St. Petersburg Times: Super Bowl XXXV
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    printer version

    McNabb has advice: Be confident in King

    By ROGER MILLS

    © St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2001


    He dissected the Bucs in the wild-card game and appears to be one of the game's most spectacular emerging talents. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb shares a few thoughtful offerings:

    RM: The Eagles fans took booing to a new level when you were selected on draft day. How did you handle it?

    DM: I looked at it more as a challenge. Whenever a new quarterback comes into town, especially at the start of a new era, with a new coach, a new offense, with a different look, you're going to receive some boos, you're going to receive people saying, "This is not the guy we should have gotten, we should have gotten another guy."

    RM: Yeah, but they really booed you!

    DM: They did, didn't they? They booed me a lot. But you know what, I just kept smiling because I'm that type of person. I'm not going to sit there and throw the finger up at you or argue with you. My job is to go out and play football and enjoy playing football. I know if I go out and do my job to the best of my ability, all of that was going to change. Just like it did.

    RM: Now what do they say?

    DM: People come up to me these days and pat me on the back and say, "That wasn't me who booed you on draft day." Hey, I don't know who it was. I don't know from a hole in the wall from whomever.

    RM: People say, "I'm just a quarterback." But isn't it special to be a part of a group of young and successful black players, in a position that has historically remained lily-white?

    DM: It's very special, knowing that as African-American quarterbacks we are opening the door, paving the way for some of the young guys who have dreams of making it to the next level. Guys like Michael Vick and Woody Dantzler. We've been able to push the door open a little wider, just like guys like Randall (Cunningham) and Warren Moon and Doug Williams did for us.

    RM: What's something people would be surprised to know about you?

    DM: I think the thing that would probably shock them is to know how young I am. I'm only 24 years old.

    RM: You can't rent a car!

    DM: True, I can't rent a car. I can own a few, but I can't rent one. It doesn't bother me, that's just the rules.

    RM: When you're lying in your bed at night, what do you dream about?

    DM: Waking up the next morning. Not a lot of people are able to do that. You just want to wake up the next morning, better yourself in everything you possibly want to get accomplished.

    RM: As a kid, who were your heroes?

    DM: My mother and father (Samuel and Wilma McNabb). They have been the two biggest supporters of my life. They've been there for me, for academics as well as athletics. They have been my No. 1 fans, as well as my No. 1 critics.

    RM: Who was the heavy?

    DM: My father. My father was the one who came down hard on me for the little mistakes. Sometimes I said, "I didn't really do anything that should come to this." But, I'll tell you, it definitely helped me get where I am right now.

    RM: You and Shaun King are good friends. Do you feel for him considering the ups and downs he's had so far?

    DM: I really do. But you know, there have been a lot of expectations on him, mainly because of the team that they have. But people have to realize that the guy has been thrown in and out, with different coordinators. The guy is just learning about the game.

    RM: True, but there are some second-year quarterbacks who were more productive passers.

    DM: Yeah, but this year (the Bucs) threw in a guy like Keyshawn Johnson. A big-time player, with a big-time name. A guy who has made his mark in the league. Now, the sparks aren't going to fly that early.

    RM: What's the solution?

    DM: Now the toughest thing for players is that they have to have confidence in Shaun King. He's their leader. If he's not on the same page with the offensive coordinator, the offense is not going to click. But I think Shaun's going to work extremely hard over the off-season and try to make sure he'll be on the same page with the coordinator.

    RM: Some say the quarterback has to chuck it downfield a bit more. You agree?

    DM: Yes. You have to throw the ball downfield and let the receiver make a play. That's what you have to do. You can't hold the ball too long, because that's when you get sacked. You have to go out and play football. Shaun's been able to do that and will get better. We're all young. We're all going to get better.

    RM: Did Vick do the right thing by leaving early for the NFL?

    DM: I talked to Mike during his process of going out for the draft. I hosted him when he came to Syracuse (on a recruiting trip). I told him the things he was able to do in college weren't flukes. If you're the No. 1 quarterback, it's time to go.

    RM: You've heard the questions about how he'll do in the NFL, though?

    DM: Of course there are questions, but there were questions about us when we came out. Here's a guy who's a project. He's the new wave of quarterback that you have to have. Guys aren't taking drop-back quarterbacks any more, who are sitting back there and getting hit in the head so much that they can't move. You end up putting your offense in such a bind that you end up going out and getting a high-priced backup, anyway.

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