “me” he would be right. McNabb has been criticized and especially recently. But, the criticism is deserved. The Eagles are off to an 0-2 start and McNabb has looked awful. He has completed just 54.5% of his passes and has a QB rating of 68.7.

Yes, McNabb had ACL surgery 10 months ago and he is not fully healthy, but try telling that to die hard Eagles fans. McNabb was booed in the 2nd quarter of the Monday night game against the Redskins. Does he deserve better? Of course. But, he won’t get that in a city that lives by “What have you done for me lately? Nothing? Bring in the backup!”

Fans and the media criticize those that can’t produce and it has nothing to do with race. Look at the quarterbacks who have been criticized the most: Rex Grossman, Eli Manning, and Chad Pennington. All three are white quarterbacks, but more importantly all play in major sports cities. But, in Chicago and New York there are more sports to focus on. The media can slam the Cubs or the Mets, or the Yankees. But in Philadelphia the focus has always been on the Eagles and the quarterback position always attracts the most attention.

There have been many black quarterbacks that have received plenty of praise. Daunte Culpepper was hailed as a savior for the Vikings when he was putting up gaudy numbers for that potent offense. Steve McNair led the Titans to the Super Bowl and was heralded as almost superhuman for playing through injury after injury. Most recently, Vince Young has been the darling of the NFL and even graced the cover of the most recent Madden video game (McNabb was on the cover in 2006). On Tuesday morning the sports pundits were praising Jason Campbell for his poise and leadership and there was no mention that he is a black quarterback.

McNabb, a 5-time Pro Bowler gets more criticism then he deserves, but race is not the reason. Donovan should focus on silencing those boos and simply stay silent.

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