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QB criticism boils over on TV, radio
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published January 21, 2005
Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb can thank his lucky stars that Sunday's NFC Championship Game is on Fox. It keeps him out of the sight of CBS analyst Boomer Esiason.
Last weekend, Esiason created arguably the most tense moment in NFL studio show history when he lashed out at Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, calling him "this generation's Dan Marino."
Great comment, made even greater by the fact that Marino was sitting 3 feet away.
Quarterbacks not winning the big game - Manning last weekend, Marino the constant point for comparison - has been more a hot topic than the quarterbacks who are winning. Sports-talk radio is driving the debate about Manning's supposed choke job, which incenses CBS analyst Phil Simms.
"When I hear that, I just really want to say, "Be quiet,' " Simms said during a conference call this week. "He didn't choke. I watched the game, I was there. He didn't choke. He threw the ball really well, found the open receiver. Jim (Nantz), did we see anybody open down the field? We see everything. We see the replays. There weren't open receivers. I don't know what you want him to do."
Though he has lost three straight conference title games, completing barely more than 50 percent of his passes in the losses while throwing five interceptions to just one touchdown - Manning has 14 postseason touchdown passes to McNabb's three - McNabb has yet to face the seering scrutiny the league MVP did.
That could change after Sunday's performance, but three-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and Fox analyst Troy Aikman says he won't be part of any pile-on.
"I think it's wrong," Aikman said. "There's so many variables that determine the success of a football team. It's not just (the quarterback's) abilities, and you saw that with Peyton Manning, in my opinion the best quarterback in the league. But the quarterback is the guy that gets labeled with that. Either he was able to win that game or he wasn't to able to win that game."
It's a narrow spectrum from which to rate great quarterbacks. Would anyone take Super Bowl winners Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson over Manning or McNabb?
But fact is, Tom Brady has two titles, Michael Vick is in his first conference title game and Ben Roethlisberger is a rookie. Of all the quarterbacks remaining, only McNabb's legacy can be defined by Sunday's outcome.